5 Cold Weather Running Tips

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Considering the weather dropped from the 60s early in the week to mid-30s by the end, it seems perfectly appropriate to talk about cold weather running. Winter is not just coming, folks. It’s here. We had snow flurries yesterday in Columbus. Yikes! #notready

I’m linking up with Cynthia, Mar, and Courtney for their Friday Five, so I hope you’ll go see what everyone else has to say about running in cooler temps!

Tips for Running in Cold Weather

  • Make sure you warm up. I’m guilty of not taking much time to warm up before running, and it usually amounts to just a short .25 mile walk before starting up. However, with it getting colder, I’m planning to do a more dynamic warm-up before runs when it’s under 40° – high knees, carioca, butt kicks, and some jumping jacks ought to do the trick. It’s good to warm up your muscles before jarring them into running.
  • Create a back-up plan. Maybe you’re one of those types of runners who will run in anything – snow, sleet, ice, even a monsoon. I don’t mind running in the cold and snow, but when it’s icy outside, I’m not going to be outside. (I’m prone to falling and slipping when I’m standing still, let alone moving my body.) Last year I ran around my neighborhood a lot since I knew I could pop home in an emergency, but this year I will probably drive to work and park there. The sidewalks downtown are usually shoveled and salted faster and more efficiently, even on the weekends. As an added bonus, my gym is right there too in case the conditions are worse than anticipated. I try to keep some treadmill workouts on my Pinterest board just in case of a situation like this.
  • Wear sunglasses and lotion with SPF. If you’re not a fan of sunglasses, a visor or hat work too. Even if the sun’s not out, cloudy skies and snow can make for very bright conditions. I suggest wearing sunglasses to reduce some of the glare and make it easier to see when you’re out running. A lotion with SPF will help with any sunburn (yes, this happens) and also keep the wind from chapping your face too much.
  • Put your post-running clothing in the dryer while you shower. Okay, so this has nothing to do with running but we’ve heard most of the same things over and over again – wear layers but not too many, buy Yaktrax if it’s icy, etc. It’ll take you a while to warm up once you get back inside, even with a hot shower. (Usually my fingers and feet feel cold for at least an hour or two after running, and I don’t have Reynaud’s.) I like to put my leggings and sweatshirt in the dryer to get them all nice and toasty before I throw them on, following by my favorite slippers (totally worth the money and they come with a lifetime guarantee).
  • Run with someone. If it’s really cold, you might be thinking of leaving your phone at home. (Not a bad idea – I have heard about them freezing for some people.) If I’m going on a long run that doesn’t involve loops of the same 2-mile route, I usually run with my fiancé Zach. He typically runs a much faster pace than I do, but in icy conditions he slows down anyway, and I feel less worried about slipping and falling into an icy ditch. Finding a running buddy to keep you accountable can also enhance your safety. Running groups are also a great way to get your mileage in without risking it solo.

Also, here’s how I dress for running when it’s less than 50° outside.

  • 40-50° – A long-sleeved tech tee with either capris or full-length running tights is usually just fine. (Athleta’s relay capri are the best.) Strong wind calls for a headband that covers the ears, but I don’t wear gloves.
  • 30-40° – I wear a long-sleeved tech tee with a zip-up over it, or one of Under Armour ColdGear base layers on its own. Weather like this calls for full-length running tights and gloves, and probably a beanie or headband too. (My go-to cold weather running tights are the VSX cold weather tights. Last year they did not have stirrups and I like them because they’re super high-rise, which is great for containing the muffin top.)
  • 20-30° – I’ll wear a long-sleeved tech tee with a fleece-lined outerwear layer over it. Last year, VSX made this funnel neck outer layer that was great with built-in mittens; this year, they have something similar that looks lighter weight and costs like $35 more, oy. Again, full-length running tights, gloves, and a beanie are key. At this point you might be dealing with some snow, so I would also recommend sunglasses since they can help with glare.
  • 10-20° – At these temperatures you probably will not find me outside running, at least not for very long. I will probably have a tank top, long-sleeved shirt, and outerwear layer on top with running tights, and I won’t be outside for very long. Honestly, it’s not worth it to me to freeze my ass off and get windburn through my tights at these temperatures. This blog is called Fairweather Runner for a reason, folks!

Do you have any cold weather running tips you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them since cold weather looks like it’s here to stay.