winter run

winter runWhen the world out­side is cov­ered in snow and ice, most peo­ple slip on a pair of cozy slip­pers and snug­gle close to the fire.

But trail run­ners aren’t “most peo­ple,” and win­try con­di­tions are no excuse to hiber­nate. As the old adage goes, “there’s no such thing as bad weather—only unsuit­able clothing.”

That spring race is clos­er than you think and it sure as heck isn’t going to run itself, so grab your shoes (and spikes) and head to the trails.

Spikes: Don’t Leave Home With­out Them
Crampons—or spikes, as many peo­ple call them—are just as essen­tial as your shoes when the trails are cov­ered with ice. You’ll need extra trac­tion to avoid painful bails, par­tic­u­lar­ly on uphill and down­hill sections.

Look for more rugged mod­els that are meant for the trails, which will stand up to uneven ter­rain, slip­pery trails, and ice-cov­ered rock. Coil-type trac­tion devices are typ­i­cal­ly not tough enough to sur­vive a winter’s worth of trail runs. Look for styles with a strap over your foot, which will stay in place, even when you’re well into in the dou­ble-dig­it miles.

Socks: Go Tall
This is most def­i­nite­ly not the sea­son for ankle socks. Not only will your ankles freeze from kicked up snow, but they might also get a lit­tle bloody if you acci­den­tal­ly brush your ankle bones with your spikes (it hap­pens to the best of us). Look for tech­ni­cal socks that will keep your feet toasty and your ankles hap­py in insu­lat­ing, breath­able material.

Lay­ers: The Great Paradox
Dress­ing for a cold-weath­er run in the trails is a lit­tle trick­i­er than sim­ply throw­ing on shorts and a T‑shirt. Strad­dling the line between stay­ing warm and over­heat­ing is eas­i­er said than done, and it’s hard not to over­dress a lit­tle when you know how frigid that first mile will feel.

A thick lay­er of tights is usu­al­ly suf­fi­cient for the bot­tom half, although some pre­fer to lay­er two on par­tic­u­lar­ly blus­tery days. As for the top, start with a meri­no wool base and lay­er as need­ed. It’s easy enough to tie a jack­et around your waist or tuck it into your vest, but avoid the temp­ta­tion to pile on the layers—you’ll heat up faster than you think.

Extrem­i­ties: Pro­tect ‘Em
Don’t for­get about your hands and your head. A good pair of run­ning gloves are well worth the invest­ment. If you feel your­self get­ting too warm, they’re easy to tuck into your run­ning vest or pockets.

Choose a head­band or beanie that’s meant for running—they’ll keep your nog­gin warm with­out turn­ing into a pool of sweat. Don’t for­get a neck warmer to pull up against your face, which is a must-have in windy conditions.

Hydra­tion: Essen­tial, Even if You Don’t Feel Thirsty
You might not think you’re thirsty on a mid-win­ter run, but your body is work­ing mighty hard—especially since it’s try­ing to keep you warm in addi­tion to every­thing else. You might not need as much water as you do in warmer weath­er, but def­i­nite­ly bring some water with you and remem­ber to take a few sips every so often.

Run­ning Com­pan­ions: The Key Ingredient
When con­di­tions are a lit­tle sketchy, it’s always a good idea to run with a friend or two. Despite your best efforts, slips and stum­bles can still hap­pen, espe­cial­ly since ice and obsta­cles are eas­i­ly blan­ket­ed under a lay­er of snow. There’s safe­ty in num­bers, so call your run­ning bud­dies and make a plan. Besides, it’s always eas­i­er to head out the door when you know some­one is wait­ing on you.

snow run

snow runFor the casu­al run­ner, mounds of snow pil­ing up on the ground is a cue to pack up the shoes and take the sea­son off—but real ath­letes see this time a year as an oppor­tu­ni­ty to up their game. If you’re not sure how to man­age the extra resis­tance that comes with run­ning in snow here are a few exer­cis­es that’ll help you con­quer the white stuff.

It sounds sil­ly, but one of the gym’s most basic machines is a great tool to help you build endurance and strength in your legs. If you can tack­le the end­less upward ascent of the Stair­mas­ter, then you’ll eas­i­ly be able to sur­mount the snow. Spend at least 30 min­utes a day on one of these beasts before win­ter tru­ly sets in and you’ll find your­self primed and ready to run through a blizzard.

Ham­strings are one of the runner’s biggest assets and they need to be pumped reg­u­lar­ly if you’re going to learn how to run in the tough­est of cir­cum­stances. The slow, for­ward motion of the lunge actu­al­ly mim­ics mov­ing in snow some­what. If you can pro­pel your­self for­ward from such a low posi­tion with­out tir­ing quick­ly than you’ll be apt to do the same in a few inch­es of snow.

Moun­tain Climbers
This one might sound too obvi­ous, but to up your game and help you run in the snow, incor­po­rate moun­tain climbers into your dai­ly exer­cise regime. These nifty moves help blast your quads and pre­pare you for the resis­tance you’ll face run­ning both uphill and in win­try con­di­tions. The burst of ener­gy required to com­plete each move­ment is sim­i­lar to what it takes to force your body for­ward when run­ning in deep snow, so use it to help you fight back against obstacles.

Floor Glute-Ham Raise
Glute-ham rais­es are one of the most effec­tive exer­cis­es when it comes to cre­at­ing seri­ous pow­er in your ham­strings and butt. You’ll need that strength to run against the extra resis­tance of snow, so try adding some into your next work­out. The ben­e­fit of the floor glute-ham raise is that it doesn’t require equip­ment and can be done at home.

How to: Start on your knees with your tor­so straight up, then slow­ly low­er your upper body down onto your hands with­out bend­ing your hips. Then push back up. Most peo­ple need help with these the first few tries.

Bul­gar­i­an Split Squats
Bul­gar­i­an Split Squats are a pow­er­house move that works sim­i­lar­ly to a lunge but require much more effort and strength. Adding them to your exer­cise rou­tine can help you build not only epic leg mus­cles but also upper body strength.

How to: They’re basi­cal­ly lunges that occur while you’re stand­ing in one spot, with one foot placed behind you on a bench and the oth­er in front. Slow­ly bend your leg for­ward like you would with a squat, stretch, then return to the start­ing posi­tion. Adding weights can help anni­hi­late your legs and back muscles.