Running in the cold can be a challenge, but with the right preparation and mindset, you can continue to stay active and enjoy your runs even when the temperatures drop.

In this article, we will explore top tips and expert advice on running in the cold. From warming up properly to dressing appropriately and managing your expectations, we’ve got you covered.

So, let’s dive in and discover how you can make the most of your winter runs.

Warming Up: Get Your Body Ready Before You Go Outside

Before heading out into the cold, it’s crucial to warm up your body properly.

A thorough warm-up helps raise your heart rate, activate your muscles, and mobilize your joints.

According to ultra-runner and co-founder of The Runner Retreat podcast, Lewis Moses, following the RAMP warm-up principle is a great way to start your training session.

RAMP stands for:

  • Raise: Start by engaging in low aerobic activity to raise your heart rate.
  • Activate: Perform activation exercises and light running drills to activate your muscles.
  • Mobilize: Focus on dynamic movements to mobilize your body and joints.
  • Prime: Finish with a primer, such as controlled strides, to prime your body for the upcoming session.

By following this warm-up routine, you’ll prepare your body for the cold weather and minimize the risk of injury.

What to Wear When Running in Winter?

Cold Weather Running Gear

Dressing appropriately for cold weather running is essential to stay comfortable and warm throughout your run.

Lauren Calvert, R.A.D ambassador, and owner of Hybrid Performance Centre, suggests finding the right balance between not overdressing and accounting for lower temperatures, rain, and wind chill.

Here are some key tips for dressing for cold weather running:

  1. Layer Up: Opt for thermal layers that provide warmth while still allowing moisture to escape. This helps regulate your body temperature and keeps you comfortable during your run.
  2. Protect Your Extremities: Keep your head and hands warm by wearing a thick beanie or earmuffs and gloves. These accessories will help prevent heat loss and protect sensitive areas from the cold.
  3. Choose the Right Footwear: Prioritize shoes with reliable traction to minimize the risk of slipping on icy or wet surfaces. Consider investing in shoes designed specifically for winter running, featuring durable and slip-resistant outsoles.
  4. Don’t Forget a Base Layer: A base layer is ideal for cold weather runs as it keeps you warm without adding bulk. Look for base layer tops and bottoms that wick away moisture and provide additional insulation.

Using Vaseline on your lips can also help to prevent drying and cracking from the cold.

Remember, it’s important to find the right balance when dressing for cold weather running. Avoid overdressing, as you’ll quickly warm up once you start running.

Pay attention to the weather conditions and adjust your attire accordingly.

When is it Too Cold to go Running?

While running in the cold can be invigorating and enjoyable, it’s essential to prioritize your safety and well-being.

Extreme cold temperatures can pose health risks, such as hypothermia and frostbite. It’s crucial to know when it’s too cold to go running and when it’s best to opt for alternative indoor workouts.

Here are some guidelines to consider:

  1. Check the Wind Chill: Wind chill can make the temperature feel much colder than it actually is. Check the wind chill factor before heading out for your run. If it’s extremely low, consider indoor workouts or extra layers for added protection.
  2. Know Your Limits: Understand your body’s tolerance to cold temperatures. If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are particularly sensitive to cold, consult with your healthcare provider for guidance on exercising in colder conditions.
  3. Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to how you feel during your run. If you experience excessive shivering, dizziness, confusion, or any other unusual symptoms, it’s important to stop running and seek warmth immediately.

Remember, your safety should always be the top priority.

Be mindful of the weather conditions and use your judgment to determine whether it’s safe to go for a run in extremely cold temperatures.

How Cold Weather Impacts Running Performance: Managing Expectations

Tired Runner in the Cold

When it comes to running in cold weather, there are several ways in which the cold can impact your performance and overall experience.

Here are a few key points to consider:

  1. Increased Energy Expenditure: In colder temperatures, your body needs to work harder to maintain its core temperature, which can lead to increased energy expenditure. This means that you may tire more quickly when running in the cold.
  2. Decreased Muscle Flexibility: Cold weather can cause your muscles to tighten up, which can lead to decreased flexibility and an increased risk of injury. This is why it’s so important to spend extra time warming up and stretching before running in cold weather.
  3. Reduced Lung Function: Cold air can have a constricting effect on the airways, which may lead to reduced lung function and make it harder to breathe while running.
  4. Impaired Performance: Overall, running performance can be impaired in colder weather due to the combination of increased energy expenditure, decreased flexibility, and reduced lung function.
  5. Gear Considerations: In cold weather, it’s important to dress appropriately to stay comfortable and safe while running. This may include wearing layers, moisture-wicking fabrics, and accessories like gloves and a hat to protect exposed skin. These extra layers can also impact performance due to weight and manouverability.

So running in cold weather may require a shift in expectations and mindset.

Rebeka Stowe, a strength and conditioning specialist and Nike running coach, advises not to be too hard on yourself when your performance isn’t the same as on a beautiful autumn day.

Instead, focus on the effort and the time spent running rather than obsessing over specific mileage or pace goals. The key is to get out there, stay active, and enjoy the process.

Be Flexible: Adapt to Changing Weather Conditions

One of the advantages of running is its flexibility.

When facing unpredictable winter weather, consider adjusting your running routine to accommodate the changing conditions. Erik Brown, UESCA-Certified Running Coach and Treadmill Express ambassador, suggests going for shorter, more frequent runs instead of longer distances.

This approach allows for more effective temperature regulation and ensures enjoyable and safe workouts throughout the winter months.

It’s advisable to consider where you go running too.

Routes with uneven or untreated surfaces, such as trails, poorly maintained sidewalks, or roads with limited sunlight exposure can be treacherous in the cold, so they should be avoided to reduce the risk of slipping and falling.

Additionally, running near bodies of water or in areas with high wind exposure should be minimized to prevent frostbite and hypothermia.

Instead, opt for well-lit, well-maintained paths and roads that are less susceptible to ice accumulation, and consider running during the warmer parts of the day to reduce exposure to extreme cold temperatures.

Embrace the Cold and Stay Active

Feet Running in Snow

Running in the cold can be a rewarding and invigorating experience when approached with the right mindset and preparation.

By following these top tips for running in the cold, you can stay active, enjoy your outdoor runs, and maintain your fitness throughout the winter season.

Remember to warm up properly, dress appropriately, and prioritize your safety in extreme weather conditions.

Embrace the challenge, adapt to changing weather patterns, and keep moving forward. Stay active, stay warm, and enjoy your cold weather runs.