8 things to think about when running in the cold and dark

So, I have an optimum running temperature of about 13 Celsius. Anything above this and I’ll be shouting I’m too hot, and anything below I’m moaning it’s too cold.

As I can’t only run when it’s 13 out, I’m here to share with you some of the things I have learnt since I started running, and I actually enjoy winter running so much more now I dress properly for it – autumn and winter are my favourite times to run.

It’s really great to get out on a cold, crisp morning… as long as your ears don’t feel like they’re going to drop off. And you can see where you’re going.

Dress Like It’s Warmer

So my first tip. Dress like it’s warmer than it is, is the best advice anyone has given me about running when it’s cold. After about 10 minutes if I have over dressed I’ll be cursing the six hoodies I decided to put on… but…


Layers are the way to go. Depending on how cold and wet it is, my outfit might be something like the following:

Chilly: Short sleeve tee, light hoodie / jacket, leggings or shorts / socks combo
A bit cold: Long sleeve or short sleeve tech tee (depending on how much “a bit cold” it is), leggings or shorts / socks combo. I might also dabble with a short sleeve t-shirt and a lightweight running hoodie.
Getting colder: Long sleeve base layer (moisture wicking / tech), short sleeve on top, leggings
Freezing: Long sleeve base layer, short sleeve, hoodie / jacket, leggings. If it’s mega cold, I double up on the lightweight hoodies.

And now it’s wet, too? I just throw another thin waterproof layer on top!

As you can see, it’s all about variation and finding what works for you. Mine is still a work in progress, perfecting how many layers to have. I nearly always end up carrying a jacket at some point (or start cursing a base layer).

Visible Clothing

So if you’re running in the dark, being visible is really important, even if there is streetlights. Where I live, cyclists and pedestrians share a joint pathway – I didn’t realise quite how hard people are to see when they have nothing reflective or lit up even when the street is lit – until I was actively looking out for them on my bike.

So what can you use? I bought this fabulous jacket from Trespass. As you can see below it is pretty reflective! It’s showerproof, too. And I had some lovely reflective leggings to wear with it, they have truly been outshone by the jacket, though! There’s loads of reflective clothes out there and they are well worth investing in.

Lights and Reflecty Things

I also use a headtorch if I’m going somewhere dimly lit, you can also get chest torches too. I have never used these but I imagine they have the same function and might be a bit less wobbling up and down…

Below is a trail run I did lit up by my torch! It takes a while to get used to, but a top tip – if you’re running with others don’t turn round to talk to them – you’ll dazzle each other and ruin your night vision at the same time. Cheers.

I also have some fun lights that attach to my shoes at the back I found on Amazon, and those snap band reflectors that were all the rage when I was a kid. They are lots of fun! I also have an armband light too from Gato Sports. So lots to choose from, and I can look like a Christmas tree if I so wish.


I generally stick to pavements when it’s dark, and well known routes. I won’t go on uneven ground or areas that aren’t lit if I can help it. For the slippier days I’ll use trail shoes. When it’s raining I generally use my Cascadia GTX (review here) as they keep my feet dry – and more importantly – warm!

Once you get back don’t radiator your shoes, stuff them with newspaper to help them dry out instead.

Hands, Head, Neck, Ears

So if you forget one of these things, it can be miserable. These little things make all the difference for me.

So for your head:
Cap – if it’s raining to keep the rain off my face
Beanie – if it’s dry – my favourite is the Brooks Notch Thermal Beanie and I wear it all the time!

For your neck and ears:
Buff – you can even get fleecy ones for when it’s really cold!
Headband – If you don’t fancy a buff on your head too you can get fleecey headbands with slightly bigger bits to cover your ears!

And for your hands:
Gloves – I have yet to find the perfect pair of running gloves. I have tried a few but I’m currently using some non waterproof ones, which are lovely and warm, but is a bit icky when it rains.

Indoor Running

Can be nice if you have access to it and solves pretty much all the winter issues…

Get Changed

To stop yourself from getting chilled after your run, shower and put something cosy on right after. Don’t sit about in wet / sweaty clothes if you can help it. My body temperature drops super fast after I finish running. And any excuse to get the slippers on, right?

I hope this helps – do you have any tips to share too? Pop them below!

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Amy says:

    Great post, Kaz! I’ve been looking for reflective gear to help me with my night-time runs and this has been really helpful – thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kaz says:

      Thank you so much 😀 I hope you find something fabulously shiny!!


  2. Karen says:

    Great post Kaz!

    I’m totally with you on enjoying autumn/winter running…I run so hot, I prefer it to be chilly.

    My rule of thumb is:
    <5°C: thermal long sleeves and long tights
    5°C -10°C: long sleeve and long tights
    10°C – 15°C: t-shirt and crops
    15°C+: vest and crops
    20°C: very unhappy

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kaz says:

      I love the 20C + description 🤣 couldn’t do a tshirt at 10-15 though, brrr! Funny how we are all so different! Thanks so much for sharing yours 😊💙


  3. Sue says:

    I have the chest lights (USB charged) and find them to be great. They do have a strobe setting, however, and I have had to ask the people I run with who use them not to use the strobe setting as it can trigger headaches and migraines in me and others. They have lights on the back as well as the front so the strobe is visible on anyone ahead of me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kaz says:

      That’s great! thanks for sharing the tips 😊💙


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