Tips for Running in the Cold Weather

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Passionate runners aren’t going to give up running just because of a little cold weather. However, running in the wintertime can be very unpleasant if you don’t know how to prepare properly for it.

Stiff joints, shivering, headaches – these can all be avoided with a bit of planning and proper athleticwear. I’m here to show you how you can crush every run instead of running back home and hiding under the blankets! Let’s get started!

Is Running in the Cold Dangerous?

First off, let’s answer this question that so many are curious about. Running the cold isn’t dangerous, assuming that you’re not out there in negative 20-degree weather! The beautiful thing about our bodies is that we create our own heat and when active, they heat up very fast. However, you do need to layer properly to avoid hypothermia.

Just as our bodies heat up while moving, they also cool down quickly when we stop so make sure you hurry up and get out of your wet clothes once you’re done with your run.

Winter Running Essentials

As I previously mentioned, it’s important to know how to layer. Don’t just toss on a thin t-shirt and a heavy jacket, because you’re going to get much too hot for the jacket in just minutes. These are pieces of clothing/gear that you absolutely need in order to run safely and effectively outside in the winter.


Base layers are essential whether you’re running or partaking in any other athletic activities in cold weather. The base layer is warm enough to keep heat next to your skin, but is designed to move excess heat and moisture away from your skin so you don’t overheat or get all muggy. Remember, having moisture near your skin is very dangerous in cold temperatures so we have to avoid this by all costs.


While I definitely recommend against wearing a full-on parka while running, it is advisable to keep a running jacket on you. These jackets are thin enough that if you do happen to get too hot while wearing it, you can simply tie it around your waist without it weighing you down or adding bulkiness.

These jackets are made from durable materials that will resist cold weather and regular use well. However, some are completely waterproof too so if you get a lot of snow or rain in your area you will want to make sure the jacket you select keeps moisture out.

If you’ve ever ran in the cold and experienced headaches because of the icy wind whipping around your ears, then you are probably turned off at the idea of running in the winter. Well, I’ve got the solution for you: a hood. Many running jackets come with hoods that can be adjusted around your face to keep wind and moisture out without being a hassle.


The great news about running in the winter is that you don’t have to wear a ton of layers on the lower part of the body. As our lower body consists of the largest muscle groups, it generates a ton of heat that will keep us warm, even just with shorts or leggings on.

Of course, not everyone likes the idea or the feel of wearing shorts. Leggings are favorable for many runners; especially compression pants. What I love about compression pants is that they increase blood flow which helps me have a smoother stride and helps with recovery time and fatigue. If you want to run for longer, then these can help you out a bit.

Running leggings and tights come in a bunch of different lengths, from under the ankle to up around the calf. If you’re someone who doesn’t enjoy the feeling of the cold hitting around your lower legs, then opt for a full-length version.

While running tights aren’t typically waterproof, they are very breathable and moisture-wicking to ensure you stay dry and comfy. They’re also nice and stretchy, moving with your body to offer maximum mobility.

Running Shorts

We’ve all either seen that crazy person wearing running shorts in the dead of winter or been them. While shorts definitely feel the most liberating in the summer, not everyone feels that way when it’s freezing outside.

Running shorts allow for excellent range of motion and won’t restrict you at all. If you don’t like how form-fitting leggings are, then you could even wear many models of running shorts over the top of them. Compression shorts can be worn with sweats over them if you’d like, while loose shorts are more of that traditional “runner’s standard”.

Most shorts also come with internal key pockets or zipped pockets for you to keep a card, cash, or other valuables just in case.


You know that feeling when you’re outside in the winter and it’s like you can’t even bend your fingers? Where they feel both burning hot and freezing cold at the same time? We want to try to avoid that at all costs. When you’re running in the cold, a nasty wind is going to be whipping over your hands and fingers. This is not only uncomfortable and distracting but can even be dangerous if you go too long like this.

To avoid all those potential hurdles, just get yourself a nice pair of running gloves. Running gloves are thin enough that you can use your hands just as you would glove-free, but insulating and soft enough to keep them warm. As many of us run with our smartphones to provide running tunes, it’s important that most of the best models are also touchscreen compatible!


There’s a common misconception that sunglasses should only be worn in the hotter seasons. This simply isn’t true, and they should actually be worn all year-round. In fact, the sun can cause damage to our skin and eyes even more in the winter, as the sun’s rays reflect off of the snow!

Running sunglasses are designed to fit perfectly around your face, ears, and head to there are no pressure points or sore spots to speak of. They are also nice and flexible and won’t shatter if you accidentally drop them or they somehow come off of your face. Most will protect your eyes against both UVA and UVB damage, and my personal favorites are polarized which block out all horizontal light waves.


Now that we’ve thoroughly covered what type of clothing you need to wear for your winter runs, let’s talk about a couple accessories to consider taking along each one.

Running Belt

Let’s be honest: most of us want to carry much more than we’re allowed in that tiny little key pocket that come on leggings and shorts. Running belts are much more convenient and come with spots to carry water bottles and pockets for more valuables. Many are also audio compatible and waterproof so you can safely store your smartphone or other electronic music player while listening to music.

Hydration Vest

Hydration vests are more modern alternatives to the running belt if all you’re looking for is to bring water along for the ride. As they are more lightweight and fit closer to the body, they are known to be more comfortable and won’t cause chafing. You can carry quite a bit of water as well so there’s no need to carry multiple water bottles around. On top of that, they come with multiple pockets for you to conveniently carry around any accessories, smart devices, keys, IDs, cards, etcetera.


As you can see, running in the winter doesn’t have to be dreadful or painful! As long as you know how to dress appropriately for the weather and bring along enough water you will be able to enjoy running all year long! I hope this guide was able to help you out, and that you now know what you need to get for this coming winter season. Thanks for tuning in, and we’ll see you again soon!


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Shayanne Weeks

Shayanne is a freelance writer and personal trainer based in LA, California. Describing herself as a nomad, she has lived in Boise, Idaho and Seattle, Washington as well as Guadalajara, Mexico. As an extremely active person, she loves to train people, teach yoga, and ski. She enjoys sharing her love for teaching others through her “how to” fitness guides and workout equipment reviews. Shayanne is addicted to surfing and yoga and practices both everyday.
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