Today snow shoes would have been appropriate foot wear on my run. We have had about 30cms of snow fall in about a 12 hour period. It was a crazy leg workout as I tried to stay in the tire tracks (many sidewalks were impassable) and I would have to tread through mid calf deep snow in the parking lane when a vehicle was coming my way.
A few safety things when considering to run on this kind of day:
¤Wear bright clothes! I wear a fluorescent orange running jacket, even then some people don’t see me!
¤Be aware of the traffic. Watch for cars, run against not with the traffic flow, don’t have music blaring in your ears and cutting out the noises around you. Particularly in snow as it is a natural sound dampenor.
¤Have an “out”. On my street there is a parking lane, so I can sidestep into that area on a day like today.
I earned today’s kilometer. It may be one of the best ones I’ve run. Not in time or form, but in the natural beauty around me, and the sense of accomplishment when I finished.
The weather has been hit and miss this winter. On Wednesday evening I went for an absolutely balmy run, Thursday was bitter cold with a mean, mean windchill and Friday there was snow! Here are a few tips to keep in mind when running in cold weather:
- Dress in layers, generally aim for three. Your first layer which is closest to the body, your thermal layer and your exterior layer which is generally your wind break. Your body is heated by the air trapped between the layers. You want to keep in mind that you want to minimize sweat sticking to your body, so your first layer being of a wicking material is ideal.
- Cover all exposed skin. Keep in mind your ankles, wrists, neck and ears. Mitts are better than gloves. Also be aware of your face. You can use a lubricant like bodyglide or vaseline. I like Lansinoh. It is lanolin, and is great for protecting cheeks and especially lips from windburn. I’ve never seen it at a running store, usually in the baby section at WalMart or a drug store.
- Run in a loop, let your family know your route and if going for a long run try to have a phone and cab fare if applicable.
- If winds are strong, run into the wind for the start and with it at your back for the end.
- Don’t be a hero! If you’re looking at -20 or lower, especially with windchill, weigh the pros and cons. Consider your overall safety.
- Shorten your stride. This will give you more stability when running on surfaces that may be icy.
- Stay hydrated! Just because it’s cold is no reason not to hydrate. The same rules apply as for longer runs (anything over 25 mins). Keep your water bottle inside your jacket if possible to keep from freezing.
- Cold toes? There are great wool options available.
- If your running with a partner or group, be aware of each other’s conditions. People can react to extreme weather differently.
- Be hyper aware of vehicles. Drivers are often surprised to see people running in less than optimal conditions.
There are times when running in the winter is pure bliss. I love the feel of the air in my lungs. Big fluffy snowflakes. The stars can seem so crisp on a night run. I’m also learning to love running not just in the snow, but on snow-covered roads. It always used to make me nervous, but I am gaining confidence with experience. Gravel paths can be great when covered with snow, for a little more traction. I tend to avoid sidewalks unless they are completely cleared, or it’s a brand new fresh snowfall on what was dry sidewalks. That way I don’t have to be as concerned about snow covering an icy spot.
I’ve really discovered a kind of zen space when running in the winter. Are some days harder than others? Absolutely. How is it that the some days the wind can blow in my face as a run down my street, and be blowing in my face when I turn around at my halfway point to come home?!?! But most of the runs I have had in the last 33 days of this year have been exhilarating. And I have a feeling that I may be recalling this weather and imagining the snow falling all around me at least once while running in the middle of July this summer!
My run February 1st, 2013