Written By: Melissa Vitale
Running. Just the sport itself is a challenge. But, like anything else, there are added challenges within
the sport that make it, well…more challenging. For example, running in cold weather.
Maybe you started running this year because you couldn’t go anywhere but outside due to COVID-19,
and you haven’t had to handle colder temperatures. Maybe you simply cannot bear the thought of
running on a treadmill (or, as we affectionately call it, the DREADmill), and you’re wondering how to
keep going when the temperature makes you want to stay indoors.
Here are a few tips and tricks to keep you going when the going gets tough:
LAYERS. Thanks to Donkey and Shrek we know that onions have layers, ogres have layers, cakes have
layers, and parfaits have layers. Do you know what else should have layers? Cold weather runners. You
need a base layer, a middle layer, and an outer layer. The base layer is the one closest to your skin, so it
should be light, soft, and moisture-wicking. Tuck it in for extra protection from the cold. Your mid-layer
should be your workhorse. It should do most of the work to keep you warm. Think down or synthetic
insulation pieces for colder conditions, and fleece for milder conditions. For your outer layer, think
protection. It should protect you from the elements! It should be windproof, waterproof, and
breathable. On your bottom half, opt for fleece-lined tights or wear running pants over tights for added
protection. Remember, you will warm up after a few minutes, so take that into consideration when
CREATURE COMFORTS. Let’s face it. You’re running, and there isn’t much that is comfortable about it.
But there are a few key pieces that make running in the cold much easier to bear. A hat or a headband
that covers your ears is one of those pieces. And it’s a piece you can have FUN with! Find one with a
fun pattern or a sassy saying to motivate you to get outside and show it off. Another great piece is a
pair of gloves. There are so many types to choose from, and ideally they should keep you warm and
protect your hands from the elements…including the occasional nose wipe. So you should be able to
wash them, too! And believe it or not, those masks and neck gaiters we’ve all been having to wear are
also a comfort item! If your lungs are sensitive to the cold air, try running with a performance mask or a
neck gaiter over your nose and mouth. Wool or mohair socks will work great at keeping your feet
warm—even when wet!
POST-RUN CLOTHING. If it looks like you might be in your wet workout clothing for a long while after
your run (brunch, anyone?), you might want to pack a dry set of clothing to change into. Hypothermia is
JOURNAL. Good runners post on social media, but great runners keep training journals. Especially when
they are training for a race. This could be your daily handwritten journal or it could be a quick note in
your electronic calendar. However you choose to do it, journaling is a great way to track your progress
and identify patterns in your workouts. In addition to mileage, pace goals, and location, I like to
describe the weather conditions AND write out what I wore and how I felt during each run. That way, I
know what worked (and what didn’t) in all conditions. So, when race day arrives, I’m ready to handle
Learning to run in the cold weather can be a lot of trial and error, but once you’ve got it figured
out—there’s a beautiful, chilly, January sunrise waiting just for you. And besides, that hot cup of coffee
or cocoa will just be that much sweeter after your run.