Winter running clothes: Top tips

What to wear when running in winter

You have received your place for the London Marathon, a half marathon, 10K, 5K or ultramarathon and training has begun! As we head into the winter months it is important you know what to wear and when to avoid unnecessary blistering or rashes. Having the right winter kit will make your training over the colder months more enjoyable and keep you on track, there is no such thing as bad weather only bad kit!

In this post, we will discuss the best types and material of clothing, what is most important, what to wear in different temperatures alongside tried and tested brands.

No Cotton

Running in anything made from cotton is not recommended as it retains moisture causing more rubbing, blisters and rashes. It is not breathable and will make you hot and sweaty very quickly. The aim of the game is to keep moisture away from the skin which cotton cannot do. This includes avoiding cotton for all of your running clothes; socks, underwear, sports bras, gloves, leggings, tights, any tops, t-shirt’s and jackets.


Socks are so important and it is worth investing in a good few pairs! As cotton socks are a no go, socks made from bamboo, polyester and nylon are much better as these materials will keep your feet dry which help to prevent blisters and moisture build up. Bamboo is also naturally anti-bacterial and odour resistant, great for long runs and foot health.
Recommended brands: Balega and Stance


Gloves are another vital piece of clothing during winter training. Exposed hands aren’t protected from the wind, rain and or low temperatures and can become cold, dry and painful. This is because during running your hands receive less blood flow as the blood is directed to the chest to supply oxygen to your vital organs. Gloves are essential to keep them warm! Select a glove that fits well, is windproof and waterproof with thermal properties if running in freezing temperatures. Many gloves also have touchscreen finger pads, allowing you to use your phone or sports watch whilst you run.
Recommended brands: Ronhill and Gore-tex

Layers, layers, layers!

Layering up your clothing is a much better solution to staying warm than wearing one piece of thicker clothing. Thicker clothing is usually cotton based and will be too warm and cause moisture build up but using layers allows you to add or take away layers when you need to and as the weather changes (very likely in the UK!). Heat is retained between layers without moisture to build up which helps to keep you warm, dry and comfortable. Each layer should have a benefit of its own.

Different types of layers can include:

  • Compression long-sleeved base-layer top: compression tops are great as they promote blood flow, whilst keeping your warm and dry as they cover a large area of skin.
  • Compression tights/leggings: Also effective for promoting blood flow into the legs and their tight fit protects against cold winds for the whole leg.
  • Breathable T-shirt: To wear over base-layers, a great addition is to choose a t-shirt with reflective properties if running in the dark. Long or short sleeved, depending on preference.
  • Lightweight jacket: Jackets are used to protect against wind and rain, rather than to insulate. It is best to have a lightweight jacket so it won’t weigh you down whilst running in it or carrying it with you.
  • Gloves: To protect your hands from wind, rain and freezing temperatures.
  • Headband/Hat/Neck wrap or scarf: Protecting your neck and ears is just as important as your fingers. Cold ears can become painful, whilst a cold neck can make it difficult to breathe.

What to wear when?

Weather type: Not too cold, not raining or wind

  • Long-sleeved base-layer
  • Reflective T-shirt
  • Shorts/Leggings or tights

Weather type: Raining, windy and cold

  • Long-sleeved base-layer
  • ReflectiveT-shirt
  • Windproof/Waterproof jacket
  • Compression leggings/tights
  • Gloves
  • Headband/Hat

Weather type: 5 degrees and below – frosty/freezing

  • Long-sleeved base-layer
  • Long-sleeved Reflective T-shirt
  • Windproof/Waterproof jacket
  • Compression leggings/tights – shorts on top
  • Gloves
  • Headband/Hat/Neck wrap
  • Long socks

You can add more layers as you need. Layering is down to individual preference depending on your own training mileage, goals, body size and temperatures.

The golden rule

Aim to feel cold when you first go outside for you run, whatever the temperature outside. This will help to determine what layers you will need. As you start running you will heat up and if you are already warm when you first step outside you have too many layers on.

Some good websites to find all your running kit are and my favourite

Happy running!