Tips for Running in the Cold

As December settles in, the temperature continues to drop in places with cold winter climates like where I live in Pittsburgh. I follow a lot of runners who live in warm places. I always envy their winter runs where they’re comfortably wearing a tank top and shorts! That usually isn’t the case here in the Northeast/Midwest (whatever Pittsburgh is technically considered!).

If you haven’t noticed, I am NOT a fan of cold weather. I’m one of those people that is “always cold”. I am constantly overdressed and bundled up to stay warm. I used to wear my jacket all day in the office and drink tea just to warm up! So obviously I am not a huge fan of running in the cold.

But when you live in a place like Pittsburgh and you’re an avid runner, you need to make some sacrifices! I have adjusted to running in the cold, even though it’s not my favorite! Here are a few of my tips for running in the cold!

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Warm Up Inside

Something that can make warming up on your run a little less miserable is warming up in advance when you’re still inside. Get your body and muscles loosened up ahead of time.

Spend some extra time to raise your body temperature a bit. It will be much easier to transition to running in the cold if your body is already warmed up.

Dress Like It’s 20 Degrees Warmer

A general rule of thumb when I dress for my runs is to dress like it’s 20 degrees warmer than it actually is. Your body will heat up when you are running and if you are overdressed, you will overheat.

If I’m getting ready to run outside and it’s 30 degrees, I will pick out a running outfit that I would be comfortable wearing at 50 degrees. The first few minutes of the run are a little uncomfortable, but my body quickly heats up, and then it feels just right.

Keep your Ears & Hands Warm

When the temperature is below 50 degrees, it’s a good idea to wear something to protect your hands and ears on runs. I like to use a thermal running headband that doesn’t absorb sweat. Here is a cool one that has a hole to stick your ponytail through! I also run with a pair of Nike running gloves. They are made out of moisture-wicking material and also have leather on the fingertips so that you can still press buttons on your phone.

Moisture-wicking is key for anything you wear during runs. It may be tempting to wear something thick and cotton when it’s cold, but once you work up a sweat, trust me, that will not be good!

Change Your Clothes Right Away After the Run

When the run is over, your clothes will probably still be sweaty after a cold run. Since the temperature will be so cold, your body will begin to lose heat fast as it cools down, especially if you’re in wet clothes. You should try to change your clothes right away after you run in the cold to make sure your body doesn’t lose too much heat.

After a cold run, I like to take a warm shower and then put on some warm and cozy dry clothes. It’s the perfect thing to look forward to as a reward for completing a run in the cold!

Those are my tips for running in the cold! Are you a fan of running in the cold? How do you cope with running in cold weather?

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  1. These are great tips! I definitely try to make sure I do a good warm up inside before running in the cold. It helps so much!

  2. I’m not a fan of cold weather, either! I’ve learned to tolerate it (hello, Iowa runner here), but I am much more a fan of the summer heat. I sometimes do a few sets of stairs before heading out in the cold. Yesterday, I did a short run sandwiched in between two elliptical workouts…the cold air actually felt refreshing LOL

  3. Getting out of the clothes and into something warm after a run is key! I can’t jump in the shower right away or I get red, itchy skin, so I change into sweats the moment I come in the door.

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