If you’re a runner in cold climates, what do you do during the winter? The answer is, of course, you run. But you have to out-smart winter’s challenges to truly enjoy the joys of winter running. The most obvious challenge is dealing with winter’s cold temperatures. Don’t overdress First, make sure you recognize that as you run, your body temperature increases and that can lead to sweating if overdressed. Sweat-soaked clothing and cold temperatures is a bad combination. Here’s a good rule of thumb. If you are planning on a short to medium length run, add 10-15 degrees to the outside temperature. Add 20 if you plan on a long run. So, if it’s 20 degrees out and you plan a short run, dress like it is 30 to 35 degrees. Running kit The choices you make for your winter running kit needs to incorporate running layers. Since runners sweat, and wet clothing is a bad idea, a base layer of high-tech moisture wicking material is a must. The good news is that technology has come a long way in keeping runners warm and dry. The bad news is that good stuff is expensive. If you aren’t sure what to choose for the right base layer, check into your local running specialty store or ask an experienced running pal. Keep warm Over the base layer are the thicker warmth layers. The number of layers and thickness is based upon the temperatures, but remember that you will generate heat as you run. Overdressing is the most common mistake. Start with a long sleeve shirt and add layers as needed. Wind watch The top layer is the wind breaker. It is a light weight jacket that will shield against the heat-sapping winter winds. From head-to-toe Keep your head warm with a wool or high tech hat or headband that can cover your ears, as well. Lightweight gloves will keep your hands comfortable, and can be easily stored in your jacket pocket should it get too warm. For your legs, wear tight and/or wind pants depending upon the temperature. Slip slide Snowy roads can add to the hazards of winter running. Trail shoes can help in snow, but traction-assisted devices such as “Yaktrax,” which fit over running shoes guarantee a slip-free run when conditions get icy. Bright idea Chances are that many winter runs are in the dark, and that can be very dangerous. Essential to winter running (or any season) at night is illumination, so that cars can see you, and you can see where your next footfall should be. A good quality headlamp (Black Diamond, for example) keeps the pathway lit, and an illuminated vest (Tracer 360 is awesome) keeps you visible. Wild side There are those winter days when conditions go from difficult to extreme. On those days a cup of hot chocolate and reading a running magazine is probably a good choice. Or consider the tread (dread) mill. A strength training day is a good call, too. But runners tend to be a hardy bunch, so here are a few good choices for those days you insist on going out for your run, and your friends and relatives will suggest you’re crazy. The extreme wind chill is a serious consideration on frigid days when the winds howl. Exposed skin can suffer frostbite quickly and without you realizing it, so cover up. Use a facemask that will protect your cheeks and nose. Plan your run to head out into the wind and home with the wind at your back. Hand warmers and foot warmers will keep the extremities comfortable, and consider bringing extras. The latest and greatest heated gloves and heated vests for the truly dedicated and undeterred-by-cold runners are necessities. I use them for skiing, and they are amazing. Last resort Sometimes it’s just a change of venue that is needed. Warm resort races such as the Bermuda Triangle or the Gasparilla Distance Classic are the perfect last resort solution to nasty weather. I am a runner, I am a skier, and in the winter my two passions merge and provide an additional gift beyond keeping fit. I love being outside and experiencing the beauty of winter. Howling winds and frigid temperatures at the top of a mountain provide breathtaking views so few folks get to see. Running along snow covered streets with trees bowed in snow cover under full moonlight is magical and serene. These are the gifts given to those hardy enough to challenge the cold. Whether you choose to dress for winter, log your runs on a treadmill or escape to warmer climes, the most important choice is to stay active. If you don’t see me on a run, it’s because I’ll be doing my long runs on a mountain with skis on my feet, but I’ll see you on the roads soon. Tom Licciardello is a founding member of the Merrimack Valley Striders. Licciardello has participated in 35 Bostons and 88 marathons altogether, and is a member of the BAA Boston Marathon Organizing Committee. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.