by Sam Jongstra in Training Tips

Advice on Running in the Snow

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The cold weather sets in and lethargy strikes, but runners can still keep the fitness momentum if they adapt to running even in the most adverse weather.

Unfavourable weather can bring everything to a standstill – traffic, business and outdoor activities such as running. If you are a keen runner, then you have probably been faced with the “To run or not to run?” dilemma. Snow and ice can be difficult to run on, but it’s not impossible. In fact, some people partake in the growing sport of extreme snow running. Although challenging and dangerous if executed incorrectly, running in the snow can be a great workout. 

The Top 10 Tips for Running in the Snow

Slow and steady

Running in the snow has a similar impact on your body as running on the beach. Sand and snow absorb more energy from your foot when your foot goes down, so you have less energy to propel you forward. A shorter step means that this can be quite strenuous workout for a distance that you are normally very capable of. Plan a slow and steady pace, especially as you start off and pick up your speed later when you feel more adapted to the new textures.

Save your energy

Because it requires more energy to run in the snow, find other ways to conserve it. Regulate your breathing and refrain from over-swinging your arms. A heart rate monitor can help you monitor your heart rate, caloric burn and can provide you with other useful fitness data while you run.

Beware of ice

Always beware of your footing while out on your run. Beneath the snow, there could be a sheet of ice which could cause you to slip. If you want to protect yourself from slipping on unexpected layers of ice, make sure you have suitable footwear with sufficient traction.

Plan your route

You should always plan your route before you set off. There are various things that you need to keep in mind – the level of traffic, the thickness of the snow, the forecasted weather in the next few hours, an approximate timeframe, and distance. In snowy weather, it is sometimes better to stick to the busier roads as breaking trail in heavy snow can be very difficult to run on, as opposed to the packed snow you may find on busy roads.

Consider your safety

Once you have planned your route, tell friends and family where you will be and how long you could be gone for. Try to stay away from remote places in case of an emergency, or carry your mobile phone so you can call for help. Also, you must be prepared to walk back should you suffer an injury so warm clothing is essential.

Watch out for traffic

Snow and ice not only affects your movement as a runner, but the movement of vehicles on the road. Because of the treacherous driving conditions, there is an increased rate of road accidents. If it’s safe to do so, always try to position yourself facing the traffic so you can see what’s happening ahead of you.

Dress appropriately

You need to be warm but not sweaty. Mid or base layers with high wicking properties will keep you dry, even when your body starts to perspire. Consider buying a hat, gloves, thermal socks, running shoes, and a windproof and/or waterproof running jacket. Some running jackets come with zipped vents in case you get too warm.

Only run on the roads if they are clear

Because main roads are gritted for drivers, they are often much easier to run on. If the roads are clear, and you position yourself against the traffic, this can be a safe option during snowy weather.

Use a heart rate monitor

Heart rate monitors can help you focus your workout for specific goals. Faster or slower twitch muscle fibres determine what type of running you excel in. Because you are running in the snow, you could be restricted from a fast-twitch muscle regime (suitable for sprinters), so use a HRM to target your slow twitch muscle fibres, focusing on endurance and stamina rather than speed.

Enjoy the snow

As long as you take the necessary precautions, you can run safely in the snow and enjoy it. Relax and have fun to get the most out of your workout.

What is Extreme Snow Running?

Amongst the many bizarre crazes in the jogging world, such as free-running and barefoot running, extreme snow running is probably the most common. It came about because dedicated sporting professionals, as well as amateur runners did not want to put a halt to their regimes.  In comparison to other winter sports, snow-running is very cheap, quite simple when executed with care, and can be done anywhere in the world.

Extreme snow-running, just like any other running/jogging sport is easy to grasp and is suitable for all ages and abilities. It’s all about setting your own realistic targets, and heart rate monitors are a great way to examine your own progress.  When it comes to running in the snow, you need to ensure that you consider the same aspects as any other running regime. This includes:

  • Stretching before and after your run.
  • Warming up and cooling down by gradually changing your heart rate.
  • Try to fit in some weight training as this can help with strength and overall speed.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of protein.
  • Reduce/stop drinking and smoking.
  • Choose sporting equipment from trusted brands.

The Importance of the Warm Up

Building up your heart rate is crucial for any sport. But when it comes to running in the snow, it is more important than ever. In cold weather, your body takes longer to warm up properly, and this is particularly the case if you choose to run very early in the morning. Make sure you spend at least fifteen minutes walking briskly before you start to pick up your pace. This is when a heart rate monitor can be extremely handy, helping you to keep an eye on your heart rate as you warm up, build up speed, regulate your pace, and cool back down again. Heart rate monitors can be worn around the neck or around your wrist and many different models are available to suit all budgets.

Before you set off, it could be beneficial to warm up your muscles with a warm bath or shower, and the importance of a structured routine should never be underestimated. While stretches can appear innocuous or futile, warming up can both enhance your performance and reduce the risk of a serious injury. This is achieved by increasing your body temperature, boosting your metabolic activity, and speeding up your heart rate. This entire process will prepare your muscles and your nervous system for exercise, and this is critical when the weather is snowy.

Safety in the Snow

Running in the snow can be very rewarding and a great sporting experience. Not only can it be beautifully scenic, but the feeling of breaking a fresh patch of snow is quite exuberating. Runners need to think about their safety at all times, from doing the correct warm-ups, mastering key techniques, and finding the most secure places to run.  Running in the snow can be safe if you take all the required measures, but if in doubt, choose the treadmill and stay indoors.

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