Let’s be honest, it is that much harder to motivate yourself to put on your running kit and head out the front door when it is cold and miserable out there. But cold weather doesn’t mean that you have to banish yourself to the treadmill all winter long. Thanks to the modern technology in winter running clothes, gone are the days when runners trudged through winter running workouts wearing lots of heavy and uncomfortable clothing. But one part of the body that is often still neglected when it comes to wrapping up warmly is the head – and that’s a big mistake, because you can lose up to 40% of your body heat through your head, so it is important to keep it covered when running on cold days.
A beanie or fleece hat is great for keeping your head warm and they are normally lightweight to wear. However, some runners don’t like their heads being covered, in which case earmuffs would still offer some form of protection and heat-retention. And for those really cold days, keeping your neck and face warm and protected is also recommended, and that’s where a Buff really come in handy. And the good news is that all this head-warming gear is lightweight and easy to carry, so if you get a bit too warm during the run and want to let your head cool off for a while, simply tuck the beanie, headband or buff into the elastic of your shorts or tights and carry on running.
So, if you simply can’t imagine going through the cold months without your daily running fix, here are some great head-warming options to keep your noggin warm during this winter.
Cape Storm Pulse Beanie
Made from a high performance wicking fabric, and available in six colours. The stitching pattern helps it keep its rounded shape very effectively. R135 at Cape Storm stores.
Cape Storm Insulator Beanie
Similar to the Pulse model, but with less stitching for a slightly looser fit. Just as fleecy and warm, though!
R135 at Cape Storm stores.
First Ascent Skull Beanie
This snug-fitting nylon-lycra ‘skull pleaser’ is just what you’ve been looking for to protect your head and your ears. R99 at First Ascent stockists.
First Ascent Powerstretch Beanie
Made from Polartec Powerstretch fleece, a four-way stretch fabric, this beanie has amazing wicking and thermal properties. R159 at First Ascent stockists.
New Balance Performance Fleece Beanie
Made from micropolar fleece material, this beanie also has reflective logos for extra visibility in low-light conditions, and a key stash pounch. R149 at New Balance stores.
Nike Lightweight Running Skullcap Beanie
The contoured design provides great ear coverage, plus it has reflective detailing and a ponytail opening to accommodate longer hair. R149 at Nike Stores.
Made from quick-drying frabrics, it features a fleece headband lining to ensure a warm head, nad one size fits all. R150 at Salomon Concept Stores and Due South Stores
Salomon Momentum Beanie
Part of Salomon’s Nordic Ski range – which tells you that this beanie will cope with even the coldest temperatures! R199 at Salomon Concept Stores and Due South Stores
First Ascent Fleece earmuff:
Keep your ears warm on a cold day with this fleecy product – can also be used for cycling, as it will fit comfortably under a helmet. R69 at First Ascent stockists.
First Ascent Softshell earmuff
This super-cool earmuff will protect your forehead and ears from any cold wind generated by your running speed. R119 at First Ascent stockists.
Original Buff? & Wool Buff?
Not much to look at when it juts sits there, but this simple multifunctional ‘tube’ of material can be used as a cap, headband, mask, scarf or balacalva. Wicks moisture and is easy to carry when not in use. Also available in a 100% Merino wool version, which is slightly longer to give extra coverage on top of its extra insulation. R150 for the Original Buff and R229 for the Wool Buff from various stockists
MORE ADVICE FOR COLD WEATHER RUNNING
Start warm: Getting out the front door is often the hardest part when it is cold outside, so put your running kit in the tumble-dryer, or next to the heater, for a few minutes and warm them up a bit, then dress quickly and hot the road. You start the run warm and toasty, and by the time the clothes have cooled off again, you’ve warmed up.
Stay dry: In extremely low temperatures, sweat is the enemy, because once you’re wet, the wind-chill factor can really hit you and send your body temperature plummeting. Therefore, dress in thin layers, starting with a moisture-wicking base-layer, followed by a fleecy-type outer layer, and if the conditions are windy, add a wind-resistant outer shell as well.
Hands up: Just as you lose heat through your head, so too do you lose heat through your hands – up to 30% of your body heat – so wear gloves to keep your hands and fingers warm. Mittens are even better on really cold days, because your fingers stay in contact with each other and thus stay warmer.
Don’t forget your legs: It’s a bit pointless wearing three layers on the upper body, plus gloves and a beanie, and then wearing just shorts, leaving your legs exposed to the cold by, so invest in a pair of full-length tights and make sure your legs stay warm too.
Protect your lips and skin: Lip-ice is a must on cold days to prevent your lips from chapping. You can use Vaseline for this and also apply it to your nose and cheeks to prevent windburn, or look for protective creams at your pharmacy or local stores.