10 Cold Weather Running Tips

by David Willard

Image credit to Trainer Academy (https://traineracademy.org/)

Let’s face it, cold weather running can be a challenge, especially when the real feel temperatures are below freezing and the wind is blowing. So, what is a runner to do during several months of cold, winter weather?

Following are a handful of tips to help you cope with cold weather running:


1. Before you go outside on a run check the temperatures and real feel conditions. Ignore the television reports which often exaggerate. Instead, go online and look at the actual numbers, without any editorial enhancements.

2. If you have a flexible schedule, plan your run for the warmest part of the day, usually in the afternoon. Temperatures can rise significantly from dawn to mid-afternoon and drop just as drastically in the evening. So, plan your runs accordingly.

3. When you go out the door, you want to be a little bit cold. If you are too comfy when you go out, you will overheat once you start running. A good general rule is to dress as if the temperatures are 10 degrees warmer.

4. Determine if the real feel temperature is forecast to rise or drop during your run. If it is 40 degrees and the real feel temperature is dropping, you need to dress as if it is colder than 40 degrees and rising. This especially applies to long runs, over which the real feel temperature can change substantially. 

5. If you expect the real feel temperatures to change significantly during your run, dress in layers that are easy to take off or add on. Something that can tie around your waist is best so if you are getting too warm you can take it off. Or if you think you will need more protection later in your run, start with a jacket or extra shirt tied around your waist and add it as needed. 

6. Speaking of clothing, it goes without saying but base layers should be moisture wicking to pull the sweat away from you. Sweaty, cotton clothes against your skin on a cold weather run is the worst. 

7. Make sure road or path conditions are suitable for outdoor running. A thin covering of snow can be fun to run on, but deep snow, ice or sleet can be dangerous and cause injury due to slip and fall. Better to use the treadmill than risk an injury. 

8. Mental preparation is half the game for cold weather running. Remind yourself: running in cold weather can be much more enjoyable than running during a heat wave. Besides, you are a runner, so you are tough. What’s a little weather? 

9. When you are done your run and have completed your cool down, get out of your sweaty clothes and get a warm shower. Don’t hang around outside in your sweaty clothes any longer than necessary. 

10. Runners might be tough and love to post pictures of frost covered eyelashes and eyebrows, but there is still a point when running outside is not advisable. That point will vary by person, but don’t think you have to be a superhero runner all the time. Sometimes it is best to bypass an outdoor run for the treadmill or indoor track. It may not be as much fun, but better safe than sorry. 

So, when the weather is cold and you need to get in your run, prepare properly and get it done. It can be a lot of fun. 

What are some of your tips for running in cold weather?

See you on the trails.