Are you looking forward to getting out this winter and running through deep snow, slippery conditions, howling wind, and frigid temperatures? If it sounds exciting, yet daunting preparedness is the key to safety, enjoyment, and a quality workout during less-than-ideal conditions.
Here are a few basic things to keep in mind before you head out the door.
- RECON to get the most up-to-date conditions and weather report from local sources and friends who’ve been out recently. Conditions change extremely fast and being in-the-know is the first step to a successful outing.
- DRESS in layers with quality fabrics. Your first layer should be next-to-skin to help spread moisture away from high perspiration areas for optimal drying. Wear a warmer layer with some wind and water-resistance, but not fully waterproof. Your body can’t turn moisture back to water vapor fast enough to get through the membrane of the shell, and when you stop, you’ll freeze. Remember to bring versatile gloves (mitten-gloves) and a hat even if you have to carry them after you warm-up.
- SAFETY first! If you plan on being far away from a heat source (your car, a house, etc.) plan on some basics if you get injured. Even three miles away from your car can mean an hour walk in the winter if you sprain an ankle. Carrying a small pack with hand-warmers, a light insulating jacket or emergency blanket, and a food source to keep you warm from the inside, as well as a cell phone, are great pieces of insurance should you need them. Tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back. Bring a headlamp if you’re even close to sunset.
- HYDRATION is just as important in the winter as it is in the Summer. A handheld water bottle works fine for short jaunts above freezing, but a hydration bladder in a pack tends to stay warmer longer as it’s closer to your body. There are many options out there to keep both the hose and the nozzle from freezing and tucking it in to your shirt and sipping often works well.
- VERTICAL running is much more enjoyable than horizontal on your but on an unseen ice-patch howling in agony. Putting screws in your shoes when conditions get sketchy is a great way to stay upright as long as possible. Icespike.net sells machined screws that easily fit in the lugs of your running shoes and can be taken out with minimal impact to the soles. You can also purchase tiny screws at hardware stores as long as they have some concavity for better grip. Make sure you maintain the screws and evenly space them out, as they can alter your gait if installed incorrectly, or if they fall out on a run. They work best when there is at least some “give” to snow and the screws can gain purchase. In crunchy snow they work great, whereas skittering across a frozen lake is not optimal.
- SNOWSHOES are a fun alternative when the snow gets deep, and a higher intensity workout as well. If you can walk, you can snowshoe, and many manufacturers offer running snowshoes for lighter more efficient travel. Dion Snowshoes have interchangeable cleats, and bindings for diverse conditions, and offer excellent customer service. The minimal weight added with snowshoes greatly outweighs post-holing and cutting up your shins on crunchy snow layers!