Cold Weather Running Tips

Woman running in cold weather

Cooler weather doesn’t mean your outdoor runs need to come to an end. Running in cold weather not only helps build a tolerance for cooler temps, it also helps you burn more calories as your body works to regulate your temperature and provides a great dose of vitamin D. Whether the temperature in your area gets down to 40 degrees or well below freezing, our tips for running in cold weather will help you prepare for a successful workout! 

Understanding the Temperature

Before starting your run, make sure you check the weather! When running or doing other activities in cold weather, the general rule of thumb is to add 10-20 degrees to the temperature listed to know what type of running clothes to wear. If you’re going for a long run, we recommend adding 20 degrees to the current temp. For short or moderate runs, adding 10-15 degrees is a better bet. 

Make sure to factor in the windchill when making your calculations! For example, if the forecast shows 50 degrees but the “feels like” temperature is 40 degrees, add 10-20 degrees to the lower temp instead of the higher one. 

When running in cooler temperatures, staying dry is the best way to maintain proper body heat. Keep this in mind when you plan your runs and aim to have the wind at your back on your return when you will likely be more sweaty. When the temperature or wind chill drops below 0 degrees, we recommend opting for an indoor run instead. Even though treadmills aren’t as exciting as outdoor runs, your safety is always most important. 

Layering for Cold Weather Running

woman zipping up a quarter zip sweatshirt

The key to a comfortable cold-weather run is to dress in layers. After you know the temperature and wind gusts outside, you can pick out the layers you should wear. If you plan on running frequently in cold weather, we suggest investing in base layers, middle layers, and outer layers to ensure you’re ready for whatever the weather brings. We also recommend getting a pair of running gloves and a headband to keep your hands, feet, and ears from getting cold. If you live somewhere that gets a lot of snow and ice, traction for your shoes like Yaktrax is another essential.

Base Layers 

Make sure your base layers are made with synthetic material like polyester and have a next-to-skin fit. The purpose of your base layers is to wick moisture and keep you dry. If your sweat starts seeping through your layers, you will chill faster in the cold. When running in the fall and spring, lightweight base layers should do the trick. However, if you live in a location that gets colder than 30 degrees, you will want to look into a midweight base layer. Check out our blog on how to choose a base layer to make sure you find the right type for you!

Middle Layers 

The purpose of your middle layer is to provide warmth. It should be a slightly looser fit than your base layers and offer a full range of motion. We recommend fleece or nylon material because it will carry moisture away from your body. One of the most popular middle layers runners use are running vests. A lightweight puff or fleece vest provides just enough warmth on brisk days without causing you to overheat. Check out some of our available running vests or running shirts for your middle layer! 

Outer Layers 

The final layer you’ll want to look into getting is a windbreaker jacket. This will be a vital layer on colder days that won’t weigh you down. When looking for a windbreaker jacket, make sure you find one that is wind-resistant, water-repellent, and made of a breathable polyester blend. This should also be your loosest fitting layer and something you can easily take on and off depending on your body temperature. 

What to do After Your Run

woman warming up for a cold weather workout

As you near the end of your run, start to taper the intensity for the final 5-10 minutes and do a cool down once your breathing and heart rate get back to normal. After your cool down, get out of your damp workout clothes right away and take a warm shower. This will help reduce potential muscle soreness and keep your body from getting chilled. For an even better cool down, check out some of our best percussion massagers to flush out tension and knots.  

As always, if you have any questions on what running gear is best for cold weather or how to find the best layers for your location, don’t hesitate to contact us or visit one of our store locations to speak with an expert. We’re happy to help!