Top Ten Ways to Survive Running in the Snow
By Rick Morris
Winter running throws some unique challenges your way. You need to deal with cold temperatures, slippery footing and layers of extra running gear. Running in snow is probably the trickiest and most difficult winter running condition you need to deal with. No worries! You don’t need to hit the treadmill every time the snow flies. Here are our top ten ways to survive running in the snow.
Follow a layering protocol when you put on your running gear. Start with a wicking material to keep your skin dry. Your middle layer should be a warm but breathable insulating layer to hold onto your body heat. Your outside layer should be a water proof or at least water and snow resistant layer to keep you dry.
Keep Your Feet Toasty
You never forget to keep your body warm but how about your poor abused and forgotten feet. Your feet are what is slogging through that freezing cold snow. Keep your feet warm, toasty and dry by wearing Gore Tex or some other type of water proof running shoes. If you keep your feet dry you can avoid a lot of misery as well as potential cold weather injury to your feet.
Keep the Snow Out
Water proof shoes will keep the snow and wet from seeping through to your feet but it won’t keep the snow from getting in over the tops of your shoes. If the snow is deeper than an inch or two put on your gaiters. Yep – you can use them with your running shoes, they aren’t just for hiking and skiing. The gaiters will keep even deep snow from getting in.
Put on Snow Treads
You wouldn’t drive in the snow on bald tires so why would you run in the snow with low traction road shoes? Even a tank tread won’t completely eliminate some slipping and sliding but a trail shoe with a very aggressive tread will help keep your footing secure.
Take Baby Steps
Over striding is never a good idea, but you should be especially cautious to avoid over striding on snowy roads and trails. Over striding and heel striking is a less stable way to run and places you at higher risk of slipping and sliding. Take shorter, lighter more efficient strides. Land directly under your center of gravity and push off lightly. Those shorter, more fluid strides will help you keep your footing on snow and ice.
Take a cue from the temperature and chill out. Relax and don’t worry about your speed or pace. Running on slippery trails or roads reduces your traction significantly, which will slow you down. When you’re running in heavy snow, the snow pack also acts like a cushion which decreases the energy return of your muscle springs. The decreased energy return makes running harder and decreases your pace. So chill out and just enjoy your run.
Running in high traffic areas is hazardous even during good weather. Snowy conditions makes running near traffic even scarier. You never know when one of those half ton steel monsters are going to lose control on the slick roads. You really don’t want to be in the way when they do. Stay away from traffic during snowy weather.
Talk to the Hand
I know you hate to wear gloves. It’s hard to work those little buttons on your music player and cell phone. But don’t forget, your hands and fingers are suffering in the cold and snow. Cover them up with a warm and cozy running glove. They will thank you by not falling off due to frostbite.
Focus, Focus, Focus
I always like to zone out when I’m running; especially during a long run. But, running in the snow is a time when you should really pay attention. Road and trail conditions can be a bit tricky in the snow. Not only is snow and ice really slick but the snow can cover up road hazards such as rocks, drop offs, holes, depressions and gutters. Focus on the trail in front of you when running in the snow. It will keep you on the road and out of the emergency room.
Head indoors and change into dry clothing after your run. Try not to hang around outside in your running gear. Now that you’ve stopped running your body will not be generating heat from your running. Your damp running clothes will chill you to the bone and put you at risk of hypothermia. So get