Tips For Running On Snow
It’s a massive confidence and motivational boost when you finally transform running into a habit and become a lifetime runner, and not something you drag yourself out of the house to do every day. It feels, at last, as if you’re overcome all the mental hurdles normally encountered when running, and now you can run, and run, and run with no one and nothing to stop you. But then winter comes.
We’ve all been there. Running in the spring, summer, and fall is a mostly painless experience. The moderately acceptable weather allows consistency, it gives you the chance to get in your daily 5K (or whatever you’re comfortable running) whenever you like with only rain to get in the way, and a little rain never hurt anybody, right?
It’s only as we careen into winter and that first nostalgic snowfall hits that things take a turn. It’s not just that it’s cold, it’s not just that you’d rather not take a brisk jog through a whiteout, it’s also because it’s dangerous. The last thing any runner wants or needs is an injury to throw them entirely off their game and routine, so here’s a guide to help you stay solid when running on snow with these great tips when winter rolls back around.
Is It Smart To Run On Snow?
As long as you take care and know how to stay safe, there is nothing wrong with running on snow. In fact, because of the sound-dulling properties of fresh snow, it’s strangely therapeutic and calming. However, there are still dangers which include:
- Skidding and slipping
- Twisted or sprained ankles
- Airway burn
By understanding these potential problems and knowing how to avoid them, you shouldn’t have any problems when you hit the streets, the track, or the trail and stay on top of your running goals.
So How Do I Stay Solid When Running On Snow?
1. Gain Traction
Without a doubt, the best way to keep yourself safe, solid, and stable while running on snow is to invest in a pair of ice cleats or snow-traction accessories. These are designed to offer better traction on snow and ice and can eliminate the chance of injury by keeping you on your feet. There are a variety of attachable cleats available which you can attach before heading out or take with you to attach if needed.
2. Fresh Snow
Opting to run over fresh snow as opposed to packed snow is another way of ensuring you don’t slip when on your run. Packed snow has a tendency to freeze, creating something closer to a sheet than a layer which will then turn into ice, and you don’t want to be running on ice at any point, especially if you don’t yet have cleats for traction.
3. Shorter Strides
Shortening your strides, especially when running on ice, is an excellent way to stay in better control when running. A short stride provides greater balance, more stable, and will also prepare you better should you slip. Doing this keeps your feet closer to the surface and will help you run more efficiently. However, it takes time to adapt your stride and to feel comfortable doing it, but it’s better than breaking your tailbone on the ice.
4. Take It Easy
There will be some days where the weather feels a little too much, but if you’re still determined to get out there and reach your daily target, at least try not to go as hard as you would. We know you have a pace you like to stick to, but doing this in extreme weather is a surefire way to end with you nursing your wounds in a hospital bed, and it might be hard to return to running after injury. Taking it easy and focusing on getting the run-in, regardless of pace, personal bests, or time, is more important.
Also, feel comfortable to reduce the distance, as the extra intensity you need to work through with the bad weather will make up for it.
5. Get Flexible
If you’ve never run in snowy conditions before, you will realize you feel more sore than ever before very, very quickly. This is because running on snow with a different technique to what you’re used to will demand you work out a different range of muscles including those on the insides of your legs which help with stability.
Before getting started, we advise you to focus on stretches and warm-up exercises which promote better flexibility while also easing yourself into running on snow. This means it’s better to alternate snow running days with days on the treadmill so you don’t overdo it straight away and end up injuring yourself. After a week or two, though, you should be able to snow run as often as you want without issue.
6. Walk, Don’t Run
It’s only in a perfect world where you can enjoy crisp, new snow throughout the entirety of your run without patches of ice, sludge, and large, Great Lake-esque puddles. However, we don’t live in a perfect world, and you’re almost certain to run into one of these hazards on your run.
We know it’s tempting to try to maintain your pace, but with such dangers before you, it’s better to take it slow and walk, when in doubt. Again, as much as you love running, it’s not worth injuring yourself doing it.
7. Every Step You Take…
Remember how we mentioned that snow running is weirdly cathartic? Focusing on every step you take will put you into a zone that’s not only therapeutic but tranquil, too. It’s this focus that will make the run more enjoyable, and shifting into what is the closest to auto-pilot humans have can help you anticipate dangers and hazards before you encounter them, which ensures safety, stability, and solidity, too.
Running In Winter Is Snow Problem
Getting into a routine and then having that routine disrupted by factors you have no control over is irritating and disheartening, and it can also wreak havoc on your motivation while throwing you entirely off your game. Hopefully, with these tips, you never need to worry about bad winter weather getting in the way of your morning, afternoon, or evening run, so you can keep aiming for the goals you set yourself.
- Running On Snow – The Running Clinic