How to Run through the Winter

How to run through winter

The way to run through winter is…

The Treadmill…

Most people know, but I actually don’t hate the treadmillAll joking aside, there are other ways to get through the winter if you’re keen on running outdoors.  Last week was cold.  It was between 10-20 almost all week.  Last week, half of the east coast was canceled due to a snowstorm.  Thankfully, this week is better (for running).

How to run through winter

As someone who went to college and worked in Upstate, NY, where there is often 2 feet of snow, I also understand everything is relative.  What is cold to someone living in Manitoba is different than Key West, and there is no time for judgment.  If someone feels cold, they are, and if you argue with them…it does nothing for anyone. The right way to running through the winter is what makes you happy.

Personally, I’ve lived in several states that handle winter differently!  In both Virginia and New Jersey, everything generally shuts down with any snow. It never snowed while I lived in Texas, but I know several years ago that there was a huge ice storm. Now in California, it doesn’t snow at all where we live…just cold rain. 

In Upstate, NY, it didn’t matter the conditions.  Heck, even a whiteout or blizzard isn’t enough to close down school, classes, or work.  Each area of the world is equipped to handle different situations.  Wherever you live, you are generally most assimilated to that weather and life. Running through the winter depends drastically on where we live.

hiking home from swim practice after this happened…during practice

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. Running through the winter means staying safe.

(In college, I slipped and fell on ice.  It resulted in a fractured arm, and I wasn’t even running outside…I was walking!)

Last week, I did my workouts on the treadmill because I was just happier inside.  Not overjoyed but happier to run inside.

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

I’ve created a few tips for running through the winter.   

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

A few years ago, I visited 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. One of the most imports of running through the winter is staying safe.

Prevent Sliding with Yak Trax:

You will be amazed at what a difference Yak Trax makes while running outdoors.  Safety is paramount, so traction is a huge key to running through the winter. 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).

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 and may clear up when the snow melts.  Running through the winter means staying smart with how and where you run. Always run on the opposite side of traffic and don’t run down the middle of the road.

Check Your Local Roads: 

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

Wind Protection:

Even when the temperatures are brutal outside, the wind factor can play a bigger role. Running through the winter doesn’t mean preparing for the cold but wind is a huge deal too! Layering appropriately is important.  It’s not just about “wearing as many layers as possible.” 

Recently, I learned that Vaseline could be 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 and Wintery Mix Protection:

Running through the winter in Napa means a lot of cold rain. 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 layer appropriately.  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 of running outdoors in the winter.

shamrock half marathon me running 2017

Running Through the Winter Conclusion:

Running through the winter can be an enjoyable experience.  Training through the winter can set you up for Spring PRs. You need to plan appropriately and remember safety is always the most important goal. At this particular point, all of my PRs are in the winter. However, I have PRed in the spring, too, ha!

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Questions for you:

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

Did you get snow last week?  How much?


  1. I’m always annoyed during the winter (and in the extreme heat of summer) because I feel like there’s always a huge battle between the treadmill runners and outdoor runners. Everyone’s trying to prove that they’re a better runner and that the other person is stupid. Like you said, no one wins. I like your approach- if you want to run outside go ahead, if you feel unsafe or just don’t want to run inside or rest! It’s just running, people! CHILL OUT (pun not intended)

  2. I agree with Gretchen on the treadmill vs. outdoor runners. I don’t understand why people do that… as a community we should be glad others are running no matter how they choose to do it. Especially when the weather isn’t that great, sometimes just getting the motivation to get dressed in workout clothes is hard.

    Last week during our snow, there was one day when the roads were bad that we couldn’t go to the gym. Schools were closed and so were most businesses. I know people who got on the roads in terrible conditions to go to the 24-7 gym and run. No workout is worth risking your life over, whether it is running on the roads or driving to run on a treadmill. If in doubt, take a rest day or just do something else. Not like there aren’t a TON of options now with workout apps and Youtube.

  3. Running in the winter is a really challenging thing to do. Thanks to your tips, it seems really manageable. It’s really important to be motivated to run on the treadmill, Hollie.

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