How To Run In The Cold

Even the most inveterate runner dreads the challenges of getting outdoors in the cold weather.  Elements of temperature, moisture, and light all need to be addressed when preparing for winter running, and although it may be tempting to jump on the treadmill day after day, or worse, abandon your running routine altogether, with a bit of forethought and an optimistic attitude, running in the cold weather can be the kind of safe, effective, and satisfying workout you need to keep yourself fit, healthy and happy throughout the cold winter months.  Here are a few suggestions to consider when you’re having difficulty motivating yourself to get out the door on a chilly, wet, blustery day:


Admit that it is going to initially kind of suck

Just like jumping into a cold pool, taking that first step out the door from a warm environment into a chilly one is daunting.  You are not a wimp or loser for feeling like you’d rather skip the run altogether, and by admitting to yourself that what you are about to do is difficult, you give yourself the gift of compassion and understanding that is needed when facing a challenging task.  There are many others who wouldn’t even consider running 3- 5 miles on the most temperate of days let alone in wintry conditions, so feel free to spend the first 5 minutes of your run in ‘victim’ mode before realizing that you’ve warmed yourself up and may just be better off for getting out in the cold.

Change up your route

There is a tendency to become mired in traditional running routes that provide comfort in knowing what to expect.  Use the cold weather conditions as a reason to change up your running routine so that you stay on well-lit pathways and easily navigated roadways with sidewalks.  If you usually run with music, the winter season may also be a good time to wean yourself off your dependence on your tunes and instead become more ‘in tune’ to your surroundings.  Pay attention to your new route to avoid getting lost and thus distract yourself from whatever weather condition you’re running in.   

Wear a hat with a brim

Keep the driving rain/sleet/snow out of your face with brimmed hat.  It seems so simple, and it is.  Your hair is going to look horrible when you’re out running in the rain whether you wear the hat or not, so do yourself a favor and find a hat that covers your head and shelters your face from whatever nonsense comes at you from the sky.  There are many companies out there who make hats just for runners with fun slogans and sayings, but a simple baseball hat will do in a pinch.  

Cut it short

If the idea of running for an hour in the cold prevents you from getting outside, start with a length of time that you believe you can handle.  If running down the street and back is the best you can do, make that the best 2 minutes ever and run faster than you normally would to elevate your heart rate and baby step your way into running outside for a longer period of time.

Keep the reward in mind

If you love a warm bath on a cold winter day, promise yourself that gift upon your return from your outdoor run.  Maybe you’re motivated by a hot cup of tea, or a cozy snuggle next to the fire with your favorite TV show – whatever makes you feel all fuzzy inside, imagine the details and hold them stable in your imagination while you run your way to better health.

Working out indoors during the winter months serves the purpose of keeping you warm and dry while you work up a sweat; however, spending too much time indoors means that you are constantly breathing in recycled air that leads to a build-up of germs and thus may cause illness.  Planning an outdoor run once or twice a week may just get you out the door to partake of a dose of fresh, cold air, so grit your teeth, put on your hat and take a deep breath – you’ve got some cold running to do.        

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