WINTER RUNNING 101: Part I – An Intro to Layering

Originally published October 20, 2015; updated November 16, 2016

The first in a series on conquering winter running in New England

While it hasn’t been too bad yet, we know it’s coming. Eventually, Mother Nature is going to catch up with us and put us in a deep freeze that seems to break (miraculously every year) just about the week before the Boston Marathon. So let’s get ahead of the game and talk about layering and how to dress for winter running.

winter1WHAT IS LAYERING? A way to make running through a New England winter not suck…or suck less. It is a way of dressing during physical activity that manages moisture and keeps you warm on even the coldest of days. By layering multiple moisture-wicking fabrics on top of one another, we are creating a way for sweat to be removed from the skin, letting it evaporate right off the garment itself. Additionally, because wicking fabric is quick-drying, it performs exceptionally well during snow and rain.

LAYERSFirst thing’s first – COTTON IS BAD. We are trying to create a moisture movement system and cotton throws a wrench into our assembly line. Cotton is absorbent, which means as you sweat – which you will, even when it’s cold out – that cotton shirt just stays wet and cold against your skin. Recipe for disaster. So while that college hoodie is so nice and warm for lounging around the house, it’s not going to do you any good on a run. Cotton may be ‘the fabric of our lives,’ but as far as running apparel goes, it pretty much stinks.

My OOTD yesterday: Saucony Baselayer, Nike Half-Zip, Sugoi Zap Tights, Nike Headband. Could have done without the Half-Zip and probably would have been fine with lighter weight tights.

Secondly – DON’T OVERDRESS. Rule of thumb is to look at the thermometer and add 20* to whatever it says. I learned this lesson the hard way yesterday. I woke up freezing (because we refuse to turn the heat on in October), and put on a pair of insulated tights, baselayer, midlayer, and headband. I felt warm and toasty when I stepped out the door. About 20 minutes into the run I was ROASTING. If you feel warm when you step out the door, go back inside and take one layer off. An overheated body is not a happy one, and there aren’t enough Zedd songs on your running playlist to get that overheated body moving faster. Embrace being cold when you first start out. I promise, you will warm up!

baselayersAnd finally – INVEST IN A COUPLE OF GOOD BASELAYERS. Think of a baselayer as your winter running wardrobe staple. This is the piece from which you build your entire wardrobe. A good baselayer should be NON-COTTON (remember, cotton = BAD) and fit snugly against the skin. In our moisture management system, this is ground zero. Your baselayer takes perspiration off your skin and brings it to the surface of the garment to evaporate, dries quickly, and keeps you nice and comfy.

CLICK TO LEARN MORE about baselayers.

Let’s recap:


So now you’ve got the basics. Check back later in the month for Part II of Winter Running 101! And in the meantime, get to one of our store locations and pick up a good baselayer or two!