What To Wear When Running In The Cold

As the weather changes and the temperature drops, it can be difficult to know the appropriate clothing to wear when running outside.

The initial few minutes of your run in the cold outdoors can feel unbearable but as you get your body moving, you’ll get warmer and even begin to sweat to the point where you’ll want to remove a layer to be more comfortable.

So what should you wear when running in the cold?

We’ll be answering this question and also giving you the low down on some of the best tips to stay comfortable when running in cold weather.

Is It Safe To Run In The Cold?

No, as long as you dress appropriately for your run, your body will heat up as you begin running and protect you against the cold. However, wearing too many layers may result in you overheating so wearing the correct running clothing will help regulate your body temperature and keep you safe. 

Not wearing enough layers outside while running could lead to you developing hypothermia or frostbite so make sure to wear enough to keep you warm. 

Once you stop running your body will quickly cool down and if you’ve been sweating a lot, the cold weather can cause it to evaporate quickly causing you to feel very chilled. So try to minimize your cool down after your run and return to the warm as soon as possible. 

Running in extremely cold temperatures can put your body at risk though, as cold air can be bad for your lungs because it’s dry and leads to coughing and shortness of breath. 

Cold weather can result in ice on the ground and if your running route is on a busy road, then this could increase the risk of a vehicle sliding and hitting you, so try to stick to running trails or the sidewalk to keep yourself safe. 

Cold winter weather also means long nights, so make sure you’re wearing reflective clothing when running when the sun has gone down, this will allow drivers or cyclists to be able to spot you so they don’t run into you. 

How Cold Is Too Cold To Run?

Once the temperature hits below zero, you should avoid running outside altogether as this will be dangerous for your health and also your safety.

However, people’s tolerances may be different and what might be too cold for someone might be tolerable for someone else. 

Chances are if temperatures are freezing, your running route will also be frozen and there could be a chance of black ice and you incurring an injury, especially if you’re running at night. 

If there is snow or ice on the ground, then you should not go out for a run as the lack of traction will almost certainly result in you slipping or getting into an accident. 

Many people who don’t fare well in cold weather may turn to their treadmill during the winter period to keep up their fitness, therefore you won’t have to worry about cold weather preventing you from progressing with your running. 

What To Wear When Running In The Cold

As we mentioned your body will begin to heat up as you run meaning your running temperature will be more than the outside temperature. Therefore a rule of thumb should be to add 10 degrees to the outside temperature to find out how you should dress.

However, this could also depend on the length of your run, your running pace, how quickly you warm up, and if you’re someone who feels the cold.

When looking at the outside temperature you’ll be running in, look into the windchill as this will make the temperature feel colder than it is, so you’ll need to dress for that temperature and add 10-20 degrees depending on your run distance/pace. 

As a general idea, here’s what is recommended to wear based on the running temperature (outside temp + 10 degrees) to keep you comfortable.

0-9°F – Two-layered shirts, a windbreaker/jacket, winter running tights or trousers, hat/headband, mittens, and warm running socks

10-19°F – Two-layered shirts, winter running tights/leggings, mittens, hat, a windbreaker, and running socks

20-29°F – A long sleeve shirt (or jacket) and a short-sleeve shirt, running tights/leggings, lighter gloves, and a headband to cover your ears

30-39°F – A long sleeve shirt, shorts or tights (your choice), gloves, and a headband

40-49°F – A long sleeve shirt, shorts or tights and you can choose to wear a headband and gloves if you feel the cold

50+°F- A short sleeve shirt/tank top and shorts 

Layers are an integral part of cold weather running as you can easily control your internal temperature as you can remove a layer if you get too warm. 

Ensure all your running gear is moisture-wicking to remove the sweat from your body as quickly as possible so you don’t get a chill from the cold air. 

Tips For Running In Cold Weather

  • Plan your run so you start with running into the wind and finish with the wind running at your back so you don’t get a chill when you’re all sweaty
  • Whether it’s rain, snow, or slush, make sure you wear shoes with as little mesh as possible to keep the water out and keep your feet warm
  • If the cold weather can hinder your running schedule, why don’t you try warming up indoors by jumping rope or running up and down some stairs to warm up your body so stepping outside in the cold to begin your run won’t feel so bad
  • When you return from your run, shower and change into fresh clothes as quick as you can to avoid catching a chill
  • If you’re running in extremely cold temperatures, it may be good for you to have a warm drink or a cup of soup to warm your body back up after being exposed to cold air for so long