If you are an all-year runner, one of the most important things that you can consider purchasing is a pair of running gloves. A lot of money is spent on getting the right running shoes, and the best technical and compression gear, and this is great for hitting the road in summer. However, many people find that it is hard to keep their extremities warm when they go out to run during the colder times of the year. Obviously, running socks and shoes are worn for comfort and cushioning, but they will also keep your feet warm in winter. Often, it is the head and the hands which are neglected, depending on which part of the world you live in. One solution is to take a break from jogging, or to use a treadmill at the gym instead of pounding the roads and trails. But with the kit available today, it is just as easy to spend a little money on some decent running gloves and a hat, and continue trekking in the fresh air.
One of the major benefits of gloves and other pieces of cold weather running gear, is that they can help to extend your running season by making it possible for you to go out and run more months of the year. A short training season can have a huge negative impact on your ability; you might be surprised how much fitness you’ll lose even if you only take one month off. So you should always aim to make the season as long as possible just to keep that underlying fitness ticking over, even if you stick to long, easy runs in the winter months, rather than hard endurance or strength sessions.
There are some other practicalities of wearing running mittens or gloves, some of which are fairly trivial, but one in particular is very important, although mainly of benefit only to certain people. Cold weather running can be done in shorts and a light shirt and you will quickly warm up and start sweating. But the problem with your hands is that they will almost certainly not get warm enough, and circulation can slow down to your fingers. Some people are more prone to this condition than others, the degree to which varying widely (see Raynaud’s phenomenon). You will know if you suffer because your fingers go completely white and painful when they get too cold. So a pair of fleece-lined lightweight running gloves will help you greatly, and of course, if your hands get too warm wearing them, you just take them off and stick them in the band of your shorts!
Naturally, being used in the winter, many runners who brave the elements in all weathers get the sniffles and use their gloves for blowing their noses. Not very nice, really, but it’s a fact that they are great for wiping sweat and other stuff away to keep you running happily. Just make sure you buy ones which can be washed regularly without damaging them – or buy cheap ones!
Running Gloves on the Market
1. Hi-Viz Running and Cycling Gloves
If you are doing a lot of winter runs, the shorter days mean you will more likely than not find yourself out in decreased visibility. Anything you can do to stand out to others is going to be beneficial, especially if you do a lot of your workouts on roads. A bright pair of neon running gloves will be another tool in your ‘be seen by drivers’ armory.
2. Thermal Running Gloves
There is a wide variety of thermal running gloves available, and so it pays to do a bit of research and read up on the ones you are most interested in. Some are lined to keep your entire hands warm, whereas others (like the Asics Thermopolis pictured) have a thinner material in the palm combined with warm lining for the fingers and backs of the hands. These allow you to regulate your hand temperature, by opening up your palms when your hands are too hot, and closing your fists lightly to warm them back up again.
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3. Running Mitten Gloves
My favorite type of winter running gloves is the mitten style ones. They tend to be warmer because they can trap more air between the fingers for added insulation. There are several kinds to choose from including standard wool mittens, and convertible ones where you can pull the cap off to free your fingers. The cap can be attached with velcro to the back of the glove, allowing you to use your hands to undo zippers or open energy bars or gels while running.
For triathlon in cold conditions, there are also ‘lobster-claw’ mitts, which allow you to get the benefit of warmer hands while still being able to use the index fingers for gear changes and braking on the bike.
If you look hard enough, you will be able to find a few great deals online, and since it is also important to keep your head warm during the winter running season, often you can find sets. One in particular is the Nike glove and hat set comprising a warm skull cap and a pair of gloves with a small pocket to store your house key when out for a run. These are a great idea as they allow you to keep things simple rather than searching for both products separately.
One last point about winter running: forget about giant heavy coats to keep warm. You should be wearing baselayers and technical tops. Layering is always best for regulating your heat as you can easily remove outer layers if you get too hot, without suddenly freezing yourself. Your running gloves and hat will be important extras to conserve heat if you venture out for snow training. Keep warm and keep running!