5 Cold Weather Running Safety Tips (Part II of the Winter Warrior Series)


(This is part two of a three-part series called “Polar Vortex Winter Running Series”. Get on the list to get the next part delivered directly to your inbox.) "Baby, it's cold outside."

Couldn't have said (or sung) it better myself.

It is cold outside. Diving temps mean additional clothing layers (read more about that HERE) and an extra focus on safety.

During the summer months, safety isn't as big a concern for me. The biggest elements I battle when running in warmer temps are the sun and heat. So I make sure to run earlier in the morning. This way it's cooler out, the sun isn't right overhead and there's less cars on the road.

But when it's a winter wonderland or worse, an ice rink, outside my window, my focus on my safety intensifies. After making sure I'm wearing the right layers and the thumbholes in my sleeves fit nicely with my gloves, safety is my tippity top priority.

Here are my 5 Cold Weather Running Safety Tips

1.Be seen

No, this isn't about my social calendar (Did someone say coffee date at the White Heron?)  It's uber, super duper important for you to see the cars on the road. And really double-ly uber importante for the cars to see you.

For the longest time, I always assumed that cars could see me.

I thought "There's some light out still. It's not complete darkness quite yet. I'm fine."

ReflectionIt wasn't until I ran Reach the Beach in 2013 and had to wear a safety vest that I realized how much of a danger I was on the roads running without any reflective gear.

It's darker in the winter, both in the morning and evening - when most people are out running. If you don't have the flexibility of changing your running time and you'll be out running when it's dark, get yourself some reflective gear ASAP.

Wear a reflective vest (this is what I wear) along with a blinky light in the front AND back. Once you attach them to your vest, you won't even notice them. You'll spend $40-50 total and won't regret a penny.  Your safety is worth it.

2. See.

Wear a headlamp. I'm NOT a fan of running in the dark in the winter, but when I do..I drink dos equis...wait. I mean. When I run outside in the dark, I wear a headlamp. You'll see better and it's just another way for cars to see you.

(Plus it's an odd kind of fun to see other runners coming at you in the darkness with a headlamp on!)

3. Be like ET.

Phone home.

Or at least bring a phone. You just never know when you might slip and fall headfirst into a snowbank, unable to get out. God forbid you hit some black ice and go crashing down.

4. Re-route yourself.

If your normal running route doesn't have a (shoveled) sidewalk or much of a shoulder, consider running somewhere else. We all know how much sidewalk and roads the snow takes up.

Consider running in different neighbourhoods that might have less traffic.

5. Screw your shoes!

No. This is not a shameless plug to run barefoot.

Take an old pair of sneakers and put screws into them.

This is my most favoritest part about running in the snow - making DIY YakTrax. Not only does it mean I can go out for a run in a blizzard, but it also makes for a great conversation starter.

You'll need an old pair of sneakers, 3/8'' sheet metal screws, a drill + screwdriver.


The sheet metal screws have a good head that will help with grip and traction when you're running. The 3/8" will ensure the screws don't work their way inside your sole.  Anything longer and you'll have a combo acupuncture session while running.

Use the drill to make ever so short holes into the bottom of your sneakers. Yup, you're drilling these screws into the outside sole of your sneaker. (Some people think you put the screw into the inside of your sneaker first. Nope.)

I made an initial hole with the drill for each screw and then used the screwdriver to fix the rest of the screw into the sole. As soon as the under part of the screw head hits your rubber sole, you can stop screwing.

Spacing out each screw, there's between 10 - 12 screws in the sole of each sneaker.

Not only is it a fun conversation starter (You put screws in your shoes? Really?!) but DIY YakTrak will also set you back just a couple bucks making for some cheap winter fun!

Coming next week, 5 Tips to Stay Motivated to Run in the Cold – Part III of the Polar Vortex Winter Running Series.

Don’t want to miss it? Get on my list and you’ll get part II delivered right to your inbox.

(Did you miss Part I of the series? Click HERE to read about what to wear to run in the cold.)

(Did you miss Part III of the series? Click HERE to read about how to motivate to run in the cold.)