I often get an incredulous look from people when I tell them I run trails in the winter. Especially from people in the road running community.
‘You run in the snow? Don’t you fall? Aren’t you way slower? HOW DO YOU RUN 30KM IN THAT!?!’
Well the truth is its a fantastic workout, beautiful and a lot of fun! But you need to be smart about it and wear the right gear to make it an enjoyable experience. I still do my quality workouts on the road in the winter, but for strength, snow is where its at.
Here are my top 5 tips to safely running on the snowy trails this winter:
1. Know your route and have a safe exit plan
Its always a good idea to plan your winter trail adventure in advance. Make sure you know exits points off the trail (parking lots, roads, warm buildings) in case something were to happen. If you are new to winter trail running I would pick a familiar to you route and start with a shorter loop or out and back until you get more comfortable with it.
2. Wear the Right Gear
Having the proper gear is super important. You want to be warm in the case of a fall and you are not able to move quickly to safety. I like to wear my Mizuno Breath Thermo Gear and a Solid pair of trail shoes (Wave Hayate) on fresh powder. If there is ice on the trails I pack a set of traction aids to throw on.
3. Pack a First Aid Kit
I run with a small first aid kit in all seasons but in winter I also include a Emergency Blanket, Hand Warmers and Foot Warmers. Super handy on those really cold days!
4. Run with a group
I always say Safety in Numbers, so if you are new to trail running in the winter find a group to head out with. Its also a great way to learn some tips for winter running!
5. Slow Down
You never know what is hiding under that fresh powder on the trails. So slow down the pace and concentrate on keeping your form in check and lifting those legs slightly higher to clear the snow. Its a fantastic workout for the hips and quads so you will feel it after a run.
Remember to give yourself a nice good stretch after your winter trail runs. Its tough on the body and you are working a whole new set of muscles to get through the deep stuff.
Enjoy the fresh air and the beauty of Mother Nature!