We’ve had a bit of a discussion on this on Twitter and it’s a bit hard to distill to 140 characters, so here’s my strategy when it comes to running in cold weather. Your mileage will no doubt vary. I am idiotic enough to run in rain, snow, sleet and wind, so this is probably just further proof of my insanity.
I have layers that I can combine in different ways. They don’t always have to be top-of the range branded kit, I’ve done plenty of runs in old t-shirts with no ill effects.
In summer, I generally wear a vest top and longish shorts (the thick black kind, not the sort proper sprinty runners have). Plus, a cap for keeping my hair in place and the sun off my head.
When it gets a bit colder I swap the vest for a t-shirt, and then maybe 3/4 length leggings.
Next to go on are gloves – mine are fleecy and cost me £1.50 from Tesco. On Sunday this week I did a 10k run in shorts, t-shirt and gloves. The gloves came off after about a mile once I’d warmed up. they get unceremoniously shoved down the shorts!
If it keeps getting colder, I’ll add a long sleeved showerproof lightweight jacket. I’m more likely to put another top on than I am to cover legs up. On a long run this jacket will be taken off and put back on again several times.
After that – long sleeved not short sleeved shirt, and the jacket.
After that – vest top under or over (usually over) long sleeved shirt, jacket.
I might also swap the cap for a fleecy ear warmer. I did have a proper hat but I found that made my head far too hot, so generally will just go for stopping frostbitten ears.
So the most I am ever likely to wear are three thin layers on my top, 3/4 length leggings, hat & gloves. I am pretty certain I ran happily in the snow dressed like this last winter. I think I tried a fleece but boiled after the first few moments.
The key things for me are: to put clothes on when I finish, as I will get cold quickly once I stop running. And remember that I might feel cold for 3-4 minutes once I go outside, but by 10min into the run I’ll be nicely warmed up and feeling toasty. So I never dress for the first five minutes of a run; if I did I’d end up overheating.
As an aside, although the jacket is showerproof if I run in the rain (unless it’s sleet/ snow) I wouldn’t wear it; much prefer to run in the rain wearing less rather than more.