Running in the Cold: Big Deal or No?

It’s 40 degrees (or colder) in the middle of December and you see people running outside. Are they crazy? That’s what we’ve asked ourselves. I mean, who wants to run outside in the freezing cold?! Then we decided to look into it before judging. Is running in the cold really a big deal? Is it as bad as it looks? The CGS Team was curious to find out the facts for running in freezing weather, and we are looking forward to sharing them with you!

20 Degrees Warmer When Running

According to sports medicine professional Dr. Stephen Pribut, “you should think of yourself as being 20 degrees warmer when running in contrast to just standing still.” Well that puts things into perspective! Even if you are running in 40 degree weather, your body is treating it like 60 degree weather, which is much more reasonable. Dressing warm can also contribute to increasing your body temperature. Dr. Pribut adds that walking will not make you feel 20 degrees warmer, so stick to running.

Opt for a Moderate Run, Rather than Speed

“Your muscles need to be warmed up sufficiently before the more intense contractions of speed work. It is not easy to do that in cold and extremely cold weather.” If you plan to run in the cold weather, make sure you’re going for endurance instead of speed. Dr. Pribut raises a good point in saying that muscles don’t warm up as easily when the temperature is cold, duh. Not to mention, the excess clothing makes it harder to really get your speed up.

Changes in Energy Sources

According to Runner Academy, “as the temperature decreases below 50 degrees, your performance can be subject to decline.” One of the main reasons for the increased time it takes to reach a mile is because your body is changing how it uses energy. “As the temperature drops your body increases carbohydrate consumption as a source of fuel and reduces the reliance on fat consumption.  As carbohydrates are an important source for energy for distance running you drain your reserves faster than you would at warmer temperatures.” Make sure you eat some healthy carbs before you head out for your run!

Consider Your Safety

Onset of hypothermia and frost bite are some safety risks to consider when running in extremely cold weather. If you notice a loss of concentration or coordination while outside, immediately get to warmer temperatures. Also, if you are running in weather that’s below freezing, monitor your sweat. It’s very possible for sweat to freeze onto your skin, causing frost bite or frost nip. Try wearing dry-fit apparel which locks in sweat. Remember to keep your head covered as well, because up to 25% more of body heat can be lost through the head.

Tips for Running in the Cold

Well now that we have confirmed there is nothing wrong with running in the cold, we can tackle it! While researching, we came across a great article titled “10 Tips for Running in the Cold” by Runner’s World. If you are ready to brave the cold weather and get out for a run, definitely give this article a quick read through!


Well, now we really have no excuse to get out and sweat (a little) with a cold weather run! Do any CGS members like running in the cold? What tips do you have for maximizing your run when it’s freezing outside? What clothing do you like to wear to keep warm? We are new to this subject, so your feedback will help us learn! Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

-The CGS Team



2 thoughts on “Running in the Cold: Big Deal or No?”

  1. I think this is a big deal for me. I have not tried running during winter as I dont like running during extreme weather conditions but maybe I should try? Who knows I might like it better than spring and summer.

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