How to Run Outside in the Winter

I gotta admit – winter is my favourite time of the year to run outside. The trees are beautiful, you burn more calories digging through the snow and I don’t feel as over-heated as I do when running in the summer. Don’t share my enthusiasm for winter running? Then here’s a few tips on how to take the chill out of your winter run so you can enjoy it too:

How to run outside in the winter

The base should be a synthetic, moisture-wicking fabric; the middle layer should be a fleece; and the outer layer should be a windbreaker to protect against blustery weather and precipitation. But you don’t want to feel toasty. You should dress to run so that when you run out of the door, you should feel cold because at the end of your run, even if it’s only 20 or 30 minutes, you’re going to be sweaty. Thick cotton is a go-to winter fabric for everyday use but its a greedy fabric, it absorbs moisture and holds onto it. When cotton fibres get wet, they become coarser, becoming a breeding ground for blisters and chafing. Synthetics with “dry weave” labels are best.

Winter layers

The most common injuries winter runners suffer are falls – buy a pair of shoes designed for the season that are more wind and water-resistant with a multi-directional tread pattern on the soles. If you don’t want to make that kind of investment, you can strap traction devices  such as the ones manufactured by Yaktrax onto the soles of your running shoes to get a good grip. A DIY option is putting sheet metal screws on the bottom of your shoes.  (It might also be worth upgrading the size of your shoes for the winter to accommodate double-layered socks).


You may burn more calories trying to race through piles of snow, but a cleared sidewalk, road or trail will help you maintain a steady pace.

Slather a protective layer of wind-blocker on exposed skin. My budget-friendly pick? Vaseline, though many sports stores carry non-greasy formulas that can be applied with a stick.

Before you strap on your gear for a January jog, check the weather conditions – Even more important than the temperature is the wind direction make sure you’re running against it first, and with it on the way home. You might also want to adjust your running schedule in the winter when daylight hours are limited.

On particularly frigid days execute the “10-minute test”. Give yourself 10 minutes,get dressed and go out for a run and if you’re still feeling it’s too cold or too wet, go back. The beauty of that is that you’ve still got 20 minutes of running no matter what.

 Wind-chill factors, black ice and snowbanks shouldn’t signal the start of couch potato season!

Do you run in the winter?  
How do you prepare for a winter run?

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  1. Sye Rodriguez says

    I’ve gotta admit running in the winter is something I like to do as well Janice, but I think I need some different shoes than I’ve been using.

    I have Vibram 5 fingers made from very thin, almost mesh, material. They are great for my knees but I live in Colorado and there is snow on the ground.

    These shoes don’t help to keep my feet from freezing.

    I’ve been keeping my runs a little shorter because of this.

    I’m thinking of trying some different Vibrams that are a little more suitable for winter.

    Are you familiar with Vibrams, and do you know of any specific model that is good for keeping the feet warmer.
    Sye Rodriguez´s last post ..Omni Swing Review And VideosMy Profile

  2. says

    Good tips as usual, Janice.
    Question however; For those who don’t like to go outside in the winter time, let alone, go for a jog, do you believe jump rope exercise routines should achieve pretty much the same heart-rate pumping results?

    Kodjo´s last post ..Burpees with Squat JumpsMy Profile

  3. AskWifey says

    Great article. Its colder than usual in Atlanta and I've had to brave the elements. Yikes!

    Winks & Smiles,

  4. says

    I find the cold air hurts my throat/nose a little. Is it ok to cover my mouth with a scarf or is breathing in exhaled air a bad idea?

  5. says

    I find the cold air hurts my throat/nose a little. Is it ok to cover my mouth with a scarf or is breathing in exhaled air a bad idea?