How to Run in Cold Weather
Tips, gear, and goals to make the cold less torturous
Grab a few choice pieces of gear and maybe some choice words from athletes who don’t let the cold stop them (consider it tough love). Then haul yourself out the door like the unstoppable warrior you are.
Your Excuses, Our Solutions
Solutions to classic dodges
- “It’s dark”: At under two ounces, Black Diamond’s Ion headlamp ($25) won’t weigh you down—or bounce around while you run.
- “It’s so cold my gels are freezing”: Honey Stinger’s organic gingersnap waffles ($1.50) never freeze and taste like delicious candy.
- “There’s a foot of new snow on the ground”: Go skiing! Not possible? Inov-8’s Race Ultra gaiters ($27) weigh less than 20 grams and fit practically any shoe.
- “I’m worried I’ll slip on the ice”: Hillsound’s Trail crampons ($60) weigh just 17 ounces and have a wide heel plate for extra stability.
Take a (Somewhat) Warm-Weather Training Camp
Tips for more tolerable winter training, no matter where you live
- Joe Jackson (Outside Online’s Gear Guy; Ashland, Oregon): “In the Pacific Northwest, you have to embrace the wetness year-round. I still haven’t been able to find a truly breathable waterproof running jacket, so I just get soaking wet. When I’m done, I take a really hot shower and drink ten cups of coffee.”
- Ryan Hall (Marathoner; Flagstaff, Arizona): “When the roads are icy, I stay on dirt as much as I can. I’m more afraid of cars hitting me than I am of slipping.”
- John Hart (Average guy; Missoula, Montana): “Get out in the middle of the day and get some sunshine on your face and some vitamin D in your body. Even if it’s cloudy, the daylight is good and you can see the path in front of you.”
- Jenn Shelton (Ultramarathoner; Durango, Colorado): “Ski mountaineering—that’s what all the best runners in Durango do. It allows you to climb big mountains, get some altitude, and not pound your legs.”
- Bernd Heinrich (Author of Why We Run, Western Maine): “Dress warm and walk out the door. That’s it.”
If You’re a Guy… Score Yourself Some Wind Briefs
They’re called the screaming barfies, because the symptoms hurt so bad that you want to scream and barf at the same time. The ailment is experienced most often by ice climbers, when blood flow returns to extremities so cold they’ve gone numb. The pain can be sufficiently intense to trigger an emetic response. (Seriously, Google it.) Medical experts agree that it’s nearly impossible for this to happen to your man bits, but I’m not taking any chances. Nor should you. If you regularly run in single-digit temperatures, invest in a pair of windproof boxers, like SmartWool’s PhD NTS Light 195 Wind boxer-briefs ($60). Actually, make it two pairs. —Sam Moulton