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Ultimate Guide to Winter Running in South Africa

Here are some of my top gear recommendations for enjoying your running throughout the winter. 

Keeping your head, face and ears warm: there is nothing more uncomfortable than having your nose and ears frozen during your morning or late afternoon run. 


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Beanie Head Warmer

The classic beanie made from firestorm fleece will keep your head nice and warm. Firestorm fleece is designed to have excellent insulation properties and does not retain moisture. Check out the First Ascent - Men's S200 Beanie

The Good-old Buff 

One of the most versatile: this is key to staying warm during your winter runs.

Check out this video to see several different ways to wear and have fun with your Buff.

Learn to use layers well: this is key to staying warm during your winter runs. Depending on how cold it is, use the three-layer method which includes:

Base Layer 

A 100% polyester or poly: this is key to staying warm during your winter runs. The Kabru Pullover is an excellent base layer from Solomon and provides fantastic value for money. The Kabru Pullover is one of my go-to. With micro polar fleece fabric for warmth, lightness and versatility, I give it a big thumbs up, for all those South African runners braving the cold winter months. 


I only use the mid-layer for those freezing winter days. For the mid-layer, you want to get some insulation that retains warmth when damp. The Nike Mid-Layer Squash is an excellent option for ladies. The Capestorm Men's Puffadder top is an excellent option for men. 

Top Layer 

If you based in an area where it rains in the winter, I would recommend a windproof and waterproof barrier. If your running in Gauteng, where it is unlikely to rain in the winter months, I would suggest only a windproof layer. Make sure to check the tag water-resistant or water-repellent is not waterproof.

If you are looking for a waterproof jacket, I would recommend a Water Column Rating for 5000mm for road running and for trail running 10000mm, especially if you into mountain running or ultra-distance

I have been running with the First ascent AR-X Waterproof Jacket for a couple of years now, and it is terrific. It has a 10000mm Water Column Rating, it is breathable and comes with everything you will need. Alternatively, the Windshell Ultra Light Packable Jacket form Newbalance is another good option for a top layer. For a lower budget option the Second Skins Unisex Foul Weather Top will do the trick (take note the second skin will not have a waterproof head cover).

Keeping the legs warm

Running Tights

The Asics Long-RunningRunning Tights has a polyester blend that is moisture-wicking and is a quick-drying fabric that provides comfort and does not restrict your running movement. 

Waterproof running pants

Trail runners in South Africa will benefit from getting their waterproof pants ready for the winter months. Especially, if your planning to do longer runs in areas where you might experience some rain or snow, i.e. Drakensberg or parts of the Cape. A good item to have if you plan on participating in ultra-distance trail running events, where on most occasions, this is part of the compulsory running kit requirements.

I would also recommend a Water Column Rating 5000mm-10000mm for waterproof running pant, with my favourite options being the Solomon or First Ascent waterproof running pants.

Now for those hands:


Tech Touch Glove II  - this hybrid glove is excellent for a freezing morning/late afternoon run, ride or hike, as it can easily double-up as a thick liner glove.  

And that is a wrap...

Personally, as an ultra trail runner and adventure racer, I had to go through this experience, via trial and error and through conversation with other more experienced running buddies, and I am grateful I have learned about how to effectively run in the wet and cold.

For me these learnings paid off in a couple of races, one example is in 2017 at the Karkloof 100 Miler, (a KZN Trail Run Event). About 50% of the field pulled out of the race, mostly due to the cold and wet conditions. For me, I never felt the cold at any point of the race which, was for me 20 hours and 51 minutes race.

Hope this helps you to run warm and keep safe during the cold winter months.

Corne Van Zyl, Ultimate Guide to Running in the Winter 

In-Reach Run

Corne is a Running Coach at In-Reach Run and is the owner of two private gyms. He has been in the fitness industry for 15 years and specializes in endurance sports (e.g. half-marathons, marathons, Comrades, Ultra Mountain Races, 100 milers and Adventure Racing events)

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It's going to be freezing! Whats your favourite tips to staying warm whilst running? Maybe a hot cup of coffee before a run?

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