November 09, 2022

Cold weather running is not for the faint of heart.

It’s hard enough getting out of your warm bed to log miles in the cold and dark—and often, snow and ice. In addition to requiring some serious mental fortitude to deal with the dangers of slipping and injuring yourself, never mind the fear we all share as solo runners of being attacked while running alone in the dark.

But there are actions you can take to stay safer:

Dress Appropriately

Layering is the name of the game. It’s much better to overdress and shed a layer, than underdress and come down with hypothermia.

  • Wear a base layer, and layer on top
  • Avoid cotton which absorbs moisture and instead, invest in sweat-wicking materials such as wool or polyester
  • Don’t forget to cover your head and hands!

Stay Safe

Running in the dark is inherent with danger. It’s important you stay safe, vigilant, and connected.

  • Wear a smart alarm such as Run Angel or Wing to scare off would-be attackers and/or contact loved ones in case of an emergency
  • Wear light-colored and reflective clothes and illuminating gear that’s easy for cars to spot
  • Carry your ID and your phone
  • Ditch the headphones
  • Be sure to let your loved ones know where you are going and when you expect to be home

Run with People

Running with other people is often the best thing you can do to stay safe…and motivated.

  • Running with others amplifies your accountability, makes running more fun, and adds a layer of protection should you be running in extreme or dangerous conditions such as in the dark
  • Don’t be shy! Ask acquaintances to share some miles. Running is a wonderful way to make fast friends
  • Investigate local running groups by reaching out to your local track club or running stores

Slow Down

  • Running in the cold and dark elevates your fall (and injury!) risk
  • Respect the conditions by slowing down. Now is not the time to worry about your pace
  • Take time to warm-up and consider running for time instead of distance
  • Upon activation both Run Angel and Wing emit a very loud alarm which will attract attention to you should you fall and suffer an injury. When connected with your smartphone device your safety wearable will also notify your guardians of your location
  • If you’re running in the snow or may encounter black ice, you may want to invest in running shoes designed with treads or spikes for traction in wintry conditions

Run Later 

If possible, aim to run later in the morning or day where conditions will be warmer and brighter. This may mean running at lunch or rearranging your schedule so you have time in your day to sneak some miles in.

Running in cold weather may require more forethought than running in the summer when the days are longer and temperatures are higher. But the rewards are big. You will be working towards your spring goals, have more energy, and the serenity and calm of running in fresh snow is unmatched.

Whitney Heins

Founder of & Certified Running Coach. Find Whitney at @themotherrunners

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