6 Tips From Pros About Running In The Cold

Sometimes running really sucks. There’s almost nothing worse than trying to crank out miles when it’s dark and cold and windy and miserable and all you really want is to be in your bed snuggled up watching TV. ere’s what the pros have to say about running when your nose, toes, and entire body feel like they might freeze off.

#1 Layer Up.

Hollis Tuttle, an instructor at Mile High Run Club, suggests choosing gear that is specifically designed for winter weather. “Thin, moisture-wicking layers are best worn against the skin,” she says. “They will pull sweat away from the body and dry quicker.” Depending on the temps, you may need a mid-layer as well, but regardless, you’ll want to make sure to wear wind- and rain-resistant outerwear. “Your top layer should be made of breathable nylon or Gore-tex to help protect you from wind and possible precipitation,” Tuttle says.

#2 … But Don’t Overdo It.

As counterintuitive as it sounds, you actually want to feel the cold when you first step outside. “You should be chilly in that first mile—I know it sounds awful, but you’re going to heat up,” says Mike Keohane, head coach of Front Runners NYC. Especially in the rain, extra layers might actually work against you. “If you’re too warm going out, everything’s going to get wet and you’ll be shivering by the time you get home,” Keohane warns.

#3 Cover Up Your Extremities.

“You can quickly lose heat via your hands and feet,” Tuttle says. Gloves are a must, and a hat is also helpful to cover your ears. Your legs are where most of the work is happening, so they won’t need as much coverage as parts of your body that don’t move during the run. Keohane loves Uniqlo heat tech gloves, which he finds just as effective as name-brand athletic styles.

#4 Find A Buddy.

Kelly Roberts, marathoner and running blogger at She Can & She Did, swears that making plans to run with a friend before work is the secret weapon for accountability. “If my friend is freezing while waiting on a street corner because I invited them to run, I would never stand them up,” she says. “Suffering is always more fun when you don’t have to do it alone.”

#5 Sign Up For A Race.

There’s nothing more motivating than throwing down money toward a winter race that forces you to train. Keohane recommends choosing short races in January, February, and March to give you a reason to run. The more people you tell about your plans, the better! You’ll feel the self-imposed pressure to get your training done even when your brain (and that warm, cozy couch) is telling you otherwise.

#6 Keep The End In Sight.

Roberts says that during the winter, it’s especially important to remind herself of why she’s running. “Before and during a run, I might question my life choices—but 97 percent of the time, I love how I feel afterward,” she says. “Taking the time to stop guilting myself into feeling like I ‘have to’ go for a run changed my life. We never have to go for a run, we get to. It’s a choice.” Framing your run as a gift, a celebration of your healthy body and mind, will make it so much more bearable.