Running became the thing to do this year, as the pandemic closed gyms. But winter running is different from summer. It's darker, it's colder and it can be rougher on your body.

Staying warm without getting too hot can be a tricky dance. Here what you all need to know 


The key for winter running is layers, especially for new runners [or those who are new to running outside in winter]. Too hot? Just take a layer off.

Sally Loeffler, a co-owner of the Beyond Running store in Fargo, N.D. recommends a three-layer system.

The first, or base, layer should be made of a synthetic fiber, merino wool or a  synthetic/merino wool blend [the higher percentage of merino wool, the more expensive the item tends to be]. Just avoid cotton, especially right next to your skin.

''It will be soaking wet and twice its original size after you sweat,'' Loeffler said.

The second layer should be something long-sleeved that keeps heat close to your body and the third layer is a shell that protects you from wind, rain or snow, if necessary. What is cool, cold and really cold will depend on your body and the overall weather picture.

Cecily Tynan, the chief meteorologist for 6ABC Action News in Philadelphia, who is also a marathoner  and Iron Man finisher, said  to take both wind and humidity into account when planning what to wear. She also recommends dressing for 10 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than it is outside.


Winter running is about more than just covering your upper and lower body. For your head, you can wear a hat or a band that covers your ears. If your fingers are cold, try mittens or mittens over gloves so you can the mittens off if things warm up.

For shoes, you can buy winter traction devices that go over your sneakers, or put screws in the bottom of them to give you traction on slippery surfaces.

Greg Haapala, the race director at Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, Minn, wears trail running shoes. He also wears sunglasses ''even if it's not very sunny, to block the winds into potentially blowing snow,'' he said.

You will need to hydrate on long runs in the winter. You can carry water in a handheld bottle, but that hand can get cold fast. Instead, consider a running waist belt with slots for water bottles, or a hydration vest. Just make sure the vest is running specific, not one designed for hiking or biking. 


A cold day can be a shock, especially if you're trying to to go right from your bed to running. 

Heather A. Milton, an exercise psychologist with the Running Lab at NYU Langone Sports Performance Center, recommends a dynamic stretches like leg swings or lunges before you go.

While the science on whether stretching really works is mixed, these kinds of exercise will get your blood pumping and ready to move.

If you're running in urban or suburban environments on concrete or asphalt, those surfaces will be harder - and possibly frozen - in the winter. It could be a shock to the body especially if you're used to running on a treadmill.

Milton said to give your body time to adjust, because you're building up strength, just as you would in a new weight-lifting routine.


While you don't want to run with a big group right now, having an accountability partner can keep you going.

''If you do it with someone else, you're more likely to stay on track or be able fight through a bad day or saying that it's just too cold,'' said Alexander of Black Girls Run! A partner can be ''just that motivation to get you past that bad mood.''

That partner doesn't have to be by your side, either. Just having someone to call, text or email can help you both keep going.

The World Students Society thanks author Jen A. Miller.


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