Best Gear for Winter Running in the South

Photo by  Kevin Wenning  on  Unsplash

Photo by Kevin Wenning on Unsplash

You may have caught Brianna’s post in January about running in the cold, cold North. I can’t even imagine how this Southern girl would prepare to run in 4 degrees. Oh wait; yes I do. I wouldn’t have to prepare because I wouldn’t be running. Brr!

In the last few weeks, our country has experienced huge swings in temperatures and weather. In the South, I suppose it’s just a typical winter. I’m used to the days starting out in the 20s or 30s and reaching as high as 70 in the same day. I do a lot of questioning of Mother Nature and her objectives. Sometimes I think she wants us all to hibernate until the first Spring bloom.

Some people plan their days around running - and sunshine - so that they can be outside when it’s warmest. I’m of the mindset and personality where I plan runs around my day. That means they happen in the morning or else it turns into a “no run” day.

Winter running in the South takes planning, patience and clothes. The right clothes. Layers of clothes in some cases. Last week I woke up to 10 degree temperature differences on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. But with proper planning, I am comfortable and warm (enough) to make it through. I look at the weather forecast before going to bed so I can plan my outfit and lay out the pieces I’ll need. It also help because I don’t have to think about it when I’m still a little groggy at 5… 5:15 am.

When the temperature swings so drastically from one day to the next like it does in South Carolina, that pesky little virtue of patience is put to the test. Patience with the weather and patience with oneself. We should always warm up into a run. When it’s bone-chillingly cold, stretching indoors is a great option. A few long, static stretches will help get your muscles going. Then start your run slowly like Brianna mentioned. Either by walking or jogging slower than you want to. You will naturally pick up speed as your lungs, muscles and joints warm up.

Even in fairly chilly weather, I’m often good-to-go with an average weight base layer and gloves. I swear by gloves. As the weather shifts into Spring and its still cool in the morning, I’m known to wear short sleeves, but still my gloves. It makes a big difference! It is helpful to have gloves that are touch screen capable, particularly if you use a smart watch or phone.

Below are my must-haves for winter running:

  • Gloves - These are touch screen friendly and fleece lined. If you’re in a more consistently colder climate, you may want thicker gloves. Your local running shop should be able to point you to some options.

  • Base layer - Any type of polyester blend will be most comfortable. Even wanting to stay warm, it is good to have a wicking, performance fabric. As your body warms up, you’ll appreciate that it can breathe.

  • Vest - I use a fleece-lined, puffer vest for really cold mornings. It blocks the wind and keeps my core warm while keeping my arms free so I don’t feel restricted. Next to gloves, vests are dream gear for Southern runners.

  • Fleece lined leggings (running tights) - your regular yoga or running tights won’t cut it when the temps are in the 30s or below. The fleece lining acts not only as a warming method, but also helps block wind from freezing your legs.

  • A breathable, wind-blocking jacket/coat. Big puffy coats aren’t comfortable to me for running. I feel too restricted when my arms are laden with thicker material. A basic fleece jacket will suffice most mornings in the South as added warmth without weight.

I suppose a treadmill is a winter weather running option, but there aren’t any birds chirping to welcome a new day in a gym. ;-)

If you enjoyed these tips, you might also like My Favorite Running Gear!

Do you have any winter running tips? Share them in the comments below.

Jessica is a 37 year-old Catholic wife in Greenville, SC. She has a B.S. in Business Administration and works as a banking loan administrator during the day. Her evenings and weekends are most often filled with family activities and home DIY projects. While she still considers herself a beginner, Jessica started running over 10 years ago. She enjoys running through the beautiful landscape her city has to offer and has run in several local 5k's as well as the Cooper River Bridge Run 10k a handful of times. One day she'll run a half marathon! Running gives Jessica a sense of accomplishment and it makes her feel strong. On solo runs, she prays the rosary because it helps her to focus on the mysteries rather than her fitness level. You can connect with Jessica on Instagram.