Winter Running - Stay warm running in the cold

Are you committed to winter running, even outside in the cold?  I loathe training on a treadmill, so I venture in the great outdoors for a run even in the Wisconsin winters.  It just takes a little preparation before you get out there.

These are my tips for not only surviving but thriving when running in the winter.

1. Wear thin clothes in layers. This is by far the most important thing to do for winter running. Big bulky items can keep cold out, but they weigh too much. Thin layers keep you warm and almost as important, they can keep you dry. Your first layer should be a tech shirt that wicks away the sweat from your body.


Believe it or not, I still sweat in the cold if I'm running with the wind. The sweat sticks to you if you wear cotton, and it gets cold in a hurry when running against the wind.

At 60 degrees Fahrenheit (yes it's spelled correctly) you need at least one layer for your upper body. Every 20 F lower, add another layer. This means two at 40 F, three at 20 F, and four at 0 F. The thin layers of clothes trap your body heat and keep you warm. On your legs I suggest at least two layers if it is 20 F or below. You can compare prices here for long sleeved tech running shirts, and tech running pants.

2. Wear a hat and gloves. When it's cold, you usually feel it first in your extremities. I am balding but still beautiful, so I need to cover up my head or I'll freeze the hair off that I still have. My hands get real cold too so I wear thin gloves on a run. If it's really cold, I find that mittens keep my fingers nice and toasty. Look here and compare prices of all the really nice running hats and gloves that are out there.

3. Run a route that isn't slippery! Avoid any areas where there is ice. I have fallen down often on slippery sidewalks that haven't been shoveled. The danger of fresh snow is it hides ice beneath it. You are actually safer in running in the road (provided there isn't much traffic) after a fresh snowfall. If you live in an area where there is a ton of snow all the time, there are attachments you can clip onto your running shoes for great traction. Two types that you can check the prices on right here are STABILicers and Yaktrax.

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4. If you can run when it's not so windy. The wind is really what makes it cold. A strong wind can cut through some of your warmth protection. I find it is usually calmer at dawn or around dusk. If you can't run when it is calm, just make sure you have on enough layers.

5. Shorten up your stride when running in the snow. It's nice to have good traction with Yaktrax, but if you have a mostly clear path, you will do fine without them. Try to shorten your stride, and land with your whole foot very lightly on the snow or ice.

6. Finally, if you are against winter running but still want a great aerobic activity in the snow, try Cross Country Skiing. It is the only activity out there that actually burns more calories than running. A few of the cross country running teams out in Wisconsin actually have club Cross Country Skiing teams in the winter. Skiing is a great way to stay in shape while enjoying the winter.

I hope these tips help you still get out the door during the winter. For me at least, no matter how cold it can get, I'm running outside. It's better to run outside and go somewhere than run inside and go nowhere.

- Written by David Tiefenthaler



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- Running Workouts
- Smart Running Goals
- 100 Day Marathon Plan
- Return from the Winter Running article to the Tips4Running homepage


This article was written by David Tiefenthaler, the founder and main contributor for Tips4Running.com. In addition to running, he's also an author, and a full time teacher.

You can follow David on Twitter @Tiefsa or visit his blog
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