December 23rd 2014, in Ruka, Kuusamo, Finland. It’s so beautiful outside that it feels like a fairytale, but it’s also -24C degrees with wind chill -31C.
For me this is normal for winter, as I’m born and raised in Finland. But for many, as I’ve understood, this is far from normal. So how am I able to run still?
I’m going to give you a “tutorial” in how to dress, layer by layer.
The main point is to have either technical materials or good natural materials, such as merino wool.
I beg of you to forget all kind of old school sport socks and under layers made from cotton, cotton doesn’t really breath, and when it gets wet, it stays wet. Which means that in this weather it will either freeze or make you feel like you’ve been dumped in to a frozen lake.
So here’s my layer by layer guide to how to take on the cold like a boss.
First things first, good underwear;
Here I have a Nike sportsbra, they have the best in my opinion. But there’s millions of different brands with amazing bras. I’m also wearing microfibre material pants, I would not even think of running in cotton ones, oh the chafing! Also, a bit thicker skiing socks. Normally I would wear some compression socks to the knee, but here the extra warmth is needed. These ones are some no name ones, but made with a mixture of good wool and technical materials.
Second layer, It’s all about the base;
I’m all about merino wool on these, I’ve been using it for few years now, and feel that it’s way better than most technical baselayers on skin. I’ve used it while skiing and also when I was a bike messenger. All I can say is that it really works, it’s a bit more expensive but it’s worth it.
I’ve got Icebreaker bottoms and a Patagonia Merino 1 Silkweight Crew. That Patagonia crew is the best merino shirt I’ve ever had. It’s super thin, almost see through thin, but the warmest that I’ve had. So I’ll highly recommend it!
Add a little more base;
A second ‘baselayer’ is also needed in these sub degrees, or worn on it’s own when it’s warmer.
I have a Patagonia Capilene 4 Thermal Weight 1/4 zip hoody, it’s amazing. With the hood you can make yourself look like a little frog or something similar. But seriously, it’s so crazy comfortable that I use it while running and with everyday clothes too. And it has thumbloops, like the underlayer merino shirt. For bottoms I have my trusty Nike Swift tights, so on top of your underlayer just put any tights or if you have, use winter models. I’m more used to this weather so regular ones work for me, but I can totally recommend using thicker ones if you need.
The Cherry on the cake;
Last but not least, jacket/beanie/gloves/shoe layer.
For gloves and a beanie I would use any microfleece or woolly ones. I have a Haglöfs microfleece beanie, Nike summer gloves, merino wool Buff to keep my neck and face warm. The importance of keeping something on top of your face is pretty crucial. If you breath that super cold air, I can assure you that coming inside won’t be pleasant, as you will cough your lungs out. Or taste blood in your mouth. So please cover your face while running.
The jacket that I have here, is my absolute favorite, a Patagonia Nano-Air Hoody. It’s this amazing new jacket from Patagonia, it stretches everywhere, is super breathable, just wicks the water from on top of it and is insanely light. I’ve used it in the South when it’s been around +5C with a tshirt, in the rain and wind and it just works like a wonder. So super versatile! It has this Full Range insulation, which is basically warm when wet. So you can imagine how good that is for a runner. And it really does keep you warm when wet, I’ve tried. So a big recommendation from me!
And the shoes. I’m one of those that don’t feel the need of a spike shoe for winter, though it depends how the winter is. Obviously if it’s super wet and then below zero, those spikes can be needed. But in this case, with dry new snow, no need.
I use pretty much all the time, everywhere, Nike Terra Kiger shoes. It’s a trailrunning model from Nike. Insanely good, with loose enough toebox, even with a thicker sock. It’s quite minimal, nothing extra, light and durable. The sole is spiky enough to run in snow and it doesn’t get hard even in these chilly degrees. The heelcup is sturdy enough and really keeps your heel tucked in even in deep mud, which I don’t have to worry now. They also have more supported model with similar sole, called Wildhorse. I’ve ran with it for quite some time, until my feet felt that it’s too supported. But I can only say good things about it and know that it’s amazing for many many. So either of those work super well in these conditions and again, I can only recommend them!
Wait a second;
There’s couple of things that I want to say before you are ready to go. First always have some kind of reflective things on you. It might be bright white outside but still, you are moving target and sometimes hard to see. So always keep visible, one way or another!
Also, this kind of weather is pretty harsh on your skin. I’m used to protecting it from when I was a child, but if you’re not from as high North as I, you should know this. Before your run, put some good super moisturizing cream on all visible areas. I use Shea Butter, organic and water free one. That water free is the key, if it has water base, it will freeze on your skin, so not a good idea. You can obviously use what ever you have, just remember that water thing! It really does protect you from frostbites.
Where you can get these products:
All my Patagonia from Ruoto for Flyfishing http://www.ruoto.fi/ or http://www.patagonia.com/
All Nike from http://www.nike.com/
And that gorgeous shea butter http://www.naturalgoodscompany.com/