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Do You Run Through the Winter?

Even though it's spring, the snow's coming down at an admirable rate as I write this. A little April Fools joke from Mother Nature I suppose.

I for one, actually prefer winter weather for running. The ice and slop is kinduva drag, but there is bare pavement or hardpacked snow often enough, and I just love the cold air for a workout. Winter is when I really get into longer distances and hill repeats.

Plus, dramatic weather has a way of turning an ordinary run into a badass adventure. I like getting slapped around by the elements for a bit (then coming back to the house for a hot shower).

In fact, I think summer is my least favorite time for running.

Anyone else?

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10 Replies

In my experience, cold weather is much easier to handle than hot weather (mostly experience in southern Arizona).  You can always add layers, but you can only strip down so far....

Ideal temp for  a marathon is 50F.  Spectators are cold but for runners it is just right,,,,

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Running in winter is easier than during mud season...  I do question runs when it's 15 though.  Sometimes the sun and lack of wind makes it hard to resist.

Agree with the above.  It's easier to run in cooler temperatures than in hotter ones.  I do kind of hate running head on into cold winds, though.  Drys out my contacts.


Retired medical technologist and engineer
REI member since 1978
Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

I enjoy running in the snow as long as it's not too windy. 20-30 degrees is my sweet spot for cold weather running. 30-40 degrees is tough for me because I tend to overheat in my layers around that temperature.

That being said, I learned to love running while I was living in the deep south, so I hold a very unpopular love for warm weather running, especially in 60-80 degree weather. As long as I don't go too fast and stay hydrated, I'm happy!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Agreed that cold weather is easier to prepare for than hot. You can't dress for heat, as they say. You can, but nothing you can wear is actually going to make 105 degrees comfortable unless you happen to really love running when it's 105. I have and I found it way harder than any day I've run at minus 10 degrees F. 

I will confess that as I get older, I am raising the lowest temp at which I will run outside.  Used to be minus 20. Nowadays, I don't wanna run if it's below 0 F. I will if I'm meeting people, but I will wuss out if it's just a regular training run or nothing crucial like a 20-miler.

Distance running dad. Talks too much about Montana. Bad fly fishing lover.

I no longer run, but do try to walk 5 miles everyday, and agree with all of the above!

REI Member Since 1979

Agree with above. I would rather it be cold and layer up than it be miserable and hot. That said, I get really specific about what layers I take with me and how I layer. The only issue for me running in cold weather is I hate wearing a beanie and so my head will eventually get cold, but that is less important to me than wearing gloves for my hands.

Texas Wanderer

Good article on the topic:

I would add, however, that it's important to use discretion about running on groomed trails. If they were intended for bikes or skiing, you could be putting a bunch of deep prints all over a neatly groomed trail.

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

When I was young I loved the hot weather and doing activities in the hot weather.  It helped then that I tended to sweat less than most others around me.  Now, I sweat like I'm in a shower during warmer weather, so, no matter how "technical" the clothing I wear is, when it is completely soaked through "moisture wicking" means nothing!  Although I am, in general, a cold person and get cold easily (and hate being cold), I am actually a "hot runner."  I run hot and even a couple runs I did below zero, with a simple, thin baselayer top and slightly heavier wind shirt (light summer running hat, ear muffs, buff, thick knee high mountaineering socks, regular tights, medium thickness gloves), I ended up sweating such that when I was done - my breath had frozen on my face, the small brim of my light running hat was frozen with my sweat, and, when I took off my wind shirt, condensation from my body heat had frozen on the inside of it!!  But, I was comfortable the whole time (other than the first mile that it took for my body to warm up).  If I had had to stand around with no shelter, it would have been a disaster with my sweaty wet clothing in the icy winds, but, luckily I cooled down a bit and jumped in my Xterra and all was good.

I do enjoy winter running, especially when it is between 25-30 degrees.  I also use winter running to hone my layering strategies for inclement weather.  Go out in all weather - rain, freezing rain, snow, wind, and use that time to figure out what works best for you so, if you race and encounter that type of weather on race day, you know how to handle it.