I have to confess, a lot of my essential winter running gear is old. They’ve been in races and runs that have dipped to -40C with the windchill— and the smallest details are often the difference between enjoying the experience of winter running.
One of my go-to double digit minus zero pieces isn’t even for running but for cycling. It’s a Pearl Izumi tank with a built-in racer back bra that is lined with fleece. It’s coupled with a baselayer to wick away moisture and has been a pretty steadfast piece for outdoor winter activities.
Running tights by Sugoi are on the thick side of fabric because it’s lined with fleece on the inside. For extra wind protection, a pair of straight-leg Brooks wind pants. If I find it getting too warm, the pants have bottom side zippers that allow for removal without having to take off my shoes.
To stave off Raynaud’s Syndrome, good sturdy mittens are required. The MEC Essential Mitts are heavy on the insulation on the back of the hand, and lighter on the palm. It gives the required protection from the wind and cold, but it’s thin enough to allow for dexterity, such as turning on and off the stopwatch feature without removing the glove. The outer shell is made from recycled waterproof-breathable polyester that is finished with DWR to shed snow and repel light rain.
Wearing trail shoes for winter helps to mitigate slipping and sliding when roads and sidewalks aren’t completely clear because the treads are more aggressive than regular road shoes. I pair a thick wool sock that I received as part of my swag bag at Pick Your Poison Trail race with a trail shoe that has a thick mesh upper and thin wool socks from Icebreaker with trail shoes made with Gore Tex.
For my toes, I oscillate between thick and thin socks by Icebreaker (depending on the temperature) and also on the amount of snow and slush on the roads.
I have a black MEC running jacket bought 20 years ago that protects against the wind and has a thin fleece layer on the inside for warmth. Being a softshell jacket allows for greater mobility during speed/tempo sessions. My jacket has horizontal zippered pockets that act as ventilation and a safe place to keep possessions. The latest iteration of this jacket has a curved drop tail back for lower back protection against the wind.
For really wet and snowy days, the ASICS windproof jacket with a removable hood that I wear is 8 years old. It’s bright orange with thin silver stripes that are highly reflective (I only figured this out because a friend took a picture of me in the dark) as the days are short and running happens more or less in the twilight hours. The jacket is seam-sealed, with zippered pockets making it very waterproof. It also has front zippers around the core that open into mesh to allow for breathability and the jacket falls to just above my hips.
My last pieces of winter running gear are a buff and a toque. It provides a bit of a barrier going into the wind and allows for warm air to flow into my lungs on those really cold and dry winter runs. Probably one of the best running swag was from Run YYC. Their beanie has a cut out in the back for those of us who run with our hair in a ponytail.
Simple features that are oh-so-useful to enjoy running in the winter.