I grew up in a southern city in China where it was sunny and warm most of the year. The trees were always green, and snow was a distant dream. Because of all this, it’s also a city that doesn’t have heat. I remember poking my nose out from the comforter in the mornings to figure out the temperature. Why am I telling you this? Because after living in the U.S for over 10 years, my brain still only clicks with Celsius. And for the sake of easy conversion, I am going to use my nose as the scale for the temperature here!
This is a dummy guide for running outfits in different weather. Since I now live in a place that has four seasons, and I started running all year round two years ago, I figured I would share my experience of dressing for different temperatures and weather conditions.
(For those who are normal and use weather apps instead of their noses to tell the temperature, don’t worry, I included a nose to Celsius to Fahrenheit chart at the end.)
The world is an oven. But you are likely in the middle of your training plan for all of those fall races. There is nothing much I can tell you about how to dress in this kind of weather. This is my hot girl summer time, aka. sports bra running weather. Find something light, breathable, and as little coverage as acceptable for society and your comfort level. Avoid cotton, which soaks up your sweat, and the smells sometimes linger around even after laundry.
Hydration and electrolytes are the keys in this weather. Be mindful of your water intake during the entire training cycle, especially on the days when you know you have a tough workout. And a magical thing that I started using during this past training cycle was salt tablets. It not only helped me during my workouts to keep electrolytes balanced and retain more fluid (bye side stitches), but it also made me feel less drained and recover faster after the workouts.
The perfect weather for chilling outdoors, but a bit too hot for running. I mostly run in shorts and tank in this weather, and walk straight into the shower with all the clothes on because I don’t want my sweat-soaked clothes sitting in the laundry bin, and also I just go through my running clothes too quickly.
This is the time of the year when rain could become a frequent guest. Some people may skip the runs when it’s raining, but it’s honestly my favorite running weather. The raindrops cool you down so that you never overheat. And there is just something about running in the rain that makes me feel joyful and stress-free. Here are some tips I learned over the years about running in the rain: wear a hat to avoid water getting into your eyes, wear body-fitting clothes such as leggings and compression shorts, use an anti-chafing balm on areas that may chafe (feet, nipples, sports bra seam…etc), stuff your wet shoes with newspapers or paper towel.
My nose gets tickly during seasonal changes between winter and spring, and summer and fall. Growing up, the first thing I would do when I woke up was a sneeze. The sneezing somehow got better over the years, but the tickly feeling in my nose never went away during seasonal changes. Tickly nose weather is the kind of weather that’s too cold to sit outside, but it’s heaven for runners.
Shorts are still my go-to in this weather, and this is the only time when all of my free race t-shirts get to see the sunlight. I dislike running in t-shirts in sweaty nose weather because I want to avoid sleeve tan lines. But the sun is normally pretty gentle during this time of the year. I know I warm up relatively quickly, and I tend to run hot. But if that’s not you, this is the kind of weather in which you may consider a light long-sleeved shirt or light leggings.
This is as cold as my hometown would ever get. It meant “deep winter” for me growing up. I still vividly remember when I was walking to an 8 am art history class during my first semester at the University of Minnesota, it was early September. I took a deep breath, and I saw my breath condense into a small, misty cloud. I stood there for a second, pondering my decision to transfer there. Here I am, 8 years later, still living in the midwest, still questioning my decision to live here every single winter.
Fogging nose weather is when I would start bringing out my gloves and windbreakers. I have a couple of super light windbreakers that I love to layer in different weather conditions. It can get pretty windy during this time of the year. But the temperature is still lovely once you warm up. My go-to outfit in this temperature are shorts+tank+windbreaker+gloves, or shorts+long-sleeves. If it takes your body a little longer to warm up, or you are just out there for a super short and light jog, you can try leggings+long-sleeves+light gloves. Don’t reach for your fleece yet. You will overheat once you start moving.
This is also the time of the year when the days are getting shorter. You should start thinking about being visible in the dark. I have a couple of small Nathan StrobeLights that I would clip on my shirts. I also have a light vest that I would wear when it’s colder and darker. I love wearing my light vest during the holiday season. It makes me feel like I am a moving Christmas tree. There are a lot of different options out there, from reflective vests to ankle lights to headlamps to flashlights. Find one that works for you!
This is how I would describe the current temperature in Chicago. It’s mostly dark, gloomy, and cold. But it’s not snowing yet. When the temperature drops to shivering nose weather, I basically live in long-sleeved shirts with thumbholes all day long. It is tempting to dress warm and cozy before heading out of the door. But I guarantee you that if you are toasty before starting your run, you will overheat less than 1 mile in. The rule of thumb is to dress like it’s 10-20°F or 6-11°C warmer.
My go-to running outfit in this weather is leggings+long-sleeves shirts with thumbholes+light gloves (sometimes)+neck gaiter that I use as an earwarmer. I have some fleece headbands, but they are too warm for this weather. I find a neck gaiter to be the right level of thickness. Depending on the wind, I sometimes throw on a light windbreaker.
Tissue paper is my best friend in runny/stuffy nose weather. This is when I start reaching for my merino base layers or fleece-lined shirts. I would throw on a light windbreaker over it whether or not it’s windy because I find that extra layer helps to retain the heat. As long as my core feels warm, I can keep going! That being said, I stay with regular leggings in this weather just so that my legs still feel light.
As for accessories, this is when I would put on thicker socks, think about merino and wool materials. Gloves and headbands/hats become necessities in this weather.
This is the kind of weather in which your eyelashes turn into tiny icicles. The key to running at this temperature is layering. Start with base layers and build from there. You can add a pullover and a thicker waterproof jacket. If it’s still cold, throw on a light puffy vest.
When the temperature drops to snotsicles weather, it’s likely snowy and icy. It’s important to make sure that your outer layer is windproof and waterproof. I have never invested in winter running shoes so I cannot give specific recommendations here. But if you are interested, there are a handful of brands that make winter-resistant (Gore-tex) running shoes with good traction.
Depending on the exact temperature, I sometimes put on fleece-lined leggings. I refuse to put on multiple layers on my legs because I don’t like to feel weighed down by the layers. But if you feel like the windchill is getting to your bones, tights+a pair of lightweight waterproof pants could be a good idea.
I sometimes wear two pairs of gloves in this weather. And headbands/hats are must-haves otherwise your ears and head would hurt from the cold wind. If you have a neck gaiter, it could be nice to put it over your neck. I tend to pull it over my nose to keep my nose and mouth warm when I start my runs. And as I warm up, I pull it down.
Hope this post inspires you to run in different weather conditions! Yeah running!