What to Wear for Cold Weather Running

So, I’m feeling a little bummed because my left knee is hurting again.  I went for a run on Monday and as I got off the treadmill, I realized that my knee was not feeling right! The stubborn side of me wants to ignore it and go running anyway, but I know that wouldn’t be smart.  I’m swapping cycling and yoga for my runs this week and I’ll try running again next Monday.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t run! I love running in the cooler weather, especially when I’m wearing the right clothes.  If you’re new to winter running, you might want to invest in some good quality running gear.  A sweatshirt and sweatpants are fine for a short jog, but if they aren’t made of technical material, they won’t wick your sweat very well, and it won’t keep you warm enough as the mercury drops.  Here’s what I like to wear at various temperatures for an easy short or mid-length run (I’ll wear less if I’m running longer or racing).
cold weather running guide


45 degrees
When the temperature drops below fifty degrees, I like to grab a long-sleeve shirt, like the Nike Element half-zip top pictured above.  I like the brushed, soft interior of this shirt, and the half zip allows me to adjust my core temperature as I run.  I’ll also pull on capris (Nike filament 3/4 capri above) or a light pair of running tights to keep my legs warm, and my favorite Under Armour Blustery Beanie II for my head.  I’ll often pull the hat off as I run, but I like to start my run off cozy =)


40 degreesAs the thermometer drops a little more or on a windier day, I’ll opt for a thicker fabric top like the Nike Hyperwarm Hybrid Training Top above – I absolutely love the longer length and cozy peached interior and I buy these whenever they go on sale.
– thicker long sleeve shirt.  I’ll swap the capris for running tights like these Nike Thermal Tights.  If you run warm, you might want to go with thinner tights like these North Face GTD tights or Nike’s Filament Tights.  I might also grab my Mizuno Breath Thermo Fleece running gloves; they’re thin, but they’re fleecy on the inside and have a soft terry surface, perfect for wiping away sweat and snot!


30 degrees
At below freezing temps, I’ll layer on a vest or jacket to keep my core warm! I bought the Brooks Adapt Vest this year after reading rave reviews online, but check out the Athleta Tech Stretch Vest or UA’s Coldgear Infrared Vest for slightly cheaper options!


20 degreesYikes, who runs in twenty degrees, right? Actually, as long as it isn’t too windy, I find that I’m still comfortable at these lower temps, as long as I layer my clothes.  I bought the Salomon Momentum Softshell Jacket last year during Black Friday, and it is super warm but very light! I can wear just about any shirt underneath and be perfectly comfortable during my run.  I’ll also pull on thicker tights – I love the fit and warmth of these Brooks Utopia Thermal Tights.  I’m also eyeing winter running socks like these to add to my collection – I’ve noticed that it takes a few miles to feel my toes on these colder runs!

I haven’t run in weather any colder this winter, and I’m not really expecting to (D.C.’s winters are pretty mild compared to my previous addresses in NY and Boston).  But if the temperature starts to drop into the single digits and my crazy self still wants to run outside, I’ll invest in a pair of thick tights like Sugoi Subzero Tights and a ninja-like balaclava.

Other Resources

Running Warehouse does a great job of reporting the thickness, type of fit (fitted or relaxed), and temperatures each piece of clothing is ideal for.  I use it all the time! Runner’s World also has a tool where you can input the conditions of your run and it’ll tell you what to wear.

Do you check the weather before you run? Compulsively, yes.


6 thoughts on “What to Wear for Cold Weather Running

  1. Alexa

    So many details! Thanks for all of the advice on cold running! I usually punk out when it feels kind of cold and just run on a treadmill. But that can’t be good for me long-term. I need to push myself and start running outside in the winter. Hopefully this will help!

  2. DistrictSweats

    Nice. I’m loving the New Balance running tights I recently picked up, and winter socks are a must! I hate when even a sliver of my ankle is exposed to freezing air, so I stock up on long, warm socks. Also, I love the look of that Nike Hyperwarm top. Will have to look out for it.

    1. Dawn H.

      Oo, any tips on good winter socks? I’m thinking about trying the Drymax Cold Weather ones that I’ve seen online.

    2. Dawn H.

      Oh cool! Are they very thick, like ski socks? The last time I played soccer was in elementary school so I don’t remember what the socks are like. Thanks for the tip!

    3. DistrictSweats

      Average thickness, I guess. Definitely too think (and ridiculous looking) for summer, but great for winter runs for me!

      PS – Replying to your email now!

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