winter running essentials

fleece/tee shirt/leggings/hat/glittens/warmers

Running is a part of my life that I rarely talk about, even though I’ve been doing it for almost 20 years.

Mainly because I hate it.

Can you imagine hating something – and sticking with it – for that long?

I know – but I have my reasons. And the number one reason I run is this:

I hate exercising.

(Are you now thoroughly confused?)

See, if it were up to me, watching “Mad Men” marathons while eating kettle corn would be the magic bullet for weight control. But it’s not. So my goal, years ago, was to figure out a way to exercise that would be efficient, take a minimal amount of time, and yield the best results for me.

And running fills the bill perfectly. I don’t have to get in my car and drive somewhere (drive? to exercise? craziness, I tell you!). I’m not dependent on class times or gym hours. I don’t need any fancy or expensive equipment. And I can do it from wherever I happen to be, all year round. Even in winter.

Barring a major snowstorm or icy roads, I run 3 times a week, 12 months a year. And I quickly learned that the right clothing and accessories make it easy fun possible for me to get out there – comfortably – regardless of the temperature.

So here are my must-haves for winter running!

Fleece – A good half-zip fleece is the must-have of all must-haves. It keeps me warm but not too much, and the half-zip allows for some options if I heat up midway.

Moisture-wicking tee – I find thin layers to be the most comfortable for running. A long-sleeve tee constructed of lightweight, moisture-wicking material is the perfect layer under my trusty fleece.

Leggings – I find sweat pants too thick and bulky for running. Plus, ugly? Lycra leggings are lightweight, toasty warm and allow for maximum movement and flexibility. Some people like a bootleg cut but I prefer a legging that’s fitted at the bottom.

Glittens – Even before the onset of arthritis my hands have always been sensitive to the cold.  I got these years ago and they are perfect. The mitten-like coverings keep my fingers warm, but easily flip back if I they need some air. They are versatile enough to get me through all but the most bitterly cold days.

Hat – I resisted the whole hat thing for years, preferring the headband/ponytail look. But on frigid mornings, I always reach for my hat. It really is true that you lose a significant amount of heat through your head, and a hat makes all the difference. Fortunately, there are a lot of cute options out there – and this one even has a ponytail opening! Winning!

Hand/foot warmers – For those of you with fingers and toes that are ALWAYS cold, these are pretty much essential.

And on truly bitter days (like the ones we’ve been experiencing here in New York lately – hello 9 degrees!), I go for the serious accessories:

Double layer mittens – When the temps dip to the teens, my beloved glittens (even with hand warmers) are simply not enough.

Mask – Breathing in arctic air is no fun. For years I tried wrapping a scarf around my face, or pulling a turtleneck up and over my nose and mouth. These tricks never worked. And then I discovered this mask. LOVE. It is ventilated so there is no build-up of damp air around my face. Do I get strange looks from passersby? Yes. Do I care? Nope. And if I ever decide to go into cat burglary I’ve got my outfit all set…..

Face cream – A good face cream will prevent chapping and windburn, and reduce redness too. Even better if it contains a sunscreen. I like this one by Mario Badescu.

And I’m never without:

iPod – It’s lonely out there most mornings. Howard (Stern) keeps me company.

Reflector vest – Running in the dark? Safety first, people.

How about you? Do you have a “preferred” (do you see how I even have to put that in quotes? I hate exercising!!!) form of exercising? Do you change it up with the seasons, or are you a creature of habit like me? How do you keep it fresh and interesting? Share!


  1. Jackson on February 19, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    I don’t move fast but do walk my dogs in some pretty bitter Vermont winter weather. I’m afraid of petroleum based products on my skin, so have found great relief in Vermont Soap’s green gold moisturizer and raw african shea nut butter. Stuff works and is simple and natural with all sorts of botanical goodies.

    Check them out here:

  2. Marti on February 19, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    First off sorry I haven’t left you any comments lately so busy with getting my passion/business off the ground, working a day job and running a household it’s nice to know you know how that goes. OMG I so admire you !! I wish I could run I’ve always felt that running is like running aimlessly to no where I just have never been able to get into it. I’ve also heard it’s bad on your knees but I do know that it’s runners that are able to burn most calories and maintain a good weight. I’m the total opposite I have to go to a gym and participate in group a class like zumba or a ballet barre it’s I do get on a stair machine once in a while when I’ve downloaded a bunch of new songs.

    • sherisilver on February 19, 2013 at 6:55 pm

      I know – everyone is so different. I could never see myself at a gym/class on any kind of regular basis! Alternating my sneakers – and replacing them regularly – definitely helps with wear and tear on the knees. Dreading the day that I can’t do it any more (as much as I complain about it! 🙂 )

  3. Caroline on February 19, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    Sheri, my husband Gil is a runner and he runs for all these same reasons you do. SO smart! He ran the Marine Corps Marathon the past two years in a row but this year he’s taking a break and training for a Tri which will be much less distance running.

    Great info here and these favorites of yours would also be great for just any person who is active outdoors in the cold weather.


    • sherisilver on February 19, 2013 at 9:39 pm

      Marine Corps? That’s hard core; I’m impressed! 🙂

  4. Drew on February 19, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    Sheri, you and I have a similar relationship with running, though you’ve been much better about keeping that relationship alive.

    I don’t like running very much, but whenever I feel like I need to get in shape, it always seems the most practical way to get there. It’s much cheaper than a gym and can be done almost everywhere. And for me, treadmills and tracks are so boring that if those were my only option, I’d probably get no exercise. Fortunately, there’s enough interesting landscape in Seattle to keep me entertained while I run.

    However, I have a real nasty habit of not running for a long period of time if something breaks my routine. I run in the morning, before I can reason myself out of going. When Nathaniel was born, I was just too tired every morning that I couldn’t bother to go running, too. I don’t think I started running again for about 18 months.

    I’m not running now either simply because it got cold enough for me to silence the ol’ super-ego. I think I need to outfit myself better, so I appreciate your post on what you do. Thanks for the inspiration, Sheri. 🙂

    • sherisilver on February 19, 2013 at 9:11 pm

      It’s so funny you say that – one of the reasons I stick with it is because I’m afraid to stop! I know how easily I could slide into never going back…

      • Drew on February 19, 2013 at 9:39 pm

        Not running is the gateway drug!

        My lazy brain is much smarter than my active one, so he doesn’t have to put much effort into finding excuses. His best argument is usually “what would happen if you didn’t run? It’s not like you’ll suddenly gain back all the weight you lost. And if you do, just start running again.” He always leaves out how difficult it is to start up again. Jerk.

        • sherisilver on February 20, 2013 at 6:51 am

          Our lazy brains are practically twins….

  5. Megan on February 26, 2013 at 10:21 am

    I run to eat 🙂 There are some days where I really am craving a good run – I have some good music lined up, the weather is my kind of running weather, and I’m pumped. The other days? Well, I just follow the motions, get my butt out the door and get it over with so I can get on with something more enjoyable – a glass of wine? Chocolate? ANYTHING… 🙂

    My winter running essential is something for my lips! Agree with the face cream but I also desperately need to protect these kissers.

    Oh, and I also recently got into yoga too. Again, I could never be bothered to go out for a class and found a way to do it at home and I’m lovin’ it:

    • sherisilver on February 26, 2013 at 11:25 am

      Thanks Megan – I should have added a lip product as I agree, it’s a must, especially in cold weather! Just read your post on yoga – so funny, I was doing yoga for only 2 years before I got pregnant with Noah. I’ve not yet returned to it and hope to one day, but it was uncanny how much it helped my running. It made a significant difference for me too – going to check out that site asap; thank you! 🙂

  6. Lisa on February 26, 2013 at 11:13 pm

    Sheri, this is such a great post! Living in Madison, WI I see lots of winter runners, and I always admire them (because, like you, I hate running). As usual, you’ve inspired me – I want to run now! (your posts always seem to have that effect on me :)) One thing I’ve been pondering about: how do people run on ice and snow without slipping all the time? Are there special “winter sneakers” (similar to studded tires for winter bikers)? On some days I’m barely able to walk (very slowly) without slipping, so I always wonder how runners do it so gracefully!

    • sherisilver on February 27, 2013 at 8:25 am

      Ugh – ice. I wouldn’t recommend what I do ;)- I run VERY early in the morning, when there are few to no cars on the road, and run on the street. The ice is not an issue then. As for snow, that’s actually not hard to run in – kind of like running on the beach. And graceful? That’s another reason I run so early – fewer witnesses to all of my falls!

Leave a Comment