Fall is a runner’s paradise. We don’t have to worry about overheating in the sweltering summer sun. The changing leaves make this ideal trail running weather. Plus, the running calendar is packed with races from 5ks to ultra marathons!  Make the most of the season with these tips and tricks for running in cold weather.

  1. The cooler temperatures make it even more important to warm up. Jog at an easy pace for 15-20 minutes and then perform dynamic stretches and running drills before beginning speed workouts. An extended warm-up will better prepare you to nail the workout, especially when running in cold weather.
  2. Shoes are the most important item of your running gear. Shoes are also the most individualized item of running gear.  The shoes that your best friend or running celebrity crush wears might not be the best type for you. Get fitted for shoes at a store to ensure the proper fit. Most companies debut new shoe models in the fall, meaning the previous models go on sale!
  3. Changing temperatures also mean changing clothing. As a rule of thumb when you’re running in cold weather, dress like it’s 20 degrees warmer out. For example, if it’s 45 degrees outside, dress like it’s 65. You want to be chilly while standing around waiting for your watch to sync; you’ll warm up after the first mile. Have different layers ready, depending on the weather: wicking base layers, a vest, a light jacket, a heavy jacket, gloves, a buff and ear warmers. That way you can mix and match depending on temperature.
  4. If you’re a morning runner, check the weather the night before and lay out your running clothes. This will let you sleep in just a few extra minutes. The same thing goes for races! The night before a race, lay out everything – clothes, nutrition, bib, throwaway clothes – to make sure you have everything ready for a stellar performance running in cold weather.
  5. Running on hills gives the benefits of speed and strength training combined! Add hill repeats into your training rotation to improve your power, running form, endurance and anaerobic capacity. A quick workout is 10×1 minute repeats. Jog easy for 1-2 miles to warm up, then run the up fast for a minute and jog easy down to recover. Finish with easy miles to cool down. Play around with the number, length, grade and frequency of the repeats as you progress through training.
  6. Smiling during an intense workout will trick the brain into thinking it’s easier. Instead of giving in and slowing down, try holding pace and smiling instead.
  7. After hard workouts, prioritize eating whole, clean protein and complex carbohydrates. This will give your body the fuel it needs to repair and build stronger muscles. Prioritizing healthy food choices can help you train smarter, not harder. Health Warrior Pumpkin Seed Bars have 8g of plant-based protein and pumpkin seeds pack magnesium which can help muscles recover more efficiently.
  8. Stress + rest = growth. The improvements in performance do not happen during a workout. They happen in the 24-48 hours after. This means that if you want to make gains, you need to rest and recover properly. Space out hard workout sessions, leaving at least 24 hours between.
  9. Get caught in a chilly rain? The easiest (and cheapest) way to quickly dry out shoes is to remove the insoles and stuff them with newspaper.  The paper absorbs the water so by the next day your shoes are dry!
  10. Running in cold weather means chilly hands. If your running store is out of thick winter running gloves, no problem! Wear a pair of latex gloves underneath a pair of running gloves for warmth and protection without breaking the bank.
  11. The temperatures are dropping and soon there will be snow and ice on the sidewalks. Wear trail shoes if it’s particularly icy. They are designed to have better traction than road shoes, so you’ll reduce your risk of slipping.
  12. Use an insulated handheld water bottle in the colder temperatures to prevent from your water from freezing. If you don’t have an insulated water bottle, you can mix in some electrolyte drink to lower the freezing temperature of water.
  13. At least one day a week, go watch-less and run based on feel. This will train you to be more in tune with your body and learn to run off of effort. Always feeling pressure to stay on a certain pace can make running less enjoyable. Plus, GPS pace can be unreliable during races.
  14. Have a mantra to come back to when things get tough. A simple, repetitive, positive word or phrase can keep you focused and help you accomplish a goal. “Strong legs, strong body, strong mind” or “You are fast, you are fit, you are strong” are two mantras I use in racing.
  15. Fall is a great time to find new running routes or experiment with trail running.  Use the weeks after a race to go on some running adventures. Exploring new locations and getting out into nature can be a welcome break after months of intense and structured training. The most important thing is to enjoy running and have fun!