Well, this may not apply to all members, some of you may be looking out your window right now at a winter wonderland, even in Vancouver this week; cue the winter training tips. If you’ve been hit with Snowmaggedon, don’t be discouraged, many great long distances runners have trained through a great Canadian winter. How does the saying go….’what doesn’t break you, will make you stronger’. Well, that’s true and good motivation to get you through the winter, there are some things to keep in mind to make sure you bound through the snow without setbacks.
Be safe – Injuring yourself by slipping and falling is a concern when running in snowy and icy conditions. Sometimes road are cleared better than sidewalks and pathways, and you’ll be relegated to running on the roads. Try to find quite roads to run on. Be sure to run against traffic so you can see what’s coming at you. Snow banks can get very high after a few snow storms and drivers may not be able to see you crossing the road. Pay extra attention at intersections and when drivers are turning right.
Footwear modifications – there are several options out there for providing better grip while running on snow and ice. A good pair of trail shoes can go a long way on icy pavement. Another popular option east of the Rockies is to use Yaktrax. Another is to put good old fashion 3/8″ sheet metal screws in the bottom of an older pair of runners. This is only recommended if your entire running route is going to be on packed snow or ice.
Plan your route – there are several things to consider when planning your run that you don’t really have to think much about during other times of the year. Since you may be relegated to running on the roads, try to plan a route that is in a low traffic area, this is one instances in which living in the ‘burbs may be an advantage. You should also plan out an approximate time or distance for your route, nothing worse than running too long or far in the cold. You should also be conscious of the wind direction. Start your run into the wind and try to finish with it at your back. If you run with the wind at your back during the first part of your run you’ll get hot and sweaty and then when you run into the wind during the second part of your run you’ll get cold very quickly.
Dress Appropriately – Layering is very important in winter. We recommend a wind proof outer-layer, and insulated and wicking mid-layer that moves sweats away from the skin. Your body temperature increases with running so dress for conditions that are warmer than it is. You should feel chilled when you go out, but your body temperature will increase and you’ll warm up quickly. Also wear a reflective outer layer if you run at night.
Don’t be afraid to adjust – It’s better to adjust your scheduled training for the day, by either cutting it short, finding an alternative, or pushing your workout off til a better day, when the snow is too deep or the roads too slippery. It’s better to alter the schedule a little bit in this way, than try to push through and potentially end up slipping and falling and tweaking a muscle that then hampers you for weeks or months afterwards.
Aches & Pains – Speaking of tweaking a muscle, you have to read your body really well when running on snow and ice. There’s a good chance that you’ll be a bit sore the day after running on snow, especially loose snow. Running on loose snow is similar to running on sand, it requires the use of many more stabilizing muscles than running on solid surfaces. So, if you’re sore the day after running on loose snow, it may not be reason for huge concern, as you’re waking up some stabilizers that have been dormant for a while. But, if you feel a particular muscle getting tighter and tighter during exercise, this may be more serious and cause for concern. So, tread carefully…
Hit the Treadmill – This is always an option that we don’t want to deter you from. Sometimes the elements just aren’t worth braving, and a run on the treadmill is a better option. We’ll have more tips for treadmill running in the coming weeks