What to Wear in the Winter While Running

In Arizona, the “what to wear in the winter” discussion shouldn’t be that hard.

We have mild winters with dry weather and lows maybe reaching to the high 30s.  Our day can warm up to the 80s, but I’m long done with a run before that ever happens (and frankly after the summer runs that start in the high 80s, this is no big deal!).

weather AZ 1

Basically, this.  I have nothing to complain about! For now, anyway. (Things are gonna be changing soon, however. More on that soon).

The mornings are cool enough for me to have that discussion, however, and every weekend I find myself staring at my gear trying to make decisions. What to wear in the winter while running shouldn’t be this hard!

The thing is, I want to be warm enough to be comfortable when I start, but not wearing too many layers that I overheat.

What to Wear in the Winter While Running

Hoodie or no?

Tights or no?

Hat? Sleeves? Gloves?

What do I WEAR to run in today?!  Agggghhhhhh!

Long sleeves over a tank top with sleeves in case I got hot. Wore a skirt with compression sleeves so most of my legs were covered. Temp in the mid 40s.

Long sleeve shirt over a tank top with sleeves in case I got hot. Wore a skirt with compression sleeves so most of my legs were covered. Temp in the mid-40s.  By mile 1 the long sleeve shirt was off, but I kept the sleeves up for a few more miles.

And when I travel someplace for a race with slightly different temperatures I go through it all again.

I’ll admit that I’m a self-described Goldilocks runner.  I can’t be too hot, or too cold if I’m going to do this thing.  I need to be just right to get out there and get my miles in, especially when we are talking long runs.

What to Wear in the Winter While Running

This graphic from Spark People helps select items realistically.

What to Wear in the Winter While Running

You can also use this great tool from Runner’s World if you want to be more precise.

It asks you a few questions specific to your run.  I’ve used this in the morning when I just wasn’t quite sure what to do, and it’s been pretty accurate for me.

Runners World What to Wear in the Winter While Running

This was what they suggested when I put in 30 degrees out for a run at dawn in slightly cloudy conditions.

I would probably skip the long sleeve shirt and go with sleeves that I can push down if I got warm (after removing the jacket) but other than that it’s accurate for my tastes.

Um, points for reminding us to wear both running shoes and a sports bra?  You so silly, Runner’s World.

Do you need help dressing for cooler temps?  How do you decide how hot to run?

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Patty Holliday


Patty is a 40-ish mother of four living in Virginia. A bit geeky, sometimes sarcastic, lover of a candid confession. She's trying to love running, she swears. But much like her marathon, it’s taking a very long time. Ahem. She's searching for the perfect way to balance family, work, travel, and fitness. Perfect defined as high on fun, low on guilt.

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