7 Ways to Enjoy Winter Running

by: Kelly Leighton
January 30, 2013

During the winter months – particularly in the Northeast – being a runner can sometimes be difficult. The threat of freezing (and below freezing) temperatures, snow, wind and ice can deter even the most dedicated runners from their training plans.

manhattan half2To those of you who can happily retreat to the treadmill, I salute you. I hate that thing and will do anything to avoid it, even if it means frozen limbs and windburn on my face. Having successfully avoided the treadmill (except for a handful of times) over the past three winters, I’ve learned how to deal with winter running by using a handful of tactics.

– Invest in proper clothing.

I can’t stress this enough. Buy a few pairs of decent running tights and shirts and layer if necessary. When I did the Manhattan Half Marathon in January 2011, it was 12 degrees out, and I wore two thick shirts, two pairs of leggings and two pairs of socks. There was frost in my hair by the end, but the rest of my body was relatively warm. Runner’s World advises dressing as though it’s 20 degrees warmer than it is, so make sure not to overdress, as well.

– Invest in proper accessories.

face mask

Another worthwhile investment? A face mask. A friend purchased one for me last Christmas, and while I realize I look really goofy, it keeps my face warm and helps protect it from the sun and wind. It’s also important to have a decent pair of gloves, as well as a hat or ear band for when you’re not wearing a face mask. And socks? Crucial to get a few good pairs to keep your feet toasty.



These are so awesome! You strap them to the bottom of your running shoes, and they give you some traction so you can run in snow. I used them on Saturday on top of the light snow we got, and it made my run so much easier.

– Run during the warmest part of the day.

Granted, I realize this isn’t always an option, but midday runs tend to be warmer. I’m lucky enough that I can squeeze a few miles in over my lunch break when temperatures tend to be a little higher than running before or after work. (For those of you who are interested in starting a lunchtime run routine, baby wipes and dry shampoo are your friends.)

– Run with a buddy.

manhattan half

Misery loves company, right? A friend can be a welcome distraction from freezing temperatures. Also, having plans makes you accountable to show up.

– Sign up for races.

Nothing like a financial obligation to get your butt in gear. Pick some winter races (try active.com or pretzelcitysports.com to find some races) and set some new goals.

– Appreciate the run.

As a friend and I often joke after a bad run, “What’s the one thing worse than running?”

“Not running!” Be grateful for the ability to run.

How do you stay in the shape in the winter? What are your cold winter running tips?

Categories: Fitness, Running

6 thoughts on “7 Ways to Enjoy Winter Running

  1. Josh on said:

    My cold-weather running tip: treadmill.

    • Kelly on said:

      Haha, I hate, hate, hate the treadmill. I’d rather be outside!

  2. Lauren on said:

    I actually used to prefer the treadmill, until I did the Couch-to-[almost]5K over my lunch breaks for a couple weeks/months this past spring and summer. I recently started going back to the gym, as it’s been fah-reezing outside, and I think I lasted 10 minutes on the treadmill. BLAH. Ready for above-freezing weather, please!

    • Kelly on said:

      It’s weird, I can stand the elliptical and the spinning bike, but I can not take the treadmill. I am also more than ready for spring! That is the best running weather.

  3. Doug on said:

    Great tips! Thanks! This is my first winter of outdoor running (Wildwood Lake and Harrisburg 5k courses) and its been quite challanging at times (more mental than physical).

    • Kelly on said:

      I agree, it’s definitely more mentally challenging. Once you get out there, it’s not too bad, usually. And good for you for sticking with it in the winter!

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