Tips for Running through the Winter

Tips for Running through the Winter

I originally began writing this post when I thought I would be living through a New Jersey winter.  Now I’m sitting here in Alabama, and it’s close to 70 degrees outside in January.  As long time readers know I’ve been through many different temperatures during winter.

I went to college and worked in Upstate NY where there is often 2 feet of snow, but nothing closes.  It ranged from -30 to 30. 

Digging my car out was fun
Digging my car out was fun

I’ve lived in Virginia and New Jersey where a few inches generally shuts down everything. 

And now I live in Alabama where today the high is 70 degrees (but last week it was 25).  So my 2017 winter will be a combination of a couple of states from New Jersey to Alabama. 

With anything, it’s important to run and train smartly.  If you ever feel unsafe, run inside or rest.  There is never shame in that.  (In college, I slipped and fell on ice.  It resulted in a fractured humorous, and I wasn’t even running outside…I was just walking!)

Another fun fact about winter training is that all of my PRs now are currently from winter races.

February 2015 Phoenix Marathon: 3:14,59

January 2016: Carlsbad Half Marathon 1:22.57

February 2016: Flower Show 5k (18:13) 

So thinking out loud, I’ve created a few tips to running through the winter.   

First and most importantly: Don’t be afraid to adjust your workout:

A few years ago, I was visiting friends in Rochester the weekend of my last long run. Rochester ended up getting a massive blizzard and running outside was unimaginable.  (You know it’s a problem when things in Rochester close!).

I ran my last 20 mile run on the treadmill (see why I don’t hate the treadmill).  It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t desirable either.  Running outside would have been unsafe and hazardous.  If I hadn’t felt good on the treadmill, I probably would have skipped the run altogether.  Luckily, I felt fine.

Prevent Sliding with Yak Trax:

You will be amazed at what a difference Yac Trax make while running outdoors.  You’ll be able to grip the ground and ice much easier and stay safe.  I cannot stress how awesome they are (no they aren’t paying me to tell you).

Don’t Forget: Main Roads are Plowed First: 

The main roads are going to be plowed before local roads and sidewalks.  Who knows, your sidewalk may never be plowed.  Being smart with how and where you run is important.  Always run on the opposite side of traffic and don’t run down the middle of the road.

snow storm after

Some local are often cleared quickly too: 

My high school was located in a neighborhood, and the roads to and from the school were cleared quickly.  During winter storms I could often run a 1-2 mile loop around my high school.  Boring?  Yes, but if you like outdoors then that was your best bet.

Wind Protection:

Even when the temperatures are brutal outside, the wind factor can play a bigger role. Layering appropriately is important.  It’s not just about “wearing as many layers as possible”. Runners World has a great “what to wear” calculator here.

I recently learned that Vaseline can be an excellent protection against the cold and wind. It’s waterproof and helps block the wind too.  I don’t know how I didn’t know that!

Rain Protection:

You can prepare for the snow but don’t forget about the rain. In my opinion, winter rain is one of the toughest elements to run through.  It’s important to appropriately layer.  My personal favorite jacket is from Gore-Tex.  I’ve run through 30-degree torrential downpours, and my long sleeve underneath has stayed completely dry.  While it is pricey, it’s worth the cost if you are running outdoors in the winter.

broad street 10 miler 1

With that, winter running can be an enjoyable experience.  Training through the winter can set you up for Spring PRs.

Relevant Posts: 

How to Race in Inclement Weather 

Why I don’t hate the Treadmill

Questions for you:

What are some tips you have to train through the winter?

How cold is it where you are? 


Author: Hollie

Posts are written and maintained by Hollie. I'm just runner who is blogging her way through internet life. If you see me in the real world, you might be dreaming. If you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to email me at

6 thoughts on “Tips for Running through the Winter”

  1. Thank you for these tips – I’ve never thought about using Vaseline either!

    I live in the UK so it’s around 45 degrees during the day but it can drop to 30 – 25 degrees in the evening so it’s always quite cold when I go for a run in the evening. I end up wearing lots and lots of layers and then stripping 15 minutes into my run because I’m too cold!

    I’ve recently realised that using the treadmill is ok – sometimes I’ll go out for a run and it will start to ice over so I ring for a lift home because I know it’s no longer safe. I’m trying to be better at checking the weather forecast before I leave and if it’s predicting ice then I’ll go for a treadmill run 🙂

  2. I trained outside year round until I was 63. Then I couldn’t deal with the cold and the slippery surfaces and training in the dark any longer, so I joined a gym. I love the treadmill! I do about six miles every day after work while I watch the news. No matter how bad the weather, I never have an excuse. It costs about $21 a month, and my employer gives me $100 every six months if I go to the gym 50 times.

  3. Alabama? What the…? Well sounds like great weather so I hope you can take major advantage of that!! And I love your first tip – don’t be afraid to adjust your plan. Yes, 100% definitely. I ran on a snow covered trail with my yakTrax last week and my pace was a lot slower but my legs were super tired from the effort. It was fantastic 🙂

  4. As you know, I grew up in the tundra, so I thrive when the temperature drops. Give me a freezing day over a humid one anytime! It’s important to give yourself adequate time to warm up during the winter months when you’re running outside. During the spring and summer, my warm-up is usually 10-15 minutes, but it easily takes me twice as long during the winter. I also cut myself a bit of slack too in terms of hitting certain paces, especially if it’s snowy or icy.

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