5 Tips for Running in the Winter


It can be hard to stay motivated to go running in good weather. And when the temperature plummets, it becomes that much harder to get motivated to run outside.

These 5 tips for running in the cold weather will help you run strong all winter long!

1. Wear the Correct Clothing

Before going out in the cold weather, it’s important to wear the right clothing for the weather. 

A good starting point is a pair of running tights or pants and a long sleeve base layer. Choose fabrics that offer both insulation and moisture-wicking, such as wool or a nylon/polyester blend.

Add a jacket for extra protection on cold and windy days. Look for tights and jackets that offer both wind and water protection, as well as reflectivity for early morning and evening runs. Hats and gloves will also keep your extremities comfortable, and can easily be tucked in a pocket if you warm up over the course of a run.

Ideally, these  should have a water proof layer in case you get stuck in the rain or snow. Most cold weather running jackets have an extra water-resistant panel on the front and sleeves of the jacket where you need it most. The back is more open for breathability.

Wear comfortable running shoes – some running shoes have an outer Gore-Tex layer.

Since most of us run early in the morning or in the evening after work, it’s important to be visible to oncoming traffic. Wear a reflective vest and other gear to make sure you can be seen.

2. Pay attention to the wind

On a particularly cold and windy day aim to run the first portion of your run into the wind, then finish with the wind at your back. This will help you avoid heating up only to turn around and face a cold headwind when you are already sweaty and fatigued.

Or if you have a helpful friend or family member arrange for them to pick you up at a designated point, and map a point to point run with the wind at your back for the entire run!

3. Dress as if it is 20 Degrees Warmer Outside

In winter it is important to factor in the impact of body heat when running. This means dressing in fewer layers or lighter clothing than if you were going outside casually.

Once you start sweating, you’ll get wet and start to get cold. The best way to dress is find the balance of being just warm enough (after you’ve fully warmed up) without excessive sweating.

4. Take Extra Time to Warm Up (and Warm Up Inside if Possible)

Take a few minutes before your run to complete a dynamic warm up routine. Beginning a run with increased blood flow to your muscles and tendons will lessen the risk of injury. Include leg swings (front to back and side to side), jumping jacks, arm circles, and other dynamic full body movements.

When starting the warm up, it is important to begin slowly. If possible, warm up inside where the temperature is higher and the body can adjust appropriately and quickly. 

5. Stay hydrated

Cold weather can make it less appealing to drink water or other cold beverages, but be sure you are adequately hydrating before and after you run.

Even if you aren’t sweating, you’ll still need water after your run. You may not feel like you need to drink – and the cold weather does nothing to help remind us – but you’ll have a better run if you are hydrated.

Photo of author


Ben is an avid road and trail runner, and has completed multiple marathons and ultras. A former running store owner, he now shares his knowledge and experience writing these articles.