09 February 2013 By Rachel’s

Tips for the Trail – Winter Running Part 1 – Xterra – 1-21-2011

By Rachel Cieslewicz

published in Xterra 1/21/2011

Rachel Cieslewicz, an elite runner and triathlete from Salt Lake City, Utah, is this week’s expert, and she tackles a subject that most Americans can relate to these days – running in cold weather. Here are her tips for this week:

Running in the cold

Can’t stand the thought of a treadmill workout? Do you live in the cold and don’t know how to get out there? You are in luck. I am here to help you navigate through the best winter ever with world class, cold weather running tips, just for our tribe.

Cold is a relative term. Each person has varying abilities to run in the cold. Typically a person running at a moderate pace is able to generate warmth up to 20 degrees warmer than air temperature, until you add the elements. My suggestion is to adapt with shorter runs close to home until you find what works for you. More things to think about are gear, terrain, clothing, and fuel.

What to wear

I am going to use myself as an example. I am 5 feet, 6 inches tall. I have a lean build, tend to have cold extremities and hate bulky clothing. For temperatures in the 25 to 40 (Fahrenheit) range, I wear my favorite trail shoes, even on the roads because they are not netted and keep my toes warmer. In the winter, even the roads can feel like trails, as I dodge ice, slush and the occasional runaway sled from the local school’s sledding hill, so a little extra traction goes a long way. Wool socks, 2XU tights, XTERRA compression shirt, microfiber hat, and gloves are the other parts of my attire for cold-day runs.

When the temperatures drop to 10 to 25 degrees, I add layers. Gore-Tex jacket, a looser pants over the 2XUs, or switch out completely for a thermal tight. For socks, I upgrade to my favorite lightweight wool ski socks and pull them as high as they’ll go! I also switch out to mittens with hand warmers inside.

Single digits and sub-zero temps? Add a Balaclava to protect my face, and a lightweight wind vest stolen from my cycling gear. 2XUs and a wind-proof thermal tight. But at that point, I am questioning my sanity and typically head south!

Men or my warm-blooded female friends may opt to lighten that load. I just hope I don’t run into any of you in shorts!

Consider the elements

If it is windy, use the wind vest on the outside of any of the above or get a specific wind-resistant jacket. If it is snowing lightly it is actually fun. Just make sure you wear your favorite sunglasses with rose-colored lenses to avoid being pelted in the eyeballs by snowflakes.

Now to my absolute favorite, snow trail running!  Must have gear: running snowshoes.  I use Crescent Moon out of Colorado. Atlas also makes a great set. Spikes are the other necessity. My favorites are Kahtoola MICROspikes.  Dress as above for temperature ranges but add gaiters.

NEXT TIP: Rachel adds more tips on cold-weather running, including running on snow-covered trails, and what to eat and drink when it’s cold.

Rachel Cieslewicz is an elite runner and triathlete based in Salt Lake City, Utah. She placed fifth at the 2010 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship in December at Kualoa Ranch, Hawaii. She is a talented sports massage therapist, Pilates and yoga instructor and is a certified running form coach. She can be reached at  or visit her website or follow her on

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I will always remember waking up at the age of 12 to the pain I saw in so many while simultaneously realizing how lucky I was to feel fantastic.

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