Running in the cold

How to stay safe and efficient while running this fall and winter

WAC Running Coach Yon YilmaBy Yon Yilma, WAC Running Coach

Fall is here, and in Seattle that means rainier, colder, darker runs. When transitioning from running in the summer to running during the colder seasons, there are a few key items to consider: reflective gear, proper clothing, and water-resistant items! Remembering these key items before heading out on your next run can make your fall and winter runs just like the changing weather outside—crisp and vibrant!

Conquer the cold

  • As the days get shorter, runs become darker through fall and winter. It’s important to wear reflective gear, a headlamp, and bright clothing so others can see you. Wearing a reflective vest or lights while running is one of the best ways to make sure cars, bikes, and others can see you while you run. Wearing bright colors is also a great way to stand out.
  • Don’t let the cooler weather fool you. While it’s important to layer up on particularly cold runs, always think about 10 degrees warmer than the weather forecast. Most of your energy used during runs helps regulate your body temperature. Wearing too many layers causes your body to work harder, which can lead to overheating. When the temperature says 40 degrees, always aim to run like it’s 50 degrees outside.
  • Rainy weather can make you reach for waterproof options, but water-resistant options are better for the rainy season. While staying dry is important, using waterproof items can trap heat, causing your body to overheat or form blisters. For super rainy days with growing puddles, I recommend shoes made with Gore-Tex. But for all other runs with typical rain, regular running shoes will work. A good way to dry your shoes after a rainy run is to take out the insoles and put crumpled newspapers or paper towels inside the shoes. Let your shoes dry in a warm room away from a vent. Putting shoes in the dryer or near a heat source can cause the material to break down faster.

Continuing to train in the fall and winter is important for spring and summer races. While the weather might not always be ideal compared to sunny, long summer days, running in the fall and winter has its perks. Keep in mind these tips as you head out on your next run.

—Yon Yilma is a WAC member and the WAC Running Coach. He is a past winner of the Rock ’n’ Roll Seattle Marathon. Reach him at Let him know you’re a WAC member.

—Posted October 18, 2021; JC.

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