5-star Fitness

Cold Weather Running

Written By Leah Britt • 3 min read


I love running while it’s snowing, especially when I wake up at 5:00am to run. It’s so peaceful. A couple of winters ago I trained through winter for my first marathon in May. I told myself I wouldn’t do that again, what happened, running my second marathon in May 11′. So winter training here I come! I love this quote: “Running is a winter sport that is simply played out in the summer.”

Here in Park City the effective temperature on a cold but clear and sunny day is just about perfect! The hot sun balances the cold air. The deer or moose hanging out along the river path, there’s a bald eagle that hangs out on winter mornings in one particular tree, too, and I always check for him.

The feel of snow falling lightly on my face, lightly being the key word. Blizzards are not as much fun. Something about cold weather running during this time of year seems to put everyone in a better mood.

Running through the cold weather can help shake those winter blues, improve your energy level, and guarantee that you’ll be in better shape once bathing suit season rolls around. Follow these tips for cold weather running:

1. Wear warm clothes, but not too warm. The unfortunate truth is that you’ll be most comfortable if you start a little cold. Remember the 10-15 minute rule. After about 10 min you should feel optimal. Taking too much clothing at the beginning will leave you sweaty and uncomfortable.

2. Shoes are also crucial to winter running success. Lightweight shoes are often thin and transparent, meaning snow and ice can melt into your feet and make you miserable. Larger shoes are more resilient to outside conditions and grip much better on slick surfaces. For those real icy days, try YakTrax or Micro-Spikes.

3. Wear gloves. No matter how well-suited your outfit may be for winter running, you’ll be powerless without gloves. Plus you look so fast and COOL! In cold weather the body sucks all of its heat into the core, and in doing so leaves the extremities without adequate circulation, meaning your hands just won’t work right. Make sure to wear adequately warm gloves that also provide a level of waterproofing so that snow or rain won’t render them useless.

4. Hats. Standard wisdom says that we lose up to 80% of our body heat through our head, which is why you should know that standard wisdom is oftentimes completely false. You don’t lose any more heat through your head than through anywhere else on your body, but you’re usually (hopefully?) wearing clothes in most other places. Wearing a hat keeps your ears and head warm and saves energy by preventing body heat from radiating off into the atmosphere.

5. Take it easy when it’s too cold. You’re at greater risk for a pulled muscle when running in the cold, so warm up slowly and run easy on very cold days. Save your tough workouts for milder days or indoors.

6. Stay hydrated. Despite the cold weather, you’ll still heat up and lose fluids through sweat. In cold temperatures people often forget to drink enough water. While you don’t need as much water on a cold day as on a hot day, forgetting about water on a run is detrimental. Continue to use my top two racing principles: eat before you’re hungry and drink before you’re thirsty.

7. Don’t stay in wet clothes. If you get wet from rain, snow, or sweat in cold temperatures, you’re at an increased risk for hypothermia, a lowering of your body temperature. If you’re wet, change your clothes and get to warm shelter as quickly as possible. If you suspect hypothermia — characterized by intense shivering, loss of coordination, slurred speech, and fatigue — get emergency treatment immediately.

8. #8 comes from you. What have I missed? Leave a comment and share your wisdom.

Leah Britt Bio:

Leah Britt, holds a Bachelors Degree in Clinical Nutrition and Health Science from Southern Utah University where she was a collegiate athlete. She is certified by International Sports Science Association and The National Academy of Sports Medicine as Personal Trainer. Leah uses an individual approach to achieving optimal wellness for each and every client. “We are all unique”- no two people have the same metabolism, biochemical make-up, health concerns, behavioral issues or nutritional needs. Failing to address these issues when designing a nutrition and fitness program can lead to poor results and frustration. Leah’s focus is on helping her clients set realistic goals and to achieve lifelong health and wellness.

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