Friday Five – Cold Weather Running Tips

Welcome to the Friday Five Linkup, hosted by my blog buds/local tweeps

Cynthia at You Signed Up for What?!,
Courtney at EatPrayRunDC and
Mar at Mar on the Run.
Make sure to stop by their blogs for their picks and hop along to the other bloggers in the linkup, featured at the bottom of their pages!

Note: I’ll be running Richmond tomorrow, but I’m not carrying my phone. Thus, any updates on the race will be delayed until I complete it, get my gear bag, and make my way back to the hotel while drinking my recovery drink. (so, not until early afternoon) Once back at the hotel, the below will be employed for recovery and catching up with you all:

epsom salts, waterproof iphone case

epsom salts, waterproof iphone case


This week’s topic – very appropriately – is cold weather running tips.

For those of us racing this weekend – I’ll put the cold weather racing tips up front. If you have more, please share in comments!

Racing in the cold/wind, from Runner’s World and Running Times:

throwaway clothes

cold weather racing

racing in the wind 

One more race tip – grab some of the handwarmer packets you see at drugstores, sporting goods stores. You can hang on to those pre-race and even a bit into the race if you want. Might help, and easily tossed.

Cold weather running is something I’m not yet an expert at, since most of my runs are on the treadmill, but here are some things I’ve learned.

  • Dress as if it’s 10-20 degrees warmer than it is. You shouldn’t be warm enough when you walk out the door. That said, as the temperature drops, take it seriously. You may need to wear a buff or gaiter to help you warm your breath and protect your nose and mouth. And keep those ears covered!
  • Warm up inside if you can (treadmill, lunge matrix, stairs, other dynamic warmups) to make the transition less painful and allow you to run sooner. You DO warm up before a run, right?
  • Head and hands are biggies for me in terms of how cold I feel. Beanies and gloves are your friends (wind blocking or not) – they can go on and off as many times as you need to regulate temperature, provided you’ve got somewhere to stash them when they’re not being warm. If you don’t want a hat, maybe try an ear band. Wool and products like Mizuno’s BreathThermo line (gets warm when damp, but still wicks) can be very helpful, and synthetics are great at blocking wind. I’ve worn lighter warming gloves under ones with more wind blockage – bulky, but effective. However, it’s my understanding that mittens are the way to go, and from some cold runs where I wound up pulling my icy fingers back into my palm inside my gloves, I can believe it. I just bought a pair of gloves with mitts that go over them (Nathan, for reflectivity – I hear Saucony makes great ones for warmth, may pick those up too) I’ve used some of those charcoal “expose to air for heat” handwarmers you can buy cheap on runs – either in my palms or stuffed on the back of my hands under gloves. (I also keep some in my car.)
  • Feet are another matter. I don’t have anything but my Brooks Adrenalines, which are pretty lightweight mesh (and don’t have great traction) so my feet tend to get cold. The only things I’ve found that help are Feetures light cushion merino wool – a wool version of my regular low cut socks. That of course leaves a gap at my ankles between my tights and socks, but not much to be done about it. I have Mizuno Breath Thermo socks that sit higher on the ankle, but they’re thin and not cushioned, so they’re warmer, but my feet take a beating. I may try SmartWool at some point, but I don’t need that many pairs of cold weather socks.
  • Layers help keep you warm and multiple thin layers can be less bulky. You can also wear lighter clothes under a good jacket and unzip. I find getting my neck and upper chest cool from unzipping can help cool me down if I overheat. I’ve worn fleece neck “gaiters” or pulled big fleece headbands down around my neck for warmth, then up again to warm another spot or cool.
  • Be careful if the temp is close to freezing and it’s damp – there may be slick spots or black ice on the roads and sidewalks. If you can wait until the temp goes up a little, it may be safer.

One extra tip from me – before you leave on your run, prepare your recovery drink, which is likely cold (or your snack) but also prepare a hot beverage (coffee, tea, cocoa) and put it in a thermos. You could even do this with oatmeal or some other hot food you enjoy post-run, put it in an insulated container or keep it warm in a crockpot. That way, if you’re really cold when you come back, you can start your warmup immediately from the inside out.

Above all, be safe! There may be some days it’s not worth the risk of injury or other health impacts to go out for a run due to extreme cold, wind, precipitation or ice. Sometimes, the treadmill is the way to go, or even skipping a run. (I know, I know, but think long term)

Here are tips from people with more knowledge and experience – hope they help!

Great guide from Michigan Runner Girl, just posted this week!

Running in the cold – Runner’s World articles

Share your tips with me – I may need them this winter if I try to train outside more often!