Winter running guide

Winter running guide: what you need to know

Amon Fearon - November 18, 2022

As the days get shorter and the temperatures fall, running outside can become challenging. Not only do you have to battle the motivation struggle, but you’ll also need to make sure you’ve got all the essential running gear for safe and successful runs. So, how do you run in winter and what do you need to wear? We’ve got you covered.


Should you run in winter?

Absolutely. Running in winter is important for maintaining your level of fitness and, as a runner, continuing to improve your performance. While you can run all year round, running in winter is certainly different to running in summer. You'll need to consider the weather as it becomes windy, wet, cold and slippery. Less daylight can also break your routine and reduce visibility. And what you wear will impact your comfort levels and ability. Should you run in winter, you'll benefit from mood boosts, more public space to yourself, and building the mindset that forges athletes. Here are a few tips we'll touch on shortly:

  • Check the weather before you run
  • Dress suitably for mobility and comfort
  • Start the run slowly
  • Warm up and cool down
  • Stay hydrated during the run
  • Be vigilant to avoid slippery surfaces


What to wear running in winter

Unlike in summer, when a pair of shorts and t-shirt will do, running in the winter requires some extra gear. If you don’t properly layer up, you risk exposing yourself to the chilly temperatures which can cause illness and even injury. To make sure you’re fully prepared, here’s some essential running clothing for winter:


Most runners work on a layering system in the winter. Generally, two or three layers of technical clothing is optimal for keeping warm. These layers create a pocket of warmth from your body heat that insulates you while you run. Unlike one heavier layer, these multiple layers are breathable and moisture-wicking which helps to circulate air and stops your clothing from becoming saturated. It also means you can take off layers as you run for a gradual adjustment to the outside temperatures. Trapped sweat is particularly detrimental in chilly winds and could accelerate health conditions like hypothermia.


How to run during winter

You may need to adjust your running routine in colder weather. That includes avoiding early and evening jogs if you don’t like running in the dark. You’ll also need to consider the terrain you’re running on. There may be frost and ice as well as puddles and slippery leaves on the ground. Here are some more tips on how to run during winter to get the most out of your training:

  1. Warm up for longer

In the summer, a gentle warm up is usually enough to get people going. However, in winter you should spend an extra few minutes warming up your body and muscles. This will help to prevent injuries and stops your muscles seizing up as you run.

  1. Be flexible with your pace and distance

There are several factors that can affect your running pace in the winter. The colder air can cause irritation for your lungs including the muscles around the airways constricting and narrowing. In essence, you can’t breathe as deeply in colder air. This can change your pace and stamina. So, in the winter, focus instead on your technique as opposed to your distance to make sure you can get back to distance running as the weather warms up.

  1. Consider the wind direction

If you’re really savvy, plan your running route around the wind. Try to start by running into the wind and finish with it against your back. If you run into the wind when you’re already sweaty it can cause the wind to feel even more bitingly cold. Also, bare skin is incredibly vulnerable to wintery winds. So, try to avoid arm and leg exposure when it’s particularly blustery. It's also worth noting that starting against the wind will likely lead to less resistance on the way back when your energy is spent.

  1. Change your mindset

Running in winter is a lot more challenging for both the body and the mind. Be realistic with your goals and don’t expect to run as well as you do in the spring or summer. Instead, focus on simply maintaining your fitness levels so that you can continue to train and smash personal bests over the warmer months. You’ll also need to manage your motivation which will inevitably take a hit with fewer hours of daylight. Set simple, achievable goals to keep up your dedication.


Best winter running accessories

We’ve already talked about the essential running clothes you’ll need for winter but what about accessories? A pair of running leggings and jacket aren’t enough to fully protect you from the elements. With that said, here are a few key running accessories you may want to consider buying ahead of the winter snap:

  • Running gloves to protect your hands and fingers
  • Thicker running socks to keep your feet and toes warm
  • Headlamp for running in the dark
  • Beanie or running caps
  • Jackets with reflective strips to make you visible in the dark


If you’re running somewhere other than around your local area, consider taking some warm dry clothes to change into when you’re finished such as these premium joggers and hoodies.