anatomy of a winter run in minnesnowta.


A few years ago, I made a deal with myself that I would run outside all winter as long as it was above 10F (because treadmill). A year later, I dropped my limit to 0F, and unless the wind chill is ridiculous (usually -10F or colder), I bundle up and head out. Because as much as I prefer sports bra, speed shorts and trucker hat running weather, there’s something so invigorating about running outside when there’s snow on the ground – except for maybe the thawing process when your skin tingles as it warms up!


That said, we recently got a (free!) treadmill, which will be a great addition to our tri room when we (finally) swap out the 15 amp outlet for a 20 amp. It would have come in quite handy recently when wind chills plummeted to sub -30F. 

Anyway, the anatomy of a winter run! It’s often said that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. So here’s what keeps me toasty and running outside through all kinds of wintry weather (hint: layers are key!). And, in Minnesnowta – you never know what you’re gonna get… snow in April can happen!  

winter run_final

1 – brushed running tights. My go-tos are lululemon speed tights and toasty tech tights (for the sub 10F temps). And, on really cold days – 10F and colder – I layer up with a pair of lulu quilted insulated shorts. Because cold crotch isn’t fun. 

2 – base layer long sleeve. The lululemon swiftly long sleeve is what I reach for time and time again. Even on the coldest days I’m good with just one under my down jacket. Tip: be sure to tuck it in to keep it from riding up.

3 – down jacket. The lulu fluff off jacket has been my go-to for three winters. It’s perfect for temps 25F and colder, and even then I sometimes get too warm – which is where the zippered vents come in handy. The longer back covers part of your bum, and reflective zippers are a bonus for night runs.

4 – neck gaiter. I wear this SmartWool neck gater almost every run colder than 30F. The mid-weight merino wool keeps my neck warm – and, it’s snug enough to pull over your chin and nose and stay put (the only downfall is it freezes from your breath when it’s super cold). 

5 – hat + mittens. Again, my go-tos are lulu. I’ve had this turquoise hat for a few years, and it still looks new. The mittens are two-in-ones… a lighter luon base mitten (compatible with your iPhone) and a fingerless down over mitten when it’s colder (for me, 20F and lower). 

6 – socks. Depending on temp, my sock choice varies. If it’s super cold and snowy, SmartWool is the ticket. I alternate between a heavier and midweight crew sock that tucks under my tights to keep out snow. If it’s 25F or warmer, I opt for Feetures no-shows

7 – headlamp. While my main running route is fairly well lit, well plowed and along a well traveled road in the ‘burbs, a headlamp still lights the way. An older version of the Black Diamond spot headlamp is my go-to. 

8 – Hoka Cliftons (neon pink FTW!). I won’t run in anything else… though I’m excited to try the Vanquish

9 – Garmin 920. Slow is the new fast, and the 920 keeps me on pace to nail every mile interval almost exactly the same. 

If you run outdoors through the winter months, what are your keep-you-warm must-haves? 

Happy winter running, friends!

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  • Reply Laura 02/08/2016 at 9:52 am

    Winter running in the DC Metro area never really gets very cold, and although we just had a nice big blizzard and 30″ of snow, black ice is far more common. My STABLicers are my must have. They fit over my shoes and stay, the little nubs keep me from slipping, but they aren’t too annoying when I’m running on the regular pavement.

    • Reply erin 02/15/2016 at 4:43 pm

      STABLicers sound interesting! Will have to look them up. Are the nubs similar to Yaktrax? Black ice is the worst – especially when it’s hidden under a bit of snow!

      • Reply Laura 03/18/2016 at 11:22 am

        I’ve never worn Yaktrax, so I’m not sure. But they’re almost like little thumbtacks. Obviously you still have to be careful, but they’re pretty sweet. Handy, since we’re supposed to get some snow here this weekend!

  • Reply Kecia 02/08/2016 at 10:31 am

    I need to get more winter running gear to enjoy more running outdoors year round, but I just haven’t bit the bullet for the gear. I am always so hesitant due to ice under the snow. I’ve fallen a few times and don’t enjoy the recovery time to get me moving again…

    • Reply erin 02/15/2016 at 4:44 pm

      Ice is the worst! Maybe a pair of Yaktrax would help?! Definitely worth the clothing investment – it’s so nice to get out and embrace winter! Sure beats the treadmill…

  • Reply Julia 02/08/2016 at 11:11 am

    Wait? You seriously run in down? We should compare outfits bc I would roast in that! Glad you are getting out! Other than ice there is no reason not to!!👍👍🏃🏻

    • Reply erin 02/15/2016 at 4:46 pm

      Haha! I do! It’s a pretty lightweight jacket, though I still get pretty warm, especially when there’s a tailwind! What do you wear?!

  • Reply I Love Winter Running 02/08/2016 at 12:05 pm

    […] listen to the meteorologists! I swear they get paid to scare people inside. Bundle up (use my friend, erin’s guide) and #getoutside. Winter weather can breed apathy and sadness. Being outside will lift […]

  • Reply Danielle @ Eat Primal, Run Hard 02/09/2016 at 1:06 am

    My winter gear is probably the equivalent to your late fall/early spring stuff! I too wear Feetures no show (my faves!), and have a Helly Hansen thermal long-sleeved to that I wear. If it’s really cold – 0°C in a damp cold – then I’ll wear a pair of thermal tights underneath my winter tights because super cold bum! For night running, I use a Nathan glowing arm band, similar to that heal spur I gave you, or a running flashlight for pitch black, moonlight runs. Finally, my go-to head gear is a buff, every time – either as an ear band or beanie.

    • Reply erin 02/15/2016 at 4:48 pm

      Good tip on the thermal tights! I always wish lulu would make a pair of lightweight down tights – or, at least the front of a pair. How warm would those be?! :) Oh, gosh… I totally forgot about that heal spur! Need to dig that out :) Is it warming up over there?! Happy running, my friend!

  • Reply Beth 02/12/2016 at 7:41 pm

    Love all the Lulu gear! I am hoping to add a Fluff Off jacket to my collection sometime soon (although the bump doesn’t really fit in my jackets anymore) Luckily we have been having beautiful weather here in Colorado but I am sure it will get cold again soon. The only thing I would add are sheet metal screws that you can add to old shoes for traction when it’s icy =)

    • Reply erin 02/15/2016 at 4:50 pm

      ColoRADo has the best weather! I’ve heard about the sheet metal screws… do they not wreck your shoes?! I’m hesitant because I feel like they’d wreck the integrity of the sole.

      Hope you’re doing and feeling well! :)

  • Reply three things – january 2018. - sweet sweat life 02/01/2018 at 8:14 am

    […] There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing, right?! Bundle up properly – here’s what I wear for most runs below 30F – and head out. The brisk fresh air is invigorating and a great reminder that you’re […]

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