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Running Through the Winter

By Rebekah Mayer, RRCA & USATF Certified Coach

Winter decided to show up early this year. Many runners are facing a choice: either run on the treadmill for the next five months, or learn to deal with winter. If you’d rather brave the cold – at least some of the time – here are some tips to help you get the most out of your winter running.

Dress right
Warm, wicking clothing is the most important aspect of running in the cold. Start with:

  • A wicking base-layer
  • A wind-resistant running jacket
  • Lined running pants
  • Smartwool or other merino wool socks
  • A good hat
  • Running gloves or mittens (they’re warmer than gloves if you have cold hands)
  • A face mask or Buff to cover your neck
  • Trail shoes or winter running shoes


If it’s really cold, you can add the following:

  • Additional layers on top and bottom
  • Hot packs in your mittens
  • Vaseline or “warm skin” for a layer of protection on your face
  • An extra layer of anything that tends to freeze up (gloves or face mask)


You should feel a little chilly at the start of your run, as it will feel about 20 degrees warmer once you’ve “warmed up.” Dress in layers so you can pull off the top layer if you get too warm.

Plan your route

  • Run into the wind first so you don’t have to deal with the wind chill once you’re warm and sweaty later in the run
  • On really cold days, plan routes that stay close to your starting location so you can drop back inside early if you need to warm up
  • Carry a cell phone in case of emergency. Keep it close to your body (in an inner pocket) so it doesn’t freeze up and become useless.


Other considerations

  • Expect your pace to be slower in the winter, both due to snow and ice and the extra layers you are wearing. The winter months are a great time to lay a good training base of easy, aerobic running.
  • If the trails are icy, save the speed-work for a treadmill or indoor track where you’ll find solid footing.
  • Run with a friend or group. You can keep an eye on each other in the cold and it makes the cold miles past faster even if you’re too cold to talk much.


With some good preparations and the right clothing, winter runs can be a peaceful adventure through a beautiful setting. We hope you enjoy your winter training!

Rebekah Mayer is National Training Manager for Life Time Run. Life Time Members and non-members are invited to take part in Finish Line Training programs and Social Runs available at 60+ locations nationwide. Coming up on January 1st, the Commitment Day 5K is a great way to embrace winter running and start the year off right. Learn more about Finish Line Training and Social Runs at

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