A Runner's Guide to Layering

Runner's Guide to Layers 620

If you've ever sweated through your running clothes on a cold winter day as if it were the middle of summer, then you're probably familiar with the guessing game faced by runners everywhere.

How many layers should I put on? How can I avoid overheating? I don't want to be cold!

Yes, figuring out the perfect amount of clothing to put on your body before a run can become harder than the run itself.

"In my mind, comfort is key," says Keith Klebacha, a personal trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine and an avid runner and triathlete who constantly battles the Chicago elements. "It's as simple as that. You have to be able to enjoy the experience and get the most out of your time."

Klebacha broke down what to wear by temperature (in 10-degree increments no less!), so you can spend less time guessing and more time running.

80-90°F…or Hotter

When it's this hot, the word "breathable" is key. Look for a running tank made with sweat-wicking material that will keep you nice and dry. Choose a pair of shorts that are light and breezy and get good airflow. If it's sunny, you can also look for clothing with SPF ratings that will block harmful rays from your skin.

70-80°F

It may not be boiling hot outside, but it's still warm enough to overheat quickly. "The rule of thumb is to always dress for a run like it's 15-20 degrees warmer," Klebacha says. In other words, still stick to non-cotton materials and don a short-sleeve shirt and shorts.

60-70°F

It's a little cooler now, so it's time to start experimenting. Do your running shorts need a break? Opt for capris with ventilation panels and pair them with a short-sleeve t-shirt. The focus should still be to avoid overheating, while managing the accumulation of moisture on the body. 

50-60°F

Ah, near perfect running conditions. When it's in the 50s, a comfortable body temperature doesn't take much maintenance. A light, long-sleeve tech shirt with shorts or capris should work fine. You don't need multiple layers yet, but keep an eye on precipitation reports and have waterproof clothes at the ready.

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About the Author

Jackie Veling

Jackie Veling is a Running Editor for Active.com. She’s passionate about overall wellness and body positivity and believes running is a great tool for achieving both. You can follow her on Twitter.

Jackie Veling is a Running Editor for Active.com. She’s passionate about overall wellness and body positivity and believes running is a great tool for achieving both. You can follow her on Twitter.

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