Dress Your Best: Stay Comfortable During Winter Workouts

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When temperatures drop and snow falls, it can be hard to brave the elements for a workout. The stillness of a winter scene looks beautiful from the living room, but it doesn’t always feel inviting.

On the other hand, winter offers the perfect conditions to quiet our minds and work on focusing. If there’s snow or ice, we have to slow down and focus intensely on technique. The calm, clear landscape of winter also lets us focus inward, allowing for deep Body Sensing. But, we have to get out the door first, and the way to do that is to make ourselves as comfortable as possible.

Here are some pre-workout tips to help you get started:

  • Dress warmly, but make sure you can still move easily. Wear light layers.
  • Do the Body Looseners to warm up before going outside. Go up and down the stairs a few times, or walk around the house briskly to get your circulation moving.
  • While workout clothes are mostly functional, they can still represent your style. If you have clothes you like and you feel like yourself in them, you’ll be more likely to want to work out in them.
  • When you’re dreading taking that first step outside, put yourself 10 minutes in the future – imagine yourself warmed up, endorphins flowing. You’ll feel great.

What to wear in mild/moderate cold (30°-50°):

  • Don’t overdress. If you’re too bundled, you will overheat and become less efficient. You’ll also have to carry the extra gear you’re taking off when you get warm.
  • Dress as though it is 20° warmer than it actually is. For 40°, I’d recommend shorts or light pants or leggings, a long-sleeve shirt, and some lightweight gloves and a headband to protect the extremities.
  • If you get too warm, roll your gloves up to expose the palms to release heat, but keep your fingers covered. Tech shirt layers that have a short zipper are great for protecting the neck; when you warm up, just unzip it to let the trapped heat escape.

Master Instructor, Jeff Carnivale, gives tips to prevent overheating on winter runs:

What to wear for temperatures under 30°:

  • Running tights are great in temperatures between 20º and 55º, depending on how sensitive your legs are to the cold. If it’s below 20º, wear lightweight warm-up pants over your tights.
  • Wear a hat made of fleece, wool (ideally with a non-wool lining on the inside of the headband) or some other wicking material.
  • Cover your face if it’s below 20º. It’s important to protect your lungs from getting too much cold air to stay healthy.
  • Smartwool socks will keep your feet cozy. A good way to block wind from freezing your toes is to cover the top of your socks with duct tape. Another option is to get some running shoes with Goretex uppers, which do the same thing.
  • A thick, wicking, zip-front turtleneck top works great for any temperatures from 25º- 40º. If you have trouble maintaining body heat, you can add a lightweight nylon vest or jacket with a high collar. Jackets and vests also have pockets, which are handy for storing anything you take off.
  • If you run in icy conditions often you might consider “equipping” your running shoes with ¼” sheet metal screws drilled into the bottoms, or you can use Yak Trax for more traction.

You don’t need a lot of fancy gear, but a few quality items will keep you comfortable and make winter workouts much more enjoyable. This season gives us a great opportunity to slow down, observe, and refine our technique. When Spring comes again, you’ll be ready to move your best self forward.


Posted in Gear

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