After spending everyday out in any kind of weather including rain, wind, snow, or sleet, I can tell you from experience that wearing the right gear is crucial for success. Running has always been, and continues to be my drug of choice to give me energy, calm me down, bring me peace, or lift my confidence. It beckons me from a deep place, even if on the surface I may not feel like getting out the door. I like to think it's sort of like cleaning the house. Nobody really wants to do it when they are thinking about it, but once they get started it feels so good to have a clean environment, they can't believe they waited so long to just get it done. When it's cold outside, it can be even harder to get motivated to get out the door. Well, from one hooked outdoor enthusiast to another, here's my top 5 list for wisely staying warm for your outdoor workouts: 1) Always dress in layers. My favorite is a pair of light leggings and a long-sleeved wicking underlayer top, a vest, and light wind pants and a water resistant jacket. The layers help to trap in heat while the clothes that contact your skin help to keep the sweat moving through the material rather than sitting and collecting in the fabric.
2) Keep a hat and gloves handy. Even if you don't end up needing these, they are light enough to stow away in a pocket. I like to start out in those cheap cotton gloves and a cap that covers my ears. I typically go for cotton, but there are some great synthetic brands that have more grip to keep the hat down around your ears that are great too. In the end, as long as it covers your ears, no matter how tight it is, you will likely be fine. For colder days, choose a heavier thickness hat with tighter grip and mittens.
3) Use a mask. Not like one from the hospital, but I guess that would do. I have used anything from a tied up scarf, a neck warmer sleeve, to an actual ski mask. I've always liked the cotton neck warmer the best because you can always just give it a little spin and you have a new dry spot to breathe into!
4) Drink water. On colder days it sometimes doesn't seem like drinking water is as necessary as the hot days, but it is just as important, if not more important, to keep your body hydrated to maintain a stable body temperature. I like drinking luke warm water when I can find it.
5) Don't stop. Even if you are just waiting for the light to change, keep moving. You want to keep the blood pumping to your extremities and keep the muscles active so you don't stiffen up. If you have to stop, use the time to stretch your calves, quads or hamstrings to keep your body in some motion.
In the big picture, there have only been a few times over the course of thousands of outings that I have ever regretted getting out in the cold to workout. In fact, most of the time I feel so much better that I did. Just like cleaning up my house!