10 Ways to Make Running in Cold Weather Safe and Enjoyable

Running is good for your wellness, but British temperatures can seriously put you off. Running around in all that rain and wind may seem like more of a threat than a treat to your wellbeing, but unless you can afford a treadmill or gym membership it’s your only fitness option. However, running in cold weather can actually be enjoyable, as long as you do it correctly. With that in mind, we spoke to marathon runner Lizzie Heiselt, and running expert at Sport Chalet Paul Smedley, for their tips on making winter running safe, comfortable, and enjoyable.


1. Change Your Warm Up: According to Heiselt, ‘Your body warms up at a slower pace in the cold, so take 10 extra minutes to do warm-up exercises indoors. Jumping jacks, walking lunges, and running in place will all work. By the time you get outside, you’ll already be sweating and ready to run.’


2. Rethink Your Shoes: ‘Not all running shoes are created equal,’ says Heiselt. ‘Winter conditions mean less mesh is more — more warmth, fewer frozen toes. Good winter running shoes will help keep the warmth in and the snow, sleet and slush out. Shoes made with GoreTex, such as the Brooks Women’s Ghost GTX have waterproof, breathable material that will help keep your feet warm and dry.’


3. Layer Up: Smedley suggests the following guidelines for layers:

  • 30 degrees: two tops, one bottom.
  • 10 to 20 degrees: two tops, two bottoms.
  • 0 to 10 degrees: three tops, two bottoms.
  • -10 to 0 degrees: three tops, two bottoms, gloves and one scarf wrapped around your mouth.
  • -20 degrees: three tops, three bottoms, one extra pair of gloves and one scarf wrapped around your mouth


4. Conquer the Wind: Heiselt warns, ‘Winter winds can be fierce, so look for a jacket that will shield both wind and water like the Nike Women’s Shield Flash Jacket. This jacket has 62% more visibility than a normal reflective jacket to make sure you are not only warm and dry, but seen and on those dark, grey days.’


5. Cover Your Legs: ‘The best way to keep your legs going strong during cold weather is by covering them from hip to ankle,’ Heiselt asserts. ‘Running tights…are quick-drying and help trap the heat.’


6. Protect Your Hands: ‘Cold, chapped, and cracked hands are my biggest pet peeves of winter weather,’ notes Heiselt. ‘They can distract you from running your best. It’s worth investing in a good pair of gloves if it means you can still use your hands without pain for the rest of the day.’


7. Keep Your Head On: Heiselt explains, ‘Wrap your noggin with a hat that will stay secure and keep in the warmth because your head is super sensitive to cold temps.’


8. Shun Cotton Socks: Heiselt cautions, ‘Fear the cotton! Never wear cotton socks when running. Ever. Not in cold temperatures, not in hot. Cotton retains moisture, which can cause cold feet, blisters — and pain. Keep your feet warm and dry with a sock made of wicking fabric like SmartWool.’


9. Watch Your Step: ‘It’s okay to run in the snow as long as you are smart about it,’ Heiselt comments. ‘[Run] on the part of the path that’s most beaten down, or to take it slow and watch your step if you are the first one on the path. You may also want to think about wearing trail shoes for extra traction.’


10. Race the Winter Away: Heiselt advises, ‘Organised races provide motivation and excitement in what can be a dark, dreary time of year. Winter races often serve up hot chocolate along with camaraderie and happiness, and can be a great way to stay in shape and help the winter pass more quickly. Plus, many winter 5Ks are holiday themed, where dressing up is encouraged, so start looking for your best reindeer or elf running costume now!’

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