If you love running or exercising outdoors, winter doesn’t mean that you need to move inside or skip the gym during the next few months. Freezing weather and icy sidewalks do add some difficulty to the sport, but with proper preparation and awareness, winter running can be safe, fun and slightly addictive. Here are some tips to help make the first footprints in your snowy neighbourhood this season.
Dress for the weather
Gearing up for winter running means that you need to be prepared for the cold, as well as slippery conditions.
There are many options for winter clothing that you can buy in running or sports stores. You will want to look for technical, thermal or natural fibres such as merino wool and then build layers as appropriate for the weather. First, put on a thin layer of close-fitting garments. If you tend to sweat while running, a layer of wicking clothes may be a good option. Then add a second layer of polar fleece, long sleeve t-shirts, sweaters and running pants as needed for warmth. You should be slightly uncomfortably cool when you first start running, as you will heat up quickly in a few minutes. If needed, a windbreaker can be added to protect from wind.
Feel free to use the same shoes year-round - most winter runners do. Or you can purchase all-season, trail or winter runners with water-resistant uppers and deeper treads. There are plenty of options at most sporting goods or running stores. If you do decide to use your year round shoes, you could consider using strap-on ‘grippers’ with metal coils or spikes to increase traction in tricky conditions.
Whatever shoes you end up with, pair them with warm technical socks designed for winter. These will provide you with the warmth you need without ruining the fit or comfort in your shoes with thick and bulky socks.
Don’t forget your hat, gloves/mitts and neck protector (not a scarf). Again, look for technical fabrics that add warmth without bulk, and that effectively wick away sweat.
Prepare for the conditions
Dressing for the weather will help you stay a safe and comfortable temperature throughout the winter jogs. Make sure you also know what to watch out for and be prepared for on your route.
Don’t start cold. Go up and down the stairs or jump rope at an easy pace for a few minutes indoors to get your blood flowing before you head out. This will help you stay warm longer.
Be seen. Wear colourful or reflective clothing so you’re visible to drivers. Especially if you are running in low light hours.
Know your route. Know which routes or pathways you intend to travel. If possible, walk or drive the route in advance to watch for icy patches, snow covered areas or blocks with poor lighting. Be prepared to walk or avoid dangerous areas as needed.
Be prepared for emergencies. Carry your photo ID, enough money for a taxi or public-transit fare, and let someone know your route and expected time of return.
As always, simple precautions will help ensure your safety. With these tips, you’ll be hearing the crunch of snow under your feet in no time.