It’s About Time…Cold Weather Running Tips

Ok Ok, so I’ve been a little late with this long awaited post. Cold.Weather.Running.Tips. Here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes it tends to get a little chilly during the winter months. The wind chill is one of THE biggest contributing factors to the temperature and a key contributing factor to A.) what to wear on the day’s run or B.) whether I run outside or on the tread.

I wasn’t always a cold weather runner. I was always one to hop on the tread when it got too hot outside, too windy, or too cold. Don’t get me wrong, I have a very nice treadmill in my basement, and I love my tread. However, nothing clears the mind and the lungs like an outdoors run. The first year I started running outside I really was convinced I had respiratory problems and that I may fall over and freeze to death. A little excessive and exaggerated, yes. But that is how I felt the first few runs in the cold MN weather.

This is the reason I bundled up and damn near overheated the first year I ran outside. Temp said 40 degrees? I was bundled up from Now the temp says 40 degrees…and I’m probably in shorts. Big difference. Not only has my body adapted to the colder weather running, I have also learned what I can tolerate, what temps I can tolerate, what to wear, safety tips, and when to run indoors. So what works for me may not work for you, and what I can tolerate may be different than what you may tolerate. Remember that safety is key, and sometimes you probably should run indoors.

First I’ll start with the gear. Head to toe.

First things first…

1. The black piece is an Under Armour Cold Gear Hood , which can be worn different ways. I usually wear this when it is really cold and I want to cover my nose, mouth, or both. I wear it when the temps dip down into the 20’s or lower. I also wear it in the beginning of the cold weather running season because my lungs do have to adjust to the cooler weather. At first they do burn, I do cough, and I feel great when I get home! I have a bad habit of being a mouth breather when I run, so my lungs really get the brunt of the cold weather.

2. The SportHill teal headband is amazing. Perfect for running. I actually found this on clearance and its been one of my favorite running pieces. It has a moisture wicking fabric which keeps my head and ears dry and warm. I know that the experts say the head is one of the biggest sources of heat loss so it is important to keep the warmth in. However, I sweat. A lot. My head gets hot. So I unless temps and the windchill dip way down…like less than 20 degrees, I only wear a headband. This headband.

3. Along with the head, the hands and the feet are also big sources of heat loss. My hands are always freezing cold. The grey Nike gloves area lightweight glove with reflective thingys on them. I also have black Under Armour gloves that are a little warmer. Even in temps like today with the temp in the 50’s, I usually start out with light gloves on and take them off within a couple of miles. My hands warm up and get sweaty. I am also obsessed with tops that have thumbholes, so if it is really cold out I keep the gloves on and tuck my hands in my sleeves with thumbholes.

Another thing that is not pictured is my sunglasses. I always wear them when it’s sunny. Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean your eyes don’t need protection too. I have a very cheap pair that fog up and irritate me, but they do the job. Especially when the sun reflects off the snow!


Now for the layers!

4. This pink and orange Under Armour top is my favorite top every. I love everything about it. Moisture wicking material, thumbholes, length, and of course, the colors. This top I will wear as a single layer (with a sports bra and tank underneath) when the temps are in the 40’s, and 30’s if there is no wind. Have I mentioned this is one of my favorite tops ever?

Yellow base layer and Green top layer

5. The yellow top on the left is a Champion base layer I got a few years ago from Target. This is also a great moisture-wicking top and a good base layer similar to my favorite.

6. The green Under Armour running fleece top layer is on the right. This one I wear on top of a base layer because it keeps the warmth in, and even though it’s fleece, it actually blocks some wind. I also have an Under Armour blue full-zip sweatshirt that is made for running that I use as a top layer. It also has a hood on it, and it does a great job of blocking the wind. I usually add a top layer when the temps dip into the 20’s or if there is a cold wind chill factor.


7. These are the three most popular bottom layers in my closet as far as long pants go. I have lots of shorts, one pair of capris, and these pants. The ones on the left with the blue are Champion running pants. However, they don’t have a tapered pant and they bother me when I run, so if I do wear them, I use them as a top layer.

8. The middle pair are a great running tight and base layer.  They are Champion running tights from Target and are perfect to wear alone or with shorts over them. YES…I was one of those people who wear shorts over their running tights because I’m sure my booty doesn’t need to be accentuated by tights. AND…Hubs made a remark one time about someone who was wearing only running tights. It was NOT a positive remark, and she had a very similar body type to mine…so…needless to say I wore shorts over my pants for awhile. Until this year. I realized, who really gives a shit what my boom boom looks like in running tights. I’m out running, so who cares!

9. The pair on the right are the Under Armour ColdGear running tights. They keep a girl warm! These are my base layer for cold, windy days. These are amazing. They are moisture wicking, and WARM. Perfect for MN running.

To the Toes!

One thing I do have a problem with when running in the cold is keeping my tootsies warm. My toes always get cold and tingly. One thing I could change are my shoes. I should get shoes with less mesh on top…but this girl loves her Saucony Hurricane’s. Even during the winter.

10. The ivory socks are Smart Wool socks, and are simply amazing. I love them. Need.More.SmartWool. I sometimes wear two pairs of socks when it’s cold. I also have a black pair of socks from Road Runner Sports that are specifically made to protect these tootsies from wind, rain, snow, slush, and cold. Amazing.

11. PINK Saucony Hurricane 14’s. LOVE LOVE LOVE these shoes. I’m on my 6th pair of the Hurricane’s.

12. Can’t remember the brand of the shoes track thingys, but they are great for running on ice and packed snow. Not good for the hips or legs when you run on just the road. You need to have ice or show to absorb the shock or you will injure yourself. I was told when I bought them to remove them when running on just the road, and put them back on when running on ice or snow.

Now for some of my own running tips that work for me, or are for your safety.

Run with a friend, dress in bright, reflective colors, don reflective gear or lightswhen running in early morning or evening/night so you can be seen by other people and drivers, and dress as if it is 15 degrees warmer than it is. When you start out, you will be chilly, but you will warm up. My theory is I’d rather be over dressed than under dressed. As much as I don’t like carrying layers with me, I’d rather shed layers than wish I had extras. Try to run only in the daylight. I know that’s tough when our days are shorter, but try anyhow!

Make sure you warm up and cool down appropriately. Just because it’s cooler outside doesn’t mean your muscles don’t need the same treatment. And something I am really bad at…is change your clothes when you get in the door! I dink around, stretch, eat, and drink chocolate milk before I even get in the shower. I need to get better at this. I get into the shower shivering cold and on the verge of hypothermia.

There are other great posts out there on cold weather running. Runner’s World website has great tips, and so does this post by Beth at Shut Up and Run. She runs in Colorado and I am insanely jealous of her. If you ever want a running partner from MN…let me know. I’d love to run on those trails with you 😉

These are tips that work for me, and I dress how I feel comfortable with. No company that I have mentioned are paying to say nice things about their products (but feel free to send me free things or pay me ;)). If you’re new to running outside, keep it up!! It gets better! I actually prefer to run in the cold. If you have any questions for me, let me know! I’d be happy to answer them.

Do you have any cold weather running tips or questions??

How cold is it outside today? Not sure but I’m about to find out.

4 thoughts on “It’s About Time…Cold Weather Running Tips

  1. Wow!! It’s really cold there. I had my first cold run yesterday. It was 46 degrees! I’m sure for you, that’s warm. LOL….But I had to figure out what to wear too. I ended up double layering with a zella crewneck and an under armour pull over top. Gloves and North Face capri’s. Actually didn’t get too hot or cold. It was perfect. I ran by people that were wearing tanks!!! yikes!!! I think the coldest we get here (Nor Cal) is probably 37 degrees. You look great and hopefully the cold will be gently to you.

    1. It hasn’t gotten too cold yet 🙂 The worst temps usually start in January and go through February. However last winter was mild for us! 46 degrees would be perfect for me. I ran yesterday and I think the high temp when I was out was around 60, but I had 20 mph wind gusts and almost 90% humidity. Ick. Needless to say I had layers on and was in a tank top by the time I got home. I’m jealous of your Nor Cal running!!!! I LOVE CA 🙂

  2. Hi – I just came across your blog and am excited to see how your running progresses! Every year in the fall, I swear, I have to go ahead and re-learn what/how many layers go with the temps outside. I did a post about this not long ago, but my main issue is not the cold at all, but the dark because I love to run at the end of the day. I have been wearing reflective gear, a headlamp, and even a bike flasher on my back. It still freaks me out though. Happy cold running!

    1. Hello and welcome to my crazy little blog 🙂 I also like to run at the end of the day and I usually won’t run at night. I’m not as worried about people seeing me, but I’m such a klutz and would probably trip and fall flat on my face! Happy running to you!

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