Running 101: How to Run Happy in the Winter

By Janelle @ Run With No Regrets | running tips

Feb 20

That’s right, Running 101 is back in session!  I have really enjoyed creating posts catered to beginners and offering tips to help maximize your experience as a new runner while providing some friendly reminders to the more experienced runners! 

I’ve previously shared the following Running 101 topics:

This month, let’s talk about running outside in the winter. Depending on where you live, you may be dealing with really cold temperatures and snow, wind, and ice. Believe it or not, you don’t have to completely hibernate this time of year. As long as you take the right safety precautions, you can continue to have some quality runs! Keep reading to learn more!

I’m linking up with Kim and Zenaida for Tuesday Topics,  DebbieMarc, and Rachel for the Running Coaches Corner, and Annmarie and Nicole for Wild Workout Wednesday!

It's COLD outside!  For this month's Running 101, I'm sharing tips on how to get out the door and have a great run this winter!  Find more tips at!

How to Run Happy in the Winter

The first thing to know about running outside in the winter is that it’s not that different from running any other time of the year. I’m serious! With that said, it’s important to take note of a few things this time of year, so I have a few tips to keep in mind!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Keep an Eye on the Forecast

When you’re running in the winter, it’s important to be strategic with your schedule. Try to be as flexible as possible and choose the days of the week with the “best” weather conditions to do your runs. I would prioritize runs in the following way:

  1. Long run – This is when you’re spending the most time out in the elements. Make it as manageable as possible!
  2. Speed work – If you need a track, flat terrain, or hills, it’s important to pick days where the weather isn’t too treacherous!
  3. Easy Run – This is where you have the most flexibility. If you have a few short runs, you can probably squeeze them in when the weather’s at its worse – within reason!

Wear Safety Gear When Running in the Dark

This is the time of year where it seems that you can’t avoid running in the dark, whether you prefer the mornings or the evenings. I’m a huge proponent of wearing bright clothing in the dark, in addition to a reflective vest and additional lights. It’s important that not only you can see, but that people (and animals) can see you!

Other things that you should consider keeping with you when running out in the dark and cold? A fully charged cell phone, protective gear like pepper spray, RoadID in the event of an emergency. I hate to say it, but you just never know what could happen…be as safe as possible!

Wear Clothes to Protect You From the Wind Chill…

I think the worst part of running in winter is all the bundling up that’s required to stay warm! It’s a tough balance to figure out as you’re warming up due to your exercise while also facing cold temperatures. A popular rule of thumb is that you should dress 20 degrees warmer than the actual temperature, but it’s not always that simple. If the wind chill is dangerously low, you have to be very careful and make sure that your skin isn’t exposed to frigid temps, otherwise you could be at risk for frostbite or worse.

You may also like:  10 Fabulous Running Tips for Beginners

Here are just a few pieces of gear that you have GOT to have once you really start running in the cold consistently:

  • GOOD running gloves/mittens. Splurge a bit to make sure your hands are protected! Handwarmers do help as well!
  • Windproof running jacket/insulated vest. It may seem counterintuitive but lightweight, not bulky, is the way to go!
  • Wool socks. These will keep your feet warm and dry! Never, ever wear cotton socks – take my word for it!

…But Don’t Wear Too Many Layers

Overdressing for a winter run is one of the worst things you can do. If you wear too many layers, you could overheat and start to sweat., and wet clothing and cold weather do not mix! Sometimes it’s tricky to know how much clothing you need to wear in the cold. Try to wear pieces that are easy to remove/readjust. And know your body: do you tend to “run hot” or “run cold”? This will help you to know how much or who little clothing you need. Sometimes if you’re running a longer run you can get away with wearing fewer layers. It all depends on your own body chemistry, so this may take some trial and error!

Avoid Icy Areas As Much As Possible

Ice is the worst! Sometimes when you think you’re just running in the snow, you’ll realize that there’s a lovely layer of ice underneath that can really impact your running gait and put you in danger of slips or falls. If you notice ice while on your running route, try to avoid it as much as possible, especially the dreaded black ice! Don’t be a hero…just walk around it if you have to. Many runners wear special “cleats” that can break through the ice, like Yaktrax, this time of year. I’ve never used them personally, but they get rave reviews! Just know that if you do buy Yaktrax, tread carefully and take your time!

Run with a Group or a Running Club

Philly Distance Runners

Let’s be honest – having the motivation to run in the cold can be a real challenge! Even the most dedicated runners need a kick in the pants sometimes, and having the accountability of a running partner or group can make a huge difference! Seek out your running friends if you need some motivation to get out the door. If you’re fortunate to have running clubs in your area, check their schedule (many have their own Facebook groups) and see if you can meet up with them. The weather always feels less miserable when you’re not alone!

tuesday topics

Have you been running outside this winter? What tips did I forget to mention?

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