Running in the Cold

Running in the cold can be a miserable and dangerous experience, but it can also be a very rewarding and productive experience. The difference between these is usually down to what you wear, if you are prepared for the cold then it shouldn’t be a problem.

It is very important that you warm up properly before running hard, cold muscles really do not like to be pushed. You can either warm up in your house before leaving for your run, or start off at a slower pace to warm up naturally.

What to wear when running in the cold

  1. Lightweight layers that will be easy to remove if you get too warm.
  2. Take a lightweight fluorescent rucksack, and pack an extra layer of clothing, just in case you have underestimated how cold it is, and leave enough room in it to store your clothes in if you get too warm when running.
  3. A lightweight florescent windproof waterproof jacket will make a big difference at the start of your run, but be ready to take it off once you get too warm.
  4. If possible wear clothing designed to wick moisture away from your body, especially the layers closest to your skin.

Here is a list of items you may want to consider/choose from, we have them all listed with prices in our winter running section of the website. You will have to use trial and error to work out which ones to use for which temperature. You wont necessarily need all of them. The plan is that when you initially set out for your run, you feel a little under-dressed and cold, then after a few minutes you are warm and glad you didn’t wear any more layers.

  • A hat or headband, my personal preference is a headband as it allows heat to escape from your head but keeps your ears warm and covered to prevent ear ache.
  • A tight fitting wicking running top, either short sleeved or one that will allow the sleeves to be rolled up, if you get hot then bare arms will really help your body cool down.
  • To go over that you can wear a looser fitting running top with long sleeves, again that can be rolled up to help with heat loss when you get warm, a zipped front (usually they only have them at your throat height) gives another option for cooling down. I do not recommend a hooded top, these can impair your peripheral vision and also you would probably get too warm running with the hood up. You can get slightly thicker running tops that have a sort of polar neck, these are very good for extremely cold weather.
  • The final item of clothing for your top is a florescent lightweight jacket, that will keep out wind and rain.
  • Gloves, you can buy gloves specifically designed for running, these are designed to wick moisture away from your skin, but if you dont have any of those you can wear a normal pair of gloves, obviously the lighter weight the better, without any major problems.
  • On your legs I would recommend compression tights, with a pair of shorts over the top.
  • If you need an additional layer on your legs then a pair of baggy tracksuit bottoms is perfect, make sure they have zipped bottoms so you can remove them without having to remove your shoes if you start to get too warm.
  • Finally a very lightweight florescent rucksack, this is to put your unwanted layers in if you get too warm, it is also a good idea to put in an extra layer of clothing in case you get too cold on your run, this can easily happen if you have misjudged the temperature or wind chill, but can also happen if you pick up an injury or run out of fuel and have to slow down or walk.

If you are new to running then keep a record of what you wore each time and the temperature, and how warm you felt, this can be used for future runs to work out what to wear. As you gain more experience you may be able to judge better what you need to wear each time.

If you notice parts of your body get really cold and you cant keep them warm then you can always use disposable air activated heatpads, these can be put inside your gloves and/or under your clothes. I find my stomach gets really cold towards the end of a run so use one there, any excess heat generated can be compensated for by undoing zips, roiling up sleeves or removing layers.

Add a section about skins, keep warm in cold and cool in the warm

copy into words the picture we use for clothing guide

The Dangers of Running in the Cold

  1. Hyperthermia
  2. Poor Grip on the road
  3.  Frostbite

Safety Tips for cold weather running

  1. Always wear reflective clothing.
  2. If you are running at or near dusk then a light is essential.
  3. Always have a phone with you and arrange an emergency contact who can come and get you if needed.

Hydration when running in the cold

The temptation when running in the cold is to not hydrate, this is will cause you problems, hydration is just as important when its cold.