5 Tips for Outdoor Winter Running (with Raynaud’s)

Tips for Winter Running (with Raynaud's)Of course the second I blog about it finally getting warmer in Boston (yesterday’s post), it starts snowing. Damnit.

I’ll go through phases in the winter—like anyone—where the thought of working out outside is…no. Not gonna happen. But there have also been winters where I somehow motivate myself to wake up every morning at 5:30AM in the pitch black and head out in the subarctic Boston temperatures for a run like a complete psychopath. This winter has been split—I still run outside a couple times a week, but I also have been loving taking spin classes for an indoor cardio workout.

I get a lot of questions about tips for running outside—especially since it seems a good number of you, like me, have Raynaud’s. None of these are necessarily groundbreaking, but I wanted to share more about my current routine for running throughout the winter.

1. Warm-Up Beforehand

This is the biggest thing for me. Starting a run cold means my Raynaud’s might kick in, and if it does, it will often last throughout the entire run, even after I’ve warmed up and started sweating. I put on everything I’m going to wear, and then do a little mini-workout inside the house to get my blood pumping. Once I start getting uncomfortably hot, I head straight outside and start the run. I never even give my body the chance to become cold. Here are some examples of warm-up mini workouts I’ll do:

5-Minute Pre-Cardio Ab Workout


30 Mountain Climbers
5 Push Ups
5 Burpees


30 High Knees
10 Squat Jumps


20 Plank Jacks
20 Jumping Jacks

2. Layer Up, But Don’t Overdo It

Tips for Running Outside in the Winter

What works best for me is:

  • Cotton sports bra: OVERSHARE WARNING—Raynaud’s doesn’t just affect my fingers and toes; it’s actually the most painful in my nipples. * Clicks unsubscribe from Pumps & Iron* Spandex material rubbing against them exacerbates the issue—I find cotton sports bras are the way to go.
  • Under Armour ColdGear long sleeve
  • Zip-up w/ high neck: Right now I’m wearing this Lululemon one.
  • Warm leggings: I got a pair of Nike Hyperwarm leggings for Christmas and highly recommend them—they live up to their name. If you do plan on buying a pair, get your normal size. Typically with Nike clothing, I have to size down, but the warm lining in these leggings make them run true to size.
  • Ear warmer
  • Gloves: I find “running” gloves are far too thin to protect against my Raynaud’s, so I just wear normal winter gloves or mittens. Kinda makes me look like I have Incredible Hulk hands, but whatever, it works.
  • Cotton socks & my Nike Free running shoes: As long as I warm up before my run, I don’t find that I need extra-warm socks to protect my toes.

3. Cotton is Your BFF

*Update: SOFT fabrics are your BFF (fleece, wool, cotton, etc.) You probably inferred this from the last tip, but the first layer of clothing touching any body part that is susceptible to Raynaud’s shouldn’t be a spandex material (fleece/wool-lined gloves, cotton socks, cotton sports bra). Same goes for post-run—when your body temperature is dropping back down, change into soft clothing. I couldn’t tell you why exactly this helps, but the fabric makes a huge difference for me in preventing a Raynaud’s episode and also in soothing one that’s already flared up.

4. Have a Killer Playlist to Look Forward To

A long run to a kickass playlist is my idea of a therapy session. If I have good music to look forward, it doesn’t matter how cold it is outside, I honestly want to go running. I recently reorganized my Spotify playlists into Workout Music and Current Workout Playlist, and am loving this little system. Once I get sick of a song on my Current playlist, I move it to the Workout Music “archives.” The result is a constantly fresh playlist for each workout, as well as a growing collection of older songs that are still great, but just need a little rest.

5. Change Out of Your Workout Clothes before Your Body Cools Down

After my run, I’ll stretch, and then immediately change out of everything I ran in. Hygiene aside, you don’t want your body temperature to drop in sweaty, damp clothing—it’ll make you extra cold (the sweat-wicking material of most workout gear doesn’t help here).

If I stay in my workout clothing too long post-run, I find that my Raynaud’s will kick in—even though I’m inside a warm home (so annoying!). The best prevention is to change immediately, shower off, and then put on warm, cotton/fleece clothing.

Aaaand I’ll leave you with some pretty pictures from my winter runs that I’ve Instagrammed (@nicoleperr):

Tips for Running Outside in the Winter

Do you have any tips to add for running outside in the winter?



  1. Coming from a fellow Raynauds suffer these are great tips! Thanks Nicole 🙂

  2. Interesting- I don’t suffer from Rayanud’s, but I have found that cotton keeps me much colder during runs. It doesn’t wick away the sweat fast enough, so the moisture cools down right against my skin. I’ve always heard that cotton is the worst possible fabric in cold-weather sports like alpine skiing and running outside in the winter for that reason. Personally, I much prefer wool – but again, my situation might be a little different.

    I did learn recently that merino wool is the only type of wool that wicks away both liquid sweat and vapor sweat, and it’s usually softer against the skin. In case you felt like getting crazy and trying something new 🙂

    PS – also a huge fan of the Nike Hyperwarms!

    • I think it’s more the soft aspect of cotton than anything else that helps (anything spandex-y is a nightmare), so I bet wool would have the same effect (probably even better!). I didn’t know that about merino wool–I need to try that out!

      • I have merino wool everything, and it’s my constant winter base layer. Raynaud’s just started affecting me less than a year ago (in the spring during a time of stress). It mostly affects my fingers–I first noticed when they started turning BLACK. Hope that doesn’t start happening to my nips! :/

        [ps. wish we had spotify in canada.]

    • I’ve heard the same about cotton, so I stick to wool. My xc/track coach won’t let us wear cotton because it doesn’t wick away sweat, which makes you colder. Lululemon has some great base layers!

  3. Thanks for sharing! It’s hard to find a blogger that really understands what cold is. (I live in NH) I appreciate the tips.

  4. Such great tips and such cute picks for layering! I have Rayanud’s too and have yet to go on an outside run this winter (aside from a November race) because my fingers can turn yellow just from walking in and out of the car. I used to live in Cambridge and loved my morning runs – especially on the Charles. Do you have a favorite running spot?

    • I LOVE running along the Charles! That’s probably my favorite spot in Boston, but running in Southie along the beach and around Castle Island is a close second.

  5. I have Raynaud’s and the running isn’t always the problem – it is the time after. Even when I run inside, if I don’t get in a hot shower within about 5 minutes it kicks in and my hands get almost transparent and painful.

  6. I was just diagnosed with Raynaud’s and really appreciate these tips! Thank you!! Sadly, I get it when I just reach into the freezer 🙁 any other tips you can offer would be much appreciated!

    • Same–even holding a cold smoothie will trigger it for me sometimes. I try to keep a buffer between my hands and any cold bowl/cup/etc (wrap it in paper towels/napkins/dish towel)

  7. I too have Raynaud’s and feel like such a dumbo for not thinking of doing a mini warmup inside to get the blood flowing. Thanks for the tip!

  8. Great tips, I don’t have Raynaud’s, but I feel like I do get cold easy (especially after losing a couple pounds). As soon as I’m home from a work out I will change my clothes immediately because I can’t stand being cold! And then I will stretch haha.

  9. A few years ago I trained for a full starting in January in ND. My learning experience: no zippers! They get simultaneously sweaty, cold, & possibly stick. Secondly, when the weather changes, be prepared for chaffing when body parts rub (that haven’t rubbed in 6 months) on your 18 mile run.

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