I have a love/hate relationship with winter running. I’d choose cold temperatures and overcast skies for running any day, and winter provides plenty of those conditions. On the other hand, our limited daylight makes outdoor running tough. I don’t like running in the dark, and around here, most of our winter daylight happens between 7 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. That doesn’t work particularly well with a 9-to-5 schedule!
Running in the winter around here requires flexibility. Earlier this season, Nike helped me adapt my wardrobe to the colder months with a winter weather package.
If you plan to run outside during the winter, you definitely want to wear clothes that are warm and visible to keep you comfortable when the mercury is low and to help others see you in low light conditions. Nike’s winter running gear helps in both departments.
The package came with all sorts of goodies, including the entire outfit you see (poorly photographed with an iPhone – file this under “Reasons Why I Need a Better Camera”) above. I’m wearing the HyperShield Flash Jacket, Power Speed Flash Tights, and LunarEpic Flyknit Shield Shoes. All of these were designed with winter running in mind.
I’ve worn the jacket several times, and it’s quickly become my favorite piece of running gear. I took the above picture on a day when the actual temperature was 20 degrees, but the Real Feel was 12. I wore an old, long sleeve race shirt underneath, and even though I only ran three miles that day (which isn’t a whole lot of time to warm up), I was perfectly comfortable in the jacket. Shockingly comfortable, really. I wasn’t cold when I started my run, and I didn’t get overheated as it went on. I’ve had the same experience every other time I’ve run in the jacket as well. I have never been so impressed with the design of any other running gear I own, and would recommend this jacket without hesitation to anyone running in Chicago or similar climates.
My jacket specifically is a bit on the pricey side due to its super power: incredible reflectivity.
This picture, taken with flash, shows me picking up my age group award at the Jingle Bell 5K last month. In it, you an see the tiny piece of reflection my Asics running shoes have on the heel, the two stripes of reflection my Mizuno tights have on the calves, and then on top, the rainbow of reflection all over my Nike jacket. That’s the exact same jacket I’m wearing in the action shot further up, and those reflective elements are all over the sleeves and shoulders, even though you can’t see them like you see silver reflective elements on regular running clothes. It is truly incredible, and I would feel a lot more comfortable running in the dark knowing that my shoulders, head, and arms are lit up like a rainbow rather than hoping that the couple of small stripes on my shoes and clothes are enough to help cyclists on the Lakefront Trail or drivers on the road see me after dark. (The price point, admittedly, is pretty high on that jacket, so if you’re looking for a great winter jacket that won’t break your budget, Nike also sells a regular HyperShield Jacket without the reflective elements for much less. I think that’d be great if you plan to run outside during daylight.)
The Power Speed Flash Tights, while not quite as reflective as the jacket, do also feature a good amount of reflectivity where the silver lines appear on both the front and the back of the tights. It beats the reflectivity of the tights you see in the picture above by a long shot.
I liked the fit and feel of these tights a lot. I have a few pairs of running tights: one for 30-40 degree weather, one for 10-30 degree weather, and one for anything below that. I would out these tights in the 30-40 degree category, at least for my personal comfort level. When I wore these on the three miler I mentioned earlier, when it was 20 but felt like 12, I was a bit chilly in the shade and wind, but comfortable in the sun. Everyone’s different, of course, but I felt like these tights would suit my needs best when the temperature (or, in this case, Real Feel) wasn’t flirting with single digits. Fortunately, those days are few and far between in Chicago, for the most part, so I have a feeling I’ll get a lot of use out of these tights under more normal winter circumstances.
The shoes are from Nike’s LunarEpic line, a fairly cushioned shoe with a unique traction pattern on the sole. These particular shoes are meant to provide added grip in wintery conditions and also feature a water-repellent outer to help keep your feet dry if you need to trudge through snow or slush.
Though you can’t tell from this picture, these shoes are high rise, like the Nike LunarEpics I talked about last summer:
Ah, sunshine! How I miss you.
I wasn’t entirely sold on the design when I tried out those shoes during the summer, mostly because it deviated so dramatically from how you expect a running shoe to look. For winter running, though, I think it’s genius. The gap between my tights and socks drives me CRAZY, and since so few of my running socks go above my shoe line, I constantly have cold ankles while out running during the winter. High rise shoes solve that problem. The LunarEpic shoes, in my experience, have an awfully snug fit, so I’d definitely recommend trying them on before you make a purchase.
Even though the holidays are over, if the past is any indication, winter weather won’t be going anywhere for at least three months. If you’ve got some Christmas money to go through and need to update your winter running wardrobe, Nike definitely has you covered.
*While I received Nike’s winter running package complimentarily, all words and opinions on the products I received and tested are 100% my own.
What’s your favorite or essential winter running gear? Aside from my Nike jacket, I’m also obsessed with running glittens. The flexibility is perfect for when you don’t know what to expect out of the weather, plus having your fingers free to use individually makes it much easier to start and stop a watch than trying to do that with mittens.