My 13-Step Layering Routine For Running In the Cold

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I’ve been running in the cold for years. Pre-COVID-19, I’d do a daily 5.5 mile run from my Brooklyn apartment to Vogue’s office building in the Financial District. I’ve run through all sorts of depressing climes, from freezing rain and sleet, to snow. In my early days of running in the cold, without any sort of knowledge of what to wear, I’d pile on whatever I could find in my closet. The mashed-up outfit usually consisted of a t-shirt, three long sleeve shirts, two hoodies, and if it was particularly frigid, I’d wear my old puffer coat from high school. Thanks to my piled-on gear, for a while, I was the butt of many jokes made by my run club teammates.

Fast forward a year later and I’m still running every morning through the same elements, albeit more protected and looking less like the Pillsbury Doughboy. I’ve learned how to streamline my running uniform so it is simple, and well, not as bulky. So where to start? Support! While I don’t wear a bra in my everyday life—something I once documented for Vogue, I do indeed wear a sports bra to run. I rotate between standard bras, like a stretch piece of cotton support from Fruit of the Loom, and a more high-tech version from Nike or Lululemon.

Next comes the start to my epic layering routine. I like to look like Lara Croft from Tomb Raider, and prefer pieces that are mostly black. First, I wear a base layer. My fellow runner and professional run coach, Jes Woods, who casually runs 100 mile races (yes, 100) says this is the most important step. “You want this to be tight and wicking material, so avoid cotton. Cotton is going to get wet and damp quickly and stay wet and damp,” she says. “If the temperature is in the 30s or colder, you can start to layer on top of the base layer with an insulating top and/or a jacket.” I swear by Uniqlo’s Heattech long sleeve shirt, which allegedly does the things that Woods says. My colleague, Beauty and Living Editor prefers a hood-embedded version from Patagonia.

After the all-important base layer, I typically wear a thin zip-up. I like Nike’s iteration of this item because it has thumb holes that allow the sleeves of my shirt to act like a half-glove. After that, I put on a fleece zip-up, which I’ve dubbed my “insulating layer.” If I am truly bracing for the cold, I wear a Hanes hoodie—black, of course—on top of that. To keep my body heat radiating, I top it all off with an insulating black puffer jacket, far from my bubble silhouette that I was wearing years ago.

Dressing your bottom-half is way more simple. I exclusively wear black running tights, usually with pockets for my phone, keys, and credit card. If it is truly frigid out, I will wear a pair of fleece-lined running tights. My favorite socks are thin and made from wool, which prevents moisture. I rotate between shoes: a pair from Swiss-manufactured label On, and another by UnderArmour. Both of these have good grips if the ground gets slick. But if this isn’t a “leisure” run, I choose a pair of Nike’s Next %s so I can get back home in record time. Wearing them makes you feel like you’re flying, flying past all of that cold and straight into a heated apartment.

Accessories are also important, and your appendages must stay warm. Having cold hands can detract from a good run, even if the rest of your body is warm. I wear running gloves but sometimes I wear a pair of wool mittens over them. (You can slip hand warmers in them, too). Next, I like to wear a dickie collar, in the form of a fleece. My go-to is the “DikDik” by Matek, which is a brand that is actually geared towards skiers. Finally, for headgear, I like to wear a snood-like cap that protects my face, too. If it’s dark out, I recommend wearing a hat that is highlighter-hued.

As for my final, 13th step to running in the cold? That comes down to what I’m listening to. I have the Ukrainian girl group Via Gra on repeat, but I also swear by Nike’s audio guided runs. They offer every themed run possible, from 10ks narrated by Olympians to meditations and 30 wake-up jogs. Of course, there’s even “A Cold Run” guide that will help you get through the run in no time. On that note, see you at the very cozy finish line.


Hanes pullover EcoSmart fleece hoodie



Patagonia better sweater jacket



L.L. Bean trail fleece full-zip jacket



Alala Athena running jacket



Base Layers

Falke ergonomic sport system wool-blend top



Uniqlo HEATTECH cotton crew neck long-sleeve T-shirt



Odlo natural + kinship warm base layer with face mask



Patagonia Capilene air base layer hoodie



Sports Bras

Fruit of the Loom built-up tank style sports bra



Zella body rhythm sports bra



Outdoor Voices powerhouse bra



Nike swoosh sports bra




Bombas tri-block ankle sock



Thorolos outdoor athlete ankle socks



Athleta PhD ultra light micro socks by Smartwool



Rockay accelerate anti-blister running socks




Bedlam 3 running shoes



Nike ZoomX Vaporfly next running shoe



DQ Cloudflyer waterproof



Adidas by Stella McCartney Boston mesh and primeknit sneakers



Hand Warmers

REI co-op polartec power stretch gloves



L.L. Bean wicked good hand warmers



Zippo 12-hour hand warmer



Carhartt waterproof insulated glove




Carhartt visibility color enhanced beanie



Minus33 merino wool expedition balaclava



Athleta flurry reflective headband



Matek the dik-dik