Winter Running Safety

The other day I was driving down a busy four lane road with Rock and he shouted, “Look out!”  I was carefully watching the cars in front of me and for the life of me couldn’t tell what he was talking about.  “Runner,” he shouted.  Right there in the road was a guy running against traffic in a white jacket.  I couldn’t see him and I am the first to slow down and move over for any runner.

I am always happy to see other people out enjoying the activity I love the most.  But there were several offenses being committed and I felt this was a perfect time to discuss running safely for the winter.

Pick a safe spot.  The area where this gentleman was running is a local favorite.  There are sidewalks galore heading into the downtown area.  But we have received an unprecedented amount of snow very early into this winter (as in 30 inches and counting).  The sidewalks have not been plowed yet in this particular area.  While this is the main drag, there are SO many side streets that are far less traveled and much safer to run on.  It might mean making a bit of a detour, but when the safety of your life is involved, changing up your route is a must.


Had this gentleman just moved over one street, he could have reached the same destination and run in the road without putting his life in jeopardy.

Make light a Christmas tree and go bright.  Wear the brightest colors you have.  Throw on a vibrant running vest.  Deck yourself with lights.  Fa la la la!

When you wear neutral colors in the winter, you blend into the snow.  Even worse, the sun reflecting on the snow is blinding for drivers.  Don’t assume that people will see you.  Make it your business to be seen.  Wear a bright jacket.  Pick out a running vest that has reflectors.  Running stores have all sorts of great lights that clip to shoes, jackets, gloves and hats.


Bright and lights!

Stay warm.  When the temps get frigid we can put ourselves in very dangerous situations.  My best rule to run by is to ensure that your head, hands, and feet are nice and toasty.  Find a nice comfortable hat that covers your ears.  Pick out a pair of cozy running mittens.  While gloves are great, having your fingers together helps keep your hands much warmer.  Find a pair of winter sweat wicking socks.  I am a huge fan of Smart Wool.  They make great socks for all sorts of winter athletes.

Keep in mind that running tights actually keep you warmer than running pants.  The material is meant to make your cold runs more comfortable and streamlined.  I know, I know, most of us don’t love wearing tights.  But once you get past that first awkward feeling, you will wonder why you didn’t convert sooner.  That goes for you too, gentlemen!

Stay hydrated.  Just because it is cold out, doesn’t mean that you no longer need hydration.  Make sure you drink plenty before you leave.  If you are training for long distances, have a game plan for how you will hydrate.  Many parks turn off their water fountains in the winter, making it difficult to get water along the way.


What I would give to be running with this on the beach right now!

This is the time of year that I love using my Simple Hydration bottle.  Because it sits up against my body and under my jacket, my body keeps the bottle warm enough to avoid freezing the water!

How do you like to stay safe in the winter when you run?

8 thoughts on “Winter Running Safety

  1. Visibility is HUGE … two stories:
    – Early on (perhaps before or just after we were married), Lisa bought me a new running outfit for colder weather, and since there was pretty much only black stuff for men (pretty much still true 30 years later), she found a white set … which was awesome in the late fall – until the snow came. Fortunately I was already using reflectors, but I had to laugh …
    – In our area there is a guy I see most mornings who walks his white shepherd, and while the dog is visible, the guy dresses in all black year round, no reflectors. Mostly he is in neighborhoods, but I have seen cars be surprised when he is on the small bits of main road between developments … at least he has now started putting a light-flashing collar on the dog.

    Hydration is also really important – I am starting t feel that drying out in the cold temperatures recently. You don’t notice it as much, but you need the water every bit as much!

    • I hear you on the hydration part. I normally am really good at drinking lots of water, but in the winter it is easy for forget. Something about the cold does it to all of us. How scary that your neighbor walks his dog like that. Hopefully someone will eventually point this out to him and he will find a safer way to go about this!

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