The crunch of fresh snow under your feet while running might make you smile – but slipping and landing on your bum won’t. Snowfall certainly doesn’t mean you need to bag your run. But, how you approach running in snow, and your mindset matter.
In other words, running in snow is doable, but there’s some watch-outs, precautions and strategies to keep in mind. Doing so will not only provide a good, muscle engaging workout, but keep you safer, too!
Running in Snow – How to Stay Enjoy It, Stay Safe
Tip #1: Keep a close watch, and know where you are stepping. Of course, choose fresh snow over packed snow, or ice. Be mindful, however, that fresh powder can easily cover up slick pavement spots. Fresh snow gives better traction, and lessens your chance of slipping.
One watch out, when rain changes to snow, the base layer can be slippery, so be mindful if you’re in those conditions.
Tip #2: Consider shoes specifically made for ice/snow conditions – especially if you have many days where you face running in the snow and ice. In general, these running shoes provide better traction, keep your feet warm/dryer, and are more water-proof.
Here’s two different lists on top rated shoes for snow and ice; the first is specific to women, and the second is a more comprehensive/inclusive list. Alternatively, trail running shoes will provide more traction as well.
Also note that some shoes have gaiter attachments to keep snow from getting down in your shoes. (Or, they can be bought separately.)
Tip #3: Improve your shoes’ traction. Lessen your odds of slipping with Yak Trax, or by putting screws in the bottom of your shoes. I realize the latter may sound crazy, but it’s a cheaper and effective option.
Of course, if the “easier” route is your choice, than Yak Trax is a great way to go. Yak Trax are available at local running stores, and Amazon. They attach easily, and receive high marks. A pair on Amazon costs roughly $22, which is a less expensive option than purchasing a “winterized” running shoe.
(Note, you should remove the Yak Trax if you’re not running in snow – ie: on the pavement or concrete.)
A Change of Scenery, a Change of Pace (and Stride)
Tip #4: Find a trail to run. Trails tend to have less traffic, and are more likely to have more snow than ice. If the trail snow does become more packed, the spike option above (Yak Trak) or trail shoes will come in handy. Trail running also is a subtle reminder to enjoy your surroundings, and slow down – which is often a requirement for running in snow.
Tip #5: Shorten your stride, and slow your pace. This is NOT the time to go for speed, intervals, and hard workouts. But, keep in mind the softer snow is similar to running on a sandy beach. You’ll run slower, but work harder, and engage muscles that normally get less attention with a pavement or track run. Here’s other benefits to running in cold weather.
Plus, keep your feet close to the ground, and eliminate vertical bounce. You’ll be more efficient and reduce your odds of slipping and sliding.
Tip #6: Alternate your snowy runs with treadmill runs. When running in snow, you are challenging your balance and stability to a much greater extent. Your inner/outer legs especially will feel the work, and you will be sore. If you have access to a treadmill, potentially alternate a “snow run” with a treadmill run until you’ve built up more tolerance and stability in the snow.
Running in Snow Being Flexible is Key…
Tip #7: When in doubt – walk it out. How fast you can finish a run means nothing if you end up on your bum, and possibly injure yourself. Just slow down, walk it out – and recognize that running in snow has its own challenges and benefits.
Tip #8: Run at lunch, or mid-day if possible. The brighter, hopefully sunny conditions allow you to spot ice more easily. Plus, it warms up ice so that it’s more slush-like.
Tip #9: Eye and skin protection. While the majority of your body is likely covered while running in snow and ice, it’s highly possible your eyes and face are exposed. Snow can reflect as much as 90% of the sun’s rays, so apply sunscreen to your areas of exposure. Try to avoid polarized sunglasses, if possible as they make seeing detail in snow/ice more difficult.
Ice, It’s Not so Nice
Tip #10: Running on ice. Quite simply, don’t. OK, that’s probably a bit too simplistic – and not very helpful. Yet, do your very best to avoid ice! In addition, remember these pointers:
- Always opt for a clearer, drier path.
- Walk the icy patches. Walking provides better stability.
- If it’s a familiar route, know which side of the road melts and freezes quicker. Of course, shady areas tend to freeze slower, stay icy longer
Tip #11: Consider changing up the day you run, or run on a treadmill. It’s always best to keep the long term in mind with training. If you have an important race you’re preparing for, switching up your key workout for a different day (or a treadmill run) is a better option. No one workout is worth a month long injury from a possible fall or slip.
Tip #12: Where to find clear and paved running paths? Not all streets and roads are equal. Some areas tend to get serviced quicker, sooner – and stay clear more often. Here’s a couple ideas:
- Schools – since teachers and students need to get to school safely, administrators often put a priority on clearing the roads in and around schools (elementary, middle, and high school).
- Colleges/universities – typically have their own maintenance department, and don’t wait on local government to clear their roads. Plus, it’s often a more pedestrian area, with more sidewalks, less traffic.
What tips or strategies do you have for running in snow and ice?!