Don't let Jack Frost come between you and your workout this winter. With a few light layers of protective clothing, you can stand up to all the elements Jack tries to put in your way.
John Stanton Jr. of The Running Room says the most important element to remember when preparing for winter workouts is to dress in layers. Stanton also reminds winter athletes to be careful not to overdress because you warm up once you start to move. "Dress as if it's five to eight degrees warmer than it really is and you should be dressed appropriately for your winter workout," Stanton says.
Here are some tips to help you dress right when the weather outside is frightful and prevent frostbite.
Base layer: Start with your under wear
For base-layer clothing, Stanton advises: "the most important feature is that it moves moisture away from the skin and dries rapidly." The garments should also be lightweight and form-fitting.
Synthetic-fiber materials are best for wicking moisture so that your body stays dry and warm. "There are a variety of moisture-managing fabrics on the market these days, from Coolmax to Dryline to Polartec X-Static," Stanton says. You'll want to wear underwear, tights and a long-sleeve shirt made of these materials. (Note: Insulated underwear is a good idea, especially for men, to prevent the risk of cold-related injuries.)
As for socks, Stanton says to choose well-fitted ones designed to manage moisture. Once again, synthetic fibers are best. "Many companies use Thermastat which actually retains heat of the foot, but (at The Running Room) blister-proof socks are still the most popular," Stanton says. Avoid cotton, as it absorbs and retains moisture.
Page 1 of 3 – Discover what to put on next to stay toasty during an outdoor winter workout on page 2.
Insulating layer: You're getting warmer
Your second layer of clothing provides you with extra protection from cold temperatures. Choose loosely-fitted sweatshirts and long sleeved T-shirts made of lightweight, moisture-wicking and water-resistant fabrics. "We typically recommend a performance fleece that will allow moisture to move outward but retains heat," Stanton says.
An additional layer of running pants may or may not be necessary depending on the thickness and warmth of the tights worn for the base layer. If you decide that you'd like the extra warmth, Stanton recommends wind-proofing materials like, Power Sheild, Windpro, and SuperMicroft.
Winter accessories are also important for keeping warm while working out. Since up to 50 per cent of the body's heat can be lost through your head, Stanton recommends, "moisture-management tuques like Dryline if you heavily perspire; if not, insulating fleeces work great."
Waterproof, lined mittens or gloves are also key. "My all time favorite materials for mitts and gloves are Dryline and Windpro – warm but not bulky," Stanton says.
Page 2 of 3 – Bundle up with great tips for staying warm when playing outside during winter on page 3.
Outer layer: Protection from the elements
The final layer to don before heading out is one that will protect you from the elements, specifically the wind. "The outer layer needs to be breathable, as you will heat up during a winter workout but at the same time, it needs to block out the wind," Stanton says. "We have a saying that the temperature won't get you, but the wind can, so wear a windproof jacket." Recommended materials are SuperMicroft, Polartec Windpro, and Polartec Power Shield.
When it comes to footwear, Stanton says wearing running shoes with the proper support for your needs is the most important factor to consider for winter running, just as it is year round. If traction is a concern, "I would recommend the Get a Grip products -- they come in Regular and Ultra. They are an overshoe that slips over top of your current running and walking shoes and have carbide spikes to give grip on the ice and snow."
On extremely cold and windy days, consider wearing a balaclava or face mask. Stanton says to look for moisture management and wind-proof materials, as well as proper breathing holes.
When bundling up in all those layers it can be easy to neglect protecting what little skin is exposed to the sun. But sunscreen is not just a summertime necessity, it's important all year so be sure to slather some lotion on your neck and face before going outside. Lip balm and Vaseline are also great to have on hand to protect any exposed skin from the effects of cold temperatures and harsh winds.
Enjoy the season
Don't let cold temperatures prevent you from getting the most out of your workout this winter. Remember that all it takes to conquer the cold is a few well-planned layers. Stanton offers an inspiring quote from Doug Jones, a Canadian septuagenarian marathoner, who said, "Running in winter is like running in a Christmas card."
Page 3 of 3 – Are you wearing the right kind of undergarments for an outdoor workout? Find out on page 1.