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11 Winter Running Tips

When the colder months roll in, it’s harder to get hyped about running. Runners often have a love/hate relationship with the winter months. We love the sense of accomplishment we feel when it’s over, however we dislike the anticipation of actually getting out there in the bitter temps. So how can you become a happier winter runner? These 11 winter running tips will get you hyped up to layer up!

By Cotopaxi Ambassador Kristin Wuhrman

When the colder months roll in, it’s harder to get hyped about running. Runners often have a love/hate relationship with the winter months. We love the sense of accomplishment we feel when it’s over, however we dislike the anticipation of actually getting out there in the bitter temps. So how can you become a happier winter runner? These 11 winter running tips will get you hyped up to layer up!

11 Winter Running Tips

11 Winter Running Tips

1. The roads will be less crowded

Think back to how busy it was during the warmer weather. Now you can run wild, add some variety to your routes, mix up your terrain and enjoy owning the roads, trail or paths. Create a playlist with upbeat tunes – you can even dance if you want to!

2. Achieve a goal

Set winter running goals and write them on sticky notes –whether it’s signing up for a race, training for something, or staying in shape, these little powers of encouragement can be the extra push you need.

3. Boost your immunity

Regular cold-weather running boosts the immune system, and a strong immune system is your best defense against winter colds and flu. An Iowa University report showed that 45 minutes of running per day reduces the risk of contracting the flu during winter months. Also, the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research found that winter workouts could cut your flu risk by 20 – 30%.

4. You will run faster

Running on a cold day is optimal running weather. It can actually be less taxing on your body than running in the heat, because your body doesn’t have to work as hard to cool down. This helps increase performance and energy. Also, running in colder weather strengthens the heart, lungs and circulatory system, which improves overall health while training your body to use oxygen more efficiently. According to a Northern Arizona University study, adding regular cold weather workouts can improve running speeds by 29%

5. You’ll feel hardcore

Not everyone runs when it’s cold outside! If you need confirmation that you are tough, this is it! Hi 5-fist pump. You are officially a running bad ass. Tell yourself that every car that passes you is impressed by your spunk.

6. Winter running layers are fun

Layer up the correct way and invest in quality winter running gear. Extra clothing keeps your muscles warm. Tip: try warming up your clothes in the dryer for 5 minutes before you put them on. This will make getting dressed and lacing up your shoes a bit easier. Here is a fun tool from Runner’s World to help you select your layers based on the temperature and conditions.

Some tips on what to wear:

  • Dress as if it’s 10-20 degrees warmer than the actual temp outside.
  • Cover skin as much as possible since your body will lose the majority of its heat through exposed skin.
  • Dress in layers. This helps trap warm air between each layer keeping you much warmer than if you dressed in one heavy layer.
  • Wear the right fabrics, such as synthetic blends. They wick moisture away from your body and keep you as warm as possible. Avoid cotton because it soaks up sweat, leaving you cold, wet and uncomfortable.
  • Wear a waterproof/water resistant shell to block wind and precipitation.

7. Have a warm reward

Enjoy something warm for your post-run nutrition, like a mug of hot matcha tea with steel cut oats. Also, sitting by the fire or enjoying a hot bath/shower will warm the sole.

8. Celebrate your runs:

Write about it! Keep a journal, share on social media or blog. Everyone likes motivation around health and fitness.

9. Higher calorie burn and more energy

It’s not only called upon to burn calories and fat to produce enough energy to support your workout, but it needs to burn even more to keep you warm out there. This speeds metabolism and provides more energy, which helps you to stay sharp and focused throughout your day.

10. Be grateful and embrace it

Be thankful that you can run and you get to run. There are many people that would love to run even a half-mile, but are unable to due to an illness or injury. Appreciate what nature gives us and enjoy all seasons as a runner.

11. The best medicine for the winter blues

Research has shown that running in the winter can actually reduce symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) caused by the decreased number of daylight hours. Try to run in daylight – it will increase your exposure to sunlight, which ups your body’s ability to produce Vitamin D. Also, running releases those feel good hormones that trigger the release of dopamine and serotonin, while decreasing anxiety and warding off depression – all of which significantly elevate mood.


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