However much we like to moan about the weather in this country, the UK is actually a pretty great place to be a runner. The summers are rarely so hot as to make running a dehydration-risking misery and the winter cold tends to fall into the “make sure you wear lip balm” category, rather than “wear gloves or you’ll lose a finger”.
That said, the British winter is typically wet, chilly and dark, none of which make it into any runner’s top ten descriptions of their favourite workout. Fortunately, you can combat all three of those conditions easily with the right running gear. This running gear.
The first of two jackets that you need in your winter wardrobe, the softshell running top is the workhorse you’re going to wear for almost every run. It needs to be breathable (a full-length zip will help here), but able to stand up to a little drizzle, and you should be able to wear it either next to the skin when it’s just a little nippy and over a base layer when it’s colder. Ideally, it will be made from odour-resistant fabric too, because you’re going to be wearing it a lot, and will have reflective details for dark runs.
Our favourite softshell jacket: SOAR Softshell
It’s got everything you could want from a softshell jacket, including a dash of style. Wear this slim-cut top by itself in autumn and spring, and slip a mid layer underneath in the depths of winter. £199, buy on soarrunning.com
When conditions really get nasty, you need something stronger than a softshell. A fully waterproof running jacket probably won’t be all that breathable, so stick to easy runs while wearing it, but aim to find a lightweight option that won’t make you so sweaty that blocking out the rain becomes self-defeating. Packable jackets that can come along for the ride are a bonus, so you’re prepared if the weather suddenly turns.
Our favourite waterproof jacket: Iffley Road Marlow
This packable waterproof is so lightweight that it’s comfortable to wear even when there’s no downpour plaguing your run. When there is, however, you can trust it to keep you dry. £195, buy on mrporter.com
A cosy base layer is the closest thing to a runner’s heart in the winter – quite literally, if you don’t wear a chest strap. The top should keep you warm and wick away sweat from the skin, so you remain dry and comfortable. The main decision to make is between merino wool and synthetic fabrics. The former is warmer and resists odours better, while the latter wicks away sweat and dries more quickly.
Our favourite base layer: Odlo Evolution Warm Base Layer
Fast-drying, snug and made with Odlo’s silver-based antibacterial fabric so it won’t stink after one run, this base layer will fulfil all your winter needs. £50, buy on odlo.com
Some runners will shy away from running tights no matter how cold it gets, but they’re missing a trick, because a good pair of leg huggers are just the ticket for staying snug on easy runs and warming up for speedy sessions. As with base layers, you want a sweat-wicking material that dries quickly and it’s always useful if the tights have reflective details for night running.
RECOMMENDED: Reflective Running Gear
Our favourite tights: Asics Windstopper Tights
Wind can rival rain in its ability to ruin a run, so block out the blustery conditions with these tights, which have a breeze-blocking panel built into the fabric on the front. £70, buy on asics.com
It’s high time we all embraced perhaps the most unfairly maligned of all athletic accessories, the snood. Use it to keep your neck warm, or bunch it up to use as a headband which protects your ears from the chill. A lightweight, sweat-wicking material is best.
Our favourite snood: BUFF R-Solid Blue Skydiver
Any BUFF will serve you well, but it’s worth starting with the reflective range considering the long winter nights ahead. £21.50, buy on buffwear.co.uk
The requirements are simple here – you want gloves that keep your hands warm but not sweaty. For those who like to fiddle with electronics while they run, track down a pair that allow you to use touchscreen devices.
Our favourite gloves: Adidas Climawarm Running Gloves
These fleecy gloves marry warmth and breathability, and have conductive fingertips so you can use your phone without taking them off. £22.95, buy on adidas.co.uk
Even if your body is well protected from the weather, neglect your noggin and you will feel the chill. Sweat-wicking properties are a must, because it will get steamy under your hat when you run.
Our favourite hat: Nike Dry
Soft and fleecy, this is a joy to pull on and the Nike Dri-FIT technology in the fabric ensures that sweat is swept away from the skin rapidly. £21.95, buy on nike.com