Run through winter comfortably with these winter running tips I’ve picked up over the years!
I have a love-hate relationship with winter. On the one hand, there’s nothing I detest more than being cold. My hands and feet are constantly ice blocks, and there are some days I struggle to stay warm at all. But, on the other hand, in the winter I get to wear hoodies, fleece pants, fleece-lined pants, and puffy vests. I also get to snuggle into flannel sheets and watch movies by the fire.
Running in the winter is interesting, too. Sometimes it’s beautiful; other times it’s treacherous. Then there are the days that running during a heavy snowfall feels like running in a real-life snow globe.
It’s no secret that I much prefer summer, sunshine, and running when it’s warm. But over the years I’ve learned how to stay warm and dry, and I’m happy to share those tips and tricks with you today. And hint, hint: you could use some of these as gift ideas for the runner in your life.
Winter Running Tips and a Mini Gift Guide, too!
Pick appropriate layers on top.
This will depend on the current temperature as well as the “feels like” temperature. It’s also highly dependent on wind or precipitation, if any. There are some days when it’s in the 30s and I can get away with a t-shirt layered with a half zip shirt, but then some days in the 30s when it’s windy and I need a second layer of long sleeves. Things to remember: your core is infinitely warmer than appendages. Choose easily adjustable items of clothing on top — things with zippers, pockets, velcro, easy to roll up the sleeves, etc.
Don’t forget to layer your bottom half, too.
GIFT IDEA! Sometimes it’s imperative to layer your bottom half in addition to the top. Please remember, everyone looks like a goober running in the winter. Do what you have to do to keep yourself warm and dry. If you own wind pants or wind tights, wear them. If you need to throw on a pair of basketball shorts on top of your fleece tights, do it. My go to running tights are from adidas. I’ve been wearing them for years and I just love everything about them.
Must have: hand warmers.
GIFT IDEA! Hand warmers are traditionally reserved for skiers, snowboarders, and hunters. But these babies work wonders for any cold weather activity. High school football game? Check. Running? Check. Taking the dog for a walk? Check. Coaching track and field… Check!!! Do yourself a favor — get some hand warmers. I personally pick up a giant box every year. You can never have enough hand warmers. And now that I’m coaching track again in the spring, I’ll need to double stock for meets. Pro tip: if you’re only using your hand warmers for an hour or two at a time, reseal them in a plastic zip bag. Once they’re out of oxygen, they’ll “turn off” and you’ll be able to use them again later!
Choose appropriate footwear.
This includes the right socks and the right shoes for your activity. Cold feet make for an unhappy athlete. Some awesome options for footwear include wool, synthetic, and NON COTTON SOCKS, among others. If you’ll be in sub-zero temps for longer than a short burst, consider adding a base layer (sock liner) for your feet as well.
Shoe selection is important here, too. I’ve found that I have enough traction with a decent trail shoe in snow and (mostly) on ice. If you have an old pair of shoes, you can easily add your own spikes to make them more ice/snow-friendly. Check out this easy DIY to make your own winter running shoes.
Keep your head and ears warm.
Ah, the head and ears — possibly the most important and often overlooked parts of our bodies. It’s an old wives tale that we lose 80% of our body heat out of our heads, but heat is heat nonetheless. Our ears can be affected by the cold just as easily, if not more so, than our fingers and toes. Be sure to wear some protective head gear. A hat, headband, or ear warmer will suffice.
GIFT IDEA! It’s so easy to forget to stay hydrated in the cold. Your body produces less sweat but you’re still working hard (sometimes harder in the snow) and you need to replace the lost fluid. Check out these ideas for staying hydrated on the run. Pro tip: a hydration vest is amazing in the winter. It reflects back your own heat so your core stays warmer. Check out all the amazing running packs from Orange Mud! I now own six packs and love them all.
Pro tip #2: if you use a bladder pack, blow air back through the hose after you take a drink. This will keep it clear of water and therefore diminish the risk of your hose freezing and you being SOL on a run.
Protect your electronics.
I leave you with one last bit of advice. Phones, iPods, even some watches, do not like drastic temperature swings. If you run with your phone in your armband and it’s cold out, there’s a good chance it won’t function when you take it out to change songs or take a photo. There are THREE life hacks in this situation. One, you can run with it closer to your body and protected from the elements such as in an interior pocket of your jacket or shirt. Two, you can run with an extra ziplock bag so that when your phone does fail, you can put it in the bag and then stuff it someplace against your skin to warm it up for a few minutes. (I had to do the latter option several times last winter. It worked but boy was it cold!) And three — remember those hand warmers we just talked about? You can use those to keep your electronics warm through your run. You’re welcome.
All these winter running tips, tricks, and yes, even the gift ideas, are all little tidbits I’ve picked up over the years. I much prefer running outside, and when I do, I use almost all of these tips. But there are some days that are just too cold, too snowy and therefore dangerous, or I just frankly lack the motivation to suit up for a run. On those days, yes, you can most definitely find me on a treadmill.
Winter running isn’t for the weak. With all the layering and whatnot, you definitely gotta want it. So I hope when you do indeed want it, you find these tips useful. Remember: layer, trail shoes, hand warmers!
What’s one of your winter running tips?
Do you use hand warmers? Why or why not?
GIFT IDEA! P.S. Since we’re talking about gifts and all that, check out Fun Run Box! It’s a great little subscription box to share with your runner friends! Makes a great gift.
This post contains affiliate links.