Last Updated: February 7th, 2021

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The fall is here. It is time to gear up in your winter gear and hit the road. However, before that, read the full list of winter running mistakes that you may commit and take precautions.

19 Winter Running Mistakes You Should Avoid

1. You are over-dressed

Two t-shirts, one sweatshirt, one full-sleeve jacket, one sleeveless down jacket, skull cap, a bandana on top of it, muffler, gloves, two pairs of track pants…ufff!

Can you relate?

I certainly can :p

First of all, I feel cold too much…If it drizzles outside I will pull my thickest blanket out and will crawl into my bed…

You get the picture…

So, last year when winter finally arrived…I literally tried to run like this…

And moments later realized the terrible mistake that I’ve done.

The thing is when we run, our body temperature rises a lot…

So, it is always advisable to dress like 10 degrees higher than the current temperature.

Otherwise, like me, you will suffer the entire run cursing yourself and wishing that you had researched more.

2. You are under-dressed

This is another classic mistake that I did last winter…

After my experience with too many layers, I thought to mellow it down…

What did I do?

Something like this…


I caught a cold and was down for almost 7 days…

Now I have a better understanding of the layering of clothes…

Here is a simple guide for you to refer to…

  • 60+ degrees: tank top and shorts
  • 50–59 degrees: short sleeve t-shirt and shorts
  • 40–49 degrees: long sleeve t-shirt, shorts or tights (Optional: gloves, a headband)
  • 30–39 degrees: long sleeve t-shirt, shorts or tights, gloves, and headband
  • 20–29 degrees: a long sleeve t-shirt and a short sleeve t-shirt or long sleeve shirt and jacket—tights, gloves, and headband or skull cap to cover ears
  • 10–19 degrees: two shirts layered, tights, gloves or mittens, headband or skull cap, and windbreaker jacket/pants
  • 0–9 degrees: two shirts layered, tights, windbreaker jacket/pants, mittens, headband or hat, ski mask to cover the face

Data curtsy:

3. Ignoring mother nature and going for that trail run any way

Winters are beautiful.

The snow-covered mountains with bright sun shining on it…

That’s a sight for the sore eyes…

But if it is a terrible weather condition, the situation will be reversed…

It can snow, the temperature will plummet and darkness everywhere…

It is a terrible idea to run outside in such a condition…

You will only be putting yourself at risk.

It’s better to stay inside and run on your favorite treadmill.

Otherwise, give yourself a total break from running and get your dose of cardio on a rowing machine.

4. Not investing in a proper winter running shoe

For some runners who are living in the tropical parts of the world, a specific winter running shoe may not be needed.

However, for the rest of us, it is a necessity.

If you are in a part of the world where it snows then during winter you need shoes that have great grip and proper lining.

Water should not seep in through the mesh of the shoe and make your feet extremely cold.

Also, if you have to run in the snow often, then it may be better to get Traction Cleats for better stability and grip.

Cost-wise, they will way less in case you suffer an injury.

5. Not properly researching the route

Imagine this!

It is a pleasant night in the winter.

The chill of the weather is a bit less than yesterday.

You decide to run in the dark on a route you almost know.

You know the route is safe.

You start running…

After 15 min you realize, you cannot recognize the road you are running on…

You still continue forward hoping that you remember something…

The chill in the air is increasing but you are sweating more from the anxiety of being lost…

Now you fanatically are searching for that known turning circling the same path 5 times…

You wish you had done more research on the route or had taken an already known one…

Don’t be that person…although your love being adventurous you have to calculate your risk vs reward.

You may have returned home unscathed that night…

But unpleasant things happen…Imagine your horror if you would have gotten lost in the trails…

My point is, don’t make the mistake of running on an unknown route in winter…that is a direct brush with trouble…

6. Expecting to run fast

Well, adjust your expectations.

Running in cold is hard…not only because of the weather but also for the snow.

You will have to be more careful about your steps so that you don’t lose your balance.

Also, they make the path more slippery and your chances of accidentally falling down are more.

What do you do?

You have to forcibly reduce your pace and sometimes you will not even realize it.

But your fitness tracker being so stubborn will keep track of everything – even your pace.

Later when you check, it will painfully remind you that you were slow.

Don’t think about it twice. It is what it is…and you already know that safety comes first.

7. Not wearing reflective gears

This is a classic mistake.

When we head out in the winter, many times it will be foggy or snowing…

That time visibility is less.

If it is foggy, a light-based reflective gear like Tracer360 may be better otherwise you can use any other headlamp. But whatever it is, please wear your reflective gears.

It will make you visible and will help you keep safe from the oncoming traffic.

8. Skimping on gloves

Maybe you have already spent a lot on your winter running gear and don’t want to spend more.

You decide gloves are not that essential and an ordinary glove will do.

You already own an old pair and you give it a go.

5 min into the run you feel that your fingers are getting colder…10 min into the run they are almost frozen and after 15 min they start to pain and you may have frostbite.


All this because you didn’t want to spend a couple of bucks on a warmer glove.

The thing is if you are concerned about the price they are pretty inexpensive.

For example, Cevapro Touchscreen Winter Gloves will cost you way lesser than $20.

They are of great quality and can work up to a temperature of -30 degrees Fahrenheit.

This makes them not only suitable for winter running but can be used for any outdoor winter sports.

9. Quit when expectations are not met

Not running as fast as you can in winter?

We already stated the reason.

However, you are not satisfied with your performance.

You are trying to improve from the last 10 days.

However, neither you nor the weather is improving.

You are frustrated completely…

What do you do?


But what exact good it will make?

Your fitness level will go down and the psychological effect that you will have may stop you from starting again.

Instead, train your brain to stick onto the running routine.

Once the weather improves, so will your speed.

There is simply no point in quitting after coming this far.

10. Forgetting about safety

You want to run in the winter.


You want to run at any cost…

Well, that is…your decision…

Just remember, to be safe…

Either you are running in the dark or running in the morning…taking care of your safety should be your main concern.

Also, as mentioned earlier, bad weather conditions can make the entire process tricky.

So, stick to a couple of guidelines:

  • Always wear your reflective gear.
  • Check the weather condition before you head out…(skip running outside when it is bad).
  • Run in a familiar route.
  • Watch the news to keep you updated about your route.
  • Use winter running gear properly.
  • Don’t try to set a new PB every time you head out of the door.

11. Fat-loss is your only motivator

What motivates you to run?


Then you may be already ready to quit your winter running…


Yes! true…

You may not see a significant change in your body weight after you have run for some time.

Your body will get used to the process.

Also, during winter we tend to do a lot of binging (at least me) and this causes me to gain some weight.

Which may be demotivating if fat-loss is your only motivator.

Just remember, fat-loss is important, but this should not be your only workout motivator.

12. Making it a chore

What is running for you?

Is it a way to keep yourself fit or you are just following a trend?

Do you have fun on the run or you beat yourself up for not performing at your best?

If your answer is latter than the former, then you may be making running a chore for you.

And if it is a chore for you, then no amount of motivational running movie watching or quotes reading can push you out of the door.

Instead, have fun while you run…

This will help you to run on these hard, cold winter days…otherwise, it’s will soon say, Adios amigos! 😉

13. Not warming up properly or cooling down

We all know the benefits of warming up before running.

However, in winter, this becomes even more paramount.


When you warm-up, your heart rate increases.

This raises your body temperature and increases the blood flow to your tissues.

This results in minimizing stress on your body when you run in the chilly winter conditions.

Fine, then why you should cool down?

When you cool down, it ensures that your muscle tightness afterward is a bit less and it starts your recovery process.

So, it doesn’t matter whether the weather is hot or cold. You should cool down after your run.

14. Not hydrating properly

During winter, you may have a hard time remembering to hydrate.

The weather is chilly out there and the water will be cold.

Interaction with this cold water makes you scared subconsciously.

What do you do?

You don’t acknowledge your thirst and disregard the water needs of your body.

This may lead to severe dehydration and you may end up suffering more injuries.

So, take the problem out of the equation.

Carry some warm water with you…

This will not only keep you hydrated but will remove the scare of that water chill.

If you are still missing, just download a water tracking app on your mobile and activates its notification.

This will help you to drink water on time.

15. Forgetting about your nutrition

Winter means, holidays are here…

There will be lavish office parties, get together with friends and a lot of alcohol, sweets and an overload of food filled with salt and sugar.


You have undone all the good you have done throughout the year and now you are several pounds overweight.

The idea is to enjoy these treats during special occasions but still retain your fitness level.

How do you tackle this? How do you balance your temptations and your fitness?

It is really simple. You set your intentions for the next day’s run.

You can write down something like tomorrow, I’ll run 6 miles at 6 A.M around my block.

This will keep you sane and will stop you from overindulging.

It may interest you about eating healthy during the holidays

16. You run even when you are sick

Dedication for running is a great thing.

However, if you are trying to run even when you are sick, then it is a major problem.


When you are sick, your body needs rest to recover.

However, putting itself through the stress of running will only hamper its recovery and your sickness may even deteriorate.

But if you take an ample amount of rest, you will be able to recover faster and can get back to your running quicker.

So, take rest, recover and then go conquer the tracks.

17. You make the treadmill your friend

Treadmill running may be your only option when the weather is really bad outside.

However, making it a habit to run on the treadmills may not be good.

It may be a lot of fun to run on a treadmill and the treadmill running may be easier for you, but it will not prepare you for that upcoming hill race right in the middle of winter.

Surely you will lose weight on a treadmill, but your immune system will not develop and you will be totally unprepared to tackle that winter run.

So, ditch the treadmill and start running on the road…

You will be more satisfied with your daily workout.

18. You don’t adapt your diet based on the weather

The first thing that you should do when the fall arrives is to include a lot of Vitamin C fruits and supplements.


You may catch a cold which can go on for weeks – this may be due to cold allergy.

I have got this problem and find that loading up on Vitamin C keeps me in better shape.

Also, I include probiotics like yogurt, buttermilk, pickles, etc. to have a higher dose.

Sometimes probiotic supplements can also help.

Change your diet according to your body’s specific needs.

This will help you to follow your running plan more regularly without falling sick.

19. You skip your runs

You skip the run altogether.

This is a classic and kind of lazy.

You don’t feel like going out for the run.

So you skip it totally.

However, it will just take a toll on your fitness level.

This may not be the ideal choice for your winter running.


Above are the most common winter running mistakes that a beginner can make.

Be mindful of it and take care of yourself.

Which mistake did you commit? 

Share your experience with our audience.

Running in the winter was a challenge for me when I ran for the first time and made a lot of mistakes. I am sharing all my winter running mistakes today plus other winter running tips!

Madhusree Basu

Madhusree Basu

Author, Admin

Blogger and a fitness enthusiast. She loves running and Yoga and everything in between. She started running to manage her weight and to eat to her heart’s content. A true foodie at heart she shares whatever knowledge she has gained throughout the years about weight management and fitness.