Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Favorite Winter Running Apparel

I know that winter is unavoidable, unless you live in the Bahamas or Hawaii perhaps. But this year I think many of us are experiencing a much colder than normal winter. I sure know we are here in the south where our average highs should be around 50, but we're barely hitting 30.

I've really only been seriously running for about 5 1/2 maybe 6 years now. The first year or so, I didn't mind not running if the weather was cold. I'd either hit the treadmill at the gym, pull out a DVD or take a step or spin class.

Times have changed, however. As I've become more passionate about my running, I've learned to better deal with the weather conditions. A big part of this is that I really dislike treadmill running and don't have easy access to one either. You start to learn to just deal with Mother Nature. I don't mind running in the rain, by the end of summer I start to wish for colder temps even, and running in the "normal" cold doesn't bother me. Occasionally running in sleet is ok too. Occasionally being more the key word of course.

However, this year Mother Nature is testing my resolve for certain. This winter alone, I've worn my thickest running tights more than I have in the entire 4 years I've owned them. Prior to this winter, I've only had to double up layers on the bottom once during a 17-degree sleeting run.

This year, I double up tops, bottoms, and hands. I don't leave without something covering both ears and head. I've even added a neck gaiter to my arsenal of cold-weather ammunition. Rather than complain about the frigid weather, the annoying gusting winds, the ice/snow/sleet/freezing rain, I'd just share my favorite cold-weather running apparel.

1. Under Armour Compression Base Layer Top. Jason got this for me about 4 years ago. I am getting very good use out of it this year. It's not flashy. It's very basic. It gets the job of keeping me warm and dry done.

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 2. Under Armour Compression Base Layer Tights. Jason got these awesome tights for me when he got me the top. Again, nothing flashy, no pockets, no zippers (highly recommend that part), but they're warm and sturdy.

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 3. Brooks Infiniti Hybrid Wind Shirt. Jason bought this for me one Christmas. It's usually almost too warm for me to wear. This year, I've been wearing it with my Under Armour top. It has a front panel that helps block the wind, so it's ideal for windy days. (I have this in blue but would love the pink if anyone wants to buy it for me.)
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4. Repreve Fleece Beanie. This beanie is absolutely amazing. It keeps my ears nice and toasty, but is light and breathable. I won this from Jennifer at Running with the Girls, but would gladly pay for another!
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 5. Turtle Fur Neck Gaiter. Jason got this for me for Christmas this year after hearing me complain about my chin being frozen off. I might not be super cute in it, but my chin is no longer in danger of frost bite.
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6. Feetures Elite Merino + Socks. These socks are worth every penny and then some. I initially got them as they were taller and would cover my freezing ankles, as well as protect them from the zippers on some cheap tights. What I didn't realize was how well they would work at keeping my feet warm and dry. I wore these on my snowy/icy run on Saturday. My feet were soaked and frozen by around mile 1. I thought I'd have to stop the run, but then the socks started working their magic and my toes and feet completely warmed up despite the fact that they were soaked with icy water.




What I still need are some really awesome winter running gloves, however. I've been wearing a pair of thick cycling gloves with cotton mittens. They work, but they don't breathe the way most running gear does, and they're quite bulky.

What are your favorite cold-weather running pieces or your favorite brands? Do you tough it out during the dead of winter or seek reprieve on the treadmill?