11 Great Tips for Winter Running!

Nov 18, 2013

The snow has finally come! If you’re a 4-seasons runner or if you are contemplating adding winter running to your routine, here are some great tips!

What to expect with winter running:

  • Slower pace and times
  • Added weight of clothes and sweat accumulated in clothes.
  • Unstable surface – in fact this is great training for your ankles – you just need to watch out for possible inversion ankle sprains and think about a smart progression!
  • Stop looking down! You will automatically keep your eyes on the road more because of changes in the ground, uneven surfaces, change in snowy/icy ground.

What happens to your running gait:

  • Shorter strides on slippery roads
  • Elbows will come out to help control your balance
  • Shoulders elevate due to increased apprehension
  • Increased claw-back mechanism at the end of swing phase creating more strain on your hamstrings
  • Slide ¼ to ½ an inch at the toe off phase of your stride limiting your hip drive and creating compensations in your lower extremities

Running in the winter musts:

1.    Start the run cold!

As you start moving, your body will warm up, therefore when starting the run, you should feel a bit chilly. If you start the run at a comfortable temperature, you are going to begin sweating very early on. Think of dressing for weather 15-20 degrees warmer than it actually is outside.

2.    Layers, layer, layers…

Consider wearing a layer that blocks the wind, and a layer next to your skin that allows moisture to be wicked away.

Avoid wearing cotton, as it tends to hold moisture!

On the coldest days add a middle layer with a looser fit to insulate and move moisture away from your base layer.

3.    Get warmed-up!

It will take longer for your body to warm up in cold weather, therefore prevent injury by beginning with at least a 5 minute brisk walk or light jog. It may take up to 15 minutes of running before you are completely warmed up and ready to run at the tempo you prefer.

4.    Cover your head and your hands

A large amount of heat is lost through your head and hands. Wear appropriate gear to prevent heat loss and allowing your circulatory system to distribute more heat to the rest of your body.

5.    Glug, glug, glug!

Put your water bottle under your jacket to avoid freezing the water. Some runners like running with a lozenge to keep the saliva going.

Remember a 4% decrease in body water equates to a 20% loss of performance!

6.    Start against the wind

By running into the wind at the start you will avoid getting more chilled on the run home after you’ve been sweating. You’ll also run into the wind when you have more energy! As a form of progression you can always end with the wind if you’re up for it on a fair-weather day!

7.    Be visible

With less daylight hours, it’s important to be seen. Wear reflective gear and light-coloured/bright clothing.

8.    Get a grip!

Consider purchasing grips to put on your running shoes – not necessary if you have proper footing or if sidewalks are clear. However if you want to challenge your training this winter this is where grips will give the competitive edge and allow you to keep up the speed!

9.    Watch the temperature and wind chill!

It is certainly possible to run in colder temperatures than -30, however make sure you are covering every inch of skin possible. Remember wind chill is wind-dependent and as such a wind barrier would help you avoid the deep chills!

10. Nice shades!

Sunrays can double in the winter with a strong glare coming from fresh crystalized snow – be nice to your eyes and put on a pair!

11. What about feet?!

Running in the cold with normal 3-season footwear means breathability. This can equate to cold feet! Go to City Park Runners and find yourself a great pair of runners that will protect you from the cold …don’t forget smart wool or moisture-wicking socks!


Regardless of your reason for winter running, it’s a great workout and great cross training for dry-season running! It’s also a great training tool for mental toughness – pushing your body through pain during -30 and colder temperatures! Just don’t expect your personal best outdoors, train those speed runs or intervals indoors!


Keep active – Live a Pure Lifestyle.


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