I am excited about writing this one! I love running in the snow. It’s one of my most favorite things in the world. It’s beautiful. It’s cold. It’s challenging. And it’s riveting. Last week, I wrote about running in the cold. And that certainly is challenging, but it’s a different beast from running in the snow and after the snow. Feel free to check it out!
For now though, let’s get into snowy weather running tips.
The best tip I ever heard with regards to running in the snow and ice is to slow down. We aren’t trying to set PRs here. We generally aren’t racing. When we’re going outside and the streets/trails are covered in snow, slush, and ice, we have got to slow down. It’s a lot harder to run in these sorts of conditions. Our bodies are working harder, we’re slipping around, it’s tough. That’s great! But we need to take some pressure off ourselves.
To me, running in the snow is the epitome of adventure. It’s whimsical, exciting, dangerous, and we are traveling. That’s what I focus on when I see the snow start to fall. Don’t stop working hard, but lower your expectations just a tad. Don’t worry as much about pace. Don’t worry so much about distance.
All you need to worry about is enjoying yourself.
This brings me to my second mental/emotional tip. Enjoy yourself. When we were children, the snow was the best thing in the world. We would go out and play for what felt like days, come inside, get some cocoa and warm up under blankets with our pjs on. Or something of the sort.
We forget how to have fun, especially on our runs. So if you do go out in the snow this winter season, enjoy it! Smile, laugh. Maybe even take a detour to go through a little forest. Maybe drop over and make a snow angel. Or just stop for a moment and appreciate the beauty. Have fun on your run, don’t dread it.
When you come home, strip off all the running gear immediately. Get into comfy clothes. Have some coco. Continue to enjoy things! You can even have some coco while foam rolling though maybe that’s not “fun”.
Speaking of taking off your running gear, don’t miss this step. Do not spend one more second than you have to in your running gear after a run. Our body’s temperature will drop fast and you do not want to be in sweaty gear when that happens. Putting on warm clothes, getting a warm drink and/or snack (peanut butter on toast..it melts!) will help you maintain your body temperature and prevent that crazy temperature swing that is dangerous.
But that’s not all! This seems like a silly tip, but watch the condition of your shoes. Or really, the room they’re in. Salt, dirt, and melting snow make a mess. Make sure your shoes are in a place that can catch all that water and grime. But also make sure they can dry before your next run.
Here’s some gear tips: get cleats. Or something like that. There are so many products out there for us winter outdoor runners. If you don’t have to deal with snow and ice that much you might not have to deal with it, but if you do like I do…you’ll need something to keep your feet on the ground instead of your butt.
Even if you don’t fall, slipping around can hurt you in the long run. It puts pressure on smaller stabilizer muscles. It can twist and turn things that shouldn’t. It can pull on ligaments and tendons. Listen, you don’t have to fall to get an injury. Proper foot wear and foot care are important in the winter.
Like with the cold weather running tips, gear up. Make sure you can keep your feet warm and dry. Make sure you have a hat so snow doesn’t melt in your hair. You want to stay as warm and as dry as possible/as comfortable. You don’t want to be a sweating mess of water and you don’t want to be a frozen snowman.
Now…here’s the most important thing.
Watch your footing.
When it’s just snow, it’s pretty trustworthy. If there’s a solid blanket of just snow you know what to expect. It might be a little slippery. It’ll definitely work you harder (watch out for shin splints). Your feet could get really wet. Your eyelashes could get frozen together.
All fun things. But the danger is really when the snow has melted a little, the roads are unevenly salted, there’s hard-packed snow, or there’s slush.
Do not trust any “puddle” or shiny spot on the road. It could be any number of things, but it’s probably ice. This is where it pays to know your running route. I know which parts of my route ice up and where like my future depends on it. Be careful. Know your route. Maybe even walk it. Just don’t trust it!
Because you can’t trust it, shorten your stride. Really keep your feet under you. This will help your stability and lower your likelihood of falling or slipping. This kind of snow/ice/slush is when you want to have some sort of cleats or device on your shoes.
Remember: It’s okay to walk.
There have been a lot of times when I’m approaching an area that I don’t feel confident about and I just walk through nice and slow. Sometimes I even head on over to the lawns nearby and walk or run through. It’s not worth an injury. I’ll pause my watch thank you.
The bottom line is just be safe. Use common sense. If you’re new to running be extra careful because you might run into obstacles you’ve never even thought of facing before. Running in the snow isn’t easy but it is fun. Keep that in mind as you lace up and head out.
You do this because you want to. You do this because it’s a blast!