How to Dress for 50-degree Running Success
Dial-in your cold-weather running attire for the best experience at the best temperature.
If runners could choose an ideal temperature for their best runs, most would pick the 50-degree mark. It’s the Goldilocks of conditions—not too hot, not too cold, but just right. This 50-degree range, in fact, is the sweet spot for marathon performance, too, serving as the “just right” temperature for most of the best finishes, year after year.
Whether you’re training to race or simply to get out and enjoy the fresh air, your running is going to be happiest around 50 degrees. Luckily, we’re about to head into a season that serves up plenty of days in this sought-after temperature range.
To take advantage of it, you’ll want to dress for the best experience. The key to fall running and that 50-degree optimal temperature is going to be layering.
One of the first decisions you’ll need to make is shorts or crops. Most runners will find that with proper layering on top, shorts are going to do the trick at 50 degrees. A few, however, will prefer the comfort or added warmth of something on their legs, so the best approach is knowing your personal preferences in that regard and choosing accordingly.
In either case, having some space to stash a phone, nutrition and water is going to make your run a better, hands-free experience. On the topic of water or sports drink—don’t leave it behind just because the temperatures are no longer summer warm—you’ll want to keep drinking year round, especially any time you’re out for a run longer than an hour or so.
On top, you’re going to want a couple of layers. Most runners find that 50 degrees, while ideal for performance, is a bit chilly when first heading out. Start with a base layer of short sleeves or even a tank, depending on which you prefer once you’ve warmed up. Then add a light-weight, long sleeved top over it. Consider a quarter or half-zip shirt so that you can let the air in as you’re warming up, and then easily pull it off over your head on the fly if you’d prefer not to stop.
Another accessory worth considering in this temperature range is a pair of lightweight gloves. Either cotton or tech material will do in this case, as you’re likely going to pull them off as your own temperature rises a couple of miles in. Easily stick them in your FlipBelt or Flipbelt shorts or crops and never give them a second thought.
Depending on personal preference, 50 degrees might be a temperature where you consider wearing a hat or ear covering for a little extra warmth at the start. Often, a simple runner’s hat with a brim is all you’ll need here.
Finally, as summer’s long days begin to fade, you’re wise to consider some lights for visibility, and if you’re running in the dark, a safety alarm or pepper spray is a good addition, too. If you use music when you run, make sure your headphones leave your ears open to hear any approaching traffic or people.
After pulling it all together, the only thing left is a good pair of shoes, some socks, and a little motivation to get out the door. But if you’re like most runners, you’re aware that now is the best time of the year to log your miles. The air is crisp, the leaves are turning, and the perfect 50 degrees happens more often than not. Take advantage of it.