5 Tips for Winter Running

I’ve never been one for hibernation. Like most kids who grew up in the north, I learned to ski shortly after learning to walk, taught myself to snowboard a few years later, and spent nearly as much time on the mountain as I did at my desk in school. But, it wasn’t until I moved away from those mountains that I was forced to expand my definition of “winter fitness”. Suddenly, decent trails were over an hour away, and a snowstorm meant three inches of sleet instead of 13 inches of actual snow. Exercise and fresh air is imperative for my mental and physical well being, so I was suddenly faced with the challenge of figuring out how to move during those dark cold months, the months that somehow seem longer than all the rest. The answer, besides some serious gym time, was running.

I’ve been a runner for awhile now, and while I’m no gazelle — I’m not very graceful… or fast — I love being outside, breathing fresh air, and exploring by way of streets and alleys and paths. Up until a few seasons ago, running was saved for warm weather or the treadmill, until I bit the bullet and embraced cold weather running. It’s so completely refreshing and nothing beats the silence that seems to drift in with the winter air… even the city seems quieter when snow is falling. But that’s not to say I don’t have moments (lots of moments) when my motivation to get out and get moving flags. My house is warm, the weather outside? Not so much. The trick is to take that first step out the door.

To help you embrace winter’s chill and pound the pavement, today I’m offering up my top five tips for running in cold weather:

Cold Weather Running6

Choose the right shoes. 

Running when there is ice and snow on the ground can be treacherous, and the conditions outside should be approached with caution. The right shoe is key to staying sturdy and safe (and upright). A low-profile, mesh sneaker just isn’t gonna cut it, you need something warmer, waterproof, and with solid tread. Choose a trail-running or cross-country sneaker that’s thick, ultra durable and waterproof; a shoe that hits higher on your ankle will lend extra support, too, which is important when there’s a possibility of slipping. See our guide for choosing the right running shoes for even more tips!

Dress for warmth… but not too warm.

Layering is key for running in colder temperatures and first and foremost, you need to know the conditions you’re going out into so that you can dress warmly and safely. Dressing for a 25 degree day is completely different than a 40 degree day, especially if there is wind chill involved. Check the weather report and plan ahead. A common recommendation is to dress as if it’s 20 degrees warmer than it actually is outside, that way when your body heats up, you won’t be sweating bullets at the end of your run (something that will inevitably leave you freezing and miserable).

My perfect outfit for a 30-40 degree day consists of long running leggings, a sports bra, a moisture-wicking tank, a moisture-wicking long-sleeve tee, a pop-over jacket or sweatshirt, a bright beanie, Smartwool socks, and gloves with the fingers cut off. It’s import that I’m able to shed a layer if I need to, so I always make sure I can tie my outer jacket around my waist if need be.

For colder temperatures, you may want to consider adding a face mask, neck warmer, headband, mittens and a heavier jacket. Experiment and figure out where your cut-off temperature is. I’ll admit, anything under 30 degree is a no-go for me, and I retreat to the treadmill.

Cold Weather Running4

Drink (more) water!

It’s just as important to hydrate in cold weather as it is in hot. If you don’t bring a bottle of water with you, make sure you’re drinking at least 8 oz. of water before and after your workout. While you’re at it, be sure you’re fueling yourself properly as well. Eat a little something before and/or after your run to keep you energized. Check out our tips for what to eat before a run for some great ideas.

Go Bright.

It’s a pet peeve of mine to see a runner or cyclist dressed all in black at dusk alongside a road. City or country, each location comes with it’s own risks and safety hazards and you need to be prepared, evening falls quickly in winter and you don’t want to be caught in dim light when visibility is an issue for drivers. Wear a bright hat and reflectors at all times, and if you’re running at night, a clip-on light or reflective vest.

Cold Weather Running2

Warm up & cool down.

For me, the toughest part of running outside in the wintertime is simply stepping out the door. Warm up before you leave so your body is ready to take on the chill. Do some jumping jacks, a few lunges… anything to get your heart pumping and your limbs feeling warm and loosened up. It will make that initial step into cold air that much more bearable.

At the end of your run, be sure to take enough time to cool down. Stretch a bit in the cold air to allow your body temperature to come down (otherwise you’ll be way too hot as soon as you step inside), and then retreat indoors for some longer stretching.

Cold Weather Running1

Pictured in this post: Spacedye Slouchy Beanie, Ignite Mesh Tank, Blocked Ankle Tight Legging, Hooded Layering Tee, Beyond Words Sock, Colorado Eightyfive Running Sneaker.

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I’m running my first half marathon tomorrow in Central Park. Thank for the post! Very motivating. Good to know I am not the only person who likes running in th winter!
Raquel
http://Www.raquelmanuela.com

Those pants are amazing! Saving these – thanks for the tips!

Warm Regards,
Alexandra
http://www.littlewildheart.com

Kate

awesome post FP ladies – whats the secret with that first picture, I d love to recreate that

I just recently joined a new gym because running outside in the winter months is just not something I can bring myself to do. Even when I cover my ears – they end up with a cold burn to them. However, when spring rolls around – I can’t wait to start running outdoors again. Trail running awaits me! :)

And I second the beautiful photoshop work on the images – it looks great!

Emma
http://www.faninstyle.com

Thanks for this post! I’m in very chilly Wyoming, and whenever I run outside in the winter (never when it’s below 0), I always put on a ton of layers to warm up inside (lunge walk, squats, kick-jumps, toe touches, etc.) and then take most of them off to run outside. I’m sure to cover up my ears and my hands. When the air is really cold, my nose tends to run long after I’ve stopped, so sometimes a neti pot can help with that too.

great tips! i’ve been considering buying a balaclava for outdoor runs; it gets mighty cold where I am, and my throat/chest hurts horribly after breathing in/out the freezing air. oy! we’ll see if that helps!

Useful posting!
But It’s too cold to me.TT
Nowadays,I am going to gym.

http://www.safran-bolu.com

Such wonderful suggestions. There’s something so vibrant & revitalizing about going for a solid run. I love the idea of doing it even if the weather is less than perfect. Thank you for sharing!

Best Wishes,
Susan
http://www.averyfairytale.wordpress.com

Wonderful tips! As someone who went to college in Michigan, I’ve had my fair share of freezing winter runs! They can be tough, but I learned to like them. It’s so magical to run through the snow!

I love jumping indoors on my mini trampoline. It helps my lymphatic system flow better, and I have found that it is easier on my joints than running (with the added bonus that I can stay warm inside). : )

http://seedoflifeacupuncture.com/blog

Martha

Any tips on where to find the leggings actually pictured? I don’t think they’re the same ones linked to? Thanks!