Running in winter: How to prepare and what to look out for?

Cold wind, low temperatures, fast falling darkness, slippery surface, all this can reduce the desire to keep running in winter. But those aren’t reasons that should discourage you from continuing your racing routine. There will be days when the weather is really impossible to run outside but then you can do a workout at the fitness center, you can run on a treadmill, ride a stationary bike, exercise on elliptical trainers, paddle on an ergometer or do some strength training.

If you have the ability, you can also run on a treadmill but for everyone else there is a classic outdoor run. Running in the cold may require a little more courage, but it also has its advantages:

  • The body produces heat when exerted, so running in cold weather can be less difficult and dangerous than running in warm weather
  • It can strengthen the immune system if carried out regularly and in moderation
  • The body consumes more calories to regulate body temperature
  • A cold environment stimulates fat metabolism, thus improving body composition
  • Due to the unpredictability of the surface (mud, water, ice, snow, ..) improves agility and eye-foot coordination

Training at very low temperatures can damage your health, so it is very important that, if necessary, you correct your training and avoid health problems. Problems that may arise:

  • Hypothermia and frostbite – humidity and cold wind increase the possibility of frostbite and a drop in body temperature. Both injuries are rare and can be avoided by proper dressing.
  • Dehydration – Too little fluid intake while running in winter is a very common problem. Fluid is lost especially if we are overheated (by sweating) and breathing dry cold air.
  • Bronchial problems – Breathing cold air in some people can cause bronchial problems. Protect yourself with a scarf over your nose and mouth, and drink fluids to keep your mouth dry.

How to dress for running in the cold?

Pay attention to the material of your clothes: bypass the cotton in a wide arc because it retains moisture, choose a material that removes moisture from the body to stay dry.

Don’t dress too much: if you overdo it with your clothes, you will sweat too much while running, you will be wet and you will eventually get cold, especially if the wind is blowing. The advice is to dress like it’s about 6 degrees warmer outside before running.

Dress in layers – the layers should be made of a material that does not retain moisture, as you warm up by running, you can remove the layers and vice versa.

Protect your head and palms – a large percentage of body heat is lost over the head. Protection of the head, ears, palms protects you from external elements: wind, rain, snow.

Don’t forget your feet – avoid cotton socks because they retain moisture, get winter running shoes (gore-tex, aquamax, ..) with a suitable base that is adapted for winter soil.


4 to 15 degrees – Mostly one layer of clothing, long or short, is sufficient. Short leggings or shorts.

-4 to 4 degrees – Two layers of clothing. Tight long-sleeved T-shirt, then over it another layer that can be a windproof jacket. Thin or medium-thick leggings.

-4 down – It is recommended to dress in three layers. The third layer should be wind and water tight, preferably to “breathe”.

Avoid cotton materials

It is important to prevent cold air from reaching the body, but still remove excess moisture. Therefore, it is wise to pay attention to the material you are wearing. Feel free to avoid cotton because it retains moisture. This also applies to cotton socks. You will be wet and eventually you will get cold. Artificial materials are recommended, in order to retain much-needed heat in the muscles.

Thin, quick-drying synthetic materials come into play, with the usual dryfit or coolmax labels. The second layer can be another thin or slightly thicker T-shirt, depending on the temperature. For colder days, light fleece or anything with the marks termaflis, termax, mikroflis or dryline is good. The last layer should be chosen in relation to the current conditions.

Put on a hat and wear gloves

The head and palms must also be protected from precipitation such as rain, snow, but also wind that dries the skin. As much as 40 percent of the temperature is lost over the head and the hat is an indispensable winter racing prop.

It is wise to apply a protective cream to your hands and face, and a lip protection product to your lips.

Wear custom sneakers

Since they are mostly slippery in winter, choose winter running shoes that are adapted to the winter ground. If you choose to run late in the afternoon or early evening, make sure you wear bright colors or other visible markings on your gear that are a necessary part of winter running.

Prevent injuries by warming up well

Due to the large differences in the temperature of the outdoor and indoor space in which we stay, it is important to warm up well before training to prepare the muscles and supply them with oxygen, improve blood flow and thus reduce the chance of injury. Otherwise, we risk sprains and other injuries.

Fast and sudden movements, jumps, sprints should be avoided. Warming up before training should be done indoors so as not to prepare the body for the shock of a sudden transition to an external low temperature.

Also remember to give your body proper rest to avoid running fatigue.

Pay attention to slippery terrain

Running on untrodden but not deep snow is a safe option. There is a possibility of icing on the road so you should run shorter steps for stability. Because it is a different step, meaning a different type of load, there is a greater chance of injury.

But if we lose the constant in training, one day due to an injury, the mileage will drop to zero, and immediately after that almost all other aspects of life. Therefore, run slowly and carefully during the winter, and when spring arrives you will be in top shape.

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