Tips on Running in the Cold

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Tips on Running in the Cold

As I am in Boston, it regularly gets cold here and I hate running on a treadmill to train for my marathons. Sometimes I can get away with running 6-10 miles indoors but anything over that, I prefer to run outside. This season has been especially bad for most of the US with the temps regularly going below 20F and at times hovering around 0F for some parts of the country.

If you are running short distances, like under six miles, you can get away with not wearing that much. Here are some tips for those long runs (>6 mles), categorized by temperature ranges:

40-50F

  • Start to wear long pants and long sleeve tech shirt.
  • Wearing a small hat (I have very short hair)
  • Have thin gloves but usually take them off mid-run

30-40F

  • Wearing a cotton shirt over the long sleeve tech shirt for warmth
  • Wearing a face mask to cover ears, cheek and neck
  • Have thin gloves┬ábut usually take them off mid-run

15-30F

  • Wearing eye protection (sunglasses or transparent glasses at night) to prevent the fluid in your eyes from freezing
  • Covering your mouth with the face mask (be careful of frozen condensation on your mask)
  • Thicker gloves

<15F

  • I usually wear a windproof jacket with pit zippers in addition to the clothing above at these temps. Windchill at these temps are below 0F so any breeze feels like you’re freezing to death.
  • Wearing ski goggles to further protect your face from the cold (noticeably better than just sunglasses)
  • Thicker gloves

Clothing

  • For pants, I wear loose fitting windproof sweat pants. Its still pretty thin but the heat from your legs should heat the air inside the pants, creating a nice warm bubble for your legs. I don’t like to wear tights as it is not as warm as sweat pants.
  • I normally wear a thicker long sleeve tech t-shirt and if needed, a cotton long sleeve shirt over it. This isn’t the ideal combination as your arms tend to heat up and you sweat near your elbow. A thick vest over the tech shirt would be better.

Hydration:

Even at low temperatures, you still sweat so make sure to bring some hydration with you. You won’t need nearly as much as in the spring/fall. I would say bring about 1/2 as much for the same run in the spring/fall. Even in below freezing temps, the movement of the water will keep water in a hydration pack from freezing. I also occasionally blow warm air into the water bladder to heat up the water a little bit and further keep it from freezing. After every sip of water, I will blow all of the water back into the bladder so the water in the hose doesn’t freeze. This trick worked for my 15 mile nighttime run in 15F.

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