Like I expected, Winter truly did arrive this week. I woke up yesterday to a lovely wind chill of -18*. I posted my gear recommendations for running through the winter just in time last week to help get you started for a winter of running outdoors. I’ve learned many other winter lessons while growing up in New Hampshire that I hope you all may be able to take something from.
Where to run: I know running on the sidewalks is no fun, but I recommend it in the winter. Why’s that? The road’s slippery, people suck at driving, and you never know where there can be black ice. The further away from cars you are, the safer you will be. If you’re in an area without sidewalks, stay as close to the side of the road as you comfortably can. Sometimes sidewalks tend to be snowy/icy, but that’s when spiked sneakers come in handy.
How to run: Running in the snow is tough. Your feet slip from under you, causing uneasy footing. Once again, this can lead to excess stress in injury. I find that running with a short, light, quick cadence eases some of the stress from the ground beneath me. Increasing your cadence can also help runners improve speed and decrease injury risk, so you might as well give it a try! You don’t want to be a youtube sensation.
Respect mother nature: Use your common sense, people. If there’s a blizzard outside and the snow plows are out, it’s probably not smart to run. Maybe I’m just a scaredy cat, but I’m cautious of high snow banks (I’m short) and tired/nervous/god awful drivers. If there’s a lot of snow, odds are it’s going to be very slippery no matter what you wear on your feet. Sometimes it’s worth it to throw in the towel and head for the treadmill.
Remember you’re not the only one out and about: Winter brings hunting and snowmobile season which each bring different dangers to runners. If you’re running on trails or in the woods, I recommend always wearing a reflective vest in the winter. Speeding snowmobiles will be more likely to see you and a hunter is less likely to think you’re an animal as you’re rustling along. Maybe I’m just a worry wart, but I’m sure we’d all rather be safe than sorry 🙂
Know your limits: Last year, I had to lead a run at the store in -10 degree temps. Ladies and gents, that was straight up horrid. If it’s below your temperature threshold (mine’s about 15* depending on windchill) or you’ve slipped a few times and feel a little off, it’s okay to take it inside. Run on a treadmill, hop on the rowing machine, or do some weights. While you’ll feel like a badass for running in negative temperatures, you probably won’t have much fun.
Try something new! There are so many winter activities that can be great cross training for running, if not just fun. Cross country skiing and snowshoeing can both offer the cardiovascular benefits of running. If you like races, you’ll likely find one for either activity if you’re in an area with a lengthy winter. You could also move inside and take up swimming or relax and learn to crochet. Me? I’m getting back into crocheting and volunteering for the local Special Olympics snowshoeing program.