Cold Weather Running Guidelines

By Dr. Donald A. Ozello DC

Las Vegas Informer

Prepare your body for cold weather exercise. Follow these guidelines to run efficiently, maintain a healthy body temperature and keep yourself safe.

Running in every type of weather presents its challenges. Cold weather running is no exception.

As humans, we are warm weather mammals that require clothing and shelter to survive in extreme cold temperatures. In colder temperatures our body must work hard to maintain a healthy core temperature. The body reduces blood flow to the extremities to keep the core temperature at a healthy level. Also, nerve impulses slow down in colder temperatures.

Receive maximum benefit from cold weather training by dressing properly, erring on the side of caution, keeping your eyes on the road, listening to your body’s signals and performing a quality warm-up and cool down.

Dress for Success: Proper attire is vital to successful cold weather running. Wear the correct amount of clothes. Too little clothing is risky while too much clothing is cumbersome.

During exercise the body heats up quickly. Dress for a temperature that is slightly warmer than the temperature outside.

Dress in layers and avoid bulky outer clothing. The innermost layer should be thin, comfortable and fairly tight fitting. Several thin layers trap the warm air and work better at keeping us warm than one thick cover. The outer layer should be waterproof and wind resistance.

Cover your head and hands. Heat escapes through uncovered body parts. Wearing long sleeves, gloves and a knit hat helps reduce heat loss.

Several companies sell high quality apparel manufactured specifically for winter training. Educate yourself on these products. Use them to increase the productivity, safety and enjoyment of cold weather running.

Err on the Side of Caution: Exercise to increase your health and fitness not to feed your ego. If the weather is too cold, too wet, too windy, too snowy or too icy, use common sense and train indoor. If the weather is miserable outside, stay indoors and perform a different type of exercise.

The safest time to run is during daylight hours. Sunshine warms the body. Sunlight allows you and the drivers of vehicles to see well. Improved visibility helps reduce accidents and falls.

Execute several laps of a shorter course closer to your home. Staying closer to your starting point allows you the option of heading for shelter if the weather becomes worse or if an injury occurs. A short run home in a downpour is more desirable than a long one. Walking a minimal distance in cold weather with an injury is much quicker and easier than struggling through a long walk.

Always carry your phone and ID card for precautionary measures.

Keep your Eyes on the Road: Be vigilant and pay close attention to the road. Watch for ice and debris, especially when going around corners. Slipping and falling can result in serious injury which can derail your training efforts and negatively affect your health. Be as safe as possible, avoid slip and falls and sidestep icy surfaces by keeping your eyes on the road.

Listen to your Body’s Signals: Cold weather is taxing. The body must adjust to the cooler temperatures. In most cases, the temperature drops slowly during the fall giving the body time to adapt. The body gets used to the temperature change and adjusts to it. A temperature that seems cold in the fall usually feels warm in the spring.

Pay close attention to your body’s signals to prevent injury and sickness. As the temperature drops the lungs may sting from breathing in colder air. Gradually the lungs will become accustomed to the cooler air. The burning pain should dissipate after several runs.

Breathing through your nose warms and filters the cold air. Attempt to use nasal breathing as long as you can while running in colder temperatures.

Numbness and tingling in the hands and feet can be a serious issue and requires attention. When running in cold weather the body works hard to maintain a healthy core temperature to protect the internal organs. This means less blood flow to the extremities. Resulting in numbness and tingling in the fingers and toes. Feeling should return fairly quickly. It may return only to disappear again.

If the numbness and tingling in the extremities or any other body part persists or worsens then frostbite may be beginning. Be safe and head inside immediately. Warm your entire body especially the areas of numbness and tingling.

Warm-Up & Cool Down: A proper warm-up and cool down are essential in all temperatures. The importance of a thorough warm-up and cool down is amplified during cold weather. Start your warm-up inside then move outside when ready. Prepare your body for running with dynamic motions and static stretches.

Continue moving when your run is complete. Don’t let yourself get cold. Perform dynamic motions for the entire body especially the spine, hips, knees, feet and hands. Execute several static stretches to lessen muscle tension.

Once your cool down is complete proceed indoors. Change out of your wet, sweaty training clothes quickly and get into a hot shower to warm the body.

Conclusion: Running is terrific exercise. Cold weather doesn’t have to detract you from achieving your running goals. Implement these simple to apply guidelines to ensure your cold weather running is as productive as possible. Be safe, use common sense and train hard to continue your running success.

Dr_Donald_A_Ozello_thumb_medium150_Dr. Donald A. Ozello DC

Dr. Donald A. Ozello DC is the owner and treating doctor at Championship Chiropractic. 6445 S. Tenaya Way, Suite #120, Las Vegas, NV 89113.  His web address is He can be contacted at (702) 286-9040 and

Dr. Donald A. Ozello’s mission is to educate and inspire others to live healthier, fitter, more functional lives.

Dr. Donald A. Ozello DC proudly handles Standard Process Supplements and Foot Levelers Orthotics.

Dr. Donald A. Ozello DC writes a weekly health, fitness and nutrition column for the Las Vegas Informer. His is published in OnFitness and . He has educational health, fitness and nutritional videos on Informer TV and

Dr. Donald A. Ozello DC is an award-winning public speaker. He has spoken to numerous groups on the importance of health, fitness, exercise, ergonomics, nutrition and injury prevention.

Dr. Donald A. Ozello DC is a fitness enthusiast. Functional kettlebell training, running and bike riding are his favorite types of exercise.

Before pursuing his career in Chiropractic, Dr. Donald A. Ozello DC served in the United States Navy aboard the USS Bremerton, SSN 698.

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