I’ve written about dressing for different types of weather (Flat Runner Guide To Dressing For Your Run), but I haven’t written specifically about tips for running in cold weather until now.
1. Dress For Once You’re Warmed Up – I see this more than any other mistake runners make. You should always dress for a mile or two into your run, not how you feel when you walk out the door, or start the race. The body is an amazing thing, and it warms up as it starts expending energy. Clothing that’s comfortable before you start running, will most likely feel too hot once you’ve warmed up.
2. Wear The Right Clothing – Winter running clothes need to be warm, but they also need to breath and allow the sweat to be wicked away from the body to prevent chilling. Look for polyester blends, and expect a unique name from each different manufacturer (example: Nike = DriFIT).
3. Layer, Layer, Layer – Layering goes along with the first two tips, but deserves a mention of it’s own. The temperature can change drastically during a winter run, especially if the sun comes-and-goes between clouds, or a cold rain starts. Most winter days, I wear either a short or long sleeved shirt covered by a light windbreaker jacket. If I get too warm, I tie the jacket around my waist, and if I get cold again, I can easily put it back on.
4. Don’t Forget Your Extremities – You can be dressed perfectly for the cold weather, but if you forget to cover your hands, feet, and ears properly, you’re setting yourself up for a miserable run. I wear my merino wool Feetures socks in extremely cold weather, but otherwise my Ultra Lights are perfect. My hands and ears are another story, though. If the temperature drops below about 45-48°, I need gloves and ear warmers. When it gets extremely cold I add mittens on top of my gloves and pull out my hand warmers. I don’t own a running balaclava, but when the thermometer drops to the dangerous digits I’ve been known to pull out my ski neck warmer and pull it up over my mouth.
5. Properly Hydrate – When you’re not hot and sweaty, it’s easy to forget to hydrate properly. You won’t need to take in as much water when you’re not sweating profusely, but you still need to replace those lost liquids, so drink up.
Bonus: Light Up And Be Seen – Most of my cold weather runs are in the dark, so I make sure I’m lit up and can be seen by other runners, bikers, and motorists. I rarely run without my Petzl headlamp and Nathan tail light, and if I’m going to be near traffic I wear my Nathan reflective vest. Knuckle Lights complement my headlamp, and are great for showing pavement irregularities to help prevent falls!
- What’s your best cold weather running tip?
- Do you do very much night running?
- Who’s racing this weekend?