The Blonde Runs

Colorado lovin'

…in cold weather

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I wanted to chat a little bit about running in cold weather. Because here in Boulder, it’s been chilly. Teen’s and 20’s, chilly! At least we’ll be warming up into the mid to upper 30’s this week. Our fall has quickly transitioned to winter!

I’m going to give you fair warning, though, and let you know that I won’t be telling you to cozy up by the fire and sip a mug of hot cocoa. Save that for after the run.


One of the most important things to consider is what you’ll be wearing. Keep in mind that you should always dress as if it were 20 degrees warmer. This is due to your body heat; once you get going, you warm up quite a bit. Layering is a good way to start. I typically opt for wicking fabrics that can help with sweating; or those items that offer extra ventilation. On a very cold day, say, below 30 degrees, I’ll wear a wicking tank or short-sleeve top, with a long sleeve running top over that. Often, I’ll also wear a jacket. This is especially the case if there is wind, rain, or snow. I will also wear a hat or earwarmers and a pair of gloves.

My favorite pair of gloves are the Mizuno Running Glove Breath Thermo/Dryscience. They turn your hand sweat into heat! And they are the only gloves that keep my hands toasty warm. Even my fingers! I have other gloves that I wear on occasion, but the tips of my fingers always get so cold! I make sure my Mizuno’s are clean and dry before a run in really cold weather.

For bottoms, I love running tights. One pair is always fine for me.

As far as socks go, I’ll be sure to have a thick pair of SmartWool’s.

When temps really drop, either from a cold snap, or because the sun has set, I will sometimes use a neck gator that can easily slip up over my chin/nose. Another great item to wear if wind is involved!


Make sure that the route you choose is well-lit! While it will likely be dark when you are running, it also may be snowy or icy. Which also means, you might want a pair of these. Just be sure you have a good view for what is in front of you.


I would also recommend a headlamp. My Petzl headlamp is fantastic! And, it is always in my running bag!


Make sure that you have some warm clothes to change into soon after the run. If you are just running from home, I think a nice hot shower is a great way to warm up! Followed by that fire and hot cocoa, of course. However, if you are meeting someone, I recommend bringing an extra pair of socks and tops (sports bras, girls!). I love going out for some coffee or breakfast after a morning run, and I have been able to stay warm and comfortable with a fresh pair of socks and a new top. A pair of Uggs doesn’t hurt either!

When all is said and done, you’ll be glad you made it outside! And, of course, when blizzards hit, or you just can’t find the motivation, find a dreadmill for your workout. Or, make it your off day, and don’t sweat it. Literally.


One thought on “…in cold weather

  1. I love running in the cold. Oddly enough, it gets easier to dress as it gets colder. I find that cool temperatures of -10 to -15 C ( about 14 down to zero F) is the trickiest temperatures. It’s easy to get chilled, and yet it’s easy to overdress and overheat and sweat way too much, which can whipsaw you back into getting cold again. Not good.

    From -20 to -30 C ( just below zero to -22F) it’s much more straightforward. Layer ventilation actually becomes more important than raw layers. Wind and amount of sunshine become important factors. I had to take off a couple layers once at -30 because I was running with the gentle wind, and it was very sunny. Coming back you can bet I had all the layers back on again.

    From -30 to -40 C (-22 to -40 F) wind is crucial, as is route planning so you are never too far away from indoors if you need it. Best to run with a buddy, or have someone know exactly where you are running. And no, I’m not doing sprints or intervals or anything else so ambitious.

    Maybe I’m weird, but I don’t mind running in the dark on paths that I know. It’s sort of liberating. The human eye sees much better in the dark than most people think. Not a fan of the Yaktrax but I know they work for lots of people. I’m more likely to bail on a run because it’s slippery out than because it’s cold. A couple times I have done a short loop to warm up, and then run past my house to ditch a couple layers on my steps, then go for the main portion of the run.

    Interesting idea, to go for breakfast with a buddy after a run, though most of my female buddies are going to wear more than a sports bra for that, more’s the pity.

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