questionsneed advice - running outdoors in cold weather?


Get a balaclava (to help with the cold dry air breathing thing), still stay hydrated, dress appropriately, socks man, socks, keep your feet warm and dry, more run-on sentencing, imagine a bear/wolverine/honey badger/NSA chasing you to keep you motivated.

Good luck!


Layers of clothing. Depending on how cold it is you might need a base layer, regular layer, outer layer. No cotton. Wool is fine. Tech gear is better for base layers though. Less scratchy and lighter. I get really hot really fast though so what I wear is probably a lot less than what most people would wear. Gloves go a long way toward making your run comfortable.

You cannot get sick from being outside in the cold. Illnesses are caused by viruses, not cold air. I don't run if there's ice on the roads, other than that you're good to go.


"Illnesses are caused by viruses, not cold air." Yes, this is true, however hypothermia can be caused by cold air.

By wearing many layers of clothing and running, you are greatly increasing your core body temperature. Your body begins to fight against this as it begins to lower your core body temp. You begin to sweat or you begin to take off too many layers. The trick is that, the OUTSIDE is still cold. When your body interacts with the cold outside and your activity begins to slow, your body continues to lose heat and cold begins to set in. This causes hypothermia.

Hypothermia can lead to several medical conditions and can can also lead to a lowering of the immune system. This can cause one to become sick, so in fact, the cold air can lead to sickness.

My advice, know your limits. Don't overextend yourself, especially in a cold environment. Everything becomes more difficult along with the terrain.


I run in the cold. I actually prefer it. Though not when it's less than about 15*. I wear shorts, a tech top and t-shirt; gloves if I'm feeling wimpy that day. I sweat more than anyone I've ever met ever and never had a problem with hypothermia. Sure it's there but I'm going to bet if you haven't been running long you won't be out there long enough to worry about it.


I only run when something's chasing me, but I do walk for exercise. I have found that the most important gear for me is gloves, the warmest I can find that have no fingertips and still let me use my hands. I walk with my dog and need to control the leash. Once I get warmed up I often take them off, so I keep a big safety pin on my shirt or jacket to attach them securely. But if my hands are stiff and cold and getting abraded by the leash at the start of my walk I am miserable and end up cutting it short. What I need the least is warmth on my legs. Since they are doing most of the work they keep themselves warm, although when I get back it takes some time for the flesh to warm up and not feel chill and odd.


When I cycle or hike in cold weather, I dress so that I am cold to begin, which motivates me to get my blood pumping.

And beware of ice on the ground, as it is slippery even when dry.


A balaclava is the best thing I got for myself to help with the cold weather running. As an asthmatic, I truly can't recommend that enough.

That said, I ran for about 4 miles this past February when it was 10 degrees out. That's absurd for me because 1) I've never excelled at cold weather running and 2) that's the furthest I've ever ran. The balaclava was the most crucial, but also I wore some Nike compression pants, shorts, a "heat-gear" type top layer, a moisture wicking shirt, a very light running jacket, FiveFingers & Injinji socks. The first mile was awful but once warmed up, it was pretty easy.

Oh, and hydrate yourself before the run. It's easy to underestimate how dehydrated you become as you're not sweating much but you are losing water when you're breathing.


@studerc: Hypothermia is caused by exposure. If you're sweating and wearing fabric that keeps you warm (think polartec, wool, what have you) you're very unlikely to develop hypothermia. Which is why I said, "no cotton" because it's easy to get hypothermia if you're wearing wet clothing that does not insulate. Which is what cotton does. Last year I was on a hike in Bastogne and crashed through the ice up to my knees. Had I been wearing a cotton pant and socks I would have probably lost some toes at the very least as I was still out in sub 32 degree weather for about four hours after my incident. I was wet, but still very warm.


You don't need to go crazy with layers and layers of gear to keep you warm. Unless it's below 30, I wear the same compression shorts/shorts/tech shirt that I do in the summer. On extremely cold days, I'll switch the shorts for windbreakers, wear sleeves, and bring a gaiter/balaclava.

A good rule of thumb when running is to add 30 degrees to the outside temperature to get your "feels like" once you get going. As was alluded to above, traction is more important than temp. Land a funny step from slipping on ice, and you could be done running for quite a while.


While I don't live somewhere cold, when I did 30 was usually my limit. I would run in the cold, in the rain, but not the cold with rain. Just didn't like it.

I didn't see a mention of what you meant by "cold".

I find I don't like having my face covered when I run so usually just deal with the cold when I get started...after 3 - 4 minutes my temp rises and I'm opening my jacket till I get cooled off, zipping and unzipping as time moves onward.

I've also found my run time gets better, sometimes by as much as 1.5 minutes per mile, with cooler temps - say below 60.


When winter sets in trade your running shoes for some cross country skis
Or grab some skates and hit the pond.
or some snow shoes for a hike. Heck, I've seen some run in them. I prefer the xc skis myself.


I splurged and bought underarmor stuff, and it works pretty well. I've gone for runs at around 10, 15F and been comfortable. Had long pants, long shirt, and started out with a hat and gloves. I had no issues.

Honestly, it's more of what's comfortable for you. I usually take off my hat and gloves at mile 2 or so (I usually go for anywhere from 5 - 8) and stuff them into my pockets, and have to roll up the sleeves on my long sleeve shirt.

I'd suggest tight fitting compression shirts, since those seem to help you retain warmth and not chafe when they're soaked with sweat. Since you'll be undergoing large temperature swings and sweating a lot, my #1 recommendation is tight fitting undergarments to help prevent chafing. I've never been so uncomfortable as not following my own advice after 8 miles.


@nmchapma: This is the correct answer. Running shorts and a tech shirt (no cotton..), gloves from time to time. I'll wear that down to about 20°; if it's colder, I'll wear an unlined windbreaker with no vent and taped seams. The windbreaker becomes like a greenhouse and traps in my own heat.

Try it out - if you're cold - run faster!


I run 365 days a year outside, ~50 miles a week. The only times I resort to running indoors is if it's life-threatening weather (like I might get hit by a car who can't see me because of a white-out).

I just wear a lot of layers, and bundle up. Sometimes, it's really hard to gauge, because you obviously heat up as you start running, so you might end up feeling too hot, even in cold weather. If you sweat too much, that moisture can freeze, and that's not good. So, I try to be on the verge of feeling a little cold when I go out.

Obviously, running in snow takes more out of you, and you have to be careful with ice.

I've started running longer distances now (half-marathon every Saturday), so this winter I might actually run indoors for my longest run, if it's really cold, to avoid frostbite. I've come back with a beard full of icicles before.


I don't do a ton of running these days, but when I was a kid I would do about 9 miles a day in the middle of winter in Colorado. My best advice is just don't go overboard with layers, you'll stay plenty warm just from the exercise. To be honest I just wore regular old sweatpants and a sweatshirt, but tech clothes have come a long way since then. Get stuff that wicks moisture and is flexible. I want to say polypropylene is best, but I don't know what the cool kids wear these days. If it's wind and rain in addition to simple cold, they have really nice wind and water resistant shells. If you buy a shell make sure it has some kind of vents so you don't get to hot.


Layering is good until you overheat. Under armours good to wear. I recommend running close to your home so around the neighborhood so if it gets too cold you can go home quickly. Wind chill is very cold so wear a jacket that's wind proof would be good


Run faster. Just kidding. Protecting head and chest area is key to avoiding hypothermia - invest in good gear to protect these two areas. Not sure what your budget is, but I would recommend SKINS product for thermal layer and Solomon shoes for running in the snow if that's your thing. Or just move down here to Texas - it's awesome running weather in the winter.


No you don't need to spent lots of money on cold weather running gear, although that stuff does last a long time. Your core actually warms up pretty quickly - it's your extremities that you should protect for. A hat or earmuffs, double layer of socks and some gloves will be invaluable.