Rules of Winter Running

Living in Pennsylvania is way different than the winters in Texas.  I didn’t know what running in cold weather was until moving up here.  You would think that I would hate it but the fact is that I don’t.  I actually really love it…when I’m dressed right for it. When I first moved back up here it was March but the storms hadn’t stop and the day after I drove in, we had 9 inches of snow come down.  I walked through it with the pupper and a day later, ran through it.  It was brisk but so beautiful.  I loved seeing the footprints with my brooks soles in the otherwise untouched snow.

It would be so easy to just say never mind to winter running, to say its too cold, to say its an offseason.  But when you love something, its never really an offseason.  Never mind that it is a fact that running in the winter prevents SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) which is a depression brought on by darker and shorter days.  Studies have shown that time spent in natural light is the key to fighting off this bummer of a feeling.  Not to mention that you need something to counter all of those holiday dinners!  Running obviously can help with preventing winter weight gain but did you know running in the cold actually burns more calories?

Dressing Right

This is really the key to doing well in the winter.  Check the weather report.  Make sure you are paying attention to things like wind, perspiration, ect. If it is too extreme or if you aren’t used to running in extreme conditions and are going to be out for a while, it might be time to go for the “dreadmill” or the indoor track. If you do go outside, leave the bulk at home and instead, dress in layers.

Layer One: a wicking base layer (Steer Clear of cotton as it will absorb sweat and moisture and make your sweat wet and cold on your skin.)

Layer Two: a warming layer.

Layer Three: a water proof layer.

Dress for what it is going to feel like 20 degrees Feinheit warmer.  Your body is going to warm up as you pick up the pace.  You should feel brisk when you head out but don’t worry, it will get better as you go.

Protect your extremities: Ears, fingers, lips, toes, nose.  When it is cold outside all of the blood is rushed to your core to keep it warm, leaving less blood flow for your outer bits.  Make sure that you have gloves, a light face mask, good socks and a nice hat or cap to cover your ears.

Respect the Elements

If it is just too extreme out there, be flexible.  This could mean doing the work out indoors, doing some weight training or just adjusting to when its a warmer part of the day when the sun is out.  Just remember to not let one bad cold day turn into a month-long running slump.

Stay Hydrated.  Even if you don’t feel like you are sweating as badly as you might be in the direct heat of the summers, you are still sweating.  It’s important to stay just as hydrated, if not more, then you might in the summer months.

Know The Warning Signs:  Luckily frostbite and hypothermia each have their own warning signs which you should know.

Frost Bite: Occurs when the temperature of the skin drops below 32 degrees Feinheit and often happens on the extremities or places that are having direct contact with the wind like the cheeks, nose, ears, fingers, hands, toes and feet.  The warning signs are a dead give away, including a tingling sensation, aching, burning, redness, and numbness.

If you have any of these signs get out of the cold but do not run effected area under warm water and do not rub the area!  To prevent frostbite make sure all exposed areas are covered.

Hypothermia:  This happens when the bodies core temp drops below 94 degrees Freiheit.  It happens when the body loses heat faster then it can produce it and can be extremely dangerous. Though it also has its warning signs including slurred speech, numbness, shivering, confusion, fatigue and loss of coordination.

At the first sign of trouble get indoors quick.  Get out of your wet clothes and get into a warm (not hot) bath.  If symptoms don’t go away call a doctor asap.

Avoid Falling:  While it may seem obvious, it’s not just embarrassing.  Falling can cause serious injury and get you stuck out in the cold for much longer then you want to be or is healthy in cold weather.  Keep an eye out for iced over areas and avoid them all together.  Stay on well lit, paved and salted, dry roads.  When the snow melts, be sure you are paying extra attention as that can turn to ice quick.

Be Safe

It’s darker faster and honestly, even worse things can happen on a run than a simple slip and fall.  Make sure to follow your normal safety measures along with taking a few more:

  • Take a buddy
  • Wear lights and reflective gear even if it looks dorky to make it very obvious you’re there in poor visibility.
  • Take your id, phone, and cash for an emergency
  • Keep your runs close to home in case conditions take a turn for the worst.
  • Run your first part of the run into the wind and the second part with the wind at your back.


Any other tips that you would like to share when it comes to winter running?

Be safe all!

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