Tips for running in the cold

Posted by Stuart Morrison on

Snow-covered running route

Worried about running in winter? It's understandable. As well as the cold weather, there is often ice or snow to contend with. Here are a few ideas to help make running in the winter easier and more comfortable.


1. Wear headwear and gloves to keep your head and hands warm.
A lot of heat is lost from exposed areas of the body, typically head and hands. Wearing good quality headwear (beanie, head scarf, etc) and gloves will limit any heat loss. A neck scarf may also be an appropriate addition.

2. Warm-up before running
Light warm-up exercises are always advised to prevent injury while running. When it's cold it is even more important to warm your muscles and loosen those joints before starting a run.

3. Wear layers
A second (and third) layer is a worthwhile investment.
As well as leggings and long sleeves a good quality second layer will help keep you insulated. Some suggest a good base layer, while others will simply wear a t-shirt below a long sleeved top. Whatever you do, make sure it's enough for you.

4. Wear good running shoes
Ice and snow can be dangerous. If possible, avoid it. However, this isn't always possible, so it also pays to wear running shoes that still have good 'grip'. Don't risk running in shoes that have soles where the tread is worn away.

5. Don't overdress
The body always warms up during exercise, even in the cold of winter. With too many clothes this can lead to excessive sweating. And because water is a good conductor of heat, this excess of sweat may cause the body to lose heat too fast, potentially causing hypothermia.

6. Reach a warm place when you stop running
As soon as you stop running, your body temperature will start to fall. It therefore makes sense to reach warmth soon after you finish. Try to end your run close to your front door, or car, as possible. Ideally have a coat or extra layer nearby should it be needed.

7. Know when to stop
Discretion is sometimes the better part of valour. If the conditions are too treacherous, it may be time to stop, or postpone to another day. The appearance of sheet ice, or onset of tingly sensations, dehydration or unfamiliar discomfort during a run is a good time to stop. Seek the shortest route home, step into a cafe for hot drink or seek the warmth of a shop. Where possible, plan your route to mitigate any problem.