by Mbio Staff October 11, 2018


Are you planning on running outdoors this winter? Ignore the concerns and horrified looks of your peers.

Weather shouldn't stop you from getting outside and exercising. Especially not if you follow these tips.

Make sure you're prepared with the right tools and information. Winter running has its own challenges and obstacles you might not expect. It also has more hazards than running in other seasons.

Don't let these extra concerns put you off your goals. You can have a successful running season with a few slight changes to your training. Keep reading for a complete guide to safe winter running.

1. Wear the Right Clothing

You need to dress warmer in the winter, but not as warm as you think. Overdressing will cause you to overheat. Instead, plan for only 15-20 degrees warmer than your usual gear.

The material of your clothing makes a huge difference in the winter. Avoid cotton running clothes. Although cotton absorbs sweat, it takes too long to dry.

Damp clothing is a nightmare when running in the winter because it freezes. The key is to wear layers of clothing that dry fast.

Layers of Clothing

You should be wearing layers on your top and bottom half. It's important that everything from your toes to your head is insulated and absorbing sweat.

The first layer of winter gear is your base layer. This needs to be a breathable fabric that absorbs sweat. The idea is that it pulls the sweat away from your skin to keep you warm.  (like our Long Sleeve Performance Tees)

The second layer removes moisture from the base layer. A warm fleece or other thick material should work well. It also needs to act as insulation to contain your body heat.

The outer and last layer needs to protect you from the elements. Find a jacket that's water-resistant and can shield you from the wind.

Choose outer layers that have vents and zips. You can undo these zips to release warmth if you overheat and circulate the air. Then close them to retain the heat.

Winter Accessories

It's imperative you wear something on your head to keep in the heat. Fleece headbands and hats work well.

You may want to consider buying a balaclava for winter running. This is a full-coverage hat that keeps your neck and head warm. It's especially helpful if you have a cold or a sore throat.

Find a pair of gloves that keep your fingers warm. They don't have to be fancy or expensive. But, they should insulate your hands and absorb moisture.

2. Be Visible

Winter brings a variety of weather that affects visibility. Blowing snow, rain, and white-outs all make it dangerous to run outside. Drivers struggle to see the road ahead, let alone a runner on the side.

You can protect yourself in these situations by wearing high-visibility gear.

This type of gear includes reflective patches and bright colors. Obviously, you don't want to blend into the setting of white and grey.

If your gear doesn't have hi-vis elements, you can easily add them. Sew on reflective patches or wear reflective wristbands. Or, wear a fluorescent bib over your gear.

Running at night in the winter is even more hazardous. Make sure you aren't wearing dark colors that'll make you blend into the night. And, try to stick to routes that are well-lit.

3. Winter Running Shoes

Winter creates a variety of terrains depending on the weather and your location. Some places see barely any snowfall but are extremely cold. Others deal with lots of rain and slush in the winter.

Choose your running shoes based on where you live and the winter weather.

If there's ice where you run, it's crucial you have shoes that provide grip and stability. Consider shoes with spikes to penetrate ice and prevent slipping. Regular traction may not be enough for running in the winter in your area.

Many types of winter running shoes have raised sides. This provides insulation and prevents snow from getting into the shoe.

You should look for shoes that are water-proof. In very cold weather it's dangerous to let your feet get soaked. Hypothermia and frostbite are real concerns.

Consider buying socks made for winter running. They'll be more insulated, moisture-wicking, and water-resistant.

4. Warm Up First

Warming up is crucial for preventing injuries and accidents. The muscles we use for running may be stiff from a sedentary lifestyle. Going straight into a run can tear tense muscles and cause you to stumble.

In the winter, it's extra important to warm up first. It takes longer for muscles to become agile and warmed up in the winter.

One way you can prep your body for a winter run is to take a hot shower first. Throw your running gear in the dryer to warm it up. When you head outside, start with a brisk walk for five minutes.

Gradually increase your speed and/or incline. Remember that temperature strongly affects your body, so you can't treat it like a summer run. After about ten minutes of warming up, you should be at the pace you want to keep for the whole run.

Cooling Down

After your run, do the reverse of your warm up. Take about ten minutes to decrease your speed to a brisk walk.

Always follow your runs with stretching. But, in the winter, take your stretching indoors. Holding long sedentary stretches in the cold will cause your temperature to drop.

Although it's tempting to jump straight into a hot shower or under the covers, don't. Make sure you fit in a proper cool down and stretch session after your run.

5. Hydrate

It can be hard to force ourselves to drink water in the winter. When the air's cold, we don't want to drink cold water. Unfortunately, dehydration is just as common in the winter as in the summer.

If you're struggling to stay hydrated in the cold months, drink hot water instead.

There's nothing wrong with drinking warmer water if that's more appealing to you. What matters is that you drink enough before and after your runs.

When you run in the winter, you tend to sweat a lot because of the insulating clothing. You need to be actively replenishing your body's moisture.

Consider buying a water bottle belt to wear over your gear. Drinking fluids as you run can prevent dehydration. If it's extra cold in your region, fill the bottle with warm water instead of cold to avoid freezing.

6. Strategic Steps

Your running methods and strategies need to change in the winter. Your health and safety are more vulnerable during this time of year. Here are some tips to get the most out of your run and stay safe.


Try taking shorter strides when running in the winter, especially in the snow. By keeping your feet closer to the ground, your limiting your chances of slipping.

Longer strides disperse your weight farther between your two feet. This makes you vulnerable to slipping if one foot lands on ice.

Instead, reduce your stride height and length to stay in control of your stability.

Face the Wind

The start of your run is when you're least sweaty. Use this time to run against the wind because you don't have to worry about chills.

At the end of the run when you're sweaty, run with the wind. Your skin's moisture will be cold as it is. Avoiding wind exposure will limit the chilliness.

Familiar Routes

Stick to routes you know well during the winter months. Try to run during daylight instead of nighttime.

If you choose an unfamiliar route to run and then get lost, you're in danger. Depending on how cold it is, being outside for extended time can cause hypothermia. This is especially dangerous in rural areas without shelter available.

You may want to save your trail and forest running for the spring. Or, at least during the daytime.

One safety precaution is to keep a cell phone and charger in your running belt. If you get lost you can call a taxi or a loved one to come find you.

Also, consider running with a buddy in the winter. Two brains are better than one when you're trying to find your way back to familiar ground.

Are You Ready to Get Running?

Running is a fantastic exercise to do any time of the year. Don't let the cold weather stop you from training year-round.

Be responsible and safe in your winter running. Although it's super common for runners to train in the cold, you need to take extra precautions.

Make sure you're wearing the right gear to stay warm and dry. Your shoes need to provide extra traction to avoid slipping on ice. Spend the necessary time to warm up your body and cool down after.

For more tips and guides on running in the winter or any season, check out the blog.

Mbio Staff
Mbio Staff

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