Cold Weather Running Tips

            As the winter progresses, temperatures are dropping and daylight is limited.  With the upcoming running season quickly approaching, choices need to be made. You could always run inside on a treadmill or an indoor track, but for those brave souls who dare to face old man winter, here are some tips to beat the cold.

  1. Dress the Part:  Wear layered clothing made of technical fabric to keep you warm and wick away sweat.  An easy rule is to wear enough layers that when you begin your run you should be slightly cool and warm up to a comfortable temperature within 10-15 minutes.  Top layers should have zippers for quick access to vent heat if you get too warm.  A winter hat and gloves are essential and are easy to stow away if need be.   Pick a shoe that has the least amount of mesh to keep heat in and the elements out.   Moisture wicking socks are essential to keep toes warm and dry.  “There is an increased risk of hypothermia when a person is wet and the temperatures are low,” says Amanda Weiss Kelly, MD and Division Chief of Pediatric Sports Medicine at University Hospitals.  “Wearing waterproof gear when it is raining or snowing can decrease the risk of hypothermia.”
  2. Be Seen:  Limited daylight means limited visibility.  Reflective clothing, bright colors, clip-on blinking lights, and headlamps are great accessories that help you see and be seen. 
  3. Run into the wind first:  Run with the wind in your face to start so it’s at your back on the second half of the run.  The opposite leaves you hot and sweaty at the turning point, which then allows the wind to be very cold and uncomfortable.  Robert Flannery, MD is a Sports Medicine Physician at University Hospitals.  “The wind can dry out your skin so it is important to protect it.  Try to cover exposed areas of skin.  Moisturizing can also prevent the effects of wind burn.”  Use Vaseline to protect areas of exposed skin, especially your face.
  4. Drink up:  Staying hydrated is just as important in the winter as it is in the summer.  “Just because it is cold doesn’t mean you won’t sweat,” says Dr. Flannery.  Be sure you are getting the appropriate fluids before, during, and after your runs.  Public buildings such as libraries or hospitals are good places for a quick rest stop as there are usually water fountains inside.
  5. Plan your route:  Run in areas that are plowed if snowfall has occurred.  Many times sidewalks are not clear and the roads will be.  If you run on the road, select roads that have less traffic.  Also running against traffic allows you to monitor drivers and can give you adequate time to leave the road if need be.
  6. Icy conditions:  Runners should be very cautious with running when ice is present on the roads or paths, as falls can lead to significant injury.  Running specialty stores sell items that clip to running shoes to help with gripping the ice and providing stability for those that choose to run in these conditions.  In severe cases, runners should choose an indoor option or be willing to alter their running plans until favorable conditions are present.
  7. Post Run Recovery:  Change into dry clothing immediately after completing your run.  Have an electrolyte replacement drink to rehydrate.  Eat a small meal that that is rich in carbohydrates and has some protein in it as well.  Stretch any muscles that are sore or tight.  After that, sit back with a hot beverage and brag to all your friends how amazingly winterproof you are on your runs!

            Have a running related injury or need to see a University Hospitals Sports Medicine specialist?  Make an appointment at a location close to home by calling  216-983-PLAY (7529) or visit

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