Friday Five: Cold Weather Running Tips

Hi everyone!  I’m excited to join up for this week’s Friday Five with Courtney, Mar, and Cynthia!  This week’s topic is Cold Weather Running Tips.  And since I live in Alaska now I should be a pro at this, right?  Um, nope.  It has been colder and snowier all over the Lower 48 this week than in Anchorage and most of Alaska.  Do you know what it’s like to watch people in Philly post about snow when you’re just dying for it up here and it’s not coming?!?!  Why is the snow in the mountains melting?  On a serious note, Anchorage is traditionally the 6th snowiest city in the US (was 17th last year, Philly got more snow) BUT it’s the second coldest city in the US (after Minneapolis).  And even though last week I posted a cry for help with winter running, I do have some pretty good experience with cold weather running!  So I’m excited to share some cold weather running tips with you that have helped me in the past (but I’m always looking for more gear suggestions too!).


1.  Cover up!  This one sometimes takes trial and error, but layers are your friend and you always want to be prepared.  If it’s below freezing I wear fleece-lined tights and a fleece-lined shirt.  I also wear gloves and an ear warmer because without those I am seriously cold.  Depending on wind conditions I’ll wear my Buff or running scarf.  Sometimes it’s nice to have that extra layer around my neck and helps me breathe better!  You can always take stuff off, so I bring all of my layers and once I have an idea of what will work I leave extra ones in the car.  You want to dress like it’s 20 degrees warmer but still be safe from the wind and snow!

IMG_3337Taken a few weeks ago when we still had snowy patches on the trails.

2.  Get traction.  If it’s icy or snowy, running gets significantly harder but also more fun.  Last year I used YakTrax Run shoe covers, and I LOVED them!  They don’t work on trails that are only half covered in ice because they’ll break on regular surfaces, but I was able to maintain a good speed while running on really slippery stuff.  This year I got my Mizunos studded so I’ll have to see how that compares!


3.  Be more safety aware than usual.  Less people are out running in the cold, and there’s also the added dangers of slippery roads and low temps that can seriously mess with a runner.  If you run alone like me, make sure it’s on a frequently used trail or road, that you tell someone where you’re going, and that you bring your phone AND an alternate form of ID.  My phone dies quickly in the cold so a backup ID option is good (how can I help my phone not do this?).  Also, this is not the time to recreate a badass Pinterest quote.  If it’s crazy outside and you’re scared to go out, don’t do it.  You can always run later (or tomorrow) but if something happens it’s just not worth it.

20131215-215726.jpgRunning on Forbidden Drive in Philly – it’s always busy (just not in this picture!)

4.  Embrace the snow.  It’s so beautiful and peaceful on a snowy trail.  There’s just something about running through the snowy woods that makes me incredibly happy.  Sure, my toes are wet and I’m using muscles my body never uses, but it’s such a unique way to get outside in the winter.  Also, you never know when a race will be snowy and you’ll need to have snow-running skills to do well!

20131107-083717.jpgThis was my first five miler back in 2012 – and my first run in the snow!   I was terrified I was going to wipe out!

5.  Have a post-run warmup plan.  I always keep an extra blanket in my car at all times, as well as a dry towel and extra clothes (hoodie, dry sports bra, long sleeved shirt, sweatpants, and dry socks and shoes) in my car whenever I drive to a running trail in the winter.  I’ve had to use these more than once and I’ve been so grateful that I could get warmer quickly, especially in the few situations where I was feeling really rough.  The best post-run warmup plan?  A cup of hot chocolate and a hot shower.  It makes it all worth it  🙂

20140105-225253.jpgRunning in Valley Forge National Historic Park last February!

Are you a winter runner?  What’s your number one tip for staying warm?

25 thoughts on “Friday Five: Cold Weather Running Tips

  1. Great idea to leave extra gear in your car. I only have a few really cold days for running here in NC, but actually my race in Richmond tomorrow will start in the 20’s….Brrrrrr

    1. I hope your race went well! Running races in the cold always makes me worry a bit, but I’d rather be too cold than too hot!

    1. Oooh I never did hot beverages right away! Now that I’m a short drive back to my apartment I should have to worry so much, but last year I would drive a half hour to go to my long run trails and I would freeze if I didn’t change clothes!

  2. This is such great advice! I can’t believe there was more snow in Philly than Anchorage, wow that’s depressing lol. Yak Traks look really cool, I’ve been wondering if they’re worth the purchase.

    Love your pic of Forbidden Drive! I’ve fallen in love with it this year, can’t wait to run it this winter!

    1. Yay! That trail is super fun in all seasons, but it’s so pretty in the snow AND it lighted so you can run even when the sun is setting! I do like my YakTrax but like I said, you can only wear them in ice and snow or they’ll break. That was tough sometimes last year when parts of every trail were starting to melt! I got mine on sale last year on Black Friday so if you find a good deal I say go for it!

  3. Great tip to leave dry clothes and a blanket in the car. Best part of winter running is having the trails to yourself as less people are running outside.

    1. So true! And when you see another person you do the runner head nod because both of you were crazy enough to be outside 🙂 So excited for snowy running to hopefully come soon!

    1. I hope! It’s way too warm here for snow right now and it’s kind of depressing because we should have been getting snow since October. I moved here for snow, where is it!

  4. Last winter was my first winter running and while I thought I was crazy the couple times I went for a run in the snow, it really was beautiful and peaceful. I loved that part of it though I don’t think I’ll ever embrace the cold 🙂

    1. So true! The cold is what gets me, but the snow is enough to make it worth it. Lately when I run in the woods I’ve been thinking about how pretty it will be once it starts snowing!

  5. I didn’t embrace winter running last year (I wimped out and did most of my running on the treadmill), but I’m going to really try to push myself outside of my comfort zone this year. I really want to enjoy the peacefulness and beauty of running in the snow!

    1. It’s soooooo hard getting out the door, but once you’re like 5 minutes into your run you’ll be loving it! It’s so pretty in the snow!

    1. Honestly the worst part of winter running for me was the drive home afterwards – halfway home I would start to get really cold and shiver like crazy until I got out of my clothes at home. Changing right after my run helped a lot! Sometimes I had to change in my car and I have a huge blanket that I keep in there so I just threw it over myself and changed under it. It worked really well!

  6. Great list. I’m curious how the studded shoes would feel. Winter here can be hit or miss of whether or not the weather would need it. Definitely would be smart / nice to have for when it does.

  7. I have lived in Utah and now live in Seattle and I can’t imagine running in the winter in Alaska! I have only been to Alaska once, to snowboard at Alyeska and wow! It was freezing cold… and dark. Way to go getting out in the cold up there!

    1. Ahhhh Alyeska is so beautiful! I’ve only been there in the summer/fall but I can’t imagine how awesome it is in the winter. And yes, it is super dark here. It’s already starting to drive me crazy that I barely get to see the sun!

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