From head to toe: What to wear on a winter run

Winter running requires athletes to be bundled up against whatever a Saskatchewan winter can throw at you.

This week, the Brainsport Times speaks with Brainsport floor manager and long-time coach Colin Federow about what he wears when it gets chilly and what advice he gives his athletes.

In general, Federow encourages athletes heading out for a run to abide by the 10C rule; check the temperature outside and dress as if it were 10C warmer to acknowledge the fact you are going to be moving and sweating. Dressing too warm and sweating too much can lead to complications itself. Federow also stresses that what works for one runner might not work for another; some people simply need to dress warmer than others to be comfortable.


Federow will wear up to two pairs of running socks on the coldest days. Socks should go at least to mid-calf; ankle socks will leave skin exposed.

“I make sure I tuck my running leggings into the socks, otherwise the wind and cold can nibble at my ankles,” he says.

You can winterize regular shoes by adding anti-slip pull-on grips or spikes. Some shoe brands also make winter running shoes. Saucony’s Peregrine Ice+, for example, has a Vibram Arctic Grip sole to prevent slipping.


Running in leggings or sweatpants won’t cut it on the coldest days. Federow says he can wear up to three layers on his legs to stay warm. The base layer consists of a wind brief — such as Craft’s Active Windstopper Gunde Short or Extreme Wind Boxer — and running leggings. On nicer days, that will be covered by wind pants. On frigid days, a running pant goes between the leggings and wind pants.


Federow wears a polyester or wool short-sleeved running shirt as a base layer covered by a long-sleeved winter-weight running shirt as a midlayer. Federow prefers midlayers with zippered fronts, which allow him to ventilate as needed. A running jacket forms the outer layer. These come in a variety of thicknesses.

When it comes to what fabrics to choose, Federow prefers polyester or Merino wool, but says what participants wear can depend on their personal preferences and budget. “My first year as a participant, I trained the whole time in cotton. Just because a material isn’t the best to wear, it doesn’t mean it will kill you, it just might not be the most comfortable,” he says.


Federow prefers to run in mittens, which typically keep hands warmer than gloves. “Whatever you wear, try to tuck the mitts or gloves into the sleeve of your shirt or jacket to help prevent exposing your wrists,” he says.

Head, neck and face

Neck warmers and balaclavas can keep the face warm, while a good toque keeps the head and ears comfortable. Some running jackets have hoods as well for added warmth.