October 7, 2022

Tales from a Winter-Weather Runner by Jason Saltmarsh

Tales from a Winter-Weather Runner

Running in low temperatures is not recommended by mothers. If you’re a cautious person and enjoy the safety, warmth and predictability of the treadmill then read no further. But, if you’re looking for a running experience that defines toughness and catapults you beyond others that sit comfortably in their homes as you stride past, read on.

Running outside this time of year requires something extra in terms of motivation. It can be difficult to stick to your plan any time of the year. Right now is gut-check time. Not many runners are out there on the roads and trails right now. If you see one, you know at least 3 things about them. 1. They’re serious 2. They’re tough 3. They’re uncomfortable.

I ran an 8 mile loop by the ocean today when it was a balmy 10 degrees outside. The wind chill was around -5 to -10 degrees. Here’s how it went:

Mile 1 – I can’t fill my lungs without coughing cold air. Nose starts to sting as I approach 1/2 mile mark. My nose runs faster than I do.

Mile 2 – Why won’t these mittens keep my fingers warm? Feeling in the 2nd and 3rd toes is gone.

Mile 3 – Hands are warm now, sweat beginning to drip from underneath my hat. Toes are still incommunicado.

Mile 4 – Feeling has come back in my toes. My hands are sweaty. I want to curse every truck that passes by and blasts me with fumes and frigid air.

Mile 5 – A nice ocean breeze off the water brings the windchill way down. The sweat has now frozen to the front of my sunglasses. I start to wonder if maybe 6 miles would have been a better idea.

Mile 6 – Pass a walker and a dog. Both of which stop in their tracks and turn to watch me run by. Must be thinking the same thing: “What on earth is he doing?”

Mile 7 – The sweat now drips mercilessly on my cheeks and neck. I pick up the pace just to get back sooner. I pass a cyclist with full face mask and think: 1. He must be serious about his cycling. 2. A full facemask? C’mon…

Mile 8 – Mittens come off a half mile from home. Feeling good now that I’m close. I turn into the driveway and feel the sun on my face and think what a beautiful day this is.

Cheers to all of you that are out their logging miles. Each time you head out you’re building your endurance, your grit, and your confidence. This time of year, the days may be frigid and messy, but they are also quite beautiful.

So if you have appropriate safety and winter-weather gear, don’t let the shorter days and colder temps deter your training. Get out there and log your miles, your race is just around the corner. And who knows, you’ll may even come to enjoy your winter running!

Jason Saltmarsh is an competitive masters runner at distances ranging from 5K to the half marathon. In November 2013, he raced his first 26.2 at the iconic New York City Marathon. Jason’s goal is to share with others the benefits and joys of running, fitness and healthy living. For more information, please visit saltmarshrunning.com

What to wear on your next run: A guide for every climate by Jason Saltmarsh

Wondering what to wear during your next run? Choosing the proper clothing and gear is important to your performance, your safety and your enjoyment.

Remember the classic runner’s rule: Always add 20 degrees (F) to the temperature outside, and then dress appropriately. Example: If it is 72 degrees outside, it will feel like 92 degrees during your run.


Above 85 F (29.4 C)
At this temperature run with as little on as possible without upsetting your neighbors or the local authorities. Hydrate often during your run, run a course that allows for you to stop and get home quickly without being stranded too far from home (repeat loops). Let someone know you’re out there before leaving.

Try to run in the early morning or early evening hours to avoid the hottest part of the day. Watch for signs of  overheating. Think about taking the day off or going for a swim.

Shoes, socks, shorts, sunglasses, sunscreen, visor or cap (pre-soaked and frozen)

Phone in case of emergency

75 to 84 F (23.8 to 28.8 C)
Remember that your body will heat up quickly on the run. You’ll want to hydrate appropriately and avoid the midday heat if possible.

Wear reflective gear if you are headed out before sunrise or after sunset.

Shoes, socks, shorts, sunglasses, sunscreen, visor or cap, singlet or tech t-shirt optional

60 to 74 F (15.5 to 23.3 C)

This is a nice temperature for running. Enjoy the experience.

Shoes, socks, shorts, tech t-shirt, sunscreen

45 to 59 F (7.2 to 15 C)
Great racing weather! Marathoners and half marathoners rejoice. These days were made for PRs. You’ll want to warm up with an extra layer and have it ready to put back on when you finish.

Shoes, socks, shorts, long sleeve or short sleeve tech shirt, sunscreen, light jacket for warm-up

35 to 44 F (1.7 to 6.7 C)
These temps may be a bit too cool for the spectators, but the runners are still feeling great. Be sure to stay warm before and after your run with a jacket and sweatpants. You might consider a pair of light gloves and a hat. The most dangerous part of the day is post-run if you are sweaty and exposed.

Shoes, socks, shorts, long sleeve shirt, light gloves, beanie, lip balm, pants and jacket for warm-up and post-race

Light leggings are optional for those who are averse to the cooler temperatures

25 to 34 F (-3.8 to 1.1 C)
Welcome to winter running! The temps may be dropping, but that doesn’t mean you have to drop your mileage. Layers are key when dressing to survive cold temperatures. But, you don’t want to sweat too much, so be sure to wear breathable layers made for running.

Shoes, socks (wool), leggings/tights, tech t-shirt, running jacket, gloves/mittens, hat, Vaseline on face, lip balm

Below 25 F (-3.9 C)
This is when you start to consider the benefits of a gym membership or a treadmill. Only the truly dedicated/crazy ones are out there on days like this. But some of us can’t be caged and just need to be free. Choose a course that allows for you to return home quickly if you need to (repeat loops.) Let someone know you are out there before you leave.

Shoes, socks (wool), leggings/tights with shorts over them, long sleeve tech shirt, additional tech t-shirt, running jacket, mittens, hat that covers your ears, neck warmer or collar turned up on jacket, Vaseline on your face, lip balm, sunglasses.

Phone in case of emergency

Wear a hat to keep the rain out of your eyes

Consider nip guards or bandaids to avoid painful chafing from heavy wet clothing

Vaseline on other chafing areas

Waterproof shell if temperatures allow it

No shirt if temperatures (and local laws and customs) allow it

Vaseline on toes and heels

Winter gear (see above)

Reflective safety clothing

Shoes with modified spikes or non-slip treads attached

Ace bandage or gaters wrapped around your ankles if the snow is deep enough to get in your shoe and cause discomfort

Vaseline on face

Lip balm

Windbreaker if appropriate


Vaseline on face

Lip balm

Safety is paramount! Remember: There are some weather and climate conditions that are too dangerous for anyone to be out running on the roads or trails. Always use good judgement and stay safe to run again another day.

Other ideas? What did I forget to mention? Let me know in the comment section.

Jason Saltmarsh is an competitive masters runner at distances ranging from 5K to the half marathon. In November 2013, he raced his first 26.2 at the iconic New York City Marathon. Jason’s goal is to share with others the benefits and joys of running, fitness and healthy living. For more information, please visit saltmarshrunning.com