Winter Running Tips

A dozen tips on winter running from our Canada Army Run Frontline Race Team

You can be honest. We don’t really want to go running outside either. It’s that time of year again: freezing temperatures, wicked wind and treacherous sidewalks have made running extra challenging. A jog around the block is much less appealing than staying warm inside.

Hey, we won’t judge. You can stay indoors! There are all kinds of stretches and workouts for runners that recommend single-leg jumps, planks, lunges and squats to keep you in shape. If you’re feeling extra put off by the winter weather, you can invest in a treadmill. If the treadmill is bumming you out, why not update your running playlist?

If you are determined to be a winter warrior, to brave the cold and to push your running limits, we’ve got some tips to see you through the seasons. Here are a dozen tips on winter running from our Canada Army Run Frontline Race Team:

1 Incentivize the run and reward yourself

In itself, the completion of a run is very rewarding. But sometimes you need a little extra gift. A good healthy diet and limited screen time will be ideal for your winter state of mind, but rewarding yourself with a little bag of chips, a couple cookies, or an extra episode of your show can help you just get out there.

2 Wear the right shoes: traction is required

Winter running means your footing can change from step to step. Salty puddles turn into sheer ice or crunchy craters in a single bound. Give yourself the best chance at beating the terrain and invest in water-resistant, grippy running shoes. If you want to run with even more confidence, get ice cleats, running grips or other traction devices.

3 Keep to maintained trails

Unless you have waterproof shoes and gators, the freshly fallen snow might quickly become uncomfortable. A layer of powder can also hide tripping hazards and ankle-rolling obstructions. To avoid injuries, keep your runs to maintained trails such as sidewalks, large road shoulders and multi-use paths.

4 Run in the sun

Running during the day, during the morning especially, is recommended. Not only will you be more visible and safer while running on streets, you’ll also benefit from getting more light to beat the winter blues. Make sure to wear sunglasses and sunscreen as required—reflection from the snow can be harsh!

5 Be safe by being visible

Let’s face it, the coldest months of the year are also the ones with the shortest days. It can be hard to fit a daytime run in your schedule. So, if you must run at night, always wear reflective gear and clothing with bright colours. Be aware of cars, trucks and buses at all intersections. Give them every opportunity to see you: a headlamp or shoe lights will help.

6 Be safe by sharing your route

Another good way to stay safe while running in the dark is to let someone know where you are going. Planning out your running route will also help you familiarize yourself with the hazards of the run. Let someone know your route through a running app like RunKeeper or show them how to track your GPS location through your phone.

7 Winter pace does not equal summer pace

Look, you don’t have to prove anything! Don’t push yourself too much—a winter running pace shouldn’t be as intense as a summer (or even a spring) running pace. Remember that just getting out there is an accomplishment, so aim for shorter, more frequent runs.

8 Give yourself enough time to warm up and cool down

You have to be patient with your pace but also with your muscles and joints. A light stretch before a run can make a big difference but so can starting out slow before hitting your ideal winter running speed. Same thing when you finish the run: don’t forget to walk a bit and do another stretch. Your body will thank you for it.

9 Layers! Layers! Layers!

Gloves, hats, and neck warmers are musts in winter. Leggings and light jackets should be breathable and water resistant. Most importantly, make sure that all your base layers have moisture wicking properties, because when the body gets warm it also perspires. Don’t let that sweat cool you down! Check out Surge Activewear and Headsweats for technical, performance apparel.

10 Make it fun, get festive!

Dressing warmly is essential but dressing for fun can be another great idea. A pair of antlers, a Santa hat, or going all out on a Victorian Christmas getup can make even a short, frigid run into a good time. If a costume brings a smile to a passerby’s face, you can imagine it as encouragement to keep running.

11 Buddy up!

There is nothing so encouraging, however, as someone else pushing you to go further. Having a running buddy keeps you honest and keeps you motivated to get out there. Struggling to get out the door? Buddy will help. Want to cut this one short? Buddy knows you can do it!

12 Stay hydrated

Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you won’t sweat! It’s important to remain hydrated when doing cardio exercise of any kind—but don’t binge. Remember to drink at least half a litre of water a couple hours before you run, and about 250 ml 15 minutes before.

You can do it!