Here at Team GHU, we love to run outside. Runner’s endorphins coupled with fresh air and Vitamin D leave us feeling like we can conquer the world. But as native Minnesotans, there are a few (okay, sometimes six) months out of the year when outdoor running becomes more complicated and less triumphant. When winter greets us with snow, sleet and ice, what do we do with our need to pound the pavement? We gear up and get out there! The truth is, cold weather doesn’t have to be a barrier to getting in a solid run. With the proper gear and these nine cold-weather running hacks, you can conquer your run despite the chill.
1) Keep your hands and feet covered…
Sounds obvious, right? But we can’t stress this enough: our extremities are the places where we naturally lose the most warmth, so they’re the most important things to keep covered on outdoor runs. Make sure your toes stay toasty with high-quality socks like Smartwool, which wick away moisture as opposed to cotton socks which hold in moisture and make your feet cold and clammy. Select shoes with the least amount of mesh (we like Gore Tex) to keep out slush. You can also grab hand warmers and stick them inside your gloves to stay extra warm.
2)…but dress 15-20 degrees warmer than it actually is.
While you want to be prepared for the elements, you do want to dress as if it’s 15-20 degrees warmer outside than it actually is. On a brutal 0 degree day, this doesn’t make a ton of difference, but when it’s 20 or above, keep it in mind so you don’t start your run in a parka and find yourself tearing it off mid-way. You need to dress to compensate for how your body will warm up as you run.
3) Do an indoor warm-up.
This is one of the best cold-weather running hacks we know: warm up before you go outside! Use some basic moves before heading out to build internal body heat and lubricate your muscles and joints. Squats, push-ups and lunges are all great bodyweight exercises that will warm up your body so the frigid winter air isn’t as much of a shock when you head out your door.
Related: 4 Common Running Mistakes To Avoid
4) Layer strategically.
If you need a new excuse to buy workout clothes, winter running is it. Dressing for a cold-weather run is all about layers. Specifically, three important ones: an inside layer that should be moisture wicking and lay tight against your body; a middle layer that should be insulating; and an outer layer that should be made of a weather-guard material. Make sure you choose some great cold-weather running tights, too!
5) Get better traction.
One of the biggest impediments to getting a good run in when it’s chilly outside is the fear of slipping on snow or ice. When you can’t land your feet properly without slipping, it not only puts you in danger, but hurts your form. Avoid injury and get the most out of your winter runs by adding Yak Tracks. or Nano spikes onto your shoes.For even better stability in the snow, you can buy screw kits at running stores; the screws themselves go into your to help improve traction in ultra-slippery conditions. Word to the wise, though: certain shoes with air or gel can be damaged when you put the screws in, so be sure to ask a professional at the running store to help.
6) Put Vaseline on exposed skin…
Surviving a winter run is all about staying safe and warm—and avoiding frostbite in the process! One of our favorite cold-weather running hacks involves that fabulous cure-all, Vaseline. In extremely cold temperatures, rub it on your nose, ears, and cheekbones. These areas are high spots on your face and can suffer frostbite more quickly; the Vaseline forms a natural barrier between you and the cold.
7)…or get maximum coverage with a balaclava.
Nope, we’re not talking baklava—although that’s one yummy dessert—we’re talking balaclavas. They’re wind-proof face masks that will seriously save your face, head and ears! So often when bundling up, we forget about the delicate skin on our face which can often get chilled from the wind. There’s nothing worse than wincing through that last mile because your face stings too much; stay covered up and warm with a balaclava.
8) Run with the wind at your back.
A substantial wind chill can turn a semi-cold day into a bone-chilling one. Try your best not to run into the wind, and if you have to, do it on the first half of your run. That way, the home stretch of your workout—when you’re more tired and sweaty—won’t be coupled with intense winds. Is there anything grosser than cold sweat freezing on your skin? Yeah, didn’t think so.
9) Wear reflective gear.
Less daylight in the winter means less visibility, especially in the morning or late afternoon. To make matters worse, most running clothes are black, meaning you need to make yourself more visible! Just because you see an oncoming car doesn’t mean they see you. Try and wear brighter colors to be seen or add some reflective gear or reflective tape to your outfit. Stay safe and warm this winter and you’ll become a better runner despite chilly temps.
Our FAVORITE winter running gear:
Tops & Tanks
This cute tank is the perfect layering piece for a chilly winter run. It comes in a wide variety of colors and is made of moisture wicking material, which is KEY for those winter workouts!
This Lucy wrap is the perfect post-workout layer to throw on between the gym and your car, your home, brunch, wherever you’re headed!
This sweatshirt is perfect for when it’s chilly and you need a warm layer, or when it’s freezing and you can throw a vest or jacket on top! Alo Yoga is one of our favorite brands at GHU and this top is not only totally functional, it’s adorable, too!
We ADORE this sherpa crew sweater by Alo Yoga! It’s the perfect post-workout throw-on item to keep you warm after exercise.
This Marika hooded top is perfect for getting your body moving outside this winter! It’s perfect on its own OR underneath a warmer layer.
This Marika hoodie, like the other one, is great for outdoor fitness in colder weather!
The classic Under Armour fitted mock neck is the best winter running top EVER. It’s thin but warm, moisture wicking, and layers underneath other warmer items super easily.
Similar to the Under Armour mock neck, this Nike Pro top is the perfect layering piece.
These Under Armour ColdGear leggings are the winter workout bottoms of your dreams. They’re geared specifically for you winter runners and will keep your limbs warm while you get your sweat on!
These Champion fleece tights are one of our favorite winter products! If you don’t own a pair of fleece leggings, what are you doing!?
These SweatyRocks joggers are super cute, super functional, and a stylish way to accessorize your winter workout.
Another pair of Under Armour ColdGear leggings made this list, the detailing on this pair being one of our favorite stylish features. The pants will keep you warm while you get in a quick workout and the stylish design will keep you looking great.
If you aren’t a huge leggings fan, maybe these Under Armour Knit Warm Up Pant are more your style! They’re warm, functional, and a great alternative to classic leggings.
These Nike Pro Warm Tights were specially designed to keep you warm while you get fit. They’ll protect you from those bitter cold days and allow you to get in the workout you really want!
Jackets & Outerwear
This Columbia full zip fleece is perfect for a chilly day that you want to be outside.
This RBX Active fleece lined running jacket will keep you warm during your run without weighing you down or causing you to overheat. It also layers perfectly under a warmer layer for those TRULY freezing days and nights.
This is the perfect outside layer for those truly FREEZING days and nights. Pile this on top of some other layers and you’ll still feel light enough to take on a serious workout.
This vest is the perfect way to keep your core warm while you get in a serious cardio workout outside and need a little extra boost of warmth.
Socks & Shoes
These Smartwool socks are going to be your best friend if you’re an avid outdoor hiker, runner, jogger, and the list goes on. They keep your feet warm and dry while you get your sweat on.
These Smartwool socks are going to be your best friend if you’re an avid outdoor hiker, runner, jogger, and the list goes on. They keep your feet warm and dry while you get your sweat on (and keep your ankles and lower calves warm, too!).
These leg warmers are great for anyone who tends to get super-chilled during an outdoor winter workout.
These Drymax cold weather run socks are PERFECT for your winter run. They keep your feet dry, warm, and ready to take on any distance.
If you plan to run where it’s icy and slippery, a pair of spikes, like these, add a ton of traction. Forget the fear of falling and your nightmares about slipping mid-run, these babies have you covered.
Similar to the spikes, these shoes have spikes included. If you don’t want to bother taking a set of cleats on and off every time you head out the door, these shoes are going to be your best friend.
A pair of touch screen gloves are perfect for any runner who wants to control their playlist mid-run. Tap away at your phone without having to take your gloves off!
A headband is a great accessory for any runner. A fleece headband, like this one, can keep your headphones in and your ears warm, allowing you to run in peace.
These earmuff headphones are a runner’s dream. Forget your headphones flying out of your freezing cold ears, now your ears are protected while your music plays!
If you’re going to hit the streets to get your workout in, you’ll quickly learn how important some neck protection is. Try a gaiter, like this Under Armour one, to keep heat in and wind out!
If you’re running outside this winter, you’re going to need some high quality gloves like these Champion ones!
If your shoes aren’t cutting it as far as insulation goes, try a wool insole like this one! Your shoes will hold in heat more effectively and allow you to run to your heart’s content without losing feeling in your toes.
To avoid getting wind burn or dried out skin on your next winter workout, try a Windproof Balaclava face mask like this one!
If you’ve gone on a walk, jog, or run (or really even STOOD) outside during a bitter cold day, you’re probably familiar with how dry your skin can end up feeling. We recommend Vaseline to lock in moisture, particularly on your lips.
One thing you need to beware of during winter: there’s WAY less sun than usual! Keep yourself safe on the road with an LED running arm band like this one.