Running in the Cold

Depending on where you live, the temperatures are beginning to drop during this time of year.

Some runners find cold running difficult to get acclimated to, especially in terms of their breathing.

While for others, just getting out in the cold for a run can be the most difficult part.

Here are some tips for making running in the cold weather more enjoyable for you:

Dress Appropriately!

A lot of this depends on your tolerance of cold temperatures, but it’s also important to consider how long your planned run is.

My rule of thumb is to underdress by 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit. For example – if it’s 30 degrees F, I dress as if it is 40-45 degrees. It might feel a little cold during the first couple of minutes, but once you get warm, it becomes comfortable running conditions.

Here is how I prepare for a run if it is cold out:

Head and Hands

My head and hands are usually the last parts of my body to warm up completely, so I always wear gloves and a hat. The hat that I wear depends on how cold it is. Sometimes I find that a knit hat keeps my head too hot, so I usually just go with a normal running cap.

Upper Body

Layers are really important on the upper body for me. I usually wear a short or long sleeve base layer underneath a long sleeve running top. If it’s particularly cold, I’ll add another layer – a long sleeve running shirt or even a heavier running jacket to keep me warm. Other options include a running vest to keep your core warm.


I always wear shorts, so I don’t change this in the winter. This is obviously just a personal preference for me, but I know that many out there wear tights or pants once the temperatures start to drop.


This is another area that I don’t change anything. If there is a lot of snow or ice where you live, then you might want to consider some running shoes with better traction. There isn’t a lot of snow or ice where I live, but if there is some on the ground, I will wear my trail running shoes.

Of course all of this can change if you are planning on a longer run in colder temperatures. If that’s the case, wear layers that you can take off mid-run.

Warm Up Inside

Whatever your warm-up is, do it inside your house, before you head out the door for your run. This will allow your muscles to be nice and warm before starting your run.

Even after the warm up, I usually still use the first few minutes of my run as additional time for my body and muscles to get adjusted to the conditions.

Get Inside

Once you are done with your run, get inside as soon as you can. When you stop running, your body temperature will quickly drop if it’s really cold, so don’t spend a lot of time standing or walking outside. A couple minutes of cool down is usually enough for me.

If you have to drive home from where you run, you might want to consider a change of clothes or a heavier jacket to keep you warm on the drive home.

Start Slow!

This applies to the first few minutes of your run and also the first few weeks of running in the cold. It can take some time to adjust each day. Also, if this is your first year running in the cold, then it’s really important to be patient and allow yourself to get used to it before you decide if you like it or not (you will like it!).

Just like most aspects of running, if you give yourself time and start out slow, you will gradually get used to it and give yourself a better chance of enjoying it also.

Do you like running when it gets cold? Or in the snow?

More From RunPatRun:

  • Next Week – Part 6 of my Racing Series. This time it will be my race report from the Philadelphia Marathon a couple of weekends ago.

3 thoughts on “Running in the Cold

  1. Always shorts?!? That’s crazy! Once it gets below 40 degrees, I like to wear tights under my shorts or running pants. I only wear gloves when it gets below 30 degrees and they often come off after about 20 min. I like to wear a buff around my neck and one on my head when it get chilly. A nice running vest is also a must when it’s below 30 degrees. I LOVE running in the cold, especially if it’s snowing . 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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