Cold Weather Running Tips for Newbie’s and Beginning Level Runners

By Rick Morris

Running is running. It really doesn’t matter what the weather is or where you’re running. The mechanics and basics of running are the same. But, weather can affect both the safety, effectiveness, efficiency and comfort of your run. As a new runner it’s important for you to make running part of your everyday routine. That means not letting anything keep you from your daily run, including the weather. One of the most commonly used reasons for skipping a run is cold and snowy weather. Don’t let the cold keep you from enjoying your daily workout. Here are some cold weather running tips for newbie’s and beginning runners.

Layer Up

It may seem like a good idea to grab a nice heavy coat when running in the cold. That’s a really bad idea. A single heavy layer will interfere with your range of motion and running stride, cause you to become overheated later in your run and turn you into a soggy sponge since your heavy coat probably doesn’t breathe very well. A better way to dress is in 2 or 3 layers. Your first layer should be a wicking layer that will pull moisture away from your body. High tech wicking fabrics made from recycled polyester is a good choice. Your second layer should be an insulating layer. Fleece or a similar fabric works well. Your final layer, if needed, should be a water proof or water resistant shell that will break the wind and keep you dry from the outside in.

Cold Start Up

It’s tempting to start your run in a nice, warm and cozy state. Yep, we all like to be warm and comfortable, but you should really be just a bit cold when you start your run. You will generate a lot of body heat when you get going. If you are comfortable when you start you will probably be overheated later in your run.

Put a Lid On It

A very high percentage of your body heat is lost through your head. So, don’t forget an insulating cap when you head out ( pun intended ) on a cold weather run. Don’t worry about hat hair, nobody will notice. If the weather is extremely cold you may want to opt for full face coverage with a balaclava.

Warm Hands, Warm Run

I’m a big fan of warm hands. I tend to wear running gloves even in mild winter temperatures. Some runners don’t like gloves because it is harder to work the buttons on their phone or music player. When the temperatures really plummet, go for the gloves and forget the phone buttons. A good pair of running gloves can mean the difference between an enjoyable run and a case of frostbitten finger tips.

Sticky Feet

Sometimes cold weather comes with icy roads and trails. If you are facing icy conditions, don’t run in your standard road running shoes. Go for the trail running shoes that have a more aggressive tread. There are even some shoes that have spikes for great traction on icy trails. If you don’t have any trail shoes I would suggest investing in some. The additional cost is offset by your avoidance of the ER.


Even the most aggressive running shoe tread won’t protect you from all icy or snowy conditions. Make sure you are running with very efficient running mechanics. Your foot plant should always be directly under your center of gravity. Over striding on icy trails is just asking for trouble. Also run with short, light and quick strides to avoid slips and falls.