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5 things not to do when running in the cold

Cold weather running

When the temperatures drop and you want to avoid the “dreadmill,” make sure you aren’t making any of these mistakes.


  1. Dress for the actual temperature.
    The rule of thumb is to dress as if it is 20 degrees warmer, according to Runner’s World. Of course you’ll want to adjust to your personal preferences, but here’s their general advice on layering:

    30 degrees: 2 tops, 1 bottom. Long-sleeve base layer and a vest keep your core warm. Tights (or shorts, for polar bears).
    10 to 20 degrees: 2 tops, 2 bottoms. A jacket over your base layer, and wind pants over the tights.
    0 to 10 degrees: 3 tops, 2 bottoms. Two tops (fleece for the cold-prone) and a jacket. Windbrief for the fellas.
    Minus 10 to 0 degrees: 3 tops, 2 bottoms, extra pair of mittens, 1 scarf wrapped around mouth or a balaclava.
    Minus 20 degrees: 3 tops, 3 bottoms, 2 extra pairs of mittens, 1 balaclava, sunglasses. Or, just stay inside.

  2. Forget about your feet.
    To keep warmth in and slush out, run in shoes that have the least amount of mesh. Most importantly, choose socks that wick away wetness to keep your feet warm. Swiftwicks retain less than .01% of their weight in moisture. The PURSUIT is made of Merino wool (the softest wool) and wicks away moisture like a boss.

  3. Run a really long course.
    In colder weather, it is much safer to choose shorter loop as opposed to longer trails. This ensures that you’ll never be far from home in the event of an extreme weather takeover or other emergency.

  4. Skip a warm-up.
    Warm-ups are especially important in the winter for two reasons: one, for literally warming up your body, and two, for preparing your body for the cold temperatures you’re about to face. Move around inside enough to get the blood flowing without breaking a sweat. Run up and down your stairs, use a jump rope, or do a few yoga sun salutations.

  5. Aim for a PR.
    Wintering running is more about maintenance than putting on the miles. Cold temperatures restrict blood flow, which can cause muscles to contract and even cramp. You may feel stiff and tight, especially as you begin a run, and if you try to force the pace, you may damage a muscle.
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