Running In The Cold

If you are new to RER, let me fill you in on my life – Last year I moved to Maryland for a reporting job. I was born and raised in Southern California and my ancestors are Californios. The most important thing to note here is: I don’t like to be cold.

Anyways, last year Maryland had a super cold, snowy winter and I had a marathon planned for January. It was a bad combination – but I had to find a way to work through it. It was very very hard for me and I did cut my training short a lot (which I believe is part of the reason I got injured).

(Fun post from the past: 6 Signs You’re Not In CA Anymore)

Because of the freezing weather and snow I learned how to dress to run in the cold. I didn’t even own the right running gear and had to start from scratch.

If it’s not that cold I wear capris, a long sleeve dry-tec pull over, gloves (I cannot find one!), and ear covers. This worked through October and some of November for me. monica semi-cold

But, once it got cold COLD I layer it up expertly…

I wear long running tights or pants (whatever you want to call them). I got my pair from Target. They are thicker than my capris. And them I pull wool socks over them. When it got colder I would wear 2 pairs of socks. They barely fit in my shoe.wool socks

On top I would layer a sports bra (or 2), wick-wear tee, long sleeve and either a thick pull over or a waterproof windbreaker type jacket if it was windy, rainy or snowing.

Yes. I ran in the snow.

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. This was a picture of the outside of our apartment after one of the many snow storms: snow pile

I did NOT run this day. Or the day after.Ben  in MD snow

I also would wear at neck gaiter to keep any skin on my neck from being exposed. neck gaiter

At first it was weird, but after a while I got used to layering up for a run. It made me feel hardcore to face the elements.

monica thinks she's cool

I really liked wearing a vest because it kept my core warm, but still enabled my arms to swing. I got this one from Old Navy years ago.

running vestTips for Running in the Cold:

1. Make sure you still have a sweat wicking layer closest to your body. Once the air hits your sweat you will get colder. Then, add layers according to the weather and elements. If it’s raining make sure you have a waterproof outside layer – but something that is made for running and has vents is ideal.

2. Your extremities will get cold and hurt if they are too cold. Make sure your hands, head and feet are well covered.

3. Check the weather report. I never had to do this living in SoCal, but I had too change my training according to the weather in Maryland.

4. BE CAREFUL. Running outside are rain or snow means the ground is very slippery. You are not helping yourself by falling and risking injury. If it’s slippery, slow down, walk or head inside to a treadmill.

5. Accept that the weather will interfere with some training and be flexible. At first it was hard for me to skip runs because of the weather, but it was probably the smarter choice so I lived to run another day and still love it Smile 

6. Be Careful again. Snow fall stifles sound and not many people are out there running with you –which could mean you’re out by yourself and cannot hear someone creeping up on you. Stay alert and keep your safety in mind.

Good luck to everyone braving the elements to run or walk or exercise. It’s not easy to get out of bed when it’s cold let alone stay active. Be proud of what you can accomplish.

Question: Do you have any cold weather survival tips to share?


  1. says

    You are one dedicated runner. My idea of cold-weather exercise tips are to make sure you don’t get to the gym more than ten minutes before they open so you’re not standing in the cold for too long! If it’s below 40 degrees, I’m inside!!

  2. says

    I’ve been in much the same situation lately as you described from last winter. I live in Alaska, so we get lots of snow (and ice), and I’ve been busy training for my first marathon next weekend in Vegas.

    Two things I would add to your list:
    – Start out a little on the cold side. Yes, layering is good, but you don’t want to layer up so much that you get too hot. As soon as you get moving, you will warm up quite a bit, so you actually want to be sure to start out a little on the cold side so you don’t get too hot and sweaty out in the cold, which can lead to hypothermia.
    – If there’s any ice out, wear some sort of ice cleats like Yak Trax. I was a little skeptical about this at first, but they actually work out really well, and aren’t too awkward to run in. And I can run with confidence, without having to worry about slipping.

  3. says

    You are braver than me! I’d probably never attempt running in the snow. I can’t handle the cold either. When I lost all my weight I found that cold weather affects me way more than when I was 250 pounds!

  4. says

    Don’t underestimate how cold you’ll be. I sweat a lot (like a 400-pound man, I always say), and I hate being so hot, but I had to break out all the layers this weekend, including a heavy-ish fleece, thin long johns under my pants, a hat, and gloves. Was I sweaty? Sure, especially under the hat. But when I took a walking break, I noticed how cold it was, and it would’ve sucked to not have those layers.

    Also: Watch out for icy spots. Disaster waiting to happen!

  5. says

    i don’t like the cold and i’m a native new englander! i NEED to make sure that i bundle up with gloves otherwise it’s going to be quite the painful thawing out process

  6. says

    Great tips! Ran in 29 degrees yesterday! Yikes – this will be my first winter running so I’m still figuring the layering thing out. My one tip is you should still be a little chilly when you head out – if you layer too much you’ll overheat once you get moving!

  7. says

    You have some good timing, Monica! I’m about to head into my first running-outside-on-a-regular-basic winter. I just cannot stick to the treadmill for that many months- even when it’s really cold and snowy outside!

  8. says

    I am a baby when it comes to cold weather running. Most winters I take my running inside the treadmill. This year I’m trying to do a few outside every week b/c I’m marathon training and the treadmill just doesn’t cut it. Your tips are great!

  9. says

    LOL…This is just what I needed to get ready for this winter. I started running in April of 2010 so I haven’t tried running in the MD fall/winter. I did a turkey trot Thursday and due to the rain and the terrain…I busted my butt four times…the wet leaves on hills got me..and a lot of other people as well…I am slowly building my winter running gear…while I am running I’ll be thinking of sunny CA weather:)

  10. Kianni says

    When the newscasters here in Los Angeles complain about how cold it is constantly at 4:30 in the morning, I just wonder how they’d react if they actually lived in a COLD part of the US. I run at 5 in the morning, so I just wear my jacket out to where I start my run, take it off and start running with my sleeveless shirt. I’d rather suck up the cold on the walk over their than end up being too hot (I HATE feeling steamy and sweaty with a jacket on. Otherwise I’m fine with sweating) Don’t feel the cold once I start running…well except my hands. Which I usually can’t feel until I get back home. XP

  11. says

    The worst thing for me is my chest! When it gets really cold I feel like my lungs are going to explode. I have to really focus on breathing through my nose.

  12. says

    I have totally been avoiding running because of this. I don’t own any proper cold weather running gear. (Not that it’s THAT cold in So. Cal but it also kind of is and I’m a big baby.) I need to find $$$ or cheap running clothes.

  13. says

    Walking out the door is the worst part – it gets better from there! Plus bring your clothes with you into the bathroom when you shower, you won’t want to walk out to your bedroom in a towel. Getting ready for another winter in MD, a little jealous of your SOcal weather!

  14. says

    I live in a cold place (Estonia) and have been for a few runs in below-freezing temps over the past week. I agree with the previous commenter– walking out the door is the hardest part! I’m always so scared of how cold it is, but after 5 minutes of running I’m warmed up and I feel great (provided it’s not windy… I hate running in the wind!). I also just wanted to say it’s surprising how much traction running shoes have on snowy and icy surfaces. I slip much less while running than I do walking around in boots.

  15. Wazzup says

    Ah, a neck gaiter.. that’s whats missing from my wardrobe.. that will help to prevent my chin from getting numb next time I go out for a long run when it’s freezing.

  16. Glenn Jones says

    My cold weather tip? Live in Southern California! I used to travel quite a bit and the best part of being in the East or Midwest during the winter was that J knew I was going back tk Southern California!

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