Tuesday Tip: Winter Running Tips Part I

Hi gang!  I am creating a short series on Winter Running Tips! :D  So many people tend to hibernate in the winter and a lot of people complain about the cold and how they cannot exercise in it.

I’m calling BS on you! Lovingly, of course!  But I’m still looking at you!   You can run in the winter just like you can any other time of the year.  The key is to prepare yourself for it!  Yes, it’s cold.  And, yes, sometimes it’s really cold, but you can totally do this thing.

When I decided to create this short series, I contacted two of my fave girls who are winter running bad-asses.  There are few of us out there and we need to up our numbers!  So we are sharing some of our Winter Running Tips with you to help you get out there and beat the cold into submission!

I know some of you Canadians will have even more tips since you battle some serious cold, so feel free to share your tips!  Or you can email me and I’ll add them to the series.  Let’s help each other get out there and make winter run for cover!

Part I of this series are some tips brought to you by Winter Running Badass Whitney from I Run, I Sweat.


Hey out there!  I’m Whitney and I write over at I Run I Sweat.  I’m so happy to have an opportunity to post for Andrea—she writes one of my favorite blogs.  Can’t beat the humor of this woman, seriously.

Andrea asked me to post a few winter running tips and I couldn’t be happier!  I hope you all are able to get out and enjoy running all the time, even in the winter!!  I hail from fabulous Pittsburgh, PA.  I often blog about the hills, and now I am blogging about the cold.  Pittsburgh is no stranger to cold, icy, snowy winters, and with the following tips, I hope you get out and enjoy the snow!

(That’s me with frozen eyelashes ;))

I can’t run in the cold/snow/ice/winter, help!

First of all, figure out what it is that is keeping you from running in the winter.  Are your fingers frozen?  Is your nose running?  Your legs feel like blocks of ice?

The best response I have is to first identify your obstacle to running outside.  For me, it was frozen toes.  It was painful to run in the winter because my toes would be the first “to go”.  I remedy this situation with Toe Warmers.  They are probably the best invention, ever.  Little strips of adhesive keep them in place.  I should also mention that I wear Smart Wool socks.  So that’s it.  Wool socks, toe warmers.  I don’t “switch” running shoes in the winter though some do but I prefer to keep it consistent.

Not everyone shovels their snow!

I agree, and sometimes curse those people that are too lazy to shovel their snow.  There are two options, though.

You can invest in YakTrax, if you wish, but I really have only worn mine once this whole winter.  Why?  I often find that I can run on the “main road” vs. sidewalks in the winter.  I am able to avoid slipping, and I also am not fighting the snow. I have both YakTrax but sometimes skip those and hit the road (instead of sidewalks)

I don’t know what to wear!

The ever-talked about debate.  I like to think I have my “winter running apparel” down pat.  In fact, I have less winter apparel than I do summer apparel…

(Obliviously fear less / chicken legs haha)

I tend to think of winter running temps (and subsequently apparel) in two categories:  (1) Below 25 degrees; and (2) 25+ degrees.

Let’s start with Category 2.  In the picture above, my apparel is simple: I wear running tights.  They are Under Armour and I’ve had them for five years.  I also have a knock-off Under Armour top that I have had for five years.  On the top is a Brooks windbreaker that I love.  Depending on how I feel, I either wear a fleece headband or a hat.  Gloves and kleenex (stuff in the pocket) complete the outfit.  In this weather, you still get hot, so you want to have to shred the least amount of layers as possible.  Oh, and if you didn’t know, I sweat when I run.

Category 1 gets a little more complicated.  This is the bitter cold that Pittsburgh often produces.  This is the time when most people say no to running.  I argue for getting out there and celebrating the victory…

I still wear my tights, but I add another pair of pants.  These can be any pants, but I prefer some that are wicking (if its snowing) yet thermal.  I really think you need two pairs of thermal pants when it gets to be that cold.

I still wear my knock-off UA shirt, but I add a nice thermal hoodie/coat.  This coat is old old old, too.  I love it because it’s got thumb holes, and a fitted hood.  I wear the hood with the fleece headband so that when I get hot, I still have something to cover my ears.

I still wear my wool socks, toe warmers, two pairs of gloves (though one pair of mittens would work well too).   The other thing I like to do is slide my fleece headband over my mouth/nose to help breathe in warmer air.  This is just me, though.

I don’t know what to drink, how to pace, how to fuel!

Some think everything needs to change when it’s winter.  That’s not true!

Ahh.  Well, some people drink hot water before they run.  If your pre-run regime is coffee-less then I’d suggest warm water with a bit of lemon.  It helps warm you from the inside.

I, however, prefer coffee.  Extra hot = extra warm.  I think it’s a good idea to have something warm inside you.  You know, in case your organs start to freeze.

As far as pace goes, I tend to run faster in the winter.  Then again, my pace in general is slow compared to most bloggers because I run hills.  It just all depends.  Some days the cold and wind are going to slow you down, but not drastically.  I think it will take some adjustments, but I also think that once you allow your body to warm-up, you really can’t tell you’re in the cold.

Don’t worry about fueling.  I think if you normally take along water, you should continue to do so (bonus: the water will be cold!).

I’ve tried everything you said, and I still hate it!

Running in the cold is not for the faint of heart.  Here are a few closing remarks.

If you’ve tried everything, and you still hate it, or still have problems, reassess the roadblocks.  I think running is purely mental (I’m one of those).  I think running in the winter is really mental.  Maybe introduce it slowly…  Go for a 1 mile run then build up.  I bet, though, once you get 1 mile in, you will be too far to just “turn around”.

Thanks for letting me post Andrea! I had a ton of fun doing this post!


Amazing tips from Whitney!  She provides tips on layering and planning for the weather.  I also find that I have certain outfits for certain temperatures.  Once you start running in the cold, you gain more experience and can figure out what types of gear you need for what temperatures.  Plus you challenge and push yourself even more by facing the elements and just doing it.  It’s easy to shrug it off and hit the treadmill, by why?  Just because it’s cold?  Get out there, grab the cold by the balls, and OWN IT! :D

Next week, Part II of cold weather running tips!

3 thoughts on “Tuesday Tip: Winter Running Tips Part I

  1. Krista says:

    As a cold weather runner I just can’t imagine staying inside all winter long. I’d go nuts. There is rarely a weekend that goes by that doesn’t involve some serious outdoor time. That’s me, its probably how I”m hardwired.

    Cold and dark weather though…. NOT my favorite!

    • Krista, I’m the same way, I would get cranky real quick! The thing I hate the worst though is the wind. Cold I can handle but when it’s windy, man that can break me down pretty quickly. I try to punch through as best I can though!

      Awesome post Whitney! I lurves it! :D

  2. Great post from Whitney! I need to add her to my blogroll. Her first tip is great – access what you think is uncomfortable. There are so many different types of running gear now, there is probably something that will fix the problem!

    I also thin in 25+/- categories and use similar outfits :)

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