As promised, I'm finally getting around to post my tips on running through the winter. All of you lucky ducks who live in Florida, Hawaii and Texas need not read any further. I've been running outside through the winter for the last five years, and have run on a treadmill maybe three times total during that five years. Reasons? Well, I don't have a treadmill. Also, I hate it.
First (and probably most obvious) thing you have to figure out with winter running: apparel. The key here is layers. For the coldest weather (20 degrees and below, in my book), I start with a base layer of Under Armour cold gear. Their warmest tights and a turtleneck. On top, I add a middle layer - another Under Armour zip up shirt. The next layer: wind resistance. I found a pair of Nike pants at Run n' Fun in St. Paul a couple of years ago and they are the greatest. They are fitted, and made of this great wind resistant fabric that manages to keep me warm but not trap in my sweat. On top, I have a very light weight wind jacket. Of course, you can't forget the hat, gloves, and (if it is very cold) a face mask. A note about face masks: they do help, but when you breath onto them, they tend to get wet and then cause chafing. I only use my face mask when it is below zero.
Second: accessories. Because winter running usually also means running in the dark, I tend to get a lot of use out of my headlamp and orange construction worker vest. The vest also comes in handy during hunting season, when I like to make it clear that I am not a deer. If you're going to run outside in the winter, you'll also need to invest in some Yak Trax. Runner's World had an article last year on how to screw your own shoes, so you could try that too. Either way, in order to avoid falling on your ass, you gotta have something on the shoes.
The third thing to consider with winter running is your route and fueling. Even if you are feeling hot and sweaty, your water in your fuel belt can freeze and your sport beans or clif blocks or what have you can turn into little ice pebbles. I did a lot of my long runs for marathon training in January and February last year, and for the most part made them loops so I would pass by my house at least once during the run. That way, if I was too hot and needed to ditch a jacket or my water was frozen and I needed new bottles, I could easily stop and take care of it.
Even though I do my fair share about complaining about winter weather and the cold, I actually sort of enjoyed marathon training through the winter months last year. It gave me a reason to get out the door and something to focus on other than the constant cold, dark weather. It also made me realize that it is often easier to run in the super cold than in the hot humidity of summer. All that being said, I'm perfectly fine if we have 60 degree weather until January.