Maybe you’re training for a winter race, or maybe you just want to make the most of your snow days when they come. Either way, you can make winter trail running a jolly part of the coldest season. Just follow these tips for staying warm and safe while dashing through the snow.
The Law of Traction
Running in the snow is a slippery affair. The only way to make it work is by making sure you’ve got the right footwear. Either invest in a pair of trail shoes that have heavy duty traction or consider strapping on a pair of ice grippers or ice cleats. Much like chains on your car’s tires, ice cleats slip over your running shoes and provide extra traction on a slippery snow or ice-covered surface.
Happy Feet are Not a Drag
If you’ve ever tripped on a tree root in the trail, you’ll need not be reminded of how easy it is to start dragging your feet when you get a little fatigued. One of the most important ways to make your snow run a bit less dangerous is to stay conscious of your feet. Be mindful of your core and center of gravity, then think of lifting your knees up ever so slightly with each step. You’ll get a different workout than usual and with any luck, you’ll stay upright the entire run.
When the thermometer shows a number below 30 F, it can be a daunting idea to step out and run. But the right gear will warm you right up. The most important strategy for running in frigid digits is to layer. Start with a water-wicking base layer (like wool), slip on a breathable mid layer that’s not too thick and finish off with a wind-resistant jacket that you can take off and tie around your waist if you get too hot. Finally, remember that 30 percent of your body heat escapes through your head, so throw on a hat, slip on some gloves and run out the door.
Or don’t. Wearing two pairs of socks doesn’t keep your feet any warmer than wearing one pair of thermal socks. When everything surrounding your feet is below freezing, two pairs of socks can actually make your feet more cold as cotton is notorious for clamming up and getting cold. Stick with a wicking single layer that’s made for low temps and long runs.
Look, Listen, and Go Slowly
You learned the “look and listen” rule for crossing the street when you were a kid, so remember to use it when you’re trail running in the snow. It’s a lot easier to slip when you’re out on a trail, so go slow enough that you can stop abruptly if you must. In general, be a bit more cautious and give yourself a break from that usual speed so you can err on the side of safety.
For Goodness Sake, Tell Someone You’re Going Out and When You Expect to Be Back
Even those who high step it through the forest trip up, slip around and just flat out fall down. The only way someone is going to find you is if they know where to look. The days are short and the nights are long so be sure to tell someone of your run so you don’t get stuck in the cold.