The Joys Of Winter Running


Recently I wrote about how winter can be a great time for indoor cross-training for runners. But just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you have to hide out inside for the entire season. Winter is a wonderful season for running, as long as you are prepared.

​Dress For The Weather

First things first. If you want to enjoy winter outdoor activities, you have to dress appropriately. For folks in warmer climates this is obviously less important, but if you live in a snowy area this is absolutely critical. RoadRunner Sports has a good guide on winter apparel that you should check out.

What is comfortable for one person may not be comfortable for another, so you may need to experiment a little to get to know what layers to wear in which conditions. I find the following to be comfortable for me (temperatures are with wind-chill taken into account, not ambient):

  • 40 to 50 – lightweight running tights and a long sleeve shirt.
  • 30 to 40 – add a short sleeve shirt and fleece gloves to the above.
  • 20 to 30 – add a windbreaker and a fleece hat to the above.
  • 10 to 20 – add an extra pair of shorts (for wind protection) or windpants and a fleece top to the above.
  • Below 10 – Shorts and a short sleeve shirt indoors for me

Small safety note Any time the temperature drops below 20, make sure you watch out for frostbite and be sure to cover up your ears.

​What I love About Cold Weather Running

I think what I love most about winter running is the air. I find that hot weather running, especially when it’s humid, can feel stifling for me. I feel like it slows me down and that the air is too thick to breathe.

At the end of a run in hot weather, I pant and pant and can’t seem to cool down. Winter running air, on the other hand, feels refreshing to me. I love being able to run without getting completely drenched in sweat.

I love the clarity of the air on really cold days, and how the views during my run are that much clearer and that much crisper than in the hazy humidity of summer. I love breathing out steam at the end of a run, and having the cold air filling my lungs help to cool me down quickly. Most of all, I love running while it’s actually snowing!

​What Bugs Me About Winter Running

​Of course, nothing is ever perfect. I don’t like needing to change the parts of my regular routes that go over grass when the snow gets too deep. I don’t like the slush and mud on roads after the freshness of new snow has worn off.

And I don’t like having less shoulder to run on as more and more snow accumulates on the sides of the roads. So in the winter I tend to run outside on the crisp clear days and when the snow is fresh, and then I take it indoors or try other activities when the roads aren’t so nice.

​So don’t let the winter trap you inside! Gear up, pick a nice cold day, and experience the joys of winter running for yourself!