Ah, winter. The time has come once again to break out the long johns and emerge from our heated homes into a frozen mixture of anything from rain to snow that is sometimes mixed with sleet.
What better way to take in this wonder than through your favorite window while you sit by the fire? No, I’m kidding! The best way to take advantage of this fleeting season is running in the cold.
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What’s that? You’re not crazy enough (or crazy at all) to want to run outside when you could be inside watching TV or surfing the net? Well, I’m here to tell you why you SHOULD go out and run in the winter! I’ve compiled a list of reasons below.
1) The Cold Is Mentally Gratifying
Ever noticed how some days are just SO uncomfortable that you can’t bear it? Your shirt feels too hot; your socks feel like they may suffocate your feet; even breathing through your nose is unbearable because that combined with your hair may also suffocate you.
Well, the cold is that discomfort on steroids! What better way to appreciate warmth than by running in the cold through excruciatingly freezing temperatures?
It’s like feeling hot and sweaty in your favorite t-shirt only to realize it was all for nothing because it isn’t even really that warm outside.
2) The Cold Is Physically Rewarding
The cold doesn’t just provide wonderful mental benefits; it has physical rewards too! The air may sting your lungs as you breathe but it makes them stronger.
You’ll be out of breath faster than usual, sure, but that means more miles per hour right? Plus, taking advantage of winter conditions can also help you become a better runner in the summer months by teaching you to run in harsher conditions!
This is a great lesson for any runner who wants to train for an obstacle course race because, trust me, the time will come when your body will be crawling through mud and barbed wire while tired and hot; wouldn’t it be nice to be able to handle that situation better?
3) The Cold Is Economically Rewarding
This one may sound like a joke but it’s actually partially true. Running in the cold does cost more money if only because of all the extra clothing you’ll need.
When running in colder temperatures, always wear layers so that you can take them off or put them on as needed.
I’d recommend this because removing too many layers could lead to dehydration whereas wearing too many layers could cause you to overheat.
Make sure to use graphs like THIS ONE to figure out how many layers you’ll need on certain days. Another cost incline is the amount of gas it takes for your car to heat up, something every runner hates but has to deal with especially in colder climates like mine (Minnesota).
4) The Cold Is Socially Rewarding
When you run in cold weather, whether it be rain or snow, people will wonder why; they won’t understand and sometimes even mock you.
This is absolutely wonderful because runners hate being misunderstood and mocked! Not only that, but when someone does stop and ask what on earth you’re doing running in such horrendous weather conditions and you answer with pride, they’ll realize just how tough you are! And even if they don’t realize it, at least you know, which is what really counts.
5) The Cold Is Politically Rewarding
Every runner’s favorite type of reward: bragging rights! I’m not talking about the kind that only serve as conversation starters like “Oh, hey, did I mention that I’m training for an obstacle course race?” but the kind that boost your confidence because something was actually accomplished.
There is no greater feeling than knowing you can run in anything Mother Nature throws at you and come out unscathed. If only there were some sort of trophy or medal for this…
Tips for Running in The Cold
Before you head out on your next running in the cold, make sure you follow these tips first! I’ve listed them below.
1) Always dress in layers, even on warmer days! Being hot and sweaty is not pleasant for anyone so save yourself the trouble of having to change partway through your run because you’ve over or underdressed for the weather.
2) Make sure to wipe down with a towel after getting out of the shower before heading outside. This helps prevent chafing which can cause discomfort during runs as well as blisters. I’d recommend using BodyGlide or Vaseline if it’s especially cold outside too because they have more protective properties than regular lotion does.
3) If you realize halfway through that you’re beginning to overheat, remove a layer or two. If you realize halfway through that you’re beginning to chill, put on an extra layer.
4) Start off at a slow pace and be prepared for it to feel harder than usual. Your muscles need time to warm up which means the first five minutes is always the most difficult part of your run! Once they do warm up, though, you’ll feel just fine.
5) Drink lots of water before, during and after your run because being dehydrated can cause discomfort as well as cramping if there’s no water left in your body for your heart to pump nor blood for your legs to utilize.
6) Go with a friend if you can because running in the cold alone is always more difficult and discouraging, though I know it’s not always possible. And one last tip: no matter how miserable or uncomfortable your run feels, remember that it all pays off when you come out of it completely unscathed!
Type Of Gear To Wear Running in The Cold
There are a few things every runner should have to get through the winter months without any issues. Make sure you have these before going out running in the cold !
1) The Biggest Winter Jacket You Can Find
This should be the obvious choice because it doesn’t make much sense to go through all of this effort and risk your life for a quick 5 minute jog in 30 degrees, does it? If you know anything about me, then you know I would never condone such recklessness.
Runners should ALWAYS be safe when running because if not, they could end up injured or dead.
That’s why I recommend bringing a big jacket that can zip-up and cover your neck. Trust me; having extra layers is nice but what will really keep you warm is having a jacket that covers your entire torso! Also, try to get a jacket that has strong material because if it’s too thin then all the wind will penetrate and freeze your bones.
2) At Least Two Pairs Of Socks
You’re going to be sweating when running in cold weather so make sure you have two different pairs of socks for every run: one pair for when you first step out, and another to put on after your run for the drive home.
I recommend keeping these in your car at all times so they’re always accessible. Like most runners do, simply change them out before heading back out again so they don’t feel wet from sweat.
Socks are great because everyone knows that feet are the most important body part to keep warm. They are what will get you out of bed in the morning, drive you around town, and help you accomplish all your running goals!
3) Outdoor Gear That’s Waterproof
Running in the cold weather won’t be so bad if you have some outdoor gear that is waterproof. This means everything from your shoes, socks, jacket, hoodie… all the way up to your hat or gloves.
Buying these kinds of products can get expensive so I recommend saving money until this winter season to get exactly what you need.
4) A Good Pair of Gloves That Are Waterproof or Windproof
Running in the cold is almost impossible if you don’t have a good pair of gloves on. I know how it feels when your hands get wet and go numb, so I always recommend buying some waterproof gloves for this kind of weather.
Those cheap dollar store ones won’t last more than 2 runs before falling apart, so pony up for a decent pair that’ll make your runs safe and comfortable!
5) Running Tights Or Leggings (For Women Only… Sorry Guys!)
I love wearing running tights because they’re warm and make my legs feel like they’re flying while I’m outside jogging!
Type Of running shoes To Wear Running in Cold Weather
Running shoes are made to provide comfort and stability for both long-distance runners or joggers as well as sprinters.
Using the wrong type of running shoes may cause blisters, ankle injuries, knee aches, heel pain, hip pain or any other form of injury.
Most people forget that when running in cold weather conditions they also need to protect their feet from chilling winds by wearing windproof boots that extend up at least your ankles.
Some shoe manufacturers make special booties that you can slip on over your own shoes in very cold weather.
***Below are some examples of different types of running shoes you should wear in cold or winter conditions…
Winter Running Shoe Selection Tips:
1. Your winter running shoes should be waterproof!
– The first thing you might notice about your favorite pair of running shoes is that they are not water PROOF. You need to try finding an older model or newer model that has a u-layer (GoreTex).
It will cost more, but it will be well worth the price if you want to stay warm and dry during those long winter runs.
2. Run with lightweight socks like DryMax or Wool Socks .
They won’t make your feet sweat as much because they are thin and wick away the moisture from your feet. They also have a winter-specific sock for maximum warmth in really cold conditions.
3. Rubber Outsole –
You should have a good amount of grip on the outsole to prevent you from slipping and falling when running outside in icy or snowy conditions.
The best ones that we have seen are made by Salomon, North Face, and Asics Gel Cumulus 15 . Be careful with cheap shoes because they don’t last long when running on icey surfaces!
4. Extra Cushioning –
Make sure your shoe comes with extra cushioning for each foot strike, because it will comfort your legs after a long run when all the muscles get tired.
Softer foam is better for this purpose especially if the foam is light and responsive. The New Balance MX20v3 and Brooks Ghost 13 are our top choices for winter running shoes.
5. Breathable uppers –
Warmth escaping from your feet to other parts of your body can make you cold, so try checking the upper part of the shoe before buying it to see how well its constructed.
There should be a ton of mesh panels on it because they provide good ventilation for warmer days when you don’t need as much insulation from the outside elements.
Mesh also will allow more water from snow or ice melt come into contact with the fabric so that it will not soak up all of your sweat and give you a cold wet sock feeling during your run.
6. Lacing –
Make sure the shoe has the right lacing system for your foot. Some people like to loosen up their shoes when they run in cold winter conditions, while others like them tight. The Brooks Ghost 13 and Asics Gel Cumulus 15 are very popular choices for this purpose.
7. Heel-Toe Offset –
Try not to buy a shoe that has too much of a heel to toe drop (4mm or more). Running on ice with such a high heel is dangerous and will most likely result in you slipping, sliding, and falling all over the place. The Brooks Ghost 13 is flat like a racing shoe which makes it an excellent choice for winter running.
8. Stiff Upper –
The upper should be stiff enough so that it will support your foot when pushing off to take each stride, but flexible enough so that your toes have room to wiggle around inside the shoe without being too tight.
Winter Running Shoes That You Might Like:
The New Balance 481v3 – This shoe is very lightweight weighing less than 6 ounces, but it still provides good cushioning, support , and traction . It resists water pretty well too.
The Brooks Ghost 13 – This shoe has a roomy toebox so you don’t feel like your toes are crammed together in the shoe when they get cold. The lacing system also allows for tight or loose fitting based on preference. We recommend this winter running shoe for wide feet.
The North Face Ultra 109 GTX – Has really great tread that grips onto ice like no other! You can even use them in the summer time because they drain water fast and dry super fast inside of your house.
Salomon Speedcross 4 – A lot of people buy these shoes because they are waterproof and winter resistant . It has a really nice lug design that grips the ground well even on ice.
Salomon Sense Ride – No ice traction, but totally waterproof which makes them good for walking in snow or rain. Very comfortable shoe that is not too heavy!
Asics Gel Cumulus 15 – This shoe is made to run fast because it has a 4mm heel-toe offset which reduces the amount of time it takes to take a stride. If you want speed, then this might be a good choice for running in cold conditions.
Inov-8 X Talon 212 – Lightweight with an aggressive claw type outsole for exceptional grip on ice and snow. Not very wide though so we don’t recommend for people with wide feet.
Vivobarefoot Ultra – This shoe is often worn by ultra runners because they are light, breathe well, and drain water quickly . The outsole is not the most durable though so it is best used on dry surfaces in winter time.
New Balance 890v6 – A lot of cushioning for long runs in cold weather! Not very breathable but definitely will keep your legs warm when you run.
New Balance 910 Trail – Waterproof uppers , great traction, plenty of toe room in the front, and good arch support make this a top choice for running trails in winter conditions. It also comes with an optional gaiter hook so that you can attach gaiters to the shoe for added grip.
Saucony Peregrine 5 – This shoe is great for winter running because it has a rock plate to protect your foot from sharp rocks! It is also waterproof and very breathable so that you won’t sweat inside of your shoes when you run in chilly conditions.
Reebok Trail Cross Trainer – A lot of cushioning, excellent traction, good moisture wicking material . The only thing we don’t like about this shoe is its weight, but if you are looking for comfort then maybe it’s worth the extra ounces.
Under Armour Speedform Slingride – Lightweight with an aggressive rubber outsole that grips onto ice very well! Not recommended for people who prefer more cushioning though.
Nike Lunarglide 6 – They are stylish , have decent cushioning, and the outsole is durable enough for winter running . We just wish that they were waterproof because our feet get cold when it snows.
Brooks PureGrit 5 – This shoe has an aggressive tread that grips onto snow or ice while also being super lightweight! You will need to play around with the lacing system to make sure your toes don’t feel too tight though. The upper is very breathable so you won’t get hot when wearing this shoe in cold weather.
Adidas Energy Boost 2 – Great traction on both dry surfaces and wet surfaces ! It also comes with a water resistant coating which makes it good for walking in the rain.
Hoka One One Challenger ATR 3 – Good for trail running or road running because it has a rock plate to protect your feet from sharp rocks. It also has good cushioning and is pretty breathable so that you won’t feel too hot when running in cold conditions.
Mizuno Wave Kazan – These shoes are not waterproof but they do have water drain panels at the bottom of the shoe. We also think the toe box is slightly narrow so it might feel tight to people with wide feet.
Nike Air Zoom Wildhorse 4 – If you are looking for a lightweight shoe that provides excellent traction, then this is the shoe for you! Since they do not have any insulation, we don’t recommend them for running in winter conditions because your toes will freeze!
There you have it! Our top running shoes for winter. We hope you can find a pair of shoes from our list so you don’t have to run in the cold without them!
If we forgot any shoes or if you have other suggestions, leave us a comment below so we can add it to the list!
Do you have a favorite brand that makes running shoes? We want to know which one is your go-to brand when purchasing new running shoes. Let us know in a comment down below and if enough people say they like that brand then maybe we can do a blog post about it in the future.
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