HEALTH & FITNESSRunning Tips

The Ultimate Guide To Winter Running

I am a huge fan of winter running.  I love the cool, crisp air, the fresh tracks in the snow, and the feeling of accomplishment that comes with a run in sub-zero temperatures.  As I train for the upcoming Hypothermic Half Marathon on February 11th here in Calgary, I have learned a thing or two about how to run in the winter.

If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen my frozen-faced, frosty-lashed, post-run selfies.  While I must admit that training for this winter race has been more of a challenge than I ever could have imagined, I can already tell that it’s going to be one of the most rewarding things I’ll ever do.

Title Photo: The Ultimate Guide To Winter Running

 

Every time I tell somebody that I’m running outside this winter, I am met with raised eyebrows and questions about how I dress, where I run, and why on earth I would ever want to do such an inhumane thing to myself.  This is one of the coldest winters we’ve had in Alberta in years, with the temperatures falling below -30.  It’s definitely not always fun, but it’s always worth it to get out there and log my miles through the snow and the ice.  Plus, running in the winter makes you feel like a straight badass.

In this post, I’m going to touch on how I dress for winter running, some of my favourite cold-weather running gear, and add a few more general tips for running in the freezing winter months.

Photo of running on a snowy trail

How To Dress

*Obviously, this is just a guideline.  Find what works for you.  Everybody’s preferences are a little bit different.  All temperatures are in degrees celsius*

0° to -5°

-Long Tights

-Moisture Wicking Tank or Tee

-Light Fleece or Athletic Jacket

-Thin Athletic Socks

-Running Shoes

 

-5° to -12°

-Long Tights

-Moisture Wicking Tank or Tee

-Long Sleeve Top or Base Layer Top

-Light Fleece or Athletic Jacket

-Medium Athletic Socks

-Running Shoes

-Lightweight Gloves

-Earmuffs or Toque

-Buff / Face Cover

 

-12° to -25°

-Base Layer Top and Bottoms

-Long Tights

-Fleece or Light Sweater

-Light Athletic Jacket

-Medium to Heavy Athletic Socks

-Running Shoes

-Gloves

-Earmuffs or Toque

-Fleece-lined Buff

 

-25° and below

-Base Layer Top and Bottoms

-Long Tights

-Additional pair of lightweight pants

-Fleece or Sweater

-Medium Athletic Jacket / Light Winter Jacket

-Warm Athletic Socks

-Running Shoes

-Gloves

-Earmuffs or Toque

-Fleece-lined Buff

Photo dressed for Winter Running
What I wore for last week’s New Year’s Eve Resolution Run 10k

 

Additional Winter Running Gear To Consider

-Yaktrax, NordicTracks, Shoe Screws or similar

-Small backpack or hip belt to carry necessities

-Headlamp when running in the dark (shorter days = less daylight running hours!)

-Hand Warmers / Hot Pockets on really cold days

-Lip Balm

-Goggles (I never wear them, but some winter runners swear by them)

But if I wore goggles, nobody would be able to see my pretty #CanadianMascara

More Tips for Winter Running

-Less is more.  Leave the bulky clothes at home.  As soon as you get moving, your body will warm up and you will not feel as cold.  Just try to keep moving.

-Stay close to home.  During a long run, consider several loops of a shorter route.  This way, you won’t freeze for long if you end up getting injured and need to walk home.

-Do your warm up inside so you can get running as soon as you get outside.

-Shower immediately after arriving home.  You’ll be surprised how much more you sweat when you run in the cold, and waiting too long to shower will likely result in catching a chill.

-Carry cash or a bank card in case you get injured and need to call for a ride home.

-Don’t forget to hydrate!  You won’t feel like you’re sweating as much, but you absolutely are.

photo of winter running

Running on Snow and Ice Safely

-Expect and accept slower times.  Your stabilizer muscles will be working harder on slippery surfaces and it’s not worth a fall to push yourself too hard.  Deep snow, ice, and the cold will slow you down, and that’s okay.

-Run on packed snow or bare sidewalks / roads when possible for better traction, but beware that there may be hidden ice.

-Watch your step.  Constantly.  You need to pay more attention to the ground in front of you than you do in the warmer months.

-Wear high-quality, moisture-wicking socks.

-Wear high-quality, moisture-wicking everything, for that matter.  Investing in a few pieces of superior winter gear can take your experience from miserable to bearable.

-Consider waterproofing one pair of running shoes with an all-weather spray for wet days.

photo of winter running

– – –

What are your Winter Running must-haves?  

Do you have any go-to indoor workouts for the extremely cold days?

Leave a comment below, tweet me, or join the conversation on Facebook!

Ashley Dempster is a twenty-something Canadian Travel and Adventure blogger based in Calgary, Canada. Her passions include good food, minimalist packing, running, music, and chasing down every opportunity for adventure.

9 Comments

  1. These are great tips, Ashley! I always overdress on cold runs. The thought of being cold prior to getting outside and moving is hard to overcome. I’m comforted that I can always peel off layers. Your tip about staying close to home on long runs is excellent. Good luck at the Hypothermic Half Marathon!

    1. Thanks so much, Amy! Sometimes, I even carry a small backpack if I’m going really long so I can lose layers if I need to. I also find it helpful to stay close to home because you can run inside and change super quickly if you have to. Keep up the good work!

  2. Great tips! I’m in Alaska and running here is definitely a challenge in the winter. I get my shoes studded by the local running store, and I always make sure to wear good socks and gloves. I find that those are the most important things for my comfort level! If I drive to a trail, I will pack an extra hat in the car to swap out my sweaty hat for a dry one as soon as I’m done running. Winter running is a bit of extra work, but it’s so much more beautiful!

    1. Ooh, good tip, Kristen! I always get chilled because my hat is soaked and so is my hair. A dry hat is such a good idea! PS – you are an absolute badass for running in the winter in Alaska. I salute you, girl! Keep it up.

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