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You Asked: My First Winter Running Outdoors

Dear Fit,
I've been running consistently, at least three times a week for a couple years now. I live where the Winters are cold and snowy, and last year I moved all my workouts and runs into a gym, but I really didn't love it. I decided that this year, I wouldn't let the cold stop me from continuing my outdoor runs. Can you give me some advice for dealing with the cold, snow, and ice?
— Not Afraid of the Cold Carla

First of all, good for you for staying motivated to run outside, even when Winter is in full force. I'm sure many readers can relate to feeling disgruntled about ending their runs outside. To hear some tips on how to deal with the cold conditions


  • Wearing wicking clothes is a must, and be sure your gear blocks the wind. Avoid overdressing because you'll end up sweating, which will make you freeze.
  • Prevent frostbite by wearing gloves and slightly thicker socks. You'll also want to wear one of those face and neck masks to protect your cheeks and nose. You may look a little weird, but people already think you're crazy for running in the Winter, so who cares, right?
  • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun's reflection on the snow.
  • If you prefer running in a few inches of snow (or don't have the option not to), spring for a pair of sporty waterproof boots, or racing snowshoes. Wear a pair of gaitors to keep your lower legs dry.
  • If you want to wear your sneakers, and there's only an inch of snow on the ground, you can attach a pair of YakTrax to the soles of your shoes to add traction. Get a set of the Yaktrax Pro ($30), since these are made for running.
  • After your run, get out of your wet clothes immediately. Staying in them can put you at risk for hypothermia (dangerously low body temperature).
  • Another important thing to keep in mind is that sometimes the conditions won't allow for a Winter run. If the temps drop in the single digits or below zero, or the ground is covered in ice or black ice, remember that it's OK to choose the treadmill. You don't want to risk injuring or overexerting yourself.


kels_joy kels_joy 8 years
winter running is awesome! the hardest part is just getting out the door and taking the first step. once you do it's very invigorating :)
mem952 mem952 8 years
it's all about having the right gear in winter! it doesn't get that cold where i live (london) but i definitely need my running tights, thicker socks, gloves, jacket and long-sleeved top. re: overheating - i got this excellent jacket from nike which has arms and upper-back part that zips off to make a much cooler sleeveless top. well done to everyone still running in really cold places. you're all crazy but it feels good, right?
Joe-Hrdlicka Joe-Hrdlicka 8 years
The Yaktrax are great! Living in Iowa, these come in handy!
lydialee_home lydialee_home 8 years
We do not have any serious "cold weather" running in CA - but Do remember not to overdress. I made a mistake 2 weeks ago at a marathon - the weather was overcast and is around 50's. I could have run the race with just short sleeve. But instead, I wear a long sleeve running shirt over my short sleeve. I need to take it off after 1.5 mile. I then stuck with the shirt for the next 24 miles. As runningesq point out - dress if it were 20* warmer.
runningesq runningesq 8 years
Ivy, check out the Yak Trax that Fit mentioned. have heard good things about them. also, be careful not to overdress. It's temping to bundle up but you warm up pretty quickly... general rule is dress as if it were 20* warmer (and you weren't running). I love winter/ cold weather running ... much more than summer running ! :)
ivygreene ivygreene 8 years
I'm in Seattle and while it hardly snows, when it does all sidewalks are covered in sheets of ice, and there are a lot of hills. My friend tries to run anyway, but I think she's crazy cause there is a huge risk of her slipping (even people just walking are falling all over) Any advise for preventing slipping if it's icy out?
kia kia 8 years
We have had some snow/ice/slush on the ground all week on the smaller roads and trails where I live. There are YakTrax imprints EVERYWHERE on the small road behind my house. It is hilarious because people don't let the weather stop them here. The YakTrax seriously help with the compacted snow.
Leilanic1 Leilanic1 8 years
wow. i now feel like a wimp. i stopped running outside two weekends ago when i went running with my friend Sandy and it was 22 degrees outside. my toes and fingers were numb for the entire run even though I had gloves on and warm socks. i grew up in AZ, HI and CA so living here in Boise has been an adjustment. i'll stay inside even though i hate running on the treadmill.
cmd0610 cmd0610 8 years
Last year at New Years I was on vacation in Quebec, we saw people running there (in Quebec City) and it couldn't have been more than - 0 degrees F . . . . now that's some serious hard core winter running!
lil-e lil-e 8 years
The January issue of Runner's World has this article in it about how we're all tying our running shoes wrong. That's why they come untied or just get looser while we run. I have been tying my shoes the correct way for the last few days, and it'd awesome not to have to bend down and tie my shoes a couple times during each run! A link to the proper method...,7120,s6-240-319--13001-0,00.html
Beaner Beaner 8 years
I live in VT and am a HUGE fan of running outside. You just need the right gear. It's really amazing to run outside with everything so crisp and white. It's breathtaking really. I find I can run even longer when it's cold out. Don't knock it till you try it. Just make sure you run on a plowed path.
runnergeek runnergeek 8 years
there were some seriously cold days last winter and i ran outside in all of them. the worst thing was taking a shower after the run. my skin was so cold compared to the hot water, that i would get these red bumps on my skin and when the water hit it, it was like someone was throwing darts at me. brutal! i finally figured out, that if i used a hairdryer to warm up my skin, before getting in the shower, it wasn't so painful. the other option is to use cooler water in the shower and gradually turn it up..but some days it was just so cold, i couldn't stand to be in a cool shower. ugh. i am not looking forward to those days this year..but i would rather torture myself with running outside during the winter than ever run on the dreadmill. can't do it.
livetolove livetolove 8 years
hmmm after reading all that I don't know if I'd even feel safe running outside.... I mean what if you fall? It sucks to run indoors but at least you might skip an accident right?
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