12 Tips for Running in the Winter

Running is a staple in the lives of so many people around the world – and for good reason! It improves pretty much every aspect of your physical health and has even been proven to improve your mental health (there’s a reason people call it their therapy). There’s nothing like running outside on a warm spring day- the sun on your face, your feet pounding the pavement, and nothing but you and your thoughts for miles. But what happens when winter comes and the warm weather turns to freezing cold and snow?

Instead of giving up on running outside for a few months, follow these twelve tips for running in the winter. Not only will running outside in the winter keep you physically fit year-round, but it will also strengthen your immune system and keep away those winter blues. It’s a win-win!

12 Tips for running in the winter


1. Wear the right shoes

The two main factors you need to consider when choosing a winter running shoe are grip and waterproofing.

If you run in a place with frequent snow or icy conditions in the wintertime, having a good grip on the sole of your running shoe is a must.

With snow and ice also comes wet slushy areas on your running trail. If you are running in shoes with a lot of mesh on them water will seep through and make your feet wet and cold. That makes for a miserable – and sometimes dangerous – run.

2. Keep head and hands warm

As you run, your body is producing a lot of heat. Without proper protection on your head and hands, your heat could escape too quickly and cause harm. Good quality gloves, hats, earmuffs, or a neck gaiter are all effective in protecting against excessive heat loss.

Winter cardio exercise - woman jogging doing her workout outside. Young adult running in outdoor park with snowy forest background wearing cold weather gear.

3. Warm-up inside

It’s easier to warm up your body inside before you run instead of outside where it’s much colder. Exercises like jumping jacks and walking high knees are excellent ways to warm up your muscles before starting your run.

The trick is to not work up a sweat during your warm-up. You don’t want to start your run outside already sweating.

4. Outsmart the wind

Don’t let the biting cold wind deter you from running outside in the winter. Instead, find ways to outsmart it. For example, start your run going into the wind and finish with it to your back. Or even break it up by running ten minutes with it to your back then turn around and run the other direction for ten minutes.

5. Dress for the weather

Getting dressed for winter running is much different than running in warmer months. Instead of throwing on shorts and a tank top, dressing in winter is a bit more complicated.

You really have to dress for two different temperatures: the temperature you feel when you first walk outside and the temperature your body will feel like once you start producing heat. A good baseline to plan for this is to dress for about ten to fifteen degrees warmer than what the thermometer says.

An easy way to do this is to dress in layers that will allow you to adjust for varying temperatures. Your base layer should be some kind of compression garment that wicks away moisture while also keeping you warm. A long sleeve t-shirt or light jacket serves as a great second layer. A jacket that zips either halfway or all the way up is a great way to regulate your temperature when your body starts warming up. If the weather is really frigid, loose-fitting running pants over your compression top is really helpful.

Fabrics such as polypropylene, breathable polyester, and some synthetic blends that wick away moisture are all very effective in keeping you warm and dry during your run. Try to avoid cotton and other fabrics that don’t wick away moisture since they won’t offer you any protection from the cold and wet conditions.

Running in tall socks in the winter is a must if you want to stay warm because they don’t leave a gap between your shoes and pants. Invest in some quality socks that will keep your feet dry and warm.

Don’t forget to accessorize! Protect yourself from losing your heat too quickly with a good pair of gloves and a hat or earmuffs. Wearing protective eyewear such as sunglasses will protect your eyes from glare off of snow during the winter months.

Portrait of beautiful happy runner outdoors, cute blond female running in the winter park and listening music in headphones, active and healthy lifestyle

6. Change clothes quickly after running

You don’t want to linger outside too long after finishing your run – especially if you worked up a good sweat. Get inside quickly, take a warm shower, and put on some warm dry clothes. This will protect your body from getting sick.

7. Don’t expect to keep the same pace you do in warmer months

Between the icy cold air and the slippery paths, sometimes it is just not possible to keep the same running pace you had in warmer months. Don’t be too hard on yourself! Just adjust your expectations and enjoy being outside in the fresh air.

8. Wear reflective clothing

Fog and snow are common during the winter months in many parts of the world. Even in the daytime, these conditions can make visibility difficult so it's important to protect yourself and make yourself visible to those around you by wearing reflective clothing.

9. Run a familiar route

Don’t try a new route when conditions are not optimal. Stick with what you know and wait until the weather improves to try something new.

10. Check the weather before you head out

Even if you checked the weather a few hours ago, check it again to make sure nothing has changed. You don’t want to be thirty minutes into your run (and miles away from your home) when a snow or rain shower hits.

11. Don’t run when you are sick

You may think pushing through and running when you aren’t feeling well is admirable, but in wintertime, it could be dangerous. When you are sick your body needs to rest and recover. Putting it through the added stress of running in the cold will only make things worse.

12. Keep it short

Being exposed to extreme winter weather for extended periods of time is not safe. It puts your immune system at risk and increases your risk of injury. When running outside, don’t run for more than an hour.

Don’t let the cold winter months stop you from enjoying your run. Running in winter weather may be a little more difficult and look a little different than running in warmer weather, but it is possible!



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