For many of us who live in mountain towns, the act of running through our neighboring streets, trails and hills makes up a large part of why we live where we do. The solitude, scenery, smells and sounds, all contribute to the experience. And it’s hard to beat. Each spring when the trails dry out, we look forward to days striding out through single track, the slow change of leaves and trees as the days click pass into fall, and when our gears change, when we begin to looking toward powder snow, schussing skis, and après haunts.
Then there’s the rest of us who keep on running, much to the chagrin of fair-weathered runners who trade in sneakers for skis, not to mention incredulous non-runners who can’t wrap their brain around doing something so loathsome, let alone doing said loathsome act in sub-zero temps. The polarity is amusing.
One subtle moment is purchasing sheet metal screws from the local hardware store to put on your soles to keep from slipping on icier trails and roads. To a winter runner, it’s a cheap and brilliant tact. Not so to the cashier who regrets making small talk with you regarding your current purchase.
“I screw them into my shoes so I don’t slip on the ice when I run this winter.”
“When you run this winter,” they say back, with the look more befitting someone who just picked up the scent of a recently soiled infant.
“Yeah, they’re perfect.”
“I’m sure they are,” they say. “Next.”
Non-believers aside. Running in winter can be sublime. Early mornings with newly fallen snow can create the most elegant outdoor theater. Hushed tones, the muted crumping of footprints and rhythmed breathing create the sonic landscape that is unique to winter running, and has to be experienced.
It’s not that big of a deal. Aside from the above option of placing some form of traction on your shoes, there are a couple minor considerations with regards to temperature management and footwork to help enjoy running in winter conditions.
Over dressing is easier than you think. Dress for temps 15 degrees (or more) warmer than you anticipate, as this will allow body temps to increase and reduce the risk of excess sweat and overheating. You should feel a chill when you walk out the door. As your make your way, the body temp will rise to balance out the difference.
Above all other uses, Gore Tex™ running shoes seem to be best suited for winter running. SCARPA’s Pursuit GTX is an ideal option. The medial posted Pursuit has a solid platform for all around conditions that one can face shuffling along on those chilly mornings. It’s also where the virtues of Gore Tex™ shine, keeping any snow out, allowing the foot to breathe, and remain dry and warm for the duration of your run.
One last tip: shortening your stride is another tact to take when running over loose snow, hardpack and occasional ice. With a shorter stride, your feet hit the ground with less angle, and consequently less pressure to slide out from under you. The addition of running crampons, screws, or some other after market traction device, almost make this a non issue, so it’s not a bad idea to search out a system that best accommodates your winter running scene. It’s not an absolute, but it couldn’t hurt, and just might help a lot.
Winter running photo courtesy of EatRunRead