Hi Hayley,

Any recommendations for running outdoors during winter in -5 temperature? Or is that not even worth exploring. I run on an on-off basis on treadmill (although more off than on these days) and would like to start running outdoors. It is starting to get chilly in Toronto so will it be too much diving in the deep end by starting outdoor running in the cold? Or should I just wait until when the weather gets warm? 



Of course, start running outdoors now! There will always be an excuse to not start something and who knows, Toronto may not warm up until June!  

Nothing needs to change in how far you run or how often you run but make sure you know that sometimes running outdoors can feel more challenging than running on a treadmill, for a little while anyway. Also, be mindful of the fact that it takes a lot more focus to run in cold weather as you have to watch out for icy patches and run a bit slower so you don’t slip which means your usual distance may take a bit longer to complete.  

The key to running outside is investing in good quality gear and layering properly. You want all of your clothing to wick moisture away from your skin and clothing that does this can be pricey, but these items will last a long time so don’t be afraid to invest in yourself and your goals to run outside. I would suggest starting with a wool base layer. Ice Breaker makes great wool socks, underwear and bras that will not itch your skin but will keep you dry. Even though it is cold out you will still sweat, so you want to make sure that sweat does not stay on your skin.

You will want a pair of fleece-brushed or warm running tights as you will most likely only have one layer on your legs. For your upper body try a moisture wicking tank top (I also use a wool product for this) then layer over that a long sleeve warm top. As you get further away from the clothes next to your skin you can spend a little less but, in all honesty, products that are wool based will keep you warm. There are many companies out there that make products like this so shop around. MEC is a good place to start.

As for your shoes either invest in some Yaktrax, which are little spikes you can clamp onto the bottom of your shoes or purchase a good pair of trail runners that will keep your feet dry and provide you with a solid grip. I would opt for the first option as they will allow you to run on snow as if it was dry pavement. However, I like warm trail runners for cold weather running to keep my feet from going numb from the cold.

You are also going to want a moisture wicking toque that will cover your ears and some warm running mittens. A jacket is also a must, and should also moisture wick, but I run hot (all the time) so I go jacketless myself, even in the coldest of temperatures, as long as I have the proper layers on.  Shop around for your jacket and don’t be afraid to spend a lot on it as you will have it forever.  

Make sure your top layers are reflective as the winter months are a lot darker than the summer so you will want to be seen. Trust me, cars are not expecting to see runners out running in sub zero temperatures. Buy a light that you can clip onto your hat or jacket (many running shops give these away for free) for extra visibility.

One more tip is starting your workout on the treadmill for a few minutes before heading outside.  

You always have to dress to the elements when running outdoors. Hot weather running presents different challenges than cold weather running but all can be addressed through proper clothing and hydration.