Winter Running Tips

I hate the cold… well maybe not hate… dislike, I dislike the cold and by cold I mean under 20 degrees. I often think I’d love to live somewhere where the cold was 50 but I’d ultimately miss the change of seasons and most of the year (in the NYC area) it is not below 20 and is tolerable. Under 20 I probably will not be outside running or doing anything besides sprinting to the car or back inside. What can we do to tolerate the cold? and sometimes gross weather?

Well, I am sure we all know to dress in layers (to avoid over heating, or under heating but what does layers really mean?) and to skip the outdoor run (hello treadmill) if weather conditions are totally unbearable, like negative 20 degrees, sleeting, icy, and if it’s an active blizzard out there stay safe!  What can help make running in bitter cold, wind, snow, darkness and less than ideal conditions bearable? maybe even enjoyable? I know one thing… awesome gear can help!

Reflective jackets, windproof/resistant jackets,yak tracks, warm hoodies, gloves, beanies, headbands, a shiny new pair of sneakers anyone? scarfs, those funky face covering hat scarf combo things, tights, long-sleeved wool or thermal shirts. I like to give myself a goal, say run X amount of miles or days this month and I can treat myself to a new item, it helps me get out the door and stay comfortable on my runs.

Layers… lots of layers, the colder the temps the more layers, that is how it is done right? Runners World has this great What to Wear guide (HERE) works for all types of weather. This is what I get when I say that I’m going on a normal run on a 20 degree, partially cloudy evening with light wind.

what to wear running winter runners world


Take it easy, well not easy easy, more like go easy on yourself. Don’t worry too much, or every run about time, pace, distance, just get out there and do what you can. The very extreme conditions (either super hot/humid or freezing/bitter cold/snowy) do not make for the most idea running, it’s not always pleasant to run in inclement weather so just be happy with yourself for getting out there. I’m not at all saying screw pace and distance goals ALL winter, just that the winter is long and unpleasant at times and some days you, we, all of us are going to be at the mercy of the weather, we can’t control it so we must just roll with it.

Stretch! stretching is always important, maybe much more so in cold weather – give yourself some time to warm up muscles. Do snow angels count as stretching? Snow yoga anyone?

snow angel angels

Also not sure if this is a tip or more of common sense… wear something reflective anything at all! A hat, arm band, jacket, vest, flashlight light, blinking light, shoes, pants, anything really just reflective to stay seen and safe.

Finally, turn runs into games. Any kind of game will work. If the streets are too dangerous and you still want to get outside run around your yard or on the one sidewalk that is safe, run a lap, try to run the second faster? See how many times you can go around the block or house before the plow comes, interval/ cross training snowman building? – find a spot to make the snowman, sprint a short distance away, grab some snow, jog back, assemble/drop off the snow/roll into a ball (this would be great with a group) repeat.  In my neck of the woods they tend to treat/plow/shovel one side of the street and forget about the other, or clean one but not the one next to it so I try to look for creative ways to get my run in without risking injury.

After your run, put your feet up and relax with a warm cup of hot chocolate, coffee or tea, you’ve earned it.

What are some of your winter running tips?

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