top of page

Running in Cold Weather: What You Need to Know

I have just finished a 30 minute walk around the block in bitterly cold wind and thought about what it is like to run in cold weather. Here is what you need to know.

To run safely and comfortably in cold weather, you need to dress suitably, put on the right shoes with good grip and support, and warm up before you start. Focus on your running form and technique, keep yourself hydrated, and take precautions to stay safe. For example, wear reflective clothes, avoid icy or snowy paths, and run with a partner.

Are you an avid runner, and are you looking to continue your passion throughout the winter months? While the colder weather may present some unique challenges, it is possible to maintain your running routine as long as you take certain precautions.

Running in the snow

Let’s look at what you need to know about running in cold weather, including the right clothing, how to warm up properly, and more.

Importance of Preparing for Cold Weather Running

It is extremally important to prepare for running in cold weather to ensure that you stay safe and comfortable. In addition to dressing appropriately, you will want to warm up properly, pay attention to your technique, and stay hydrated.

Taking the necessary precautions can help prevent injuries and ensure that you can continue to run throughout the winter months.

Choosing the Right Clothing for Cold Weather Running

The right clothing is crucial when it comes to running in the cold. You will want to dress in layers to stay warm and dry. Look for moisture-wicking fabrics, this means they help keep sweat away from your skin. Avoid cotton, as it can trap moisture and leave you feeling damp and cold.

Layering is key when it comes to dressing for cold weather running. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer, add a middle layer for insulation, and top it off with a windproof and waterproof outer layer. Make sure to choose clothing that fits well and allows for a full range of motion.

The Importance of Proper Footwear for Cold Weather Running

Proper footwear is just as important as the right clothing when it comes to cold weather running. Look for shoes with good traction, support and consider adding gaiters to keep snow and slush out of your shoes. You may also consider wearing a pair of trail running shoes with waterproofing features.

How to Warm Up Properly for Cold Weather Running

Warming up properly is essential before any run, but it is especially important when running in the cold. Start with some light cardio, such as jumping jacks or jogging in place. Then, move on to dynamic stretches that will help prepare your muscles for the workout ahead.

Running Technique for Cold Weather

When running in cold weather, it is essential to pay attention to your running form and technique. Keep your stride short and quick to maintain balance on slippery surfaces, focus on landing mid-foot rather than heel striking to avoid slipping.

Safety Tips for Running in the Cold

Running in cold weather may presents some unique safety challenges, such as reduced visibility and slippery surfaces. Make sure to wear reflective clothing and bring a headlamp or torch if you will be running in the dark. Avoid running on ice or snow-covered roads and consider running with a buddy for added safety.

The Benefits of Running in Cold Weather

While running in cold weather may present some challenges, there are also many benefits. For one, you may burn more calories due to the extra effort required to maintain your body temperature. Additionally, running in cold weather can help boost your immune system and increase your endurance, as your body works harder to keep warm.

Tips for Staying Motivated to Run in Cold Weather

I struggle to stay motivated to run in cold weather. There are some things you can do to make it easier.

Set realistic goals and reward yourself when you achieve them. Try running with a friend or joining a winter running group for added motivation and remember to focus on the positive benefits of running in the cold.

The Importance of Hydration in Cold Weather Running

Staying hydrated is important no matter what the temperature is outside, but it can be easy to forget to drink water when it is cold. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after your run. You should always bring a water bottle or two.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Running in Cold Weather

There are some common mistakes that runners make when it comes to running in cold weather.

Dressing too warmly

It is important to dress appropriately to keep the cold out but dressing too warmly can cause you to overheat and sweat excessively.

Not breathing properly

Not breathing properly when running in cold weather is a mistake that many people make, as the cold temperatures can make it difficult to breathe. This can be especially challenging for individuals with pre-existing respiratory conditions such as asthma. To avoid this mistake, it is recommended to wear a scarf or face mask to warm the air before it enters your lungs. I personally find breathing through your nose and out your mouth is an extremally effective way of making the air easier to breath. Additionally, starting with a slower warm-up pace and gradually increasing intensity can also help your body acclimate to the cold weather and make breathing easier in cold weather so adopting a proper breathing technique helps in more than one way. Proper breathing technique and pacing can improve your running performance and keep you safe during cold weather workouts.

When to Stay Inside: Extreme Weather and Running Safety

There may be times when it is best to stay inside rather than risk running in extreme weather conditions. Pay attention to weather reports and use your best judgement when deciding whether or not to run. When in doubt, opt out and use a treadmill or complete an indoor workout instead.


Running in cold weather can be challenging, but with the right preparation and precautions, it is possible to maintain your running routine throughout the winter months. Dress in layers, warm up properly, pay attention to your technique, and stay hydrated. Remember, the benefits of running in the cold can make it all worthwhile.

bottom of page