Why you Shouldn’t be Afraid of Winter Running Tights
Have you have resisted winter running tights because they make you self-conscious? I did for a long time, and believe me when I say you are missing out!
If you want to feel sleek and fast this winter, buy a good pair of winter running tights. Forget parachute like wind-pants or baggy sweatpants, and invest in formfitting, wind stopping warmth for your legs.
When I first tried winter running tights, I threw on a pair of running shorts over them, or hid behind something, hoping nobody would notice what I was wearing. I held onto this fear for far too long.
Now, I gear up in my tights like a super-hero answering a call for justice. I look forward to days when it dips below 40 (my “cold enough for tights” mark).
True, it can still be a tad awkward standing around, eating flapjacks in tights, but go for a run in them and see if you don’t love it. There’s absolutely nothing to fear!
The Benefits of Winter Running Tights
Traditional sweat pants are great for lounging around the house, or a quick trip to the store. Not for running. They tend to collect moisture like a ShamWow, and refuse to block any wind.
Thermal winter running tights on the other hand, do an outstanding job of wicking moisture (important if you want to stay chafe free) and blocking wind (important if you want to stay warm).
Winter running tights also provide benefits in the form of compression. This helps circulation, and will support your muscles, especially during cold weather running. This prevents mild strains and pulls.
My favorite benefit is the very thing I resisted for so long. The skin tight, form fitting nature of tights allow you to stay warm by wearing less. Just like a finely tuned race car; the more aerodynamic the better.
How Warm Do your Legs Need to be?
From personal experience (and talking with a lot of runners), you don’t need as much insulation on the lower half of your body. It is most important to keep your core warm. Do that, and your lower half should stay warmer.
Several years ago, I purchased a pair of Under Armour Heat Gear compression tights on a whim. This $70 impulse buy has proven to be one of my best winter running gear investments. Their dual layer fabric is plenty warm down to about 20 degrees for me.
When paired with wind boxers, thermal tights are all the coverage I need down to zero. When it gets below that, I throw on a pair of thermal running pants to give me that additional layer of warmth.
Remember, if you’re not starting your run a touch on the cold side, you will more than likely overheat during the run.
Specific Winter Running Tights
If you visit your local running store, or search a site like Road Runner sports, look for “Thermal Tights.” You’ll find lots of options. Some have zippers at the bottom, pockets, etc. All you really need is something that blocks wind and wicks moisture.
Here are a few suggestions, brought to you in part from current and former members of Team USA Minnesota. If elite athletes are running in tights, you know there is nothing to fear!
These form fitting tights fit great to your legs and help insulate during winter days.
He adds that they do a great job of managing moisture, but will require a wind brief of some sort in anything under 20º wind chill.
…these tights are great. They are a Lite Show version, which means they are uber reflective. The Thermopolis material is soft/fuzzy on the inside but still thin enough to move freely while running.
Jared VanderHook, our resident trail and Ultra running expert, runs outside in any and all winter conditions. He uses the the Mountain Hardwear Windstopper tights (similar product) for all of them. When paired with thermal pants, it’s a perfect winter weather barrier!
Your Winter Running Tights
Do you run in tights in the winter? What kind do you use? Share a quick review in the comments.