Winter running hacks

If you live in Alberta, or know people on line who do, you’re probably aware, it’s cold here right now. It’s winter, and we almost always get a few weeks here and there through the winter of truly cold weather.  What is truly cold?  I’ll let you decide, it’s all a matter of perspective.

Though it’s been cold here this week, I’ve been outside running every day.  I’m  not trying to be a martyr, I honestly prefer getting bundled up and running outside to running on the treadmill, most of the time.  I’ll reach my limit and throw in some indoor runs here and there, but for the most part, I honestly prefer being outside.  For those friends who are sticking to the mill, I have no ill feelings, I say however you can stay active and get those running endorphins surging, go for it.  Here are my best tips for running in the cold.

  1. Dress in layers.  You don’t generally need any special clothes, you just have to layer the same gear that you wear in milder winter temps, over top of itself.  For example, I’ll wear a regular long sleeve, with one of my INKnBURN pullovers (their pullovers are super cozy and warm, and have thumb holes) over it, and then put a jacket over that.  I will almost always wear two layers on the bottom in this kind of weather.  Cross Country ski gear works really well as it’s made to withstand the wind as you’re skiing.  I’ve got a pair of MEC tights that I bought almost 20 years ago! (I know, I think I was in grade school then… 😉 )  I still wear them as a top layer in the coldest of temps, they have a wind proof panel on the thighs, which makes a huge difference in the cold.  They still sell them, I’m betting they’ve even updated them so that you can’t pull them all the way up to your arm pits…
  2. Keep your extremities warm.  Hands and feet… it really sucks if your hands and feet are cold.  For socks, wool is best.  You can buy really good quality running or x-country skiing socks at an outdoors or running store, but Costco sells 6 packs of wool socks for less than $20.  I don’t find that they are quite as warm as the fancy expensive ones, but if you double them up, they are great.  If you need added warmth, and don’t want to spend $200 on fancy gortex lined running shoes, I’ve added a grocery bag layer between my socks and my shoes, it may not be fashionable, but it makes a huge difference in keeping the cold wind out of your shoes!  On my hands I usually layer a pair of thin running gloves with a pair of mitts over top.  This gives you the option of pealing a layer off if you start to get warm, plus the mitts keep you way warmer than gloves do.  If you run cold and need some added warmth, Costco sells the hand and feet warmers that are meant for downhill skiing in big bulk packages.
  3. Keep your core warm.  On cold days I always tuck my shirt into my pants, it makes a huge difference to not have any cold air blowing up under your jacket.  A fleece vest can also keep your core nice and toasty.
  4. Buffs.  Buffs are amazing!  They are so versatile, I use them as neck warmers, hats, balaclava’s, etc.  I’ve been wearing a merino wool buff over my toque (winter hat), and around my neck, with an extra one just around my neck.  The merino wool buff is especially warm in these super cold temps.
  5. Vasoline.  This one is new to me this year.  I’d heard about people doing this, but just tried it for the first time myself.  I’m amazed at how well it works!  One thing that I’ve never liked, is having something over my face and breathing through fabric.  This week, before I head out, I’ve smeared a layer of vasoline over my exposed skin on my face, and it’s done wonders to keep my face insulated.  It also helps keep things hydrated, anyone who lives in Calgary knows how dry the air gets, so adding some moisture to my skin and protecting it from the dry air feels really good.
  6. Protect your electronics.  Batteries and cold temps do not get along.  I think we’ve all seen iPhone screen below, and while having your phone freeze isn’t a huge deal (apart from missing out on #icefaceselfies), I discovered something more important than my phone, my car key!  I’ve got a new car this year, and it’s got one of those dongles that it just senses, it unlocks the door, allows you to start the car, etc all just when the key is near or in the car.  Except when the battery in the dongle is frozen, then it will do none of that.  So keep your car keys warm!  INKnBURN makes awesome little pockets on the inside of their bras and camisoles that are the perfect size for a car key.. you’ll bet I’ll be wearing their sports bras on all the coldest days this winter!

#seenonmyrun #gohomeiphoneyouredrunk

A post shared by Terry Toffelmire (@terryruns) on

I wrote a post a couple years ago, with some similar tips, and some others, if you want to check out more winter running tips.  I’d also love to hear yours, what do you do to make running in the cold more enjoyable, or bearable?



3 thoughts on “Winter running hacks

  1. I weenied out and ran inside today at Repsol. The cold part is ok, but the wind is killing me. Or maybe I feel it more as I get older. The only problem with a key holder on the bra, is getting at it after you get out of the car into the minus WTF. Last thing you want to do is expose skin to the cold. I’d heard of the Vaseline trick, but how do you get it off after?

    1. Key in the bra works perfect for my dongle car as I don’t ever have to get it out, the car is happy and opens and starts as long as it’s in the vicinity. I just wash the vasoline off with soap after. I agree on the wind. We ran in the trees yesterday for that reason.

  2. I love Ink n Burn. They are so very cozy. I can’t believe you already have so much snow up there. The weather has been pretty mild for this time of year. I’m enjoying it as much as I can because I know I’ll be miserable Jan – March.

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