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|Cross country skiing in Kananaskis|
First: Calculate your running (or skiing!) temperature
Dressing for winter aerobic activities is tricky as you don’t dress for the thermometer, but need to be prepared for the cold. Runner’s World recommends you calculate your running temperature by adding 10-15 F (5.5-9.4 C) for easier or shorter runs, and 15-20 F (9.4-11C) for longer, higher output runs. So basically, dress for 5-10 degrees C (10-20 degrees F) warmer than the outdoor temperature – or how warm you think you’ll be after running for 15 minutes. Read more from Runner’s World here.
What about warming up? If it’s super cold out, start with a light jacket and tie it around your waist or put it in a small backpack/fanny pack when you no longer need it. When it’s -20C, I usually start out with a down sweater on. Remember to remove layers BEFORE you overheat as it’s dangerous to get sweaty in cold weather. Even if you don’t need a jacket to warm up/cool down, carry an extra layer just in case – if the wind kicks up, you’ll be glad to have it!
How to dress for winter running or cross country skiing
The best winter running and cross country ski wear
1. Medium-weight technical shirt with half zip or quarter zip for temperature regulation and high neck to keep heat in when you’re warming up/cooling down. Look for tops with chin guards or zipper garages. I wear Craft a lot for winter running and cross country skiing and love the material, shaping, and mapping (lighter insulation in armpits for example).
|The Craft Women’s Long Sleeve Active Comfort Top is warm, breathable
and has thoughtful details like chinguard and thumbholes
2. Thermal running tights keep you warm via compression and insulation. Look for fleece lined tights with an abrasion resistant outer layer. Ankle zips are a nice feature that make changing quick and easy. I have a few pairs of thermal running tights but like my SKINS best due to their graduated compression. Read my full review of SKINS DNAmic compression thermals here.
|Love these SKINS DNAmic Thermal Compression Long Tights!
I actually experience less shin pain wearing them!
3. Severe weather (-20C or colder) calls for windproof running pants and thermal base layers, OR an insulated running skirt with running tights.
|Craft Women’s Force Pants are great soft shell pants with boot zips –
use them for winter running or cross country skiing!
When choosing base layers, look for synthetic, merino, or merino wool blends to keep you warm and dry. I am partial to Helly Hansen’s Warm Freeze line (poly lined merino wool) as it is high quality and does not pill (note that it fits small so you may need to go up a size). Terramar Sports’ Thermawool Base Layers are a more affordable option if you live in the US. (Disclosure: I am a Terramar Sports Brand Ambassador.)
|Helly Hansen Warm Freeze base layers are so cozy and warm!|
An insulated running skirt is a great alternative to running pants as it’s easier to move in and saves weight/bulk. I used to think they were useless, but they actually keep quite a bit of heat in (like a vest for your bum!)! Look for a wind resistant shell, high quality fill, side zip for easy on/off, stretch side panels, and adjustable waist to accommodate different layers underneath. Craft, Halti, and Salomon make really nice running/cross country ski skirts. I chose the Salomon Drifter Mid Skirt as it’s reversible (quilted on one side, smooth on the other) and not too thick.
|The Salomon Drifter Mid Skirt has a quilted and smooth side,
elastic side panels, full side zip and adjustable waist.
4. An insulated vest adds warmth without bulk and allows your pits to breathe. Look for a lightly insulated vest made with synthetic material and lightweight fill (primaloft/down). Nice to have features include a zipper garage/chin guard, zippered pockets, and inner zippered pocket to keep your phone warm.
|I love my Outdoor Research Cathode Vest! It has just enough fill
to keep me warm when I’ve moving fast in cold weather.
|The Craft Defense Running Jacket is wind and waterproof
with reflective details for night running.
|Women’s Saucony Peregrine 7 Ice+ Running Shoes
have a super grippy Vibram “Arctic Grip” Sole.
|Smartwool Women’s PhD Run Cold Weather Mid Crew Socks for the win!|
|Under Armour Elements Fleece Beanie|
|A Buff is super versatile – wear it as a neck gaiter, face mask, or even a beanie!|
|Kahtoola Nanospikes provide excellent traction on icy sidewalks.|
|Stash Little Hotties in your pocket, purse, car, and backpack
for those crazy cold days! They’re lifesavers!
|The Oakley Radar EV Path have vents to prevent fogging up.|
|SKINS DNAmic Compression Speed Crop Sports Bra|
Additional winter running gear
The Petzl Tikka Headlamp 200 Lumens – Black is compact, effective, and reliable.
Keep warm out there and let me know if you find some fun trails for running or cross country skiing!