40 Tips to Stay Running this Winter

I’m Canadian and everyone knows that it is cold and it snows a lot here. Actually that’s true in some places but not so much in others. I’m in one of those medium places. That said you know how people say “but it’s a dry cold”, while here it is always, always a damp cold. So that’s fun. Some Canadians even regularly run in Yellowknife (look it up) so you can too. But even here most people are shocked that I run outdoors all winter long, even other runners. Here’s the thing though it’s not that hard and I’m not all that outdoorsy. The first year I made it a point to run year round I made arrangements with a local community center to use the treadmills when the weather sucked and I went exactly once. Outdoors, even on rural roads was so much better. I’ve written a bit in the past about winter running but this post is just going to be straight up tips and ideas you might not have thought of. This year you might not have a choice gyms might be closed and you might not want to go if they are open but with these tips you might not miss the gym at all!

What to wear

  • Trail shoes are great for a little extra grip on slippery stuff whether you walk or run over it.
  • Thick wooly headbands that cover your ears are better than hats most of the time.
  • Once you find the right pair of pants that are breathable but windproof your life will change.
  • Go for light unlined winter pants since they are so expensive…
  • And on really cold days wear warm leggings (or capris) under them for more options.
  • You’ll likely be running in the dark so a really reflective jacket is a smart buy…
  • Make this a year round light, breathable jacket…
  • And add a couple of shirts or a thick sweatshirt underneath when need be.
  • For the shoulder seasons think November and March a puffy vest is a great option that makes you feel super cozy.
  • Look for a turtleneck or mock neck warm running shirt and skip the scarf.
  • Skip the ankle socks in the winter…
  • Knee length compression socks under pants are easy to get on, everything stays up and it keeps your lower leg extra warm…
  • If you’re feeling extra spicy wear them outside your pants.
  • Always, always take running gloves you can stash them if you don’t need them.
  • On super cold days wear your very fuzzy mittens over your gloves.
  • Consider buying slip on grips for your shoes or studding an older pair with motocross studs.
  • Lots of light layers, especially for long runs.

When and where to run

  • Study the weekly forecast closely and pick out the most runable days that week.
  • If you’re rural like me and run on rural roads wait for the side plow to go by and clear the shoulder.
  • Aim for the afternoon or early evening since that’s the warmest part of the day.
  • The area in around university campuses is usually impeccably plowed quickly because of liability and often drunk students. Run there.
  • Driving to a run is still cheaper than a gym membership.
  • Some bike and walking paths are actually cleared in the winter, ask around…
  • Your local park run course is a great place to start.
  • Subdivisions might seem great but they are often cleared last and icy.
  • Somedays like when there is freezing rain, a flash freeze or low visibility it’s just not a day for running.
  • Beaches at low tide are always clear after a storm.
  • If you can swing it at work a late long lunch once or twice a week is the perfect time to run in the winter.
  • Beware of the evening freeze up when the temperature drops and the sun goes down.
  • Look for a winter race in your area it’s a great way to stay motivated.

Other stuff

  • Wash your one and only winter pants and every time you do laundry so they are ready.
  • Warm up before you leave by doing some jumping jacks indoors. It’s a game changer!
  • If you find the perfect winter running tights buy a duplicate now and let me know, please! (They don’t make mine anymore.)
  • Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you don’t need water with you.
  • Walk breaks and even the ice shuffle is fine for winter running.
  • If you walk through some snow or slush walk a few extra steps to let your treads clear.
  • Let go of your pace all winter, you will be slower even on nice days. It will magically return in the spring.
  • The hardest step is always the one out the door. That’s even more true in winter and you’re not alone.
  • Always take tissues unless you can preform the perfect snot rocket. If you’re not sure still bring tissues.
  • The cold can zap a fully charged phone. If you’re serious about winter running plug into a power pack or a battery case like the one I use.
  • I find old injuries tend to act up more in the cold, warm up and do some preventative physio if you find that too.

Winter running is only about 15% as bad as you’re thinking. Even in Canada it’s not that bad. This winter don’t let your great habits slide and find a way to get out and get moving outdoors. Plus other people will think you are kind of a super hero for doing it. Are you a winter runner too? What’s your top tip for running with jack frost nipping at your heels? Leave it in the comments below!

If you’re still looking for more tips check out some other winter running links below. 

Running safely in the dark

New winter running tips

An ode to my winter running clothes

How to design your winter running plans

How to run in the freezing cold

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