Fall and Winter Running Apparel

Most runners agree that fall is a great season for running. Fall brings a welcome drop in temperature that eventually escorts the heat and humidity out of town. The fall season is more comfortable and milder than winter’s chill, but both seasons are manageable with the right attire.

Although the fall season shows up on the calendar toward the end of September, here in Florida, we typically have to wait until right now at the end of October before it even begins to feel a bit cooler.

Two young women running in cool weather attire with jackets tied around their waists.
Two young women running in cool weather attire with jackets tied around their waists.

With the excitement of fall’s arrival, you may be wondering what to wear for the cool weather of fall and the somewhat cold weather of our North Florida winters. We will share ways to enhance your running wardrobe with the right materials and layering essentials to keep you comfortable and chill without feeling chilled.

Early Fall in Florida

For the first part of fall here, you may not need to adjust your current wardrobe all that much. If temps stay what they have been, mornings will be pleasant. Hopefully we will get a break from the humidity, but it is often not enough of a break to break out the cool weather clothing. Even on a day that dips to the sixties, you will warm up as soon as you get going at a good pace.

Although you are probably eager to embrace the cooler fall weather and new running attire, you might enter into fall still wearing tank tops and shorts. Don’t fret. This is good because it means you still have time to comparison shop for the perfect fall/winter running wardrobe.

Another aspect of fall, a less desirable one, is hurricane season. Isn’t it crazy to think that hurricane season lasts until the end of November? The season starts the first of June! Hurricanes really are taking liberties by taking up that much space on the calendar.

Although the peak of hurricane season is typically September, rain is still loitering and overstaying its welcome most of the time until the end of October. When rain is a factor, chafing is a problem, so you will need to look for running apparel that won’t rub you the wrong way, literally.

Late Fall and Early Winter in Florida

By the time we get later into fall and closer to Thanksgiving and the remainder of the holiday season, the temperatures will likely continue to dip. For early morning or late evening runs, you may need to begin layering. Wearing a tank top under a long-sleeve shirt will help you stay warm and allow you to shed the top shirt if you get too toasty. Until it gets really cold, you may be able to get away with continuing to wear shorts. You could try some capris or tights if you are too chilly in shorts.

Since we are located in the northern part of the state, we might, fingers crossed, have some days where the temperature plunges, and it actually feels like winter. Will it get cold enough to kill the mutant mosquitos we are plagued with? We can only hope.

For those rare, blessed cold days, it is time to layer and add our fun accessories like leggings, half zip pullovers, gloves, hats and ear warmers. On extremely cold days (beyond normal Florida standards), you may need thermal pants and socks.

However, remember that once you get started running, your body will heat up. If you are bundled up and unable to shed some layers when the heat is on, you can get overheated. Layering will also prevent you from getting sick from being too cold.

If you find yourself heating up while wearing your layers, you can tie jackets and long-sleeve shirts around your waist. If you anticipate that you will need to discard some layers during your run, you can plan to loop around to a safe place to stow them, like your car, and keep going.

Some cold weather essentials you will want to have on hand include: running tights and/or pants, long-sleeve shirts, short-sleeve shirts, running socks, hats, headbands, gloves and a windproof and waterproof jacket.

Man running on a gravel road in a windbreaker jacket and tights.
Man running on a gravel road in a windbreaker jacket and tights.

For your first layer, you want to find material that is lightweight and quick-drying. Avoid cotton because cotton will hang onto the moisture from your sweat. Not only will cotton become a heavy, wet burden, the lasting dampness will make you cold. Instead, look for what are known as wicking fabrics like polyester, spandex and wool because unlike cotton, they pull the sweat away from your body so it can evaporate.

For really cold days, your number of layers may have you feeling like an onion, but you aren’t an onion, so try not to make anyone cry with jealously as you triumphantly zoom past them.

An example of cold-weather layering would be a long-sleeve shirt and jacket, long-sleeve tech shirt and short-sleeve tech shirt, or for those really cold days or for those of us who get cold easily, two shirts layered with a jacket, tights and pants and any other fun cold-weather accessories we may need.

A concern with running attire may be cost. Much of the cost associated with running apparel is due to the retailer’s overhead and need for profit on top of expenses. Buying online can eliminate some of the markup on these items.

Reasons to Respect These Seasons

Fall is a fun time to run and a season most of us relish for the opportunities to enter races. The winter months are a great time to run long runs and work on endurance in preparation for the next year.

When it comes to winter runs, we are lucky that we are able to comfortably run most of the winter here in Jacksonville, Florida. The most important thing to remember about running in the cold is that there are a few different safety precautions to take.

Wear reflective gear as it gets darker earlier. Are we still doing daylight saving’s time? Even if we aren’t, it still seems to be dark and dreary before we expect it.

Ice isn’t a major concern here in Florida most of the time. However, it pays to pay attention to temperatures and always be careful. It isn’t worth risking a slip and fall that might cause you to be out of the races and temporarily put out to pasture.

What works for others may not work for you when it comes to running and running apparel. Much of what we know personally of running attire, layers and temperatures for ourselves is all a result of trial and error. When it comes to apparel corresponding to certain temperatures, it is specific to the individual’s comfort, so adjustments may have to be made.

Marathon Runners in all different attire for the cool weather.
Marathon Runners in all different attire for the cool weather.

If you are looking for some guidance when it comes to how to dress for the cooler weather or for ways to train to improve your endurance, contact our coaches at Personal Running Solutions.

We are currently working on sourcing running apparel and shoes to bring you affordable options for all seasons. Feel free to let us know what running shoes and apparel you are interested in and what styles you prefer by messaging us on Facebook.

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