15 Tips for Running in the Snow

If you find yourself ready to train for a spring or early summer race, it may require you to start training in the winter.  Winter running can be a lot of fun, but there is always the risk of having to run in the snow and ice.  Running in snow can be safe and provide a great workout!  

Below are 15 tips on how to safely run in the snow.

Dress appropriately

What you wear while running outside in the cold and snow is going to matter.  Layer sweat wicking and wind blocking tops.  It is important to remember that you can always remove layers, but if you are cold and don’t have any additional layers you may be out of luck.

You should dress as if it is about 20 degrees warmer than it actually is.  You are going to warm up quickly while running.

Don’t forget about accessories such as a hat, gloves, scarf, or ear muffs.  Waterproof shoes can also be key during these cold winter days. 

Be sure to bring warm clothes to change into as soon as you’re done running.

Stick to trails

The trails may be covered in snow, but they are less likely to be icy.  Avoiding the ice is going to be key for running outside in the snow. It may be smart to go to a trail you are familiar with so you are aware of any areas that may be more likely to have water or ice. 

Mid-day may be your best bet

You may want to avoid running in the morning, especially if the roads have not been cleared yet.  Typically by mid-day the snow has been removed from sidewalks and it may be safer to run.

Also, the temperatures typically rise throughout the day, which can make it safer to run.

Look for freshly fallen snow

Fresh snow is less likely to be icy, which can help make sure you stay upright during your run.  Fresh snow will also give you the best traction, which can help you with form and may prevent you from falling.

Remember to hydrate

Typically hydration is not something that is thought about as often for winter runs, but it still remains of the utmost of importance.

When the heat is on in your house this can lead to dryness, which will require additional hydration throughout the day.  Sometimes it is easier to forget to drink water or sports drinks in the winter since you may not feel as thirsty.  Make a conscious effort to drink water before, after, and sometimes even during your run

Pre fuel appropriately

You may want to eat even more than you would typically eat during a run in the snow.  Running in the snow or ice may require additional energy in order to stay up and in good form.

You should eat a pre run meal about 2-3 hours prior to your run, and a snack high in carbohydrates within 30 minutes of your run. 

Protect any visible skin with sunscreen

This might not be something you are thinking about while running in the snow, but the sun can reflect off the snow causing sun damage to your skin.  Always remember to lather up with sunscreen before your run.

Fuel during your run

If you are running for more than an hour, be sure to have some sort of fuel during your run.  Even if you aren’t feeling hungry be sure to bring a snack with you and eat during your run.  You’ll want to eat something high in carbohydrates every 30-45 minutes.

Warm up

Take some extra time to warm up before running in the snow.  If there is snow outside, then more than likely it is going to be chilly out.  When it is cold outside it is going to take your body longer to warm up.

Do additional warm ups either inside or outside prior to your run.  This is especially important for hard workout days.  Your warm up is an integral part of your running routine and is a huge help for injury prevention.

Take it easy

While running in the snow and ice you should take your time to try to avoid any dangerous ice patches that may lead to a fall.  You are going to be using muscles you don’t typically use to try to stand up right. This can cause early fatigue as your body gets used to using these muscles.

Don’t get overly worried about the time on your watch when you are running in the snow or ice.  Even if the time isn’t what you had wanted or expected, your effort for the run will still be super important for your training.

Be flexible with distance

When following a training plan it can be hard to stray away from it.  Although, this may be necessary while running in the snow and ice.  Be prepared to change your running plan depending on the weather.

Take a walking break

If you notice there is an area that may not look safe to run on, either avoid it completely or if safe walk through it.  There is no shame in taking a walking break, especially if it is for your safety.

It is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to snow and ice.

Pay attention to your post run nutrition

Post run nutrition is always key to post run recovery.  This remains true while running in the snow and ice. 

Be sure to eat a snack as soon as possible after your run and have a full meal within an hour or two.  Give your body the energy it needs to jumpstart recovery and repair after a run.

Run inside

There is nothing wrong with running on the treadmill.  It may not be the most exciting thing, but on days where it is not safe to run outside, running inside on a treadmill is a good alternative.

In addition to treadmills look and see if your local gym has an indoor track.  You may have to run multiple loops, but this could be a great alternative to running outside on a cold, icy day.

Know when to say no to running outside

If the temperatures are too low, or everywhere is covered with ice the right move may be to cancel your outdoor running plans.  All the training in the world won’t matter if you end up getting hurt.

Key takeaways

Running in the snow is definitely possible, and can be fun.  It is important to be aware of the weather and to prepare appropriately for your run.

Preparation includes hydration, fueling, dressing for the weather, warming up appropriately, and flexibility to change your plan if necessary.  Also, don’t forget to fuel and hydrate after your run.

There may be times where it is not safe to run outside, in those instances opt to run inside or adjust your training plans as needed.

Be smart and follow the tips above for a snow run.

Happy running 🙂

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