Why Run In Winter


As many of you know, I LOVE to train outdoors. When I discuss this with many of you, I hear a lot of “I love to run in the Summer but I HATE being outside in the cold.”


While I do understand this mindset, Running outside presents a tremendous opportunity for a quick and effective way to add in some extra fitness time, especially given our current mild winter. That immune system boost we get from a cold workout, along with the extra calorie burn can work wonders during the doldrums of Winter.  I know from first hand experience that many of you do not like being too warm when you work out (case in point…fans always on and open doors and windows during class in the gym). So if you can just get through that first 5-10 minutes of being outside, you may find the weather this time of year to be much more preferable to the warmer days–especially when the sun is shining!  Here are some helpful tips for successful cold weather activity.


  1.  Invest in some decent gear.  A warm pair of gloves, heat trapping windproof/water-resistant windbreaker, wool hat (or headband) and some decent running socks go a long way.
  2. WARM UP–literally!  It’s important to dress as though the temp was about 15 degrees warmer than it actually is outside; however this is not always the best way to START the run.  I do my mobility drills at home and then spend about 5-10 minutes at a low intensity jog. Once that’s done I assess my clothing and remove any unnecessary layers to avoid overheating during my run.  
  3. Find a buddy!  Finding someone (or a group) to keep you accountable to getting out there is key.  Knowing someone is waiting for me on those mornings where the bed is toasty warm definitely gets me rolling.  
  4. Aim for minutes, not miles.  If you don’t typically run in cooler weather, your pace may alter.  Terrain, clothing, climate–all of these may slow your pace. For example, the 3 mile run that usually takes you 30-35 minutes in the Spring & Summer may take upwards of 40-45 minutes. This can result in setting an unrealistic or unachievable activity goal. Shifting focus to an appropriate amount of time on your feet is the best way to enjoy a workout.
  5. Pick a Spring goal.  There are many races that occur during the Spring, which is of course the optimal time to run!  Humidity is at bay and the sun is usually shining. Training during the Winter months is essential for Spring racing. The benefits here are that you can usually find a structured program that gets you outside and moving while still having a protocol to follow, eliminating the thinking over things like how long, how far, how fast etc.


So, in short, go find a buddy, pick a race and get moving!  I doubt you will regret it!


-Dori Kershner

Coach Aspire Fitness


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