All Your Questions Answered On Cold Weather Running

Running is simple… right? Just throw on some shoes + hit the trail? Unfortunately, when it comes to freezing temperatures, running becomes a little more tricky. From what gear to wear, warming up, + breathing in the cold – we’ve answered your cold-weather running questions!

PSA: In this podcast episode we go even further in depth on all your cold weather running questions AND announce CHAARG Run Club details!

Before you can hit the trail, you have to be dressed properly. We compiled a list of our favorite cold-weather running gear here! But the basics that you need to know: 

#1] All about the layers. Your base layer should be a sweat wicking fabric. Your second layer can be anything from a jacket, a quarter zip, or even a fleece if it’s really cold! The final outer layer is more dependent on the elements — if it’s super windy, opt for a wind breaker. If it’s snowy or rainy — opt for a waterproof jacket. For your legs, I wear tights in anything under 50 degrees Fahrenheit [keep in mind… I’m a huge cold-weather baby!] + I double up on tights when it’s below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Remember, dress like it’s 10-15 degrees warmer than it is ; ) 

#2] Reflection! The days are shorter + the nights are longer. Chances are that if you’re running all winter long, you’ll have a run in the dark. Find reflective gear [like this!] or pieces that will make sure you’re noticed outside! 

#3] Accessorize. Hat or ear-warmer, scarf or buff, + gloves are all a must. Don’t skip these!

#1] Should you wear gloves? Whenever I run + wear gloves – my hands feel tingly! [@danieller_inCHAARG].

I personally can’t imagine running without gloves when I’m outside + it’s freezing! However, I do know some people that hate the feeling of gloves + have explained that they also feel *tingly* when they were them. The instead opt to pull their sleeves down past their hands + run like that! My first suggestion would be to make sure the gloves aren’t too tight. If they are normal fitting + you still feel tingly or don’t like running with them, then try without! But don’t stay outside too long without gloves on — our extremities are more prone to frost bite in dangerous temperatures. 

So, you’ve geared up. Now let’s get out there! After you’ve geared up, it’s time to get out on the trail! Remember – the first 5-10 minutes when you’re warming up are always the worst. 

#2] Does a cold weather run change your warm up? [@katielarson8]

Regardless if you’re running in the heat of summer or freezing temps of winter — you should always do a dynamic warm-up. It’s even more important to do a warm-up in the winter though because your muscles don’t contract as forcefully in cold weather! Try warming up inside before your run — it will make it easier to warm up + will also make heading out the door a little less painful ; ) Want a great dynamic warm-up? Check out these 5 dynamic stretches to do before every run – courtesy of Runner’s World!

#3] Any tips for running in the ICY midwestern roads? [@erikalair_inCHAARG]

Sometimes when it’s icy the best solution is to stay indoors : ( However, there are things you can do to keep running outside when there are some icy patches on the road!

— Take shorter, quicker steps. Rather than trying to take long strides + *pulling* yourself forward, think about taking the shortest + quickest steps possible. Altering your gait can help with staying upright + not slipping on the ice!

— Slow down your pace! Better to slow down in areas that look icy than twist your ankle + injure yourself.

— Consider getting extra traction on your shoes! This is something I personally have never tried, but have seen devices like YakTrax that will give you extra grip in the snow + ice!

#4] I can’t breathe when I run in the cold! How do you do it? [@maureen_22]

Get a buff or scarf that you can tie around your face! I never run in the cold weather without a buff. I typically start with the buff pulled up around my mouth, which warms the air I’m breathing in. Once I’ve warmed up enough, I’ll pull the buff down + have no problems breathing [I also have asthma — so I’m pretty convinced of the magic of a buff!]. 

#5] How to get over feeling *stiff* in the cold? [@oliviarautzhan]

See above. The best way to not feel stiff in the cold is through a dynamic warm-up — preferably done indoors! Keep in mind though, running in the cold weather is naturally going to feel different than running in the summer — just the number of layers that you are running in already adds weight + can cause you to feel more *stiff* than you normally do. There is no shame in slowing your pace down + just moving through it… remember: forward is a pace ; )

#6] How long do you recommend running for in the cold? [@kentstate_inCHAARG]

Ultimately this depends on your fitness level. If you’re a runner + have been running throughout the summer + fall, then you can keep on running  your normal distances in the cold-weather! However, if you haven’t been running throughout the summer + fall, I recommend finding a couch to run type program that eases you into running. 

#7] How do you run fast in the cold? [@alexis_inCHAARG]

Focus on effort rather than time. When it’s dark, snowing, + icy, you probably won’t be able to go as *fast* pace wise as you can in the summer — but that’s OK! Instead of obsessing over the times you’re trying to hit – just focus on perceived effort. If you’re out there + getting after it, you are making progress + you will reap the rewards of winter running come spring + summer ; )

#8] The question I know everyone is thinking but doesn’t want to ask: how cold is too cold to run?

According to NBC Chicago, when the *feels like* is -20 degrees fahrenheit or below, stay inside! That being said, there is no shame in taking your runs to the treadmill this winter! If you don’t enjoy running in the cold, then don’t force yourself to do it. Running is about having fun!

#9] Finally — is cold weather running good for you?

There is plenty of research that causes me to say a resounding, YES! When you dress properly + are able to stay dry + warm, cold weather running is great for you. Want to read more about why cold-weather running is good for you? Check out these articles: 

Check out CHAARG Run Club + CHAARG 5K programs throughout the year to take your training to the next level! 

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