If you’re like me (and possibly live in Florida) then nothing excites you more than the prospect of running in sub 50-degree weather.
When you’ve spent months planning runs around the blazing summer heat, the fall/winter months are a much-needed break! 🙌🏼
Cold weather running is my favorite by far, however, there are several factors we want to consider when properly preparing for running in lower temps.
Such as what running gear to invest in, the safety measures we should take, and what little tweaks will make our cold weather runs more enjoyable.
There are aspects to running in the cold that aren’t so glamorous either.
Not so graceful falls on ice, runny noses, and super tense muscles are all regular guest stars in my winter running sitcom.
It’s best to be prepared as early as possible since cold weather can hit out of nowhere.
Don’t make the same mistakes I have and be left unprepared, running in shorts, in frigid temps below 45-degrees.
Preparing for the cold will not only keep your safer and running more efficiently but will prevent disturbed onlookers from yelling things like “put some damn clothes on, it’s cold outside.” 😉
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Cold Weather Running Gear
While you shouldn’t have to break the bank investing in the colder months, there are a few pieces of gear you’ll want to have on hand.
Some of these aren’t essential to run per se; however, make a mental note to get these items eventually.
They will make your runs infinitely more enjoyable.
Investing in sweat-wicking gear is beyond crucial for the winter months.
Cotton is the enemy of running and should be avoided at all costs.
It holds moisture and takes forever to dry. Which will leave you feeling cold, wet, and miserable during your run.
Sweat-wicking gear doesn’t have to be expensive either! You can find affordable, quality options at your local department store.
And they last longer!
You want to invest in a jacket that is breathable and protects you against wind and precipitation.
If it’s super cold out, this is when I’ll layer fleece over the windbreaker to provide some extra warmth and insulation.
However, a layer that repels moisture and wicks sweat is the ultimate must.
The best materials are usually Gore-Tex or nylon.
‘Cause you’ll obviously need a warm, sweat-wicking layer to cover up dem legs!
They even have fleece-lined leggings that wick away sweat and feel super lightweight. 😊
While running socks are always necessary to prevent blisters and provide cushioning, you’ll want to be sure you invest in cold weather socks specifically.
Cold weather running socks are thicker, moisture-wicking and provide breathability.
They’re so worth it!
For the winter months make sure you have a fleece-lined headband that covers your ears.
Some opt for a standard running hat but my ears are relatively sensitive to the cold.
So, they gotta be covered at all times!
I like to invest in sweat-wicking running gloves to wear underneath polar fleece gloves (or mittens).
A super effective hack is to put packets of Hot Hands in each glove when it’s super cold!
Since there’s less daylight in the winter months, you’ll want to prepare for those night runs beforehand.
A reflective vest is always essential for safety.
And you can find them for super cheap!
If you want to kick your night running game up a notch, invest in a quality headlamp.
I absolutely love mine and swear by it.
I recommend purchasing a quality one since they’re super durable and can last for years.
On top of being an extra layer (which is always a bonus), compression socks help promote blood flow to areas of the body.
Which can further promote post-run recovery.
They also come in a number of fun patterns and colors, which never hurts.
It took me so long to jump on this bandwagon!
For years, the blistering cold winds would leave my face chapped and freezing.
If you have some frigid runs planned for your future make sure you invest in something to cover your face.
I usually just buy these thick multi-purpose headbands that you can use to wear around your neck.
The cold winds really tend to bother my eyes as well.
These sunglasses are a sturdy, budget-friendly option that will get you through the winter months – no problem.
Just because it’s cold, doesn’t mean you won’t get burned!
Snow reflects the suns rays and there isn’t any less UV exposure in the colder months.
Practice proper skin-care and always pile on that SPF before heading out the door.
I can’t even with this one.
These are basically snowshoes that you strap to your running shoes.
If you’re a hardcore trail runner prepping for your next tundra run you gotta invest in these ASAP!
Cold Weather Running Safety
To help ensure your safety be sure to put these tips into practice before hitting the road during the winter months.
Stay Visible at Night
Since there’s less sunlight during the winter months, you’ll want to be adequately prepared to run in the low light hours of the day.
As mentioned, invest in a reflective vest so you’re always well-seen on the roads at night.
They’re super cheap, which means there’s really no excuse for you to be skipping this safety essential.
If you want to invest a bit more, you can purchase that handy-dandy headlamp. I love mine and use it often. Remember, I recommend purchasing a quality option since they tend to last much, much longer.
Watch Out For Ice
I’ve had my fair share of ice-related wipeouts due to the cold weather.
It’s never pretty to slip and fall mid-run.
Especially when you’re in the zone!
So be mindful of areas where there’s more ice and consider running slower when the conditions are exceptionally bad.
Having a severe fall on ice is a good way to put you out of running commission for months.
So, don’t feel frustrated if you have to take it slow for a handful of runs throughout the year. Your safety is worth it.
It’s beyond essential we practice proper post-run recovery during the cold weather running months.
This is because the cold weather causes our muscles to contract because they lose heat.
Which causes our muscles to feel extra tight.
We can prevent this by incorporating routine post-run recovery such as dynamic stretching, foam rolling, or a yoga practice.
- Related: Foam Rolling Exercises For Runners
Watch Out For Traffic
This is something I see all the time and want you to be aware of.
When the sidewalks become unavailable due to snow, many runners opt for running on the main road instead.
Which can be fine under some circumstances.
But if you do this, do it smart.
Run on a less busy road, wear your reflective gear, and be always conscious of the fact that some drivers don’t care to share the road.
I’ve seen way too many close calls with this one.
Just something to keep in mind.
I care about your safety, okay?! 😊
Don’t Forget to Hydrate
I am SO guilty of this one regardless of the time of year.
However, in the winter months, I forget to hydrate much, much more.
It’s easy to forget how much water you really need when you don’t feel parched by the hot sun 24-7.
So, even though the temps are lower, make sure you’re chugging adequate amounts of the good stuff every day.
12-16 ounces of water about 1-2 hours before a run should be enough to get you properly hydrated pre-run.
Your body, and your next run, will thank you.
Keep Wind Chill in Mind
The temperature outside can be one thing, but the wind chill can turn it into a whole other situation.
As a runner always be double-checking the wind chill temperature.
For those unaware, wind chill increases the rate of heat loss and reduces the temperatures of ambient objects to the surrounding colder temps.
Which basically means there’s the potential for it to feel a bazillion times colder outside than it actually is.
So, make sure to be aware of these conditions before hitting the road.
Know When To Use The Treadmill
If it’s really messy out there, just opt for the treadmill instead.
Even if you absolutely hate it, sometimes it’s just better to bite the bullet and stay inside.
If you are one of these individuals who can’t stand the “dreadmill” really think about ways you could make it more enjoyable!
Some of my favorite ways to pass the time are podcasts, interval training, and watching shows on Netflix.
Invest in a Road ID
Road ID is an amazing resource to help ensure our safety during our runs.
Safety becomes very, very important when we embark on the roads in colder conditions.
It’s basically a wearable ID created specifically for athletes that provides first responders crucial emergency information in case of an accident.
I also recommend downloading the Road ID App as it also displays this information on your phone, while also listing your emergency contacts.
It even has a feature that allows loved ones to track your whereabouts!
Extra Tips for Cold Weather Running
These are some extra little tips you can use to make cold weather running more bearable and enjoyable.
Have That Hot Cocoa Waiting
Or, whatever your warm beverage of choice is.
Not even kidding. This is a gamechanger.
Having your hot beverage ready the moment you get back from your blistering cold run is AMAZING.
It’s also technically healthy to warm your body up ASAP post-run.
Don’t Forget That Warm-up
As I mentioned previously, the cold has a tendency to leave your muscles feeling tense.
Meaning a proper warm-up is super crucial for preventing injury in the winter months.
Not warming up your muscles beforehand can cause serious discomfort during your run.
So don’t skip it!
Running on Snow
Running on snow is perfectly fine, you’ll just want to be a little more careful.
Shorten your stride by taking smaller steps and keep your feet lower to the ground.
This will give you better alignment and allow you to run more efficiently over the snowy terrain.
Not to mention that it’ll further prevent some slippage there. 😉
And don’t forget to check out those traction cleats that I mentioned earlier!
Forget Pace (For A While)
Give yourself time to adjust to the pressures of cold running before worrying about pace.
There are factors your body will need to adjust to when you first start cold weather running.
Such as breathing, muscle tension, running on different terrain (potentially) and the extra layers of clothing you’ll likely be wearing.
So, start slow and then work your way up from there.
Run Into The Wind
This is one of the most useful tips for cold weather running I’ve ever discovered.
During the first half of your run, be sure to run into the wind.
This way, when your sweaty-self is making the turnaround, you won’t have the frigid wind blowing against you after you’ve gotten all sweaty.
Although I rarely have this problem, it’s extremely common for runners to struggle with a burning sensation in their throat when running in cold weather.
The main advice I’ve heard is to take it easy, keep your runs below average pace and allow your body time to adjust to the temps.
I know from fellow runners that this can be a frustrating dilemma but be patient!
Your body will adjust if you give it time.
Do Laps By Your House
You can also do laps by your car if you’re parked by a trail.
This is a tip I always recommend since you’ll likely want to shed (or add) layers during the run.
I do this all the time, as I’ll be dressed like I’m hiking the arctic tundra only to burn up after one mile.
So, while you’re experimenting with how many layers you need, consider doing some laps past your house to drop off the layers you want to shed mid-run.
Or, if you choose to wear minimal layers keep extras on hand in case you need them.
Just be ready to experiment at first to see what works best for you.
Hot Shower, Warm Clothes STAT
Don’t sit around in your cold, drenched running clothes when you get home.
Take a hot shower, change into warm clothes, and then do your post-run recovery afterward.
This is necessary to get the blood flowing so your muscles can release some tension.
Plus, there’s nothing better than a hot shower after a cold run.
Stick To Your Training – No Matter What!
You might be tempted to stay bundled up inside and skip your run when it’s cold.
Don’t do this!
Cold weather running is super enjoyable once you get into it.
And even if it’s not your jam, there’s no excuse to not stay on top of your training.
Just run indoors on the treadmill instead. 😊
To Wrap Things Up…
So, there you have it my dedicated running peeps!
It takes a true runner to embark on the trails even when it’s freezing out.
If this will be your first season running in the cold, don’t worry.
I thought I’d be miserable at first, but now cold weather running is my absolute favorite.
Just be sure to have all the essentials in place, and give your body the time it needs to adjust.
Founder, A Next Level You
P.S. If you’re struggling to maintain a consistent running habit I can help! Sign up for my free 7-day training below and I’ll fill you in on how you can actually form a running habit for life. 😊