Winter Running Weather Warning: Duh, it’s cold out, so duh, put some clothes on

This runner is a full-on weather wimp. There, I said it, all of you Minnesotans, New Yorkers, and residents of states with ‘real’ seasons can feel superior to me. BUT, let me at least say in my defense that I’m also OCD enough of a runner that barring getting sucked up into a twister would stop me from getting a run in…at least some kind of run. Cut to me running in place in some kind of bomb shelter. 😉
running in twister
But back on topic, I don’t envy those who get their white Christmases because while snow is pretty to look at it brings those bone-chilling temperatures. In the Northwest it gets cold enough for me, and that wet cold with a windchill is plenty enough for me. Here comes winter so time for the annual Runner’s Weather Advisory spiel!

* Bundle, Baby: This sounds ‘obvious’ but I’ve come to learn it’s better to err on the side of over-dressed and winding up a bit overly-warm than the opposite. Running with cold muscles is just begging for an injury, this isn’t a joke people. ESPECIALLY if you’re warming up for a race or workout; don the sweats, gloves, hats, you name it for your warm-up. Once you’re sweating bullets then you can peel off the layers. You’ll be safer and your workout will be more EFFECTIVE if you’re warmer. True fact.

* Slip and Slider: There are TONS of leaves where I live and when it rains it’s slick as heck on the roads. Be careful and this is when staring at your feet is okay; maneuver around navigate and as best you can. Fun fact: the most slippery time of year is after the very first rain after a dry-spell.

* Treadmills Aren’t Shameful: Running purists look down on them, but I’ve also learned that treadmills have a time and place. I’ve written a few pieces on treadmill running, the most recent is HERE for Especially in ‘real’ weather states treadmills can be your answer to not only getting in a run, but getting in a more EFFECTIVE run. If it’s too slick to run outside at a fast enough pace, on a treadmill you’ll get a more quality workout and be able to run much faster.
treadmill runner
* Warm-ups and Cool-downs: I’ve said time and time again that for races and workouts you need a warm-up and cool-down. This is even more important the colder it gets; we already know that your body responds better and you will feel much better for your workout if you do some easy running, drills, and strides before getting down to those faster paces. In times when it is especially cold you may need to extend the time you do that easy running to ensure your muscles are indeed warm-enough. Again, I get back to this little rule of thumb: by the time your warm-up is complete you should be a little stifled and wanting to rip off those sweats Hulk style.

* Still Ice: Say what?!?! Yea, it’s cold as flip but get somewhere warm and you should still be icing any ‘trouble’ spots. Ice baths are still ‘in season’ despite being especially not appealing. Don’t slack on the runner rehab because of the weather; that’s what the indoors is for…oh, and super hot showers. 😉

* Hydration: You STILL sweat when it’s frigid outside, you won’t see most of it because it evaporates quicker due to the air. You still need to drink your water and electrolyte replacement drinks.

I’m a runner, and I’d say I’m a ‘normal person’ weather wimp. That is I could suck it up for a run, but in ‘normal’ life when it gets nasty outside I’ll start complaining that it’s cold and it could be about 50 degrees. I also have a really bad temperature gauge, I’ll feel cold it could be 50 or -50. Hey, I did handle that cryo-chamber! Oh, and another thing I don’t like is the nice snot train that the cold weather brings…now THAT is a hot runnerchick look, right?! 😉

Stay safe runner peeps, don’t face plant on leaves, and stay warm!

1) What is the weather like in your area? (southern hemisphere buds, you can complain that it’s too hot down there! lol)

2) What’s the worst you’ve run outside in?
For winter it’s been cold and rainy, nothing incredibly insane or hard-core. But there is a run that I’ll always remember that my mom and I ran in that was INSANELY windy. It was a Christmas and we both were blown darn near into the road a few times, good thing the roads were pretty vacant. 😛

3) What’s your stance on treadmill running?

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35 thoughts on “Winter Running Weather Warning: Duh, it’s cold out, so duh, put some clothes on

  1. Well, I’m brand new to running, sort of. I started last year but got a nice stress fracture in my foot pretty early on. I’m in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and it’s still pretty warm . We had our first real “cold front” today and I think it might get down to 40 tonight, but still in the 60s tomorrow. It freezes from time to time during the winter here, some years are worse than others – we typically get a couple of either snow or ice days each winter. My biggest problem is I don’t have a treadmill to run on, so I’m forced to get out there when it does finally get cold here.

    • i’m sorry about the stress fracture…NOT fun!! but i’m glad u’re all healed up well now and good luck staying warm! be careful if the roads are iced over out there and keep up the awesome running!

  2. Great post! I think I mostly agree with the treadmill part. I need to use our treadmill more often; when it’s super cold and/or slippery, I know I’d have a way better run on the treadmill.
    It’s really snowy here right now. I think in one day we had almost as much snow as we usually get in the entire month. Sadly, I’m not running so couldn’t frolic in it!

    • oh my gosh!!! wow, don’t get buried over there! i saw all those piles of snow on the day u went bike riding and i got a vicarious chill running thru my bones!! 😛

  3. Ohhhh yeah it’s getting hotter ;-). And the treadmill will come in handy on those seriously hot days where I’m lazy and wait too long to go out. love your tips for the weather though – In winter I frequently go without sleeves – possibly stupid. And the tip about still sweating – so true!

    AND WHY WHY WHY do you insist on posting the vomit picture?! I’m doing my first tempo run tomorrow 🙁 😛

    I’ve only run in hard rain/storms, but the weather where live doesn’t get severe all that often – just insanely, insanely hot.

  4. Snow isn’t THAT bad you know.. it brings fun other sports like snowboarding! 🙂 I hate the treadmill and really try to avoid it at all costs! I try to just bundle up the best I can- and only really go inside if it’s raining too hard or too slippery and icy of conditions.

  5. Great post!!
    The coldest I’ve run in was about -10 outside last year. I wanted to really embrace the winter running this year, but I’m just not sure I can handle it. The treadmill and I might be BFFs!

    I gotta say, I’m absolutely horrible at warming up/cooling down. I neglect it sooo much.

  6. 1) I live in New England. The weather changes as often as I change my underwear 😉 It can really get cold down to 0 degrees and below sometimes with snow, ice, hail, wind! aaaahhhh! 😛

    2)The worse I have run outside is during a snow storm. It was more slushy than snow. It was coming down pretty hard and the visibilty was almost 0! I slapped on my Yak Traks and headed out! Thank god too because when it gets Icy, those things will keep you from slipping!

    3)My stance on treadmill running is, I would love one! I want to train for another half marathon that is coming up in March 2013 and a treadmill would be awesome to make sure i get my speed workouts in which is tough with snow on the track Yak traks or no yak traks!

    • oh my gosh!! never run in a snow storm myself, thank goodness u had those yak traks!!

      you brought up one reason i LUV my tready, for hard workouts i kno that sucker can force me to run an honest pace. that belt will keep on moving regardless…and i sure as heck don’t want to get shot off the back. 😛 exciting for ur big race!!

  7. bahhhh. I am gearing up for TM season. I knew i was in trouble when the other day my supervisor told me it wasnt unsafe for me to run outside at 4am in the dark because its dark and i am alone…it was because its starting to get icy and cold and i could fall. umm thanks? immediately headed out for a gym membership that afternoon and re-introduced myself to the TM this morning;) i dont mind bundling up and running outside in the cold but its the wind here that is totally brutal. i am not used to such strong cold winds…i miss the cold but SUNNY days of Utah;) I think the worst weather I ran in there was cold temps but actively blizzarding…I didnt check the weather before I headed out;) at least it was an adventure! haha!

    • i saw u getting all ‘official’ with ur first gym membership!! hehe. and i’m SO happy, we can’t have u sidelined because of some icy 4am disaster!! u’re a treadmill champ though, i still don’t get how u’re able to read like u do on that, that there is serious talent!! i wish i had those skills because i love books. 🙂

  8. I’m a wimp when it comes to cold running…I’ll do it occasionally but I’m all about winter running on the treadmill! I can say that running when it’s lightly snowing is pretty peaceful and relaxing =)

  9. I’m a wimp when it comes to cold weather running as well. This winter I’m pretty focused on keeping up a running schedule , even though I’ll be extra whiny about it. I like shorter interval runs on the treadmill, but anything above 3 miles I find miserable. Sooooo, we’ll see how it goes!

  10. This was so interesting to read because it so far from my realm of experience 🙂 Cold in winter where I am (it’s different in some other parts of Australia) is really pretty mild, always above freezing, and we don’t get ice or snow. Rain, yes, but generally it’s manageable. I have more trouble in the summer months we’re going in to, when it can be approaching 30’C (85-90’F I think?) by 9am. I rock the tomato face look, that is for sure 😛

    • hey, the tomato runnerchick is a HOT look!! 😉 better than my snotty one…lol. hmmm, i think i need to up and move to where u are, is that cool?? 😉

  11. Good tips to live by especially with it being a bit cooler here in the NE. I lived I’m ny for 27 years and have been I’m nj for the last year so I’m not a stranger to cold, snow, ice, etc. I don’t mind the mill at all and use it a lot actually. My long runs are almost always done outside though and in general, both sat and sun runs are. During the week it gets super dark by the time I can run and I’m more nervous about that than snow/ice. It’s not very well-lit around my parts and it maks me nervous bc I’ve almost been hit in daylight! If its bad out..unless I’m in the mood to deal w it..ill just go on the mill, lol. 🙂 thanks again for sharing these tips!..always good to remind ourselves about these things!

  12. NYC gets pretty cold and the worst that is happened to me is getting in a blizzard at the end of a long run (it was fine at the beginning of the run). I usually run outside in all sorts of temps, but if ice or slippery conditions, I either take a rest day or move it indoors.

    I just get bored on the treadmill, but think I’ll have to do a lot of treadmill miles in February so I’ll have to get used to it. Maybe it will help me on tempo runs or learn to hold a pace or something…

    • the treadmills really do help me gauge pace, i actually loooove my mill. 😛 man, a blizzard, that’s hard core! the only blizzards i like come from DQ and have cookie dough. 😉

  13. I love my treadmill so much I have named him Wilson. We have been going steady for such a long time, and he never complains even though I run all over him. I trained for my first half marathon completely on a treadmill so I have no shame in admitting that I would rather run indoors than outdoors a lot of the time. When it comes to walking though, give me outdoors any day.
    I am a weather wimp too – although the heat is what is bothering me at the moment 🙂 Wilson comes in handy in our humid, hot summers – I can put on the ceiling fan, keep plenty of water nearby, and watch cold-weather Christmas movies to trick myself into thinking that it’s cool outside 🙂
    The worst I’ve run outside in? A few days this winter I came back with chill blains on my legs, and a few weeks ago I went running in the heat and dehydrated myself a little. Yep, need to be a little more sensible I think.

    • oh NO!!!! take care of urself sweet chickpea!! i don’t like this dehydrated biz…nope, not at all. sip those liquids, i kno u love ur tea, start doubling up. 😉 ya, i laugh because it’s summer down for u guys…yet another reason i should be living down there. 😉

  14. I love this!!! I’ve just started running, so I need alllll the advice I can get! 🙂 We don’t get “real weather” where I live, either, so I have yet to experience running in super crazy conditions, but I will definitely be bundling up when it gets super cold. I’m nervous to run in the rain though, as I’ve never done it, and also I have no treadmill, so I really have no other option. Hm.


    • u’re doing AWESOME on the running, keep it up!! haha…power to us west coast living weather wimps…i don’t have any plans of living in a ‘real’ season…ever! 😉

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