In our corner of the country, running in winter typically means an extra layer or two and a willingness to get wet. Enter #snowmageddon2019 and everything changes. When your running days are canceled for as many days in a row as school, maybe it is time to brave the white stuff. After all, you can’t just make these days up in July!
If you are new to running in the snow or it has been a while, here are a few tips to keep you safe, comfortable and happy outside:
Get grips. The majority of injuries from ice-related slips and falls occur on level ground. This means most of these sprains, strains and fractures could be prevented with proper footwear. Just as your tires need chains to tackle the sketchy roads, your running shoes need traction. Commit to the cold by purchasing pricey All Terrain shoes, or save some money with the chain-equivalent: traction devices for running shoes. For $40, grippers like these slip over your existing shoes to keep your feet steady while you run.
Shorten your stride. Think about the last time you felt off balance or dizzy while you were walking. Automatically, you took shorter steps to stay upright. Snow terrain is slippery, but it is also uneven and soft. To adapt to these extra balance challenges, shorten your stride and keep your feet lower to the ground than you normally do.
Change your socks. Other than cramps, there is nothing worse than wet, cold feet while running. Ditch the cotton socks in favor of wool socks designed specifically for running. You will not go wrong with a no-itch wool in the winter to wick away moisture and keep you warm. There are plenty of brands, colors and thicknesses to choose from and you can get just what you need with extra features like waterproof, compression and blister-preventing.
Check your temperature. The million-dollar question: How many layers? Pro tip: use shivering as a clue. Shivering is taxing on the body - experts say 10 minutes of the chills burns the same number of calories as 60 minutes of exercise. If you are shivering while your run, it is a sign that you need to either work harder or add another layer. For more specific layering guidelines and a handy running temperature rule of thumb, check out this Runner’s World article.
Change your expectations. Let’s face it, when the environment drastically changes, so does your workout. You can do your best to accommodate by modifying your shoes, clothes and form, but it is not going to be the same as your typical February 40-degree run in the rain. Decrease your mileage goals (some running experts suggest halving your mileage for the snow), expect fatigue to set in earlier (especially if you are new to this), and don’t be surprised when you wake up the next morning with aches in muscles you did not know you used while running! But most importantly, expect to enjoy trying something new in the quiet, fresh air.
Empty bread shelves, closed schools and 24/7 weather reports do not mean you have to keep your workouts inside. With some simple preparation, you can run in the snow smartly, safely and even happily!
Outpatient Physical Therapy is always open in the snow! If you have a nagging ache or pain, or question for a Physical Therapist, call a location near you to schedule a free consult. www.outpatientpt.com
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