How To Brave Winter Running – or a Runners guide to not killing yourself while braving the Canadian Winter

Hello Runners!

I don’t know about where you live but Calgary just got hit with its first massive snowstorm of the autumnal season. The expected blizzard was so bad that snowplows from another major city centre were brought in the day before in preparation of the first white fluffy stuff of the season. Luckily I have access to all major amenities (e.g. gym, groceries, shopping, dog park) within walking distance from my condo but I know of some people who had to spend hours (I am not kidding) shoveling around their vehicle so that they could drive to work.

The impending winter season which approaches sooner and lasts significantly longer in Canada than anywhere else raises an important question: How can I continue to run outside and train for my goal race when it is snowing outside? I have researched and tested some helpful tips how you can continue being active without breaking your neck sacrificing your race goals:

  • Check the weather forecast

If you know an impeding storm is going to hit your city, plan around it by either completing your run before the storm is coming or in the early stages of a snowstorm. Sometimes our busy schedules do not allow us to reschedule runs, however, it is quite peaceful to run while it snows, it almost seems as if the entire world is slowing down around you. I have trained outside without injuring myself the entire winter training season from January until April without slip and fall related injuries. This year was especially bad for snowfall which meant that probably 80% of all my runs were either completed during or the morning after a snowfall. The great thing about Calgary is that the city puts in a lot of effort in clearing the city-wide pedestrian/bike pathways which meant that even on weekends the pathway system was cleared from snow. Keep in mind that can actually be safer to run on snow because it provides you with friction while running, which brings me to the next point.

  • Wear a traction device over your shoes

Especially when it might be icy on the pathways, you should probably invest in a good pair of cleats like these. Please make sure that you are purchasing cleats that are meant to be used for running to avoid injury. If you run with regular cleats it can put destroy your expensive runners or you could be prone to injury.

  • Adjust your stride

Most of us have probably heard of the dreaded “Penguin shuffle”. Decrease your stride length and pace on slippery surfaces. Not only will you run more efficiently, your chances of falling on snow and ice are decreased. Keep in mind that sometimes it might actually be beneficial to slow down to a walk to move over very tricky terrain !

  • Invest in a treadmill

Unlike most runners I know I actually started running on a treadmill about 6 years ago. At that point in time I was living in a very rural location where it got below -40C for most of the winter, so running outside was not an option for me. The plus side to running on a treadmill is that a) there are no bad weather excuse and b) you can watch TV and still be active. Back in those days I used to download my favorite shows onto my iPad and I would then attach it to the Nordictrack treadmill tablet holder and enjoy 45 minutes and entertainment while working up a sweat.

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