What To Wear For Cold Weather Running

PC: @DaleTravers
PC: @DaleTravers

With winter weather on the way and indoor workout options limited, many new runners and outdoor fitness buffs are finding themselves out in the cold for the first time.

For the uninitiated cold weather runner – as with any new activity – making preparations can be a bit daunting. What gear and apparel do you really need? How much do you need? When do you need it?

There’s no one-size-fits all answer to these questions. Although you can start with general guidance to make more informed decisions, you’ll need to undergo a little experimentation to find the best apparel solutions for your specific body and weather conditions. HOKA pro triathlete Sarah Crowley provided some insight into her favorite apparel items as someone who trains all around the world, in all conditions.

Before you start, consider the following:

Get specialized cold weather running apparel

Cold weather running comes with its own unique set of challenges that specialized apparel is designed to address.

Running too warm may cause profuse sweating, leaving you vulnerable to dehydration and drops in body temperature as excess moisture cools in the winter air. Run too cold and – there’s no delicate way of putting this – your nipples may chafe painfully.

So you need clothing that moves without causing chafing, insulates and breathes simultaneously, repels outer moisture, wicks inner moisture and still helps to regulate your body temp under a variety of conditions and pacing.

Specialized running apparel is built mostly from synthetic fibers with these concerns in mind, and tends to perform more comfortably than a mix-and-match “Frankenstein” approach. Your goal when setting out on each cold weather run is to combine the exact right set of specialized layers for the conditions you face, with some wiggle room as your core temp rises in response to exertion.

You can start with the basics and work your way up to a full complement.

PC: @DaleTravers
PC: @DaleTravers

Add cold weather running layer basics

You may have already assembled a full complement of comfortable warmer-weather running apparel which you can use as a base for winter runs. If not, consider upgrading to more run-specialized tank tops, performance tees, shorts, sports bras, socks, and (of course) shoes.

The number of additional cold weather layer options you’ll want to consider as “basic” depends on how cold it’ll get near you. You may not need to go for a full subzero puffer jacket if you live in Florida, for example.

Arranged from cool-to-cold, start with the following:

1. Performance long or ¾ sleeve tops – These versatile options can be worn with either shorts or running tights, making them the “first line of defense” option for when the weather turns cooler. They also serve as a great bottom layer under a variety of weatherproof and wind-resistant outer shells. It’ll help to have multiples.
2. Warmer socks – A few pairs of well-padded specialty running socks in half-calf lengths can serve as an easy intermediary bottom layer option between shorts and the next step up.
3. Running tights – Tights are the primary cold weather option for your bottom half and a strong base layer option. Although warmer top layers combined with shorts can make it easy to look past a pair of cold knees once you get up to speed, elevated core temps can lead to more sweating, and tights are a great way to mitigate this. As with any base layer of workout apparel, multiples will come in handy.
4. Running hats – Just having a thin, breathable layer on your head can change a lot, and even a small bill can come in handy in the rain. You have a lot of hat options, but consider the convenience factor of running hats designed for easy stowing without having to be carried. Sarah Crowley suggests using a hat or a small headband to cover the ears when the chill picks up.

5. Jackets and windbreakers – A thinner “shell” jacket or anorak layer is the next step up in added weather protection up top. These options work great as an outer layer in a variety of conditions, from a perfectly sunny warm day with wind gusts, to rain sleet and snow, to a helpful layer of heat retention on a downright chilly morning. As an outer layer, you can mix and match without needing multiples, but it’s nice to have options for wind vs. wet.
6. Joggers – Think of joggers as “windbreakers for your legs” in that they can be the right outer layer for a variety of conditions and temperatures – they work well over underwear, shorts or tights. Multiples are more of a nice-to-have than a “must” for starters. Sarah Crowley uses joggers over leggings when it’s super cold snowing and you just need to go outside for a run.
7. Headbands – Sometimes the little things make the biggest difference. Headbands insulate your most heat-intensive body part (your head) while also letting it breathe, and they’re also small and portable, making them no problem to add or remove during a run. Consider a headband as the easiest way to build “wiggle room” into your layering during a run. Multiples aren’t necessary, but if you stuff them into every pocket, finding them later when it’s chillier than expected can be better than a $20 bill in an old pair of jeans.
8. Half-zip pullovers or hoodie tops – When the thermometer dips to “officially brisk” territory, these thicker, versatile combo top layers become a better option. The half-zip and hoodie features allow some wiggle room for adding or subtracting insulation along your run (zip or unzip, hood up or down), and each comes in a variety of thicknesses and outer layer weather protection features. You might not need multiples of each, but it’s good to have an option or two. Sarah Crowley enjoys the flexibility of the half-zip pullover as it can easily be either unzipped or removed and tied around the waist if things heat up.

9. Full hats and beanies – When it’s cold enough for the “convertible top” aspect of a headband to not be enough, throw on a beanie. You can even add a layer with an additional headband.
10. Puffer jackets – The nuclear option for when you’re absolutely going on an invigorating run and you don’t care how cold it is. A running-specialized option helps keep you warm while also flowing without restricting movement. If you’re not sure whether or not you need one, keep in mind that a puffer jacket also works as a coat for when your “run” is more errand-based.

To help guide you make your selection, below is a list of temperatures and possible clothing combinations:

* 60+ degrees: tank top/shirt and shorts
* 50–59 degrees: short sleeve tech shirt/ 3/4 sleeve shirt and shorts
* 40–49 degrees: long sleeve tech shirt, shorts or tights, gloves (optional), headband (optional)
* 30–39 degrees: long sleeve tech shirt, shorts or tights, gloves, and headband to cover ears
* 20–29 degrees: two shirts layered–a long sleeve tech shirt and a short sleeve tech shirt or long sleeve half zip pullover and thin shell jacket–tights, gloves, headband or beanie and neck buff (optional)
* 10–19 degrees: two shirts layered, tights, gloves, headband, and thin shell jacket and joggers
* 0–9 degrees: two shirts layered, tights and joggers, puffer jacket, two pairs of gloves or mittens, beanie, neck buff to cover face

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PC: @DaleTravers
PC: @DaleTravers

Consider running shoes with additional traction

If you live in an area where cold weather running is likely to involve snow and ice, you might want to upgrade to a trail running or trail/road hybrid shoe option with additional traction features.

Of course, you’ll want to gauge your own comfort level with regard to safety, and find routes that won’t present as much of an issue under freezing conditions. No shoe can guarantee perfect traction on ice. Sarah Crowley’s favourite shoe in challenging weather is the Speedgoat 4 GTX, as it has great traction, cushioning and is waterproof.

For those who live up north (in terms of latitude or elevation) and/or are particularly hardcore about getting in that daily run no matter what, you may also want to look into spike attachments or snowshoes. Guidance on highly specialized snow and ice footwear options is best sought from local runner communities.


Shop HOKA Trail Running Shoes
Experiment with layer combinations as you go

As you try out your cold-weather apparel, keep in mind that you may find gaps.

Maybe you don’t have a great layer combination for a day that’s not so much cold as blustery. Maybe your wet weather gear overheats you, and you need to reduce your base layer under your outer shell or find a more breathable option.

Some gaps can be filled with new apparel, some with different layering combinations, and some with additional preparations. Remember that your clothing isn’t the only tool you have to make your run comfortable as possible. Vaseline, balm or powder can be especially useful for reducing chafing and blistering in all the body parts where that’s frequently an issue.

As you get out there in the winter weather, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get it right the first time. Gaining experience always requires a learning process.

And remember that these are clothes. If the worst case scenario is buying something comfortable you look and feel great in, that’s not so bad.

Good luck, and happy running. It’s Time to Fly™

PC: @DaleTravers
PC: @DaleTravers

New Approaches to City & Road Running Etiquette


There’s a lot we’re all figuring out together.

With COVID-19 policies varying from week to week and place to place, it can be hard to keep track of all the little behavioral adjustments we’re expected to make.

For active city-dwellers and road-runners, the unwritten rules of running etiquette are changing too.

At HOKA, we can’t make exact recommendations for several reasons. We’re not virologists, for one. And guidelines are likely to change.

But we do know running, and we understand that etiquette isn’t an exact science.

So there are few common-sense boundaries to keep in mind as we navigate the “new normal” of running.
Be a Model Runner

Good running etiquette has always been important. But it’s especially important now.

That’s because each runner can represent every runner in the eyes of the general public.

Amid all of the lifestyle changes we’ve been through lately, it would not be utterly shocking to see changes in policy regarding the public spaces we use for running. Imagine if your favorite route became “walking only,” for example. While that might not be likely, but it is at least within the realm of possibility.

So on behalf of runners everywhere, please remember that your commitment to etiquette is appreciated. Not just by the general public, but by everybody else in the runner community who loves to hit the road as much as you do.

How to Run With a Mask

As we mentioned, we’re not virologists, but we do know a couple of basic facts about running and the novel coronavirus. For one, we know that running causes heavy breathing. And two, we know that COVID-19 is a respiratory disease.

With this in mind, it’s easy to see why the average pedestrian might prefer for runners to wear masks.

But running with a mask can be uncomfortable, not to mention sweaty, and running with a mask can slow your pace, reduce your distance, and wear you out sooner – all of which make running both less fun and less effective.

Etiquette suggests that a compromise between always and never wearing a mask would make everybody comfortable.

We suggest the following techniques for running with a mask:

  1. Consult updated guidelines on proper mask use, the effectiveness of different mask types, and distancing.
  2. Always at least bring a mask on your run.
  3. Avoid crossing paths or overtaking other runners or pedestrians within 6-10 feet.
  4. Similar to how you’d turn off your high-beam headlights while driving on a country road, consider masking up (or – safely – crossing the street) before crossing paths with or overtaking anybody.

If the above seems like a long list of concessions, remember that the other people you encounter on your runs won’t know your health status, and you won’t know theirs.

Think of your mask as a symbol of empathy. It’ll make the face sweat easier to live with.

Social Distancing on the Road & Sidewalk

In the city, crowds can be difficult to avoid. Even in outdoor spaces and parks.

Plan accordingly.

You might need to adjust your schedule or your route. Try running during off-peak hours, and stay away from areas where it’s impossible to sidestep other people (a six-foot radius is standard for adequate sidestepping) during the course of your run.

You might need to think outside the box a little and make some sacrifices. For example, instead of your favorite high-traffic park path, consider a detour to run laps around a comparatively deserted athletic field.

If possible, take a wide berth (at least six feet) around anybody you come across. If that’s not possible, consider altering your route to prioritize wider sidewalks, easier rerouting and fewer blind turns around obstructed corners.

If you absolutely can’t avoid crossing paths with somebody, slow down, mask up, make eye contact, offer passage and turn your face away as both parties quickly traverse the shared space.

A quick “excuse me” or “after you” is a nice touch.
Stay Positive and Friendly

Running is a great way to relieve stress, and we’re all feeling plenty of that right now. But stressed-out people can be the least friendly versions of themselves.

So attend to your mindset before you set out on your next run.

Take a few deep breaths, relax, reset and try to let go of any resentments you might be feeling. That way, you’ll be in a better frame of mind for those “excuse me”s and “after you”s, and won’t feel so put out by the idea of wearing a mask or giving other people the extra distance that makes them comfortable.

And if none of that works, remember that since you’re wearing a mask, there’s no point in smiling. A nod, a wave or a thumbs up will do.

Good luck, stay safe and enjoy your next run.


Family Workout Routines For Parents & Kids


As many families have been learning the hard way, it’s hard to get anything done when you’re cooped up together. There just aren’t enough hours in the day for everybody to attend to their needs individually.

This is doubly true for daily exercise, where the absence of regular outlets such as organized sports can have the kids bouncing off the walls, while parents can feel stuck at home without time to squeeze in a quick run or gym trip.

Sometimes the best solution is to work out together. But what does that look like, exactly?

You’re not going to hand a 35-pound kettlebell to your eight-year-old and tell them to swing it around (seriously, do not do this). And your eight-year-old probably isn’t going to sit idly by while you work through your regular regimen. You’ll have to find some middle ground, and work through a few exercises that are equally fun and challenging for everybody.

HOKA has a few recommendations to keep in mind, but first, let’s start with the basics.

How much exercise do kids need?

Healthy growth and development require physical activity throughout the day for preschool-aged children (ages three through five), and an hour per day of more focused activity for kids aged six to 17, according to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control.

Adults should aim for 20-40 minutes per day of daily exercise, per the US Department of Health and Human Services.

So right away there’s a bit of a disparity – your kids need to be active for longer each day than you do. This is common knowledge to any parent, where the mission is to always play in ways that make the children expend more energy than you do. But now you know exactly how much more and how often.

Can my kid work out with me?


When building out a routine that works across generations, it’s best to focus on cardio and plyometric exercises, as this scales well across various body weights. They’re also the easiest to accomplish indoors at home or in the backyard or nearby park. Some light free weight training exercises (think soup can curls) are also fine after about age seven or so.

The CDC recommends three types of physical activity each week for children and adolescents:

  1. Aerobic activity, anything that elevates heart rate.
  2. Muscle-strengthening activity such as core work and isolated bodyweight exercises.
  3. Bone-strengthening activity that can involve any high-impact plyo exercise.

Keep all of this in mind while building out a cross-training circuit you can all enjoy.


Recommended intergenerational exercises

Based on recommended activity types, you can build an interchangeable circuit that works great for you and your kids, and have a field day even if it’s in your living room.

Mix and match from the following:

  1. Aerobic exercises like jump rope, dancing, running, steps, mountain climbers and more.
  2. Muscle-strengthening exercises such as pilates, planks, single-leg deadlifts, wall sits, push-ups, sit-ups, triceps dips, bridges, inchworms, lunges or squats.
  3. Bone-strengthening exercises, for example, jumping, ladder drills, burpees, circle jumps or jumping jacks.

Kid-friendly workout routines

Choosing exercises for a circuit that will be equally challenging for both you and your kids is the easy part. The most important aspect of building a great kid-friendly workout routine is finding a way to make it engaging for shorter attention spans.

The best advice is to get creative with how you frame the workout. “Ten burpees, ten pushups, five minutes of jump rope, ten lunges and a five-minute wall sit” doesn’t sound like as much fun as “The incredible yard games challenge” or “Space adventure super time” – even if they amount to the same thing.

Choose from exercises listed in the exercise section, and try the following ways to do do them together:

  1. Parent demo, kid challenge – you can do the circuit first to “show them how it’s done,” then sit back and watch as they give it a shot. Or try it the other way around, where they give you pointers. Remember, you don’t have to over-instruct on proper form. Just being active is good for a kid.
  2. Time trials – See if your kid can run a circuit faster than you can (spoiler alert: they probably can, but you can act like you didn’t get the timer right). For added fun, ask them to give you a head start then reward them for catching up.
  3. Silly versions – Challenge your kid to a variety of “silly” versions of each circuit that will engage their imagination – do it again like a unicorn, or a space alien. You can even get in the act too.
  4. Make a story – You’re not just exercising to exercise, you’re training to slay a dragon, or drilling to become an astronaut. Rename each exercise to fit the theme.
  5. Set up an obstacle course – what’s more fun for a kid (or adult) than an obstacle course?

As you look into exercises and modifications that work for both you and your little ones, keep in mind that you have an endless variety of props at your disposal.

Do elevated push-ups with your legs on couch cushions, make each station in the circuit into a “base” defined by a hula hoop, use a stuffed animal to help you measure lunge distance.

The more fun you have in your family workouts, the better mood you’ll both be in when it’s time to hop back on that business call or virtual classroom.

Good luck, and it’s Time to Fly™.


Intro to Stroller Running

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Snack prep. Play and pretend time. Frantic hollering. Picking up toys. Cleaning up messes. Banging on pots and pans. Finding and putting on shoes.

Parenting is a challenging but rewarding job under the most predictable circumstances.

But with daily household rhythms thrown off kilter to reflect quarantine necessities, family togetherness is the new normal for any given activity.

That’s why parents at all experience levels are looking into new methods to healthy, productive exercise – including stroller running.

Before you get started, you’ll want to know what to expect. After all, you wouldn’t want to get off on the wrong foot and end up with a bunch of new gear gathering dust in the garage.

HOKA shares a few helpful tips to ease your approach to running with your baby.

Find a Running Stroller You Can Trust

When you’re going anywhere or doing anything with precious cargo, safety is always the top consideration. But price is another important one.

Running strollers can be pricey, with some top-of-the-line models going in the $600-$700 range. There are less expensive options as well, but these can carry a few compromises. Construction quality is the one compromise not worth making. Read customer reviews thoroughly to get an idea of the overall trust level, as you would for any baby-safe product.

As you research running stroller model production quality, you’ll find a range of options and price points that may suit your needs. Keep in mind that some additional features may increase the initial price of a stroller, but save money and hassle in the long run.

Consider the following:

  • Age range and adjustability features – these can keep your stroller out on the road for longer without necessitating another purchase down the line
  • Accessory features such as wrist strap – while a wrist strap is recommended for safety and cup holders are helpful for convenience, you can buy these separately
  • Wheels and suspension – Although flat tires and fussy babies is a combination worth avoiding, air-filled wheels can offer a smooth ride over rugged paths with less weight than foam-filled or solid tires, and an advanced suspension system can also make your tot more amenable to hopping in

Before you spend, ask yourself how long you plan on running with your baby, and over what terrain. This can help you narrow your stroller options to the right model for your budget.

Just be prepared to adjust this initial plan once you get out on the road. Your child will always have their own opinion.


Adjust Your Expectations

Running with a stroller is almost a completely different sport than when you’re on your own. The added weight and pushing action will make some changes necessary – and that’s if your kid stays asleep the whole time.

Remember, they’re along too. And that means you’ll be multitasking between parenting and running. As a parent, you already know that flexibility is necessary – anything can happen at any time. But runners are creatures of habit, so adjusting your running routine to incorporate kid chaos can be a challenge.

Adjust your expectations, and give yourself wiggle room for multiple definitions of a “successful” run.

Consider the following:

  • Keep a distance range and alternate routes in mind – even if you’d prefer to get a solid 5-mile run, it’s good to prepare yourself to accept a brisk 2 mile run cut short by a meltdown
  • Alter your pacing and/or add weight – pushing a stroller will make your regular runs more difficult, but you can use this to your advantage to adjust the intensity of your workout
  • Experiment with scheduling – every kid is different; maybe yours will find the runs soothing, and slide off into naptime, maybe it’s more of an invigorating post-nap experience, or maybe it’s a case-by-case opportunity to burn off some of that destructive energy
  • Plan for contingencies – remember that going on a run with your baby is exactly like every other time you leave the house with your baby; it’s always better when you bring everything you might need
  • Build in positive interaction points – you and your baby will both get more enjoyment out of running together if you schedule breaks for cooperative activities like feeding and play time
  • Work out in other ways too – for new parents used to a hardcore training regimen, it can be a challenge to be adaptive and keep an open mind toward working out — try some playground cross-training, and stay resilient in the face of unplanned interruptions

Setting out with the right equipment and the right mindset are both very important. But what happens when you get out there?

Change Your Running Approach

Running with a stroller and a baby will cause a few necessary tweaks to your usual approach.

The most important of these is the need for increased attentiveness. Take extra heed of your surroundings. Safety is priority one, but making sure you don’t leave a cherished binky in your dust can be a fairly close second.

Additional changes include the following:

  • Scout a safe, relatively smooth route with adequate stroller clearance
  • Take those earbuds out and listen carefully for signs of distress
  • Keep your eyes on the path, both ahead and in your periphery
  • Maintain an easy grip on the stroller as you run to prevent hunching
  • Drive from your core and legs to make the best use of the added weight

Now that you’re fully prepared, let’s prepare your little one.

Get Your Child Involved

Going for a super-fast stroller ride seems like it’d be a pretty fun activity. But it doesn’t always pay to make assumptions, especially when you’re dealing with a toddler.

If your child is old enough to communicate their opinion, ask for it before strapping them in. This goes beyond careful phrasing that gives them some control over the situation, although “Want to go for a run with me?” is a good standby.

You can also ask where they want to go, what they like to see, what they noticed and what was their favorite part. You can plan a stop at a playground, or set up a reward system. You can even get them involved in your workout by letting them choose a “fast part.”

How exactly you handle it is of course up to you, but anything you do to make your runs feel like “our” runs will make the entire process much more enjoyable for all involved.

Also, a routine can help your child adjust their expectations as well. For example, if you’re lucky enough to have a daycare option within running distance, setting the expectation that a stroller run is the preferred commute method can make it just as enjoyable for your tot as it is for you.

Parenting can wear you out just as surely as regular exercise can increase your energy level. Combining them seems like an ideal solution, and it can certainly be both rewarding and convenient.

Just make sure you go about it with the right blend of caution and preparation.

Good luck and happy running. It’s Time to Fly™.


Revive Your Running Routine With Small Tweaks


In a year that can be described as tumultuous at the very least, many runners are falling back on repeatable routines as a way to find solace from the mental and emotional demands of a topsy-turvy world.

Routine comes with a downside. Too much of the same thing can bring complacency, plateau your development, and make running feel more like a chore than a source of genuine joy.

If you’re running in a rut, a few small tweaks can refresh your outlook. HOKA recommends a few ways to re-evaluate your habits and shake things up.

Explore New Routes & Terrain

You probably already have a favorite running route, and you probably already went through an experimental phase to find it. But that doesn’t mean you should stop exploring forever.

Sometimes a simple tweak can make a big difference. Try the following:

  • Set out in a different direction
  • Run your usual route “backward”
  • Go back to an old favorite path in a neighborhood you used to live in
  • Ask around for hot tips
  • Try a new destination as a starting point
  • Give trail running a try if you’re primarily a road runner (or vice versa)

For more information about challenging yourself over rugged terrain, check out our previous article Intro to Trail Running.

When you seek out new paths, the best-case scenario is you’ll find a new alternative route that could fit better for a given mood or day or weather condition. And the worst-case? Returning to your old standby will give you a new appreciation for familiar scenery.


Challenge Yourself With New Goals

When your runs lapse into a routine, your development can plateau.

That’s fine – not everybody has to improve all the time – but it can take some of the spark out of running for those with a more competitive mindset. But if your usual running routine is starting to feel a little blah, or if your breath and legs don’t even bat an eye at your current run distance and pace, you can always shake things up with a few new challenges.

Consider the following options:

  • Stop by the local high school on your way back home and run the steps of the bleachers
  • Incorporate a few cross-training exercises on that park district chin-up bar you always run past
  • Take on that monster hill you usually avoid
  • Add intermittent sprints during your least favorite stretches – for example, from the fence to the mailbox
  • Push to run the “scenic route” within the same time you usually take on a shorter run

The best part of adding a few new challenges to a routine that’s grown a little stale – you can always go back to the old way as a method of gauging your progress. If it feels like a breeze, that’s because those new goals are paying off.

Switch Up Your Schedule

Routine isn’t all bad. You can use it as a baseline for experimentation to learn how to better fit your runs into your lifestyle.

To the extent possible, try your usual run at different times of day: early morning, mid-day, evening.

You might be surprised at how seemingly small changes to the light level and direction, or tiny fluctuations in daily climate, can affect the overall quality of your run.

Take note of how schedule changes affect your overall mood and energy level throughout the day and use this information to vary your running routine. You could find, for example, that an early pre-shower is the perfect way to kick off a dreary, rainy day, or that an evening run is a perfect way to put a stressful workday in the rearview mirror.

Horror of horrors, you might even discover that you’re a “morning person.”


Try a New Soundtrack

If you have a go-to running playlist, that’s another avenue you can use to shake things up. After all, your brain and ears are along for the ride every time you set out.

Try the following:

  • Build new playlists with different music genres you enjoy and see how the switch affects your run
  • Try out a “wellness run” playlist full of music that’s more soothing than your “pump up” music
  • Turn your run into a multitasking version of “me time” with an audiobook, informative podcast, or language lessons
  • Leave the earbuds at home, soak up the scenery and let your mind wander in silence

Gear Up Or Down

If you’ve settled into a regular running routine that gives you a reliable read on how you feel on a given run, that’s the perfect setting for a road test to figure out what running gear works best for you.

Swap out accessories to find out how you feel about:

  • Handheld water bottles
  • Fanny packs
  • Hats and sweatbands
  • Weatherproof shells
  • Various short, pant, shirt, and top options
  • Different kinds of socks
  • Running shoes

A solid routine can be an enormously helpful tool in your development as a runner.

Even if you feel like you’ve been running in a bit of a rut, know that this “control group” is a great way to judge the impacts of variables as you experiment. The results could reveal a lot about your personal preferences as a runner that can form the new baseline for further exploration.

Good luck and happy running. It’s Time to Fly™