How to Run in the Snow – And Actually Enjoy It

A man and woman run in the snow, smiling.

You’re awoken by your early morning alarm and, after pressing snooze a couple of times, you look out the window to see what awaits you on your morning run. That’s when you see the thick, white flakes of snow falling from the sky and blanketing the ground. Is your first reaction to groan or grin? From preventing frostbite to staying upright, running in the snow poses a different set of challenges than running in dry weather. No matter how you feel about running in the snow, use these six tips to make the most of your next snowy run.

1. Warm Up Before Heading Out

Every great run starts with a great warm up. Check out this 3-minute follow along dynamic warm-up to activate your muscles and prepare your body for the demands of running in the snow. Warming up inside will help elevate your body temperature and reduce the amount of time needed to get your muscles firing smoothly in the cold weather. Once you’re primed and ready to go, you’re likely to feel more comfortable as you head out the door and start your run.

Bonus tip: Set your GPS watch up outside while you warm up so you don’t have to stand around in the snow waiting for it to load.

A man wearing gloves gets his watch ready to start running.

2. Stay Safe and Warm with the Right Gear

With the right winter running gear, running in the snow can feel exhilarating instead of frigid and miserable. Aim to layer your clothing with a moisture-wicking base layer, a warm mid layer and a weatherproof outer layer. Wearing multiple, thinner layers while running in the snow will help keep you warm rather than bigger, bulky layers that can obstruct your movement. It will also give you the option to remove a layer if you start feeling toasty.

Running in the snow requires covering up places that you typically don’t think about, like your ears, nose and fingers. These areas are susceptible to frostbite, which can occur in temperatures below 31 degrees fahrenheit. If it’s cold enough to snow, it’s probably cold enough for frostbite.

Finally, having the right footwear for a snowy run is essential, and different conditions require different gear. Whether you’re running on road or trail, if there’s snow on the ground, a trail shoe will give you more traction than a road shoe. When running on ice or a deep layer of snow, a traction device such as Yaktrax or Kahtoolas fits over your goes to lock in your grip and give you control in slippery conditions.

Learn more about how to winterize your running wardrobe here.

3. Don't Look at Pace

A man runs through snow.

Running in the snow poses more challenges than just the freezing temperatures. You’ll be using different muscle groups than you would on dry pavement because the unpredictable terrain forces you to slow down and use more of your stabilizer muscles. If you’re a road runner who’s ever gone on an impromptu trail run, you understand the feeling. For this reason, we recommend that you throw pace goals out the window and simply focus on your form, your breathing and the beautiful, snowy scenery around you.

4. Snap Some Photos

If you didn’t take a photo on your run, did it even happen? If you want your running buddies to see how tough you are as you power through the snow, snap a few selfies with your camera. You can even make a running snow angel once you finish your workout. Bonus points if your eyelashes are frozen!

5. Treat Yourself

A woman sits in a coffee shop with a pastry.

You braved the freezing temperatures and slick sidewalks, and now it’s time for the best part – a post-run treat! Warm up with a steaming cup of coffee or hot chocolate, or maybe you even have some leftover pie from a recent holiday gathering.

Don’t forget to hydrate, stretch and spend some quality time with your favorite massage tool. You worked lots of different muscles while running in the snow, so you may be more sore than normal.

6. Know When to Stay Indoors

Running in the snow is a fun challenge, but there are days when it’s too icy, or too cold to run outside. When temperatures hit zero degrees and below, exposed skin can freeze within 30 minutes, and we recommend that you don’t brave the conditions. Check out these three treadmill workouts to catch that runner’s high from home.

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