How to Dress Best for Running in Cold Weather

running in cold weather cold-weather running

The temperature is dropping, the leaves are turning brown, but do you really need to change your running routine with the changing seasons? Once snow piles on the ground and it’s below zero, sure, it’s safe to say your cold-weather running days are over until the temperature heats up. However, you don’t need to stop those hill sprints once that first leaf hits the ground, as temperatures in the first part of winter are warm enough to be safe and tolerable.

If you’re thinking of hitting the trails in the fall and early winter, you’ll need to make sure you’re prepared for whatever the forecast sends you way. First off, it’s cold, and secondly, it's cold. But chances are if you're reading this, you're game for a frosty workout. In the winter there’s often snow, hail, cold rain, and other unpredictable weather conditions that can make that run feel a whole lot harder.

Running in cold weather can be hit or miss at times. Luckily, the right set of gear and apparel can make it a lot easier, and you’ll feel warmer and have more motivation to stick with your training program. Here’s what to do to maximize your wintertime runs. 

First Things First

Check the forecast. If you wake up to a morning snowstorm, you’ll need to take that run to the treadmill instead. Try to plan your outdoor runs accordingly by monitoring weather reports for the week, so while it might change day-of, at least you'll have a good estimate!

Layer Up

If you’re running outdoors once late fall and winter hit, you’ll need to layer up. Start with a sweat-wicking base layer, which could be a tank or have short sleeves. Then add the best mix for you — long sleeve shirts with a vest work great in brisk weather, and for when it drops below freezing, an insulated training sweatshirt plus jacket may be in order. Plus, “cold” can be a bit different for some people depending on their internal body temperature, how quickly they sweat, and the climate in which they live!


Beyond adding layers when running in cold weather, you should also add accessories, like running gloves and a hat. Gloves will preserve warmth in your hands and fingers, which can lose heat quickly when you’re running in cold weather, and the hat will protect your head and ears (you know that feeling of cold wind in your ears? Definitely something you want to avoid). You might even try sunglasses just in case the wind is strong and your eyes are sensitive.

Wear the Right Footwear

The light sneakers you donned in summer just won’t do when you’re running in the fall and winter, as there might be snow on the ground and you’ll need shoes that offer more traction and support. Your cold-weather running shoes should have outsoles with grippy lugs or maybe even an integrated knit sock or high-top feature to keep your ankles nice and toasty. (Here’s a great guide to the best running shoes for winter.)

Wear Compression Gear

You might love wearing shorts or capri style leggings for a run in spring or summer, but (just like with your sneakers) this summer gear won’t do when you’re running in cold weather. To protect your extremities, you’ll need high, thick socks that warm your ankles, feet, toes, and calves, as well as long leggings that’ll cover the skin and provide tightness. 

It’s also a good idea to try compression leggings in particular, as the technology helps boost circulation and blood flow to the muscles and heart. You can wear compression shirts and sweaters, as well as the socks and leggings. This will create more warmth in your body. 

All dressed up? You’re set! Just don’t forget to swipe on aluminum-free deodorant before you leave for your run, as it’ll keep odors at bay and fight moisture that can create dampness under the armpits and cause the body to feel cooler than it is. A few swipes of Type:A locks in the sweat-wicking technology that’ll keep you fresh during the duration of your outdoor run.

Ready to hit the trails? Just make sure you've got your cold-weather running gear and your favorite safe deodorant on hand.


Written by Isadora Baum