For the media

Running in cold weather

By The Health News Team | December 2, 2020
Woman with winter hat warming her hands

Winter running can be challenging — it’s darker, it’s colder and the days are shorter. Stewart Sanders, physical therapist and director of Sharp Rees-Stealy’s Running Clinic, shares 6 tips for running in cold weather.

  1. Run with other people. Motivating yourself to run in the winter can be a difficult task. Making plans with a friend or a group can help you stay accountable. Signing up for a race will keep you training and on a run schedule.

  2. Wear layers and choose dry-wicking clothes. Wearing layers helps keep you comfortable when running in cold weather. Your body temperature will increase during your run and you may soon want to shed clothing. Make sure to keep your head and hands warm and wear a jacket with armpit vents and zippers to vent near the collar.

  3. Warm up before you go out. Before you go outside, warm up your body to loosen joints and get your blood flowing. While inside, you can jump rope, walk up and down stairs, do air squats or do dynamic stretching. Your warmup should produce a light sweat. When you go out, start your run slowly and ramp up as you continue to warm up. Winter running is not the best for speed work if you can avoid it.

  4. Control your breathing. When heading outside in the cold, you may find it harder to breathe. Try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. This can warm the air easier before hitting the lungs. Take it slow and do the best you can to control your breath.

  5. Plan your run. If you are doing an out-and-back and it’s windy outside, choose to run into the wind during the first half, then with the wind on the way back to make it a bit easier.

  6. Keep yourself hydrated. Your body needs to be hydrated whether it’s during the warmer or colder months. You lose water through ventilation and perspiration during exercise so being adequately hydrated is important. A general rule is to drink 1 ounce per 10 pounds of body weight, about four hours prior to activity.

“Sometimes it may be difficult to get motivated to do cold weather running,” says Sanders. “Remember that you don’t have to break records that day or go great distances.”

“Choosing to sweat out the troubles of the day is a healthy choice that doesn’t have to be extreme,” explains Sanders. “Embrace the adventure.”

You might also like:

Get the best of Sharp Health News in your inbox

Our weekly email brings you the latest health tips, recipes and stories.