How to Dress for Cold Weather Training

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It finally feels like fall here in LA!

Though I thoroughly enjoy our warm sunny California days I was thrilled to have to put on an extra layer as I headed out for my morning hike.

At six am the air was brisk and clean with temperatures in the low forties.   I love this kind of weather! I find it invigorating and inspiring!

As you may recall from a previous post, I fell in love with running while in college, in the gorgeous state of Vermont.  And yes, I ran in the winter, even when there was snow on the ground. When it was just too cold for a morning run, I’d take my workout to the ski slopes on the weekend. I love that gorgeous white fluff!  So much so that my husband and I became volunteer ski patrollers 25 years ago, so we’d have an excuse to be on the slopes every weekend during winter.

Skiers with Backpacks

Heading out on an overnight search and rescue training trip with my hubby and friends

Those winters in Vermont and the long days on ski patrol duty have taught me a thing or two about staying warm during cold weather workouts. Fall and winter are splendid and dropping temperatures are no reasons to take all of your training indoors.

Here are a few tips to make those cold weather workouts much more enjoyable 🙂

Layer Up!

Layering is the best way to dress for cold weather training. Feeling cold?  Add a layer.  Warming up as you settle into your run?  Take a layer off! The type of layers you choose will vary based on your specific weather conditions and the activity you engage in but there a few basics that will serve you no matter what:

  • Start with a moisture wicking bra
  • Add a medium to light weight layer
  • Add a heavier weight layer
  • Add a vest or f jacket
  • Cover your head
  • Cover your extremities

The good news is you won’t have to give up your signature style to stay warm.  With so many brands offering quality gear for every athlete out there you can train looking like you belong in a magazine.

Check out these cool pieces by Prana!

three prAna jackets

By the way, right now prAna is offering 20% off and free shipping on all  your orders so head on over to their site and treat yourself to an early Christmas present 🙂

When I head out on an early morning hike before the sun has had a chance to warm things up, I’ll wear a tank top or short sleeve thermal shirt under a stylish fleece. If it’s super cold (by LA standards) I’ll add a down vest over my fleece. I always wear a hat and gloves.  If I’m running or biking, I’ll opt for leg and arm warmers instead of a fleece. They are super easy to put on and take off and pack away nicely.  There are so many fun styles to choose from I almost wish I lived in a colder part of the US to build up a nice collection of these.

Top it off!

By far the most important layer you will want is a hat. We loose about eighty percent of our body heat through our head.  Headbands and earmuff are fun and cute but if you’re in really cold weather they won’t cut it for bottling in that heat.  Whether your the beanie type or prefer a baseball cap choose a hat that’s comfortable and easy to store if you get too hot.

Choose the Right Fabrics

As much as I love my cotton tanks in summer they don’t do me much good in winter.  We are so blessed to live in a time when sportswear companies have come up with super confortable and lightweight fabrics that keep body heat in while wicking moisture away and allowing complete freedom of movement! Silk makes for an amazing under layer in bitter cold, and wool will always be one of my favorites, but if I’m going to put out a huge effort I’ll choose more “technical” gear.

Start Warm to Stay Warm!

It is a lot easier to stay warm than to warm up once you are cold. So bundle up before you step outside. Put on all your layers, hat and gloves included and keep them on until your muscles are warmed up and your body has turned into a furnace.   Make sure to cover up as soon as you are done with your workout.  If you only add one thing, put on that hat 🙂

Warm Up from the Inside Out

Before I headed out this morning I enjoyed a simple cup of water at body temperature, with a squirt of fresh lemon.  This is my morning ritual no matter what the temperature is as it is a gentle and loving way to help your body rehydrate after all the hard work it accomplished during the night. This time of year, it has the added benefit of warming me up from the inside!  I also prepare a cup of hot Macha tea to bring along and enjoy after my workout if temperatures are particularly chili. Sipping that delicious hot liquid is wonderfully soothing and warming!  Hot cocoa topped with whipped cream is my reward after a heavy day of skiing Yum!

Cold weather training is something I relish!  Living in LA where temperatures soar past 100 for months on end, I look forward to cool, crisp, invigorating days.

Are you ready to get out there and embrace the cold weather months?  What are some of your go-to cold weather training accessories?


  1. Robin (Masshole Mommy) says:

    I can’t run in the winter time. I can’t breathe in the cold, so when I do run in winter, it has to be inside on the treadmill.

  2. These are definitely good ideas. I love to layer in the winter, but I guess I’m lazy – I stay indoors in the winter. I do not like the cold unless I have to get out to take kids to/from bus stop and to go to church.

  3. I am NOT ready for the cold weather. I want it gone… I hate being cold.

  4. I need to add a few more long sleeve pieces to my wardrobe for running in the cold. I also just found these awesome gloves with a zipper pocket to hold my keys!

  5. alicia szemon says:

    i am not ready for the cold yet ): stay sunshine!!!

  6. Dressing for cold weather is very important.

  7. I always admire my sister’s dedication and going out to train in the winters of Maryland. Although our temperatures are more moderate here, I still feel like it’s too cold some days. I guess I need to stock my workout wardrobe and stop with the excuses.

  8. Those are some cute sweaters!! I usually exercise inside so luckily I don’t have to worry about it too much, but I kind of want to get that Arka anyway because it’s super cute!

    • Aren’t these tops awesome Shell? I’d say go for it, you’ve got to get outdoors for all sorts of things … shopping, kiddos, more shopping… Plenty of good reasons to sport a gorgeous Arka 🙂

  9. Richard Hicks says:

    Lot of good advice here. So many people do it wrong

  10. Wow! I knew we lost our body heat through our heads but 80% just blew me away.These are all fantastic tips and great knowledge to have.I will definitely be wearing a hat.

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