When the weather gets really bad, it’s tempting to hit the treadmill before curling up on the sofa in front of your favourite movie or TV playing service. However, there are benefits to heading outdoors and hitting the white stuff. You just need to make a few adjustments in order to enjoy them.
Benefits Of Running In The Snow
Firstly, there are the mental benefits of the peace and tranquillity of normally busy running routes. Plus you’ll get a much cheerier ‘hello’ from other runners you meet along the way as you give each other a smile that says ‘we must be bonkers’! Secondly, there are physical benefits as the snow offers much more resistance than pavement or roads so you’ll get a better work out and it’ll work your core and the muscles that stabilize you. Finally, fresh air is much healthier than the recycled, air conditioned air of the gym.
Adjust Your Technique. Adjust Your Pace
So you had an eight mile, half marathon paced run planned? Sorry, but it won’t be happening. To stay upright, run with a shorter stride and keep your feet lower to the ground. This means that your raised foot will be more able to save you if the one on the ground slips. Of course it also means you won’t run as quickly as you normally do, but just focus on perceived effort and time on your feet and forget everything else.
Wrap Up Warm
Your reduced pace means you’ll work up less of a sweat, if that’s even possible in such cold weather! My previous blog post ‘A Runner’s Guide To Layering‘ will tell you a bit about layering up. You may even need an extra layer added to what I recommend. Don’t forget your poor cold toes; your feet shouldn’t expand like they do when you run in warm weather so try a thicker pair of socks.
Get Some Grips
If you don’t have trail running shoes and don’t want to invest in some, try some traction cleats. They are inexpensive and will fit over your running shoes. I would only wear them on snow and ice. If you come across a road which has been cleared of snow, either walk across it or consider removing your cleats – they’ll be more slippery on a hard surface and could even give you some blisters.
Warm Up Slowly When You Start
When the weather is very cold your muscles will be at even greater risk of injury, so resist the urge to try and get warm too quickly. Forcing cold air into your lungs through deep, sharp breaths is also a bad idea. So you could try a bit of running on the spot indoors to warm yourself up before you go out.
Warm Up Quickly When You Finish
Don’t sit around in cold, damp clothes and cold, damp shoes and socks. Get the kettle on and the shower running as soon as you can and warm yourself up.
Running On Ice
Personally, I wouldn’t do it. If you come across ice patches, slow down and walk carefully over them, positioning your bodyweight over your feet. If there is a significant amount of ice then a treadmill workout may be the best option, providing it is safe for you to get to the gym. Slipping on ice could cause a major injury, so if in doubt – leave your run out.
Running on the snow is a tougher workout than running on dry, firm land
It’s more uplifting to run outdoors and fresh air is good for you
Drop your pace. Stick to short, quick, steps where your feet remain low to the ground
Wrap up warm and don’t forget your feet will need some extra protection from the cold
Consider trail running shoes or traction cleats you can add to your regular running shoes
Start very slowly, making sure your muscles and lungs are warmed up before you increase the pace at all
Get warm quickly after you finish
Don’t run on ice. It’s just not worth the huge risk