Winter Running Tips and Tricks

From Running Director Heidi Caldwell

Yes, snow is starting to fall up here in the NEK. With snow accumulating in mid-October, winter seems in a rush to get started this year. While many have tunnel vision on ski season, others are beginning to prepare for another type of snowy expedition: winter running. For those living down south or out west, the winter months are often the most pleasant training months, with sunny skies and moderate temps. Up north, it’s a blur of snow squalls, frigid temps, and treacherously icy roads. Getting yourself geared up and psyched up to step out the door takes a whole new level of time, energy, and mental stamina.

So how do you keep your running routine up through the cold dark days? We’ve got a few ideas for how to keep your winter running fun, safe, and, dare we say, spunky!

Winter Running Prep List:
1. Layers layers layers! Warm muscles are happy muscles. Cold muscles are tight, tense, and asking for injury. No one likes over-dressing and having no outfit exit plan. Layers allow you to start out warm and strip down if you get hot half-way through the session, which is pretty darn typical of winter runs.
2. On that note, allot an extra 5-10 minutes for getting dressed to run. No more mindlessly throwing on shorts and a tank before heading out the door. Deciding what layers to wear – and then getting the layers on! – is now a workout in itself. See #1 above.
3. And while you’re at it, warm up BEFORE heading out the door. This means getting SWEATY before you head out and face the cold. This might look like a quick set of push-ups and jumping jacks or a plank series. We preach dynamic warm-up before every run, but in the winter this warm-up has a whole new importance and purpose. If you don’t get your body moving before heading out into the elements, you run the risk of never warming up on your run! And that’s no fun.
4. Invest in traction. More and more manufacturers are offering winter models of trail runners. Yaktrax, Kahtoola NANOspikes or MICROspikes, and Icespike cleats are all commercial add-ons you can put on existing shoes. Or find short screws and stick them right in your usual running shoes – but you’re going to want to do something. Roads get icy, slick, and dangerous, and the risk of falling while running is high. Consistently slipping while running can also lead to lower-leg injuries, as increased stress on the calves and feet while slipping can be intense/aggravating.
5. Phone a friend! Running buddies make getting out the door for a run easier in any season, but perhaps the most in the winter. Embrace the frozen eye lashes together and make it an adventure – one with a hot shower, roaring fire, and cozy cup of cocoa waiting at the end.
6. Remind yourself how tough and badass you are. Not everybody is brave enough to get out there in the frigid temps. And some people swear by winter training for spring races – the added cold element making you even stronger!
7. But also – run smart. Road looks like an ice rink? Don’t run! Winter wind and temps can be harsh, and frostbite is no joke!
7. Stay safe. Wear enough warm gear and rock the high viz (always, but again extra important running on snowy roads!).
9. ENJOY! Winter running may be frigid, but it’s also magical. Don’t forget to take in the sparkling snowy landscapes and to try catching snowflakes on your tongue.
10. Use the less-than-ideal running conditions to do some cross training. Running may be your favorite, but winter is also a great chance to experience the outdoors in a new or different way. Skiing, skating, snowshoeing; a winter wonderland abound with possibilities awaits! (Hint hint:  join our Skiing for Runner’s weekend for help on this front).

Time to put away the split shorts and break out the lobster mitts – it’s winter running season!

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