Running Outside in Wisconsin Winters

After my hot sweat sesh at the Rock’n’Roll half marathon in Chicago this past summer, I decided to continue the pace and I signed up for the Madison Half Marathon in November! This meant that I would have to train outside for weeks in the cold weather. After training and completing that half marathon, I learned how to prepare for a run in the chilly, dark conditions of winter.


Dropping temps call for layered clothes. However, you shouldn't go outside feeling warm in your clothes because you will heat up quickly once you start moving!

My favorite tip for keeping my head warm is to wear a running headband or hat. Gloves are a also a perfect way to keep yourself warm. I use touchscreen gloves that work on my iPhone so I can change the song!

Next, I wear a quarter zip and if sub 30 degrees, a vest over the quarter zip. On the bottom, wear running leggings or even wind resistant pants over your leggings if the temperature drops below 20 degrees.   

Be Seen

With the limited sunshine as we turn toward winter weather, there is a good chance that you will find yourself running in the dark. Running with music is especially a safety hazard when hitting the path because you won’t be as alert of your surroundings. Aim to wear reflective gear or fluorescent to minimize any risks of not being seen when running in the dark.  

Warm Up

The only thing worse than getting out of your cozy bed on a winter morning? Going straight outside into 20 degree weather for a five mile run. Avoid the cold shock by doing a quick warm up to get your blood flowing. The warmup can be as simple as jumping jacks, running up and down stairs, or jogging in place.


After a run, your body’s temperature will drop quickly. Wearing your cold, wet clothes will keep the chill lingering. Treat yourself to a hot shower, fresh set of clothes, and a cup of tea after your run to keep yourself cozy and warm. You deserve it!