December 14, 2020 4 min read

Faster than you can say “Eliud Kipchoge,” our season of sunny summer running has come to an end. It might be tempting to hang up your sneakers as you prepare for winter hibernation, but you would be missing out on amazing training time. Running through a Canadian winter is far from impossible, and if you are loaded up with the right gear (and some expert tips from your friendly neighbourhood running store) it can be downright fun! Today on the blog, the BlackToe Running team is sharing our hottest tips and tricks for embracing your winter training program in comfort and style.

Regulate Body Temperature by Dressing in Layers

In the summer, you can expect to head out the door in minimal clothing and stay that way. But winter can be tricky, because you start out cold and slowly warm up as you generate body heat. That’s why it’s vital to dress in layers, so that you can remove clothing as you get warmer. We recommend a few base pieces that will help you feel comfortable from start to finish:

  • A sweat-wicking base layer will help move sweat from your body to the surface where it can evaporate. You typically don’t want your base-layer to be thermal or 100% cotton - trapping heat and sweat against the body will just make you wetter and colder.
  • A quarter-zip or pullover thermal layer will help retain some of your body heat, keeping you warm and cozy.
  • A wind and water-resistant shell is your ace in the pocket for the arctic wind chills that are a common - and unpleasant - part of Canadian winters.
  • When things get really messy, you can reach for a winter-specific jacket that will protect you against anything that a Toronto winter can throw your way.
  • For most people, the toes, fingers, neck and ears are the most likely places to feel the effects of subzero temperatures. Stock up on accessories like gloves, hats, neck warmers and merino wool socks.

Stay On Top of Your Hydration Needs

In the cold, our sweat turns into vapour and doesn’t lay directly on the skin the same way it does during warmer weather. Without the visual cue of perspiration it can be tempting to drink less water, but our hydration needs remain unchanged. You’ll lose a similar amount of sweat and electrolytes no matter what the outdoor temperature is, so it’s important to stay fuelled during your runs. A hydration system, like a hand-held bottle or hydration belt, will be useful year-round - and don’t forget your Nuun!

Use Lights and Reflective Gear for Visibility

Not only is it getting colder every day, but it’s also getting darker. The incidence of accidents involving vehicles and pedestrians increases during darker months due to reduced visibility. We recommend wearing brighter-coloured clothing (now is the time for those neon shoes!), choosing clothing with reflective details, and wearing at least one or two light sources. A disproportionate number of runners and pedestrians are hit from behind in the dark, so placing a light around your arm and on the back of your outer layer is a smart idea.

Everything is Better With Friends!

Although we highly endorse running with a group 365-days a year, there is something special about surviving a long winter run with your teammates that makes for a true bonding experience. It also provides mental material to help get you through tough races or workouts later on in your training cycle; whenever you think about being tired, in pain or just wanting to quit, you can think back on that one freezing cold run that you totally crushed, and remember that you can do anything. Not sure how to find a winter running buddy? Contact us about joining our BlackToe Run Club!

Invest in Winter-Specific Running Shoes

It’s possible to run through the winter months in your regular running shoes - sometimes you just have to accept that cold feet are a part of the battle. But if you want to try and keep as comfortable as possible, you can opt for a pair of winter-specific runners. These types of shoes have features like sticky treads, reflective details, water-resistant uppers and cozy insulation. We are big fans of the Saucony Peregrine Ice+, Nike Pegasus Shield and New Balance 880V10 GTX.

Take on Winter Training Like a Pro With Help From BlackToe Running!

Winter running comes with so many training benefits, so don’t sit this season out. With the right gear, you’ll feel prepared to take on anything the polar vortex throws our way. Plus, that sunny spring race will feel amazing after you’ve trained hard through the winter! Need help putting together the ultimate winter-running wardrobe? Stop by BlackToe Running where one of our team members will be happy to show you our must-have pieces of the season. You can also book a Virtual Shoe Consultation online to chat with one of our sales associates about choosing the best pair of winter running shoes for your needs.

Sarah Strehler
Sarah Strehler


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