As the temperatures drop and the cold wind whips against my windows, I have to fight the urge to scurry back indoors and ditch my outdoor jog. I love to run year-round, but during the winters in the Midwest where I live, it takes a bit more coaxing to go outside and exercise than at other times of the year. And I'm not interested in an alternative: Jogging in place on a treadmill in a sad, gray gym for an hour? No, thank you.
With the right gear, running in the winter can be -- dare I say -- far more pleasant than running in the summer. And exercising in cold weather offers major health benefits: Running outdoors in the winter may boost your mood and maintain your metabolism all while burning a few extra calories along the way, Shape reports. And it can help emotionally, too: The darkness and frigidity of the winter weather can often give me the blues, but running in the sun (yes, even when it's 15 degrees out) can pull me out of a foul mood immediately.
I've found that when I'm bundled up with lightweight layers and equipped with the proper gear -- headphones that withstand the chilling Midwest temperatures and shoes that grip the icy ground -- my wintry runs are surprisingly refreshing and oodles more comfortable than sweaty summer runs under a scorching sun. Here's my go-to setup for making my winter runs more than just endurable but fun. For more items worth splurging on, here are kitchen items we're obsessed with and great gifts for older parents.
This base layer long sleeve is the pinnacle of consciously created, functional apparel. First off, it's odor resistant, so I can wear it for a few days in a row without smelling like the corner of a locker room. Second, it's made with breathable Merino wool, a thinner and softer version of the fabric that stays warm even while wet. Third, the sleeves are designed to hug my arms and warm my extremities, while the base of the shirt hangs loosely on my torso, so I don't overheat. I wear this base layer under a jacket or vest, and I'm good to go.
One of the worst feelings in the world is when my headphones die mid-run in the cold. Waterproof, weather-durable headphones are king when it comes to long, snowy winter runs. Runner's World tested the Jabra 75T's and found that they have 90 minutes more battery life in comparison to the Apple AirPods Pro ($230) -- and, depending on the model you choose, are a hundred dollars cheaper. The earphones are IP57-verified, so they're fully waterproof and sweatproof to withstand snowy, wet conditions and continue blasting your favorite songs.
The best running shoes in the world mean nothing without a warm, supportive sock. Merino wool is once again the name of the game in terms of comfortable, warm and lightweight exercise fabric. If you step in a mound of slush and get your shoes wet, the Merino wool socks prevent persistent soggy cold feet (the absolute worst). The crew length also ensures an extra layer of warmth while you run.
I roll my ankle on the cracks in the street in broad daylight, so I can only imagine what would happen if I started running in the dark. As the days get darker, your morning or afternoon run does too. With less visibility, I risk tripping or injuring myself by overlooking uneven payment and accidentally stepping on the cracks or potholes. I'll never make that mistake again with these shoe lights. These lights are rechargeable, waterproof and offer up 360-degree visibility in pitch-black conditions.
This jacket works wonderfully as a second layer under my base layer. Runner's World tested the Stretch Ozonic and reported that its temperature range is ideal for 15- to 30-degree weather.
One misstep on some black ice and I'm done for. Unless I'm strapping this pro traction system onto my shoes, then ice is the last thing on my mind. The hand-wound stainless steel coils of the Yaktrax Pro are abrasion-resistant and cling to slippery patches of snow and ice as you move.
If I were to choose between a headband or ear muffs as I run, I'm always going for the headband. Whenever I start a run on a chilly day, my head needs protection from the weather the instant I step outside. But after a mile or two, my head is warm and I can drop the headband from my head and stash it in my pocket or pull it down and wear it like a gaiter. Plus, listening to music in headphones is much more unfussy with a headband compared to ear muffs. This specific headband is made with, you guessed it, Merino wool, it comes in beautiful colors like mint green and maroon, and it's reversible.
These Athleta leggings are meant for winter strolls and strides. They're made with Athleta's Polartec fabric, which lends a warm interior and sleek exterior to the legging and wicks away sweat from the body so it evaporates above the fabric.