How Not to Freeze While Running in Winter

How Not to Freeze While Running in Winter
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Wondering how not to freeze while still running in winter?

The weather can be frighteningly cold and unbearable to some, but to others it can be a challenge to overcome. Running in winter is more than just getting a great workout, it is being able to take in the great outdoors and to keep up with your running goals. Do not shy away from winter, but embrace it and learn how not to freeze while running in the cold.


Dress In Layers

Running in winter is about layering with purpose to protect your body from the cold. Your body will start to heat up as you run, which is why it is important to dress as if the temperature was about 20 degrees above what it is outside.

Not freezing in winter is knowing how to adequately prepare yourself with a good amount of layers. Invest in material that wicks away moisture to keep your body well insulated and dry. Merino wool or synthetic fiber blends are a great way to keep your body warm enough to handle the winter cold. It is essential to dress in three important layers. The first being your base layer, the second your insulating layer, and the third is your outer shell.


The base layer should be snugly close to your skin to avoid any pockets of cold air or a gust of wind. The insulating layer should be your warmest layer that provides insulation, warmth, and sticks close to your body. The outer shell is meant to protect your from the wind, rain, snow, sleet, and whatever else the weather decides to throw at you.

Protect Your Extremities

You lose heat quickly through your feet, hands, and head. When you can keep your extremities protected from the cold, you will have an easier time handling the cold. For your head, wear a headband or hat that is insulated and still wicks away moisture. Your hands should be covered in gloves, or insulated mittens that keep your fingers from fighting the cold.

Make sure you have warm socks that are made of wool or warm synthetic fibre blends to keep your feet from going numb in the cold. Investing in shoes that are designed for winter can also be helpful in keeping out unwanted moisture like snow. If you rather keep running in your same shoes all year long, consider doubling up on socks.

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Protecting your extremities also involves properly covering your face. Wearing a balaclava or a scarf wrapped around your head can be helpful in keeping your face from freezing against the wind or freezing temperatures. Cover your body well with insulating layers, and find a good balance of layering with the changes in weather that works for you.

Warm Up Before You Go

The first few minutes of running outside during winter can seem a little unbearable. To avoid the initial chill, warm up before you head out for a run. Do jumping jacks, high knees, or squats to raise your core temperature. If you are slightly sweaty before you head out the door, then you can avoid the initial cold when first heading outside.

Warming up before you go also helps you maintain a healthy core temperature. Your core temperature is important for keeping your body alert and aware as you run. If your core temperature begins to drop, you may find yourself confused and potentially in the early stages of hypothermia. Know how to get your core warm before you run outside during winter so you can keep your body healthy.


Be mindful of the nutrition you take in before attempting winter running. Your body burns off needed energy to keep up your stamina, so take in the needed complex carbohydrates to run with more generation of warmth and energy.

Know When it is Too Cold

You can be a winter warrior, but know when it is too cold to be outside. If the wind is blowing snow around the air and it is hard to see, then it may be a good idea to stay inside. Everyone has their own freezing point, but be mindful when conditions are dangerous. Consider running on an indoor track or trying out the treadmill until the weather calms down.

Be aware of any potentially hazardous road conditions. If you are used to running on the shoulder of a road, it may not be possible if you live in a snowy environment. Plowed roads tend to pile up the snow on the side, which can make it impossible to run on. Know your routes, stick close to home, and always be safe while running.


Embrace the Winter Wonderland

Running in the winter is truly about embracing the winter wonderland for what it is. It is not always pleasant to run outside when it is below freezing, but it is possible. With the right layers and warming up before you head outside, you will be more than ready to take on the freezing temperatures of winter.

Take on the status of a winter warrior and do not be afraid to run outside. If you train hard during the winter, you will reap the rewards when spring comes around the corner. All through winter training, you can be confident that your running days in the cold will help you build faster and more efficient times.

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Protect yourself from the cold, embrace winter for what it is, and train hard all year long. 

Bethany Widdicombe

Bethany Widdicombe

Bethany Widdicombe is a runner at heart, a researcher by nature, and a writer by passion. Having traveled across the world, she continues to be an advocate for awareness and knowledge that empowers people to a better life. You can now find her running out on the trail, or nestled away writing her next article.

Portland, OR