Running & Fitness

6 Tips to Survive Running in the Cold

Heather Heinlein
Latest posts by Heather Heinlein (see all)

Hi everyone! This is Heather from Divas Run for Bling where I blog about my adventures in running – the training, the races, the lessons learned and the bling. I am wrapping up what has been a challenging 2013 and getting ready for what will be a busy 2014. One thing I do to stay motivated this time of year is to plan a spring race thus I am usually in the middle of a training plan this time of year.

Winter is not always an easy time to continue to run.  It is cold, dark and wet and slippery on the roads. I know that many runners out there simply take their runs inside to the treadmill to avoid the cold, sometimes wet, weather.  I have never been a fan of the treadmill, though.  I find that I don’t push myself as hard on the treadmill and I tend to get bored before making it through my entire run.  So that leaves running outside in the wintery weather. This is my second winter of outdoor running and I have come up with 6 easy tips that will help any runner who wants to go for a run when the temperatures drop.

  1. Dress Properly. It is important that you are dressed properly for the weather that you are running in. A good rule of thumb is to dress for 15-20 degrees warmer than the temperature actually reads. You may be cold at first, but as you get into your run and your body warms up, you won’t be too hot. Layers are also a good idea when it gets cold. That way you can shed some clothing if you get too hot. When the temperatures are below freezing and/or snowy, windy, icy or rainy, you will want to cover the extremities. Gloves or mittens should be worn on your hands. Wear a pair (or two) of wicking wool running socks on your feet. Cover your ears and head with a pair of ear warmers and a beanie and/or a fleece headband for your head.
  2. Be Seen. With limited daylight in the winter months, chances are you’ll be running in the dark. Tall snowbanks on plowed streets make you even harder to see. Wear reflective, fluorescent gear.  You could also sport a headlamp and LED lighted armbands. This makes it easier for cars to see you on the road. I also run against traffic as it allows cars to see you sooner rather than later. Don’t be shy about lighting yourself up like a Christmas tree. It is better to be safe than sorry.
  3. Warm up. It can take longer for your body to warm up your muscles in the cold.  I usually try to warm up in the house before I head out the door. This way you can get started on your run the minute you step outside.
  4. Hydrate. Sometimes it is easy to forget to drink fluids when it is cold. But it is just as important to hydrate in the cold weather as it is in the warm weather. Be sure you are getting enough water/sports drink when you head out for a run. If it is really cold, you might consider carrying your water bottle inside your jacket to keep it from freezing.
  5. Watch your stride. Sometimes it is better to shorten your stride a bit when running in the cold.  With the cold comes the icy, snowy weather. You will want to watch you steps a little more closely than normal to avoid slipping on the icy, wet roads.
  6. Change Quickly Postrun. Your core body temperature drops once you stop running. You will want to try to avoid the chills by changing your clothes–head to toe–as soon as you can. Women also need to get out of damp sports bras quickly. And drink something hot. There is nothing like a cup of hot cocoa (maybe with a scoop of protein powder mixed in) after a long, cold run.

I am already scheduled for a 15K and three half marathons during the first half of the year and my race calendar is filling up quickly. But I will be able to stay on track with my training no matter how cold or wet it gets over the next few months. Happy running and stay warm!