The Best Tips for Winter Running According to Team Injinji

December 4, 2023

As temperatures begin to drop, most runners put away their shorts and begin gearing up for winter running. Those who are new to running in winter conditions may be wondering what to wear, where to run, or how to stay injury-free throughout the season. Team Injinji Athlete Kati Keenan – an Ohio-based marathoner – has conquered everything from 5Ks to marathons, training through the chilliest of winter conditions in Colombus, OH. She knows the secrets to staying motivated through frigid mornings and ice-packed roads. Get ready for a frosty journey filled with tips and tricks to make those winter runs a blast!

Can you share a bit about yourself? How long have you been running?  

My name is Kati Keenan, also known as Keen in the running world. I have been running since I was in middle school on the cross-country team. I picked up long-distance running for fun in college during my sophomore year where I ran a couple of races around campus, and then really got serious about running in the winter of 2014. So, you could say I am a winter-born distance runner.  

Every single one of my early miles was spent on the treadmill. Seriously, even 14 mile runs. Treadmill. I feared the cold, dark Cleveland winter. But then the unexpected gym shut us out due to unforeseen circumstances.  So, I hit the streets. In a polar vortex. In Northeast Ohio. By a lake. Most days my electronics shut off and I had to run to the beat of my feet on the pavement. I didn’t have any proper runner gear. I ran in cotton sweatshirts, calf-high cotton socks, and Walmart gloves. So, I learned quickly that this was not going to work, and I needed to do some research on new gear.

Tip #1: What To Wear for Winter Running 

While the initial thought would be to bundle up, always keep in mind that you will warm up when you are out there and if you over dress, you will sweat and be wet for the remainder of your run. There are tons of sweat-wicking tops out there to help you stay dry when you sweat. Keeping your feet, hands and head warm will do wonders. A game changer for me was a hat with a headband over it for snowy runs! And of course, to keep your feet warm, try the Injinji Trail Midweight Crew socks. If it's super cold, I'll put on the Liner + Runner Mini-Crew.  

It’s important to invest in the right gear! You will also be able to wear cold weather running clothes for other cold activities that take place outside. Other gear items I use include: Noxgear for being seen, Black Diamond headlamp, a good pair of trail shoes for snowy road runs, a reflective winter jacket, and fleece lined pants. 

Tip #2: Where to Run 

I love running on the Olentangy Trail when the snow isn’t packed down, which can make the trail slippery. I haven't had the chance to run trails in the winter, so I’m looking forward to doing some of that this year. Otherwise, my brain can always do VERY small loops for long periods of time, around areas that are cleared out of snow/ice. 

In the winter, one of the most important parts of adapting my training is being willing to move workouts if roads are icy or snowy. Also, if the cold starts to become unbearable, I'll hit the treadmill to stay warm and run in shorts! I typically do one to two treadmill runs a month. 

Tip #3: Staying Safe  

With daylight being harder to catch at this time of year, it's always important to see and be seen. These are not the same thing. A headlamp is not enough for someone to see you and reflective gear (Noxgear) is not enough to see in front of you. You need both! 

Tip #4: Preventing Injury 

Before heading out the door for a run, I recommend dynamic stretching and ankle mobility to get your body warmed up.  

Tip #5: Staying Motivated

A great motivation for me is just getting fresh air in the winter, and knowing the beauty that nature has to offer when the trees are bare and covered in snow.  

I also stay motivated by keeping good company around in the winter. Having friends who have similar goals and show up on the hard days helps a ton. 

Don’t dread the cold – invest in the right gear! Kati’s tips for winter running, along with a fresh, new pair of toesocks, will keep you conquering those frosty miles all season long.