Six Rules for Running in Winter Weather

I know so many others have written about this topic lately, why do we need yet another running in cold weather post in the blogosphere?

You never know when you say something in a slightly different way, that somebody remembers the next time they go outside for their winter run.

Here are my rules for that may make your winter running routine a little safer.

My Six Rules of Winter Running

First rule – of winter running (when it gets colder) – NO COTTON! Save cotton clothes for lounging around the house after you get done running in front of the fireplace.  That means no cotton socks, briefs, t-shirts, etc., they rob you of your body heat once you start sweating and they get wet.  This means you will get colder faster.

Second rule – Slow down, if the weather is crappy, don’t try for a PR and land on your heinie or get yourself injured because you were going too fast for the conditions. Tendons and muscles are not nearly as elastic in cold weather and sooner or later you will slip, slide and go boom, which could result in an injury and time away from running.

Third rule – Be seen! Dress in bright colors that contrast with the environment you are running in. Wear reflective gear, if you are running in dawn, dusk or dark conditions and carry a flashlight/headlamp.

Fourth rule – Bring your cell phone if you have one.  Getting rescued is a lot easier this way.

Fifth rule – Use shorter courses and do more laps. Hell yes it is a lot more boring to do laps, but if the weather is nasty, suddenly gets worse or it is really cold, it is better to be safe and only have a short distance to get back home, than it is to be a long ways away and take a chance on something bad happening.  Also you are more likely to have injuries in the winter – slipping, falling, getting splashed by cars, feet getting wet, etc., so think about shorter courses and more laps, until the weather improves.

Don’t over estimate your current running abilities during the winter, if anything be very conservative, Mother Nature is a cruel mistress and doesn’t treat those who believe they are more prepared or fitter than they really are nicely.

Sixth rule – Cars/Trucks Win. Even if you have the right of way, being dead or injured is not worth being right. As we know in bad weather, vehicles respond differently than they do on bright sunny days on dry pavement. Metal wins when it impacts flesh and bones. Your heirs will not appreciate the doctor bills or the funeral costs. Even if you do survive the impact, you won’t be running for a while. Remember this when you are running in the winter, even if you have the right of way, yield it for your own safety.

Those are my personal rules for running in the Winter – I try to follow them, but usually forget the cell phone and once in a while will wear a cotton t-shirt and really regret it when it gets soaked and I get friggin cold while running – I do that one at least a couple of times during the winter running season.

No – none of these rules apply if you are running on a treadmill in a 70 degree room.

Where did I dream up all this stuff?

  • I have read a lot of books, magazines and yes blogs that give a lot of helpful insight into winter running and this is a summation of all the stuff that I learned.
  • I have been running for a long time (40+ years) and have made most of the mistakes that you can make while running during the winter. While gaining this experience I was extremely lucky on more than a couple of occasions that I wasn’t seriously injured or worse – especially learning that yield to vehicles lesson.

Running outside in the Winter is not that bad once you are outside, getting out the door is usually the biggest hurdle, so as they say have fun and do it. However, there are days that it is better to just take a rest day and stay inside where it is warm, so use your common sense and be safe.

Do you have any additional rules for running during the winter that I missed or you believe should have been included?