Braving the winter chill: 5 tips

A brief look at the weather app, a resigned assessment of the view from your bedroom window, quickly followed by poking your head out the door for a temperature check…

The return to running in winter is difficult at the best of times. A sage approach to braving the conditions, precipitation and all – tends to involve clothing.

For all those new to the arena, I’ve one word for you – layers.

A run around Albert Park Lake provides a full spectrum of clothing decisions, showcasing those going for warmth, weight of attire, fashion or washing day kit.

I can empathise with all involved, everyone was a beginner at one point, and some of the items I decided ‘wise’ for a run in high school were retrospectively horrific. A scrawny 16 year old circling the botanical gardens in a far too big hoodie – we’ve all been there, sweaty and regretful of best laid plans.

Instead, as a scrawnier 28 year old, I’ve submitted to the layering prophecy, as follows.

1. The 8-minute rule

I was fortunate enough as a youngster to have my trial by fire or ‘induction’ process occur largely at Lysterfield National Park. One particularly wise runner offered this advice early on – if you think you’ll be sweating and warm within 8 minutes of starting your run, don’t put that extra layer of clothing on. Whilst the additional layer of warmth is pleasant for 10-15 minutes, if you’re running for 20 minutes or more, you’ll be sweltering.

2. Rain and the many ways to endure it

Often pitched as ‘romantic’ – running in the rain is hardly that. Properly sideways precipitation is miserable at best. Where possible, opt for snug fitting or synthetic composite textiles. Spandex or elasticised items mixed with polyester are best, as when wet, they tend not to hold a great deal of moisture. Opting for many jackets or a looser fitting long sleeve top may initially combat temperature, but will ultimately end up heavy, wet, and keep you rather cold. If rain is torrential, a jacket that is waterproof will likely keep out rain to an extent, but raise body temperature – a worthwhile consideration. 

3. Half-zips

This mysterious garment is neither a jacket or a jumper. The best of both worlds with often light fabrics, a zip halfway down the chest region – these items can function much like a built in air-conditioner. If conditions are particularly frigid, zips up, sleeves all the way down. As temperatures rise or you warm up on your run, sleeves can move up, as the zip goes down.

4. Tights

A divisive fashion issue for many – for anyone knew to the world of running, long tights or half tights are welcome attire. What can be considered a fashion faux pas in many team sports tends to be flipped on its head in the athletic world. If long tights feel a bit of an odd aesthetic to trot out in isolation, shorts over the top can be optioned in – but rest assured tights on their own are entirely permissible. In terms of temperature maintenance, a good pair of tights can allow a runner to have lighter options up top, maintaining body temperature surprisingly well.

5. Gloves

With all of the above recommendations, it’s most important to note that humans lose the most of their body temperature via their extremities. Think of the top of your head, your hands, or your feet – if those areas are wet or constantly cold – your body is likely to feel unwanted trickle down temperature effects. In this scenario, if temperature is more of an issue than rain – gloves can provide the perfect compromise to maintain body temperature in the early stages of a run. Should you become too warm, gloves can also be tucked into a waistband or carried relatively easily.