It is definitely well into the winter season here in Alberta! My training season officially started in January and this means that I am needing to run on snow and ice and also on the treadmill.
I have compiled a few tips to hopefully help us all survive the winter running trails.
1. If you don't own a pair now, invest in a pair of trail shoes. I already own many trail shoes as that is my main focus, but I definitely recommend investing in a pair if you plan on running in the winter at all. They provide extra traction on the snow and ice and they also are somewhat water proof. The alternative would be to buy a pair of Ice Grippers. Not my choice, but might be a more economical choice.
2. Choose fresh snow over ice or packed snow. If you have the choice, fresh snow will reduce your chance of slipping as there is more traction on freshly fallen snow. Do watch for snow covered cracks and holes.
3. Shorten your stride and keep your feet lower to the ground. You will run more efficiently and reduce the risk of falling, slipping or straining muscles.
4. Slow down. Throw your planned or usual pace out the window! When you attempt a fast or quick paced run on snow and/or ice you risk slipping, falling or worse. I like to treat my winter running as endurance training rather than distance training.
5. When in doubt, walk! If you see sections on the road, sidewalk or trail that appear icy, walk, take caution and take it easy for a moment.
6. Relax and focus on the road ahead. Keep your eye on the goal and on the physical road ahead. It is easier to avoid icy areas if you see them before your next stride.
7. Remember you might be sore in muscles you didn't even know that you had. Running on snow and ice will activate stabilizers in your legs and feet that have to work twice as hard to keep you upright.
9. Try snowshoeing. If you can run, you can snowshoe. It is a great cardio and muscle workout that might get you outside enjoying some fresh air. There are companies that rent snowshoes, but they might be a worthwhile investment.
10. If it is snowing, wear a hat with a brim. The brim will keep the snow out of your face which will make running a little easier and more enjoyable. You may need to wear a toque or fleece headband under the hat to keep your head and ears warm.
11. Dress for the temperature! If it is cold, wear extra layers! Extra socks, double gloves, and double layers on the top and bottom. If there is an extreme windchill, it may also be a good idea to cover your face in vaseline.
12. Stay inside. It may not be ideal, but if it is cold or icy, it might worth it. There is always the option of running on a treadmill or the track instead of risking frostbite or injury.