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When it comes to winter Canada's got the Olympians to prove that it's best.

Embracing Winter Running: Reid Coolsaet gives an Olympian point-of-view

Michelle Mackey
Weather Broadcaster

Friday, November 28, 2014, 2:40 PM - There’s something magical about the coming of the winter season: the beauty of the first snowfall, the crisp air that fogs our breath and the anticipation of holiday festivities.

Winter’s approach signals a time of change, and for running enthusiasts, the transition from summer to winter running is certainly a tough one. 

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So who better to ask for advice on how to properly transition from warm to cold-weather running than professional distance runner, Reid Coolsaet! Some of Reid’s many accolades include a 27th place finish in the men’s marathon at the 2012 London Olympics and running the second fastest marathon by a Canadian athlete at the 2011 Toronto Waterfront Marathon with a personal best of 2 hours, 10 minutes and 55 seconds… and yes, you read that correctly. 

Hailing from Hamilton, Ont., and now residing in Guelph, Reid has experienced the power of Canada’s harsh winter and offers us his best tips on how to make the most out of the winter running season.


With cold temperatures, layers of clothes are one of the most important elements in winter running. You want to start your run feeling slightly cool and have the ability to easily shed layers as you warm up. 

Chose sweat wicking fabric so as to avoid a damp chill. How cold is too cold? Reid says anything colder than -20 with windchill warrants a day on the treadmill.


Reid uses the same running shoes for the winter months as he does in the summer and maintains their integrity by sticking to well-groomed paths. Many runners feel the same way if a specific fit works, but on slushy, slippery trails off the beaten track, more traction may be needed. Purchase a good slip on/ slip off traction device for your shoe.

If you want to purchase new footwear altogether for the winter, look for a shoe that has extra stability support in its structure, waterproof protection, and gripping features on the sole.

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With limited daylight in the winter months, often run times fall during the pre-dawn hours or after work in the dark evening. Reflective outwear is the key to be seen by drivers, that’s why Reid wears a New Balance reflective jacket. You can also find reflective shoes, pants, hats and gloves at your favorite athletic store to suit your personal style. 


With a light first dusting of snow, trails are a beautiful place for an early season run. Reid agrees, “Trails are my favourite place to run and in the winter they are so peaceful.” Be forewarned, trails can get snowy, icy and slushy, particularly if you enjoy running in desolate areas.  Try and choose well-groomed paths and avoid running on roads. With minimal daylight and sometimes-treacherous road conditions, drivers pose an increased threat to pedestrians.


Staying hydrated can be a major problem while winter running. When we run in cold temperatures, we sweat less and therefore feel less thirsty, often neglecting our body’s need for hydration. Force yourself to refuel on water and/or sports drinks, particularly after your run, even if you don’t feel thirsty! 


Often times the hardest part about winter running is getting outside to brave the cold! 

Try and warm up sufficiently before going outside. Increase the heart rate by walking up the stairs a few times or doing some jumping jacks followed by a light, active stretch for the body. 

With Reid’s intensive training schedule, he doesn’t often have the time for an indoor warm up so he takes a light jog followed by active stretching, “…and then I start my run as soon as I can so my body doesn’t have a chance to cool down and stiffen up,” says Reid. 

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It can be hard to go outside in sub-zero temperatures and dark skies, when a cozy, warm couch is staring at you. Reid recommends the buddy system, “Find a running partner to keep you honest because it’s harder to say ‘no’ when you’re scheduled to meet someone.” Also, keep in mind that feeling you get when you conquer a run in less-than-idea weather conditions: Reid calls these ‘character builder’ runs. Finally, and perhaps Reid’s best motivational tip of all, “You’ll never regret going out for a run, but you may regret not running.” 

To keep up to date with Reid Coolsaet’s running journey, visit www.reidcoolsaet.com

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