Tips for running in the cold

Just because the temperature has fallen, it doesn’t mean you have to give up on running altogether. Enjoy all the rewards of running in the fall and winter with these simple tips.

Fall and winter fitness tips
Woman jogging in the cold

Layer up

Keep in mind when dressing for colder days that it isn’t just about picking whether to go with long sleeves or a jacket. There is an almost infinite number of layering options to keep you at the perfect temperature. For example, on a really cold day, consider tucking a short-sleeved tee into your running pants and then layering on a long-sleeved piece and jacket overtop. This will give your torso an extra covering of warmth. And if you happen to get too hot, it’s easier to take off a layer and tie it around your waist than to do without. You can also invest in arm warmers and leg warmers to place under anything.

As you become more familiar with running in the cold, you’ll get a better sense of what to put on to keep yourself comfortable. In a 5–10 degree zone, a long-sleeved top and capris will often be suitable. In the 0–5 degree range, opt for pants instead and add an undershirt. You may also want to put on a vest or running jacket, depending on the wind chill and whether the sun is out. When the temperature drops below zero, you will likely need two layers of pants, such as tights and wind pants, along with a winter running jacket.

But of course, some people’s bodies run cold, while others stay warm more easily. So play around with layers until you find the combinations that work. Write down the best combinations so all you’ll have to do is check the temperature and wind chill to know what you should throw on.

Accessorize appropriately

All the layers in the world won’t have you feeling great if you don’t have the accessories to go with them. Fingers, ears and toes can all make a run unbearable if not covered up properly. Keep your feet warm and toasty with socks that specialize in pulling moisture away from your skin to ensure your feet stay dry. MEC’s WrightSock Double Layer Coolmesh II socks are a great option (mec.ca, $9). When it’s above zero, any winter gloves will do, but once it gets a chillier, invest in gloves such as these poly stretch gloves from Running Room (shop.runningroom.com, $30). And most important: your head! This brisk run toque from Lululemon will keep your heat in and ensure your ears don’t get too cold (shop.lululemon.com, $28). Plus it has a contoured fit and a ponytail hole at the back for perfect comfort.

Start slow

For many, the biggest challenge that comes from the cold isn’t the exterior chill so much as the inner. Breathing can be more painful and laboured for individuals with sensitive lungs. If your lungs are in pain or you’re more tired when you head out on a cold-weather run, slow it down. Pushing too hard before your lungs have warmed up could cause you to give up too soon. So start with a 5- to 10-minute slow jog to get your body accustomed to the weather before you push the pace.

More running tips

Find the running route for you
How to run faster
The pros and cons of running a marathon

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