3 Tips for Running in the COLD

Winter is coming. Are you ready? Sometimes the weather gets the best of us. Running outside in inclement or especially cold weather can be a major deterrent for those that are still training. Our expert runners and coaches have put together some tips to make your outdoor training in these colder months go a little smoother. Come to FRC to try some warmer ways to train or use some of these tips for when you need that outdoor time:


Tip 1: Layer Up

Winter weather can be challenging to dress for because it’s quick to change and unappealing to think about (fleece pajamas on the other hand…). Planning ahead will keep you on track to reach your outdoor running goals all winter long. Our general rule of thumb is to dress as if it’s 10 – 20 degrees warmer than it actually is outside. Your body will naturally warm up on your run. Another key point is to minimize exposed skin. When we leave skin exposed to the elements our bodies work hard to direct blood flow to these areas. We want to minimize this need in order to keep our blood flowing to our hard working muscles. Here are some best practices for what to wear and layering up:

  • Base Layer: A fitted dry-wicking material that will allow you to retain heat and remove moisture
  • Middle Layer (as needed): A loose fitting material, such as fleece 
  • Outer Layer: A jacket to retain heat and block wind and compression tights to protect your legs and increase blood flow
  • Accessories: A head and/or neck gaiter, gloves or mittens with a windproof layer, mid-crew socks and reflectors 


Tip 2: Be Flexible

Winter offers a unique mix of freezing temperatures, snow, ice and wind. You need to be flexible to the weather in order to stay safe and healthy all winter long. Pencil in your runs and be open to changing up your routines as needed. Here are a few specifics on how to keep an open mind:

  • Warm up inside before heading out: A dynamic indoor warm up routine will increase your internal temps and decrease the shock of transitioning into the cold
  • Set goals that focus on effort and time over speed and distance: Instead of mapping out an “X” mile run to be covered at “Y” pace, consider how long that would take in ideal conditions and then run for that length of time at the same effort. You’ll get the same aerobic benefits as you would any time of year, despite the  conditions
  • Stay hydrated: Even though it’s cold outside you will still sweat on your run. It’s important to stay hydrated throughout the day and especially after your run
  • Shorten your stride: A shorter stride creates a more stable center of gravity. This will help you navigate slippery wintry obstacles that might come your way
  • Start slow and gradually increase your speed: You want to make sure your muscles are properly warmed up before you take off. Otherwise you risk injury
  • Minimize your rest times: Instead of speed workouts, consider switching to speed-play within continuous runs. The less time you are resting in the cold, the less chance of injury or illness


Tip 3: Hold Yourself Accountable

Maintaining motivation throughout the long (and dark) winter months is challenging. Cold temperatures, gray skies and blustery winds are just a few reasons we can use to convince ourselves to skip a run. You need to create a system to hold yourself accountable all winter long. Some ways to keep yourself moving are:

  • Find your support system: Teaming up with family, friends, a running club, or even your dog can really help keep you motivated. You will be able to hold each other accountable for reaching your running goals
  • Meal prep: Create post-run meals prior to running. There’s nothing more motivating than running towards the food
  • Lay out your clothes the night before: If you’re running in the morning, a good tip is to get out all of your layers ahead of time. You will be more motivated to get out the door if you take away that decision making process on the morning of the run

Every runner is different. You will need to find the right combination of tips and tricks that work best for you all winter long. Layering up, being flexible and holding yourself accountable are three areas to focus on that can keep you moving. Once you know how to best operate in the cold, there will be nothing stopping you. Sometimes, the weather just doesn’t cooperate and your best option is to stay inside. Balancing your outdoor runs with some of our indoor training classes is a fantastic way to maintaining all that training time you put in this past fall. These classes will keep you in top form and of course, keep you accountable!