Running in Snow – Tips from Someone Who Hates It

(Pssst….wanna see my most recent winter running gear recommendations?  Click here!)

Where I live, we don’t really have natural disasters. No earthquakes, no tornadoes, no hurricanes. What we do have is winter. A lot of it. I’m in north Idaho, a little sliver of land just south of Canada, squished in between Washington and Oregon. Our weather tends to be a bit crazy here, and it’s not unheard of to get all 4 seasons in one day. We’ve even had snow in the middle of July! Our winter season is typically November through February, frequently stretching its way into October and March. So if you want to run year around, you either need to become BFFs with your treadmill, or learn to run in the snow.

Now, as someone who lives in a place where it’s winter half the year, you’d think I would like snow. Nope. Not one bit. It took me a long time to get to the point where I was willing to run in it! Whether you love snow or hate it, here are a few things I’ve learned about running in the snow:

1. It’s going to hurt

If you’re used to running on nice, smooth surfaces…you’re in for a little soreness. Running on something that is uneven, sinks beneath your feet, and shifts around is going to cause your muscles to work a little differently than they’re used to. The good news though, is that your muscles adapt and you get stronger. Bonus points for snow!

2. Eye on that stride

Speaking of running surfaces, you’re going to need to adjust your stride accordingly. Shorter, lighter steps will help keep you from sliding out of control. Take it from someone who knows: it hurts to fall on ice!

3. You’re going to be slow

Most people know summer running is hard, and if they were to go running on the beach in high humidity? They’d think nothing of slowing down their pace. Well, running in the snow is similar. We tend to think that since it’s cold out, we should be able to run faster, but that’s not always the case. Running on snow takes more effort (especially when there’s several inches and nobody shovels the sidewalk!), and in many places (such as where I live) it’s not uncommon for the humidity to be 90% or more. You might want to consider running based on effort rather than a specific pace.

4. Dress to be seen

It’s easy to remember to dress to be seen when you’re heading out on a 5 am run, but in the middle of the day? Still a good idea. If you run on or near a road, make sure what you wear makes you highly visible. Drivers are often focused on the icy road, and may not be keeping an eye out for pedestrians. Bright clothing may help them see you. Not to mention, it takes longer for vehicles to stop when the roads are bad, and we want them to have plenty of opportunity to stop if need be!

5. What to wear

There are dozens of articles that’ll give you lists of specific items to wear while running in the snow. But, here are some general guidelines. (Check out this post for more details on my favorites!)

  • Brushed fleece. Both leggings and tops, these make great base layers and can be found inexpensively and many stores.
  • Wool blends. More expensive but definitely worth it.
  • Weatherproof jacket. Something that is thin, but will block out precipitation and wind.
  • Beanie. Keep your head and ears warm, but look for something with moisture wicking capabilities because you’re still going to sweat.
  • Gloves. Look for thin and lightweight, but still weatherproof and suitable for sub-freezing temps.
  • Wool socks. Many popular running sock companies make a wool blend sock. Not only will wool keep your feet warm, it’s naturally water resistant. You’re toes will thank you. (these are my favorite)

Do you run in the snow? What are some of your tips or go-to products?

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