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Winter running: the ultimate guide

Marathon training. Speed runs. Keeping up your weekly mileage. No matter your goals, hitting them year round means lacing up in cold weather. The good news: with the right winter running essentials and knowledge, you can stay active - and healthy - all winter long. 

What should you wear to jog in winter? What are the best shoes and socks to run in the snow or on icy roads? And how cold is too cold to run?

Get our best tips for running in the cold in this winter running guide.

Running in the cold: what are the benefits? 

Why should you consider winter running? There’s lots to recommend it. Getting vitamin D when we tend to miss out on it most. Boosting endorphins to fight off seasonal affective disorder. Plus, anyone who’s run through lots of snow can tell you it’s a killer leg workout.

Most important, though, is consistency throughout the year. And let’s be honest. Can you think of anything better than returning to a warm shower after you’ve conquered your chilly mileage for the day?

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How cold is too cold?

First things first. Consider your health when going for a run in winter. Some people experience discomfort breathing or a burning chest. Cold air can irritate the lungs, so check in with yourself and how you’re feeling.

Then, think about the outside temp. Most days, just dress for running in the cold and you’re good to go. But below -27℃ (-18℉), tissue injury can occur in 30 minutes or less. Even when you’ve geared up with the best winter running jacket, gloves, ear warmers and socks, any expert will advise caution. 

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Winter running advice

So you’ve decided to brave the cold. How to prepare? Here are some winter running tips to help you get the most out of every stride.

  • Before heading out, warm up your muscles and joints.
  • Use a three-layer system - plus accessories like socks, hats and gloves - to stay warm and reduce the chance of injury.
  • During your run, start slow and stay hydrated even if you don’t feel thirsty.
  • Afterwards, change out of any damp clothing and drink a warm beverage to heat up.

How to dress for running in cold weather

Your best defence against cold weather is proper kit. ODLO’s running gear is designed to keep you moving no matter what mother nature throws at you. Layer up to regulate your temperature and take your cold-weather runs to the next level.

Running base layers 

A good base layer pulls moisture from your skin to keep you dry and warm. Winter is a great time to consider a long-sleeve base layer. Our favourites at ODLO include the Blackcomb Eco long sleeve or Performance Warm Eco long sleeve.

Don’t forget to protect your legs. Thermal or fleece-lined running tights offer a cosy fit to keep heat in. ODLO’s X-Alp winter running tights or Run Easy Yakwarm tights are a great place to start.

What about your feet? Thermal socks, like ODLO’s Active Warm running crew socks, will keep your toes toasty. And make sure your shoes have good grip for those icy patches on the road.

Mid layers for running  

Mid layers like a long sleeve shirt or hoody add extra insulation on top of your base. They help keep you warm while staying breathable throughout your run.

ODLO’s X-Alp Ceramiwarm half zip mid layer or our Zeroweight Ceramiwarm reflective running half-zip will keep you insulated (and visible) for those early nights.

Jackets for running in winter 

Outer layers shield you from the elements so you and your under layers stay warm and dry. The best winter running jacket depends on the conditions. Unless it’s very cold or raining, a lightweight, waterproof shell is ideal. Something like ODLO’s Zeroweight Dual Dry waterproof running jacket, for example. The thin, flexible material insulates without adding bulk. There are as many jackets as there are running styles, so take a look at some of ODLO’s options in our jacket guide to find your perfect match. 

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No winter running outfit is complete without some extras. Don’t forget to protect your ears from frostbite. We love the Revelstoke Performance Wool beanie for winter. And the Ceramiwarm headband is perfect for running with ponytails. Want a two-in-one option? The Active Warm Eco neck scarf protects your neck from the wind or it can double as a hat. Next, extremities cool quickly, so gloves are a must. Something like our Ceramiwarm Light gloves. Thermoregulating and reflective for warmer, safer runs.

Gear good to go? Then suit up to make the most out of your winter runs. 

Best-selling winter running apparel