Updated: Jan 19
The cold weather can seem like the perfect excuse to put your running routine on hold. However, with some preparation and a few adjustments, it's possible to not only get outside but also maintain an effective workout routine during winter months. If you're up for the challenge, here are our top tips for running during the winter!
6 Tips for Running in The Winter
Dress appropriately: A good rule of thumb is that if you would wear a heavy jacket while out in 30-degree weather then dress similarly when exercising outdoors in 20 degrees or below. You'll want to layer clothing so that sweat doesn't dampen any one piece; this will keep you warmer than wearing multiple thin layers. It's important to find clothes made of synthetic fabrics such as polyester because they'll absorb moisture, which will keep you warmer than cotton. Invest in some good socks and shoes - the cold weather can make your feet more prone to blisters!
Protect your skin: Just like you should prepare for cold weather by wearing proper clothing, it's equally important to protect exposed skin from both wind and rain. When selecting a sunscreen, go with one that has an SPF of at least 15 because this will help prevent sunburns even when the skies are cloudy.
Stay hydrated: Even though you'll sweat less when exposed to the cold, it's imperative that you carry a water bottle so that you can stay hydrated. Make sure to avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages because they'll both dehydrate you. Caffeine doesn't even have a diuretic effect in a state of rest, so only water is the only beverage that you should consume before running.
Focus on your breathing: Cold air is naturally more difficult to breathe in because the airways are narrower. To get the most out of your workout by reaping all of its cardiovascular benefits, make sure to take deep breaths and push yourself to run at a steady pace for 45 minutes. Learn more about best breathing techniques for running
Warm up and stretch: If you're just beginning a running exercise routine in the winter, then it's important to focus on warming up your muscles by doing some light jogging and dynamic stretching. You'll want to start with a few minutes of walking followed by a couple of minutes of jogging and then progress into more intense stretches that will hit all your major muscle groups. Check out our latest article to learn more about the best stretches for runners.
Find alternative training methods: If you're not used to running in the cold then it's okay to start with shorter runs and then gradually increase your distance. You can also focus on improving speed by doing sprints during the wintertime. Keep track of how far you run (and walk, jog, etc.) by utilizing running apps or taking advantage of online running coaching programs.
Winter Running Q & A
Q: Is it safe to run in the winter?
A: Yes, it is safe to run in the winter as long as you take the proper precautions. Be sure to dress appropriately, protect your skin, stay hydrated, and focus on breathing. You may also want to consider warming up and stretching before beginning your run. If you're just starting out, begin with shorter runs and gradually increase your distance.
Q: How should I breathe when running in cold weather?
A: The proper breathing technique for running is similar in warm weather and cold weather. When running, it's important to keep your breathing steady and deep. Shallow breathing will cause you to tire out quicker/faster because you're not getting enough oxygen into your lungs.
Q: How should I warm up before winter runs?
A: When preparing for a cold-weather run, ease into the exercise by warming up with light jogging and dynamic stretching. You'll want to start with a few minutes of walking followed by jogging for a couple of minutes before progressing into more intense stretches that will hit all your major muscle groups.
Q: Does running in cold weather hurt your lungs?
A: Cold weather may make it more difficult to breathe in, but this shouldn't hurt your lungs. If you are newer to running in the cold or simply don't consistently running in the cold, then adjust your breathing pattern and give yourself plenty of time to warm up beforehand.
Q: Is there a solution for dry mouth while running in chilly weather?
A: Drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated is helpful for runners. You may also want to consider sports-type mouthwash that doesn't contain alcohol. The anti-inflammatory properties in mouthwash can help reduce dry mouth while running during the wintertime.
Q: Should I wear a mask when running in the winter? What is the best winter running mask?
A: There is some debate surrounding the best way to keep your face warm while running in the winter months. Some runners prefer wraps, hats or balaclavas, but many runners wear face masks. It's important to protect your skin from windburn and frostbite whenever you're outside for long periods of time.
A: Best running masks are designed for winter weather and windy conditions. They have a soft gel-fitting inner surface to keep the mask in place while you run, prevent it from slipping off, and protect your mouth and nose from the cold elements.
When choosing a mask, you'll want to look for features such as ear coverings or heat/moisture wicking materials. Some masks are designed with an ultra-thin layer of warm, moist air that you can breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth, creating a warmer breathing environment than traditional face mask designs.
Some winter running masks you may want to consider:
Q: Can the cold weather cause a sore throat?
A: Cold weather can cause a sore throat if you tend to breathe through your mouth while running in the winter. Warming up and breathing through your nose will help keep your throat from feeling sore or scratchy during running in the winter and when you exercise.
Q: What is the best time to go out running in the winter?
A: The best time to go out running in the winter is in the morning when it's still cold but not too cold. If you run during the heat of day, your clothing will likely be wet with sweat by the time you're done—which will only serve to make you feel colder outside. Running in the morning will allow you to avoid uncomfortable humidity and dress for the weather accordingly.
Q: How often should I run during the winter?
A: It's a great idea to run as frequently as possible during the wintertime. However, if you're just beginning, it may be best to start off with three runs per week followed by four runs each week after adjusting to the exercise.
Q: How do I stop chafing in the winter?
A: Wearing proper running clothes that fit well can help reduce chafing. Try to avoid wearing cotton when you run in the winter because it doesn't wick moisture away from your skin, which can be crucial for avoiding chafing. In addition, be sure to wear the right gear for your wintertime workouts.
A: Does running in the winter make me tired?
A: Running in the winter won't make you more tired than running at any other time of year—so long as you're staying hydrated and keeping up with your pace. When it's cold outside, it may be more difficult to find the motivation or energy to get up and start a run. If you're struggling to muster up the willpower, then be sure to set your alarm in order to wake yourself up in time for a good morning workout! You may also want to consider signing up for an online running coach program so you can stay committed to achieving your goals even when the weather is cooler.
Q: Are there any Marathons happening in the winter months?
Keep Up Your Running Routine During The Winter
Running in the winter can be a challenge but it's also an opportunity to improve your fitness. There are many ways that you can run during the cold weather and still maintain a healthy routine, as long as you're willing to put some time into preparing for it. We've given you our top tips for running during the winter including how to dress appropriately, protecting skin from both wind and rain, staying hydrated, focusing on breathing techniques that work best, warming up before starting exercise routines outdoors, stretching out muscles before exercising vigorously outside of one's normality - all these will help ensure that this challenging form of cardiovascular exercise is done safely!
Have fun - stay warm - and continue to hit your running goals throughout the winter months!