Winter running has lots of challenges. What do you wear? How do you layer? What should you wear on your feet? How long should you run in the cold? Why do your lungs BURN?!?!
Yes, all those thoughts go through my mind when winter temperatures start gracing us in Nova Scotia. It usually only takes one run to (rudely) remind me of what piece of gear I was missing in order to make it a good run. I was recently asked what I wear on my runs to stay warm/safe. These are only my opinions, please share your tips in the comments.
Running in Winter in Eastern Canada
Keep Your Feet Happy
We can have lots of snow in the winter but our conditions are always changing. If the roads are clear (sidewalks included), I usually just wear my normal running sneakers. However, don’t expect them to last after the winter months as the salt from the roads can take a toll on them.
I also have a pair of “gator” liners that you wear like socks. They keep your feet extremely warm and dry if you have to run through slush. I feel like I’m putting on a wet suit for my feet.
Last year (or the year before), I invested in a really good pair of Yak Tracks for running on the snow and ice. Yes, sometimes we run on ice folks! You need some kind of traction under your sneakers for snow and ice, otherwise you’ll end up on your butt and/or injured. I’ve yet to try spikes in my sneakers but I plan to get a set to try out soon.
It’s never fun running with cold legs. I wear anything from running tights to thermal running tights. If it is extremely cold, I wear a wicking base layer (merino wool long underwear) under my thermal tights. My thighs get really cold in the winter and stay cold for hours after a run so I’ve got to layer up.
Keep Your Core Warm
I also have two options for my core. Right now (0c to -15c) I usually wear three layers. A thank top, a long sleeve base layer and then, a jacket. Any colder (think adding on windchill to those temps), I wear a long sleeved base layer, VEST for my core, then a jacket. I want to keep my core warm when I run.
I wear anything from a Buff to ski/neck warmer that covers up to my nose. Honestly, if I have to cover my face that badly during a run, I’m really pushing it and I should just get on my treadmill. I also wear my sunglasses as I find the when the sun hits the snow it can be blinding.
I wear a running hat and reflective gear. I have a pair of running gloves that I wear however, on really cold days I double up and wear a pair of mittens over top.
Some Tips & Tricks to a Good Winter Run
- Pee before you run. Your body tries to keep your urine warm, therefore heat is being taking away from your extremities (hands, feet). An empty bladder means warmer extremities. This is a winter camping trick that I use all the time.
- The first few km/miles of your run are going to be cold while you warm up. Keep running, it will get better. If it doesn’t, call it a day.
- Dress in enough layers but not too many – this can be tricky.
- Test out your run. Take your first kilometre close to home or where you park your car. That way, if you are still cold after 5-6 minutes, you can add on another layer.
- Cut your run short if you have to. No shame.
- Don’t worry about your pace, focus on just running.
So, here’s to lots of great winter runs, warm hands and feet and good km/miles in your running shoes!
What’s your best winter tip you have?
What’s your favourite piece of WINTER running gear?
What’s the coldest temps you’ll run in?
Quick conversions: +5C = 41F / 0C = 32 F / -5C = 23F / -10C = 32F / -15C = 5F