Winter Running Must-Haves

A friend recently asked my advice as she sets up for her first big winter as a runner, AND while training for the Walt Disney World Marathon in January!


I used to kinda shut down my running in winter – still running here and there, but not when there was snow on the ground, that’s for sure (good thing I love other winter sports!). But once my full obsession kicked in, I would have put on any amount of clothing and protection to head on out there! And I love Runner’s World‘s holiday #runstreak which calls for at least a mile per day between Thanksgiving and New Years!

So what would my tips be for Winter Must-Haves? Top to bottom:

  • Head: a hat of course! Something breathable, warm and quick-drying. In other words, one that’s truly made for activity and sweat. Make sure it covers your ears! On a warmer day, just covering your ears alone will make you so much happier (what are those things called?).
  • Face: sunglasses are something I wear much more often in my winter running! All that sunshine reflecting off the snow is one reason, but that icy wind is another. Sunscreen and lip balm should be top priorities too!
  • Core: my absolute top must for winter is avest! I’ve only ever run in fleece and wind-blocking ones, as I think I’d be really steamy in a puffy vest. Keeping my core warm is so important to my comfort and willingness to stay out there in the first miles. Tip: unzip half way to roll down around your waist once you’re warm.
  • Hands: make sure your gloves are breathable and quick drying too. Anything will do most days, but you might find it worth the investment to grab some from your running store with wind flaps as well (pull back when you don’t want them, but definitely helpful on the worst of days!). Arm-warmers are a great option – and they really do work! – but you’ll need to step it up further for that New England winter in January-March.
  • Legs: pants, in my mind, are an easier item to snatch from cheaper sources like Marhsalls/TJ Maxx/Target this time of year. They don’t have to fit as perfectly or look as cute as shorts do, so save your $80 purchase more for one great outerwear piece for your upper half.
  • Feet: I asked around a LOT about this last year, and the general best-practice seems to be to wear trail sneakers combined with spikes. I recently purchased Goat Head Sole Spikes, but then also had the pleasure of meeting a more local NH company, IceSpike. Simply screw them into the bottom of your sneaks, and remove them when you want. Not a lotta push for Yaktrax, FYI – even the running specific ones.
  • What to Carry: One thing I haven’t solved is how to keep water and cell phones warm enough to do their job! I hear some friends bring disposable hand-warmers, but I’d love to find a more natural way!

Winter doesn’t just bring cold temperatures and icy conditions, but it’s also a lot darker! Don’t forget a reflective vest and headlamp if you plan to be out there running before or after the sun!

And remember, NO jumping up on slippery surfaces!


Brands for winter! Mizuno has a line of “BreathThermo” accessories and clothing that get warmer as you go! Oiselle just launched a greater focus on fleece and puffy coats this month!

I will admit, after having spent most of last winter indoors on the couch after ACL surgery, I have my doubts about this coming season. Training for a May marathon was my brilliant idea a year ago, but I deferred to 2015 because of injury and now feel like I kinda “have” to run it. Training begins in January and that scares me!

Will you be putting in some great training this winter? Do you have any tips right back for me? Let’s think positive and tell me something you LOVE about winter running!

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