Category Archives: Running Tips

6 Tips for Staying Motivated to Run in the Winter

Last winter was a disaster for me. I couldn’t get motivated, I couldn’t get out the door, and my training really suffered. This winter, I have been much more successful, so I wanted to share my tips for staying motivated and in shape during the colder months of the year.

wearing sunglasses

  1. Sign up for a winter or spring race. Nothing motivates you to get out the door like dishing out cash and having something on the calendar to work towards.
  2. Run before work or during the day, if possible. This has probably been the biggest change between this year and last year. This year, I work completely for myself, so I have the flexibility to run during the day when it is light out and warmer. I also have more energy in the middle of the day vs. trying to go out after a solid workday.
  3. Mix it up in the gym. There are several options for staying in shape that don’t involve the treadmill, such as the stationary bike, the elliptical machine, swimming, or a cardio class. I’ve gotten in to swimming this winter, and it’s been a ton of fun (as well as a full body workout!).
  4. Work out with a friend. If someone is counting on you to meet them at the gym or for a run, you are far more likely to meet that commitment. It’s much easier to make excuses for yourself than to your accountability buddy.
  5. Get cold weather gear. This is another big one for me. I hate being cold. This year, I’ve stocked up on cold weather gear and have been able to stay warm during my runs, which makes me WAY more likely to get out there. See my guide to winter running post for more tips about layering and staying warm while you run.
  6. Don’t try to stay in peak physical condition. For me, the winter is a time to build my base and keep my conditioning. If I gain something, even better, but my main focus is not to lose anything, so I can start up again in the spring when the weather is warmer.

A Cold Girl(or Guy)’s Guide to Winter Running

I should start off by saying I grew up on the cold, snowy east coast. I never really liked the cold, but I could deal with it. Then I moved to Southern California and it ruined me. Now that I’m in Colorado, I spend most of my time during the winter trying to stay warm. So when I need to get in a run outside, it can be tough to figure out what to wear to stay warm (but not too warm once I get going).

I think I’ve got a pretty good system, so here are my best tips for when the weather is around 30 degrees. And obviously, try out different things to see what works best for you.

1. Check the weather.

Surprisingly, it’s not as simple as just looking at the temperature. Cloudy is going to be colder than sunny. Windy is going to be colder than calm. Humidity or impending snow can also affect how cold it is, so instead of looking at the main temperature, you want to look at the “feels” like temperature.

weather app

2. Wear two non-cotton layers.

Don’t wear cotton. When it gets wet, it stays wet, and you get cold. I like to wear a long-sleeved technical shirt and a light jacket (though sometimes I’ll wear a wind-resistant fleece). You will be cold when you start, but for me, two shirt layers feels just right once I get warmed up.

3. Wear full-length tights with a liner.

Tights with a warm liner are going to keep you warmer than other pants that might have more air circulation. I’ve been wearing the Hyoptik tights by 2xu, which not only are full-length with a liner, but have compression as well. The compression feature is supposed to promote blood flow and help your muscles warm up faster, too. Make sure you wear a pair of socks that comes up  at least a little higher than the tights or you will have some cold ankles!


4. A note about socks.

Again, you may want to stay away from cotton so they don’t get wet and cold. I like running in wool socks (such as Smartwool) in the winter because they give me a little bit of extra warmth, but technical socks like Feetures are also nice.

5. Don’t forget a hat and gloves.

Whether you go for an ear warmer headband or all-out with a Buff Hoodie, a warm head = a happy runner. Sometimes I pull my jacket hoodie on overtop, just to seal in the warmth. I really like my newest gloves because I can still use the touchscreen on my phone with them, a feature to consider whether you want or not.

hat and gloves

6. Packs.

I use a Spibelt to hold my phone when I run because I don’t like holding it in my hand. When you hold your phone in your hand, you also can’t do tip #7! Same thing with having to hold a water bottle, except holding water could also make your hands cold. I know several other BibRave Pros highly recommend Orange Mud hydration packs, and I am a fan of Camelbak packs.

7. Pump your fists.

Even with gloves, your hands might get cold, especially if you hold them lower when you run. By pumping/squeezing your fists occasionally, you get the blood flowing and can warm them up.

8. Spikes (if there is snow/ice).

After a particularly precarious run last year, I don’t plan to run on snow/ice without some sort of spike in my shoe. I haven’t needed any yet, but Kahtoola is a highly recommended brand. I’ve tried YakTrax, and they are a built bulky and interfere with my natural gait, so they didn’t work for me. Maybe they would be better in a bit deeper snow instead of just a thin layer on the sidewalk.

9. Keep your running buddy warm, too!

Buster in coat

For more running clothing tips in other temperatures, Runner’s World has some suggestions in What to Wear Running.