by John Stanton
Winter running builds character, and our Canadian winters offer character-building opportunities galore. There’s nothing quite like running on a winter morning under a crisp blue sky or heading out in the evening as delicate snowflakes float gently around you. or all its beauty, winter running and walking can also present a few practical challenges. Here are my best winter running tips.
Wear the right clothes. Invest in a warm hat for your head, proper mittens or gloves for your hands, and a buff or neck guard for your face. On your top half, I recommend a three-layer system with a moisture-wicking base layer (to keep you dry), a fleece thermal layer (to insulate you from the cold) and a waterproof outer shell (to shield you from the wind and precipitation).
Intensity should be adjusted on winter runs. Warm up slowly so your body can adapt to the conditions. Start your runs at a comfortable pace. If you do gradually increase your speed, it should still be slower than your normal training pace. Schedule any speed workouts at an indoor track.
Never go out on a winter run unprepared. Be proactive by checking the forecast and the current wind chill readings. Tell someone the route you will be taking and carry your phone for safety. When running by yourself, run in a loop in case you need to cut the run short and head back.
Tractionis a top priority on snowy and icy surfaces. For improved grip, wear traction aids such as Yaktrax over the soles of your shoes. Shorten your stride to improve your footing and avoid making any quick changes in direction. After your first few runs on snow or ice, you may experience slight soreness in the legs, since your supporting muscles are working harder to maintain control.
Extra motivation may be needed to get out the door when it is dark or chilly. To keep your running routine going strong through the winter months, sign up for a training program or attend a free Run Club outing at your local Running Room store. There is safety in numbers and you will benefit from the group’s positive energy.
Reflective gear is a must to be seen in low light conditions. Look for apparel with significant reflective elements, usually in the form of stripes, tape or logos. You can also wear a reflective vest or accessories that light up. Run facing the traffic and be aware that motorists may have trouble seeing you behind snowbanks.