Arctic Tundra Running

I get the feeling it’s going to be an unseasonably cold winter this year.  That could be because the last two winters were pretty tame but this year we have already gotten arctic blasts.  (Apparently my area of NJ hasn’t gotten snow in two years and we have had three snow falls in the last 10 days). This is my first winter not living in Upstate, NY and honestly I’m pretty happy about that.  Down here we have gotten snow in NJ but nothing compared to NY (or many other places of the country).  I don’t miss the feet of piled snow or countless hours logged on the treadmill.

These are some things I have done to try and keep my motivation high in the cold.  Honestly though I’m just coming off a month of rest and I am in that “running hurts but feels so good” phase of my training.

Here are some things I do and have bought to keep me sane and safe in the winter time.  I bought and was not given for free.


Mittens are a lot warmer then gloves.  Don’t knock it until you try it.  I don’t care that I look like a goober running down the side of the road, at least I’m not hypothermic.


They grip the snow and ice.

If you remember in January of 2012 I slipped and fell on ice breaking my arm.  (This was in a parking lot).

Hand Warmers:

These are a dollar or less at Wal-Mart.  I normally stick them in my gloves, mittens or shoes.  Sometimes I use them inside too.  (Ha).  But seriously try them out. I find out about them through the Lake Effect half marathon last year and probably have bought at least 100 packages since.

When running outside I layer up something like this:

Bottoms: Short spandex under long spandex

baby LOLZ


layer 1: sports bra and arm warmers

layer 2: long sleeve shirt

Layer 3: sweatshirt or windbreaker and hand warmers

And I always have a hat and gloves.

So yes some people might think I’m a little crazy but honestly running outdoors (unless it’s zero degrees) is a lot easier when you layer up.  You may look like a waddling penguin outside but at least you aren’t miserably cold.  That being said there does come a point when I think running indoors will be more productive then running outdoors (depending on ice and wind chill).

Questions for you:

What is the coldest you have ever worked outside?

I ran in -4 once in Potsdam, NY.  It took me the rest of the day to warm up.  Never again.

How do you stay warm? 

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  1. Oh my goodness, you ran in -4?!? I am pretty sure I have never even been in weather that cold lol! I’m from Texas, and it doesn’t get that cold here. 🙂 But when it does get cold (or at least what I think is cold, it probably isn’t cold to you lol), I layer up just like you said! But I definitely need to try the hand warmers!

  2. Where I went to college we once had a day with wind chills bringing temps to -26. Needless to say, I didn’t run…actually, I skipped class too and hid in my room after getting 5 seconds of time outside to see what that felt like. Coldest I’ve ever gone for runs is somewhere in the teens when I was living in PA, but that’s as cold as it’s been anywhere I’ve lived in the last 6 years! (Thankfully.)

  3. I ran in -4 last winter and came back with ice crystals in my face. My parents were not amused ha I need to get myself a pair of running mittens. I haven’t found any I like yet. My fingers can’t handle the cold of gloves. I usually wear a quarter zip in the winter, and a running jacket over that if it’s cold enough but I’m not the biggest fan of winter running in general.

    1. Brooks has great running mittens. They are actually two pair…fleece, then a wind resistant/water proof second pair on top. I have worn them when it has been negative digits with the windchill and they have been awesome.

  4. Mine sounds pretty wimpy…lol. my coldest run was 17 degrees. Above zero. I know, I know. Wimp. Especially cuz I hated it. Below that I stay indoors. I’m a southern gal at heart.

  5. So, I haven’t been reading blogs in like … well, a long time. My comment is therefore going to be all over the place.

    1) I ran yesterday and it was -3 with a windchill of “oh god why would anyone be outside.” It was terrible.
    2) I couldn’t have done that without my yaktrax or hand warmers, so I fully endorse those for cold weather running.
    3) I can’t believe you’re doing a sugar free challenge! Actually, I think I could handle it … with the exception of no sugar in the coffee. I don’t know if I could last even 1 day without equal or splenda in my coffee. I am a true addict.
    4) I am excited to see you crush all your 2014 goals (and even more excited to see you at LAKE EFFECT REALLY SOON !!!)
    5) Ok I guess that is all for now.

  6. I live in PA and usually run in the morning before it’s light out… so it gets pretty dang cold!! I have invested in very thick under armor tights and a long sleeve. I then put on a cheapo fleece vest and a NOT cheapo running jacket (which I got at Marshall’s for a FRACTION of the actual price!!!) and a headband. I layer gloves. I have yet to find gloves that work. They are either too thin and my fingers freeze, or they are too warm so my fingers sweat, then freeze. My best bet is to carry several pairs with me when I do a long run. Anything under 10 miles I can usually get away with just 2 pair.

  7. Last year at the time wind chill was about -6 in buffalo and I did a couple miles. It wasn’t too terrible that I remember during but I was cold for the rest of the night and my legs were red for hours even post shower.

    The dollar store here has hand warmers. I stocked up.

  8. While I prefer not to run outdoors in anything less than 40 degrees, I can tolerate running down to about 30-ish. It was 32 degrees & sunny for the first-ever 5K I ran, but I was bundled up pretty well. I also ran a 5K two months ago in 11 degrees. NEVER AGAIN. My gloves proved inadequate; I thought I was getting frostbite & was going to lose a finger or two. My fingers have never hurt like that before. But my real issue is inhaling all the cold air. That slows me down & is way more uncomfortable than coldness against my body. How do you handle/tolerate breathing in the cold air?

    1. I wish I could tell you I had a special technique but I honestly just breath. I think you have to just get used to it. It takes time (like becoming a morning runner) but you can do it!

  9. Oh my gosh, -4?! I would seriously see that and crawl back in bed, no way.

  10. It doesn’t get as cold as that in Texas, but it’s still pretty chilly right now. I dress in layers and always have gloves and a headband to cover my ears. I know it can be worse – I grew up in Ohio and remember some absolutely freezing runs!!!

  11. I ran outside in about -15 at the coldest. It’s pretty miserable actually! Ha. So hard to breathe. But my main problem with cold weather running is that I still haven’t perfected a layering system and once I start sweating, I’m wet and freezing for the rest of the run. But there is a kind of thrill that goes along with pushing myself to go run outside in those temperatures. (I will NOT run in the wind though. Nope can’t do it.)

  12. Honestly, the coldest I have ever recalled running in was 25 degrees. It does not get very cold here in SC compared to the rest of the world. That day was an isolated incident, a coldfront on a really chilly Christmas Eve race. It was close to that cold this morning with the wind chill though. I used hand warmers this morning but I think they were defective because they didn’t work, plus I had to give one away to a teammate (no lie, I had 2 hand warmers and was asked for one of my two so I had to rotate em between gloves! Warm up one hand at a time!).

    To me, wind and also sunlight are a big deal- maybe more the temperature. 50 degrees when it is sunny out, feels totally different than 50 degrees when it is windy and cloudy- and requires different clothes. Rain complicates things too!

    The cold is hard, but at least the cold weather we have in SC doesn’t make running outside dangerous. Sometimes it can really be dangerous to run in the heat here.

  13. I’m glad you have some YakTrax! They’re not perfect by any means, but they do prevent a lot of slips and falls. They’re only good on reasonably thick snow, I’ve found – I was still skidding around all over the place when it was thick ice with snow additional snow coverage.

    I ran at -28C/-18F once in 2010 – it was the coldest winter in the UK for over 100 years, I think. The only time I had to run was 5:30am, hence the ridiculous temperature, and the snow was shin-deep, so not too bad as that year went (!) I wish I had that kind of toughness and resolve now though…I was just a better person in so many ways that year. Now 1.) I wouldn’t be up at that hour and 2.) I’d just cry about having to run on the treadmill instead. Yes, wuss of the year right here.

  14. Dedication! I don’t mind the cold when running, but I am not a fan of ice. I’ve managed to injure myself twice falling on ice out running (ironically both during the warm up… badly sprained an ankle the first time and slipped a disc in my back the second) so I try and avoid it if I possibly can now, even if it means taking an extra rest day, as I am WAY too injury prone! Last winter I gave in and took out a gym membership so that I could train on the treadmill/elliptical. This winter I was determined not too be such a wimp, but the problem here hasn’t been the cold – it’s hardly been below 10 celcius – but the weather has been stupidly unpredictable: sunshine descending into gusting 60mph and sheet hailstorms in a matter of minutes, which makes it impossible to know what to wear or how far from home you can risk going as it’s been pretty dangerous to be either in the woods or on the roads with lots of trees coming down. Not a fan of winter right now but glad it’s not as cold as where you are at least!

  15. The 20’s is the lowest temperature I have been (FL born and raised :)) I am kind of a freak an prefer cold running, but truly cold running? who knows!
    I have rhegears so I ususally double up and wear thick gloves under my mittens, and always cover my ears!

  16. I tried to run in -2 this morning, didn’t go very well. Off the top of my head, I think that was the first time I tried to run in anything under 20 before.

  17. I went for 3 miles Friday when it was -25. Took me all day to get DRESSED!! I did 7 miles yesterday and it was relatively warm at -8. I was wearing a heck of a lot more layers than you listed! Thermal base layer +icebreaker merino wool base layer + pants and wind proof jacket. The only parts that got cold were nh eyeballs!

  18. I really need to try hand and feet warmers…my hands and feet tend to be painfully cold for the first few miles of my runs. My cold weather running cut off is 15 degrees.

  19. Lately, the coldest I’ve run in was in the 20’s. Those hand warmers are great. When I know I’m going to have to stand at the start line of a race in the cold, I bring some with me.

  20. Seriously I do NOT know how you do it. It got to 30 degrees here last week & I stepped out the door & nearly froze. I was like ‘STRAIGHT to the gym, no questions asked.’ EEK! I don’t think I could ever live where it even barely gets cold. Know that when I get in my car on those ‘cold’ days here I’m thinking of you!

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