While so far winter has been more lamb than lion, it’s only a matter of time before we encounter true Canadian winter conditions.  A few reminders as we embark on this season’s training:


Almost inevitably at some point you may be running either in the dark or in low visibility conditions.  Assume that drivers do not see you – it’s up to us to make sure we are visible.  Don’t be afraid to light yourself up like a Christmas tree- wear reflective gear, flashing safety lights or a safety vest.  Avoid wearing all black; even in daylight hours bright and neon colours make it harder to ignore us.

Traffic Safety

If you must run on the road, run facing traffic.  Make eye contact at intersections; if you can’t then assume they have not seen you.  If you are in a group, run in single file and certainly no more than 2 abreast.  Warn runners behind you about icy patches.

Keep Warm

Dress in layers (technical fabrics only).  Avoid overdressing – dress as if it’s 10-20 degrees warmer than it is. Sweating leads to chilling and can make you feel colder than necessary.  Thermal socks, mittens and heat packs in your hands can help on the coldest days.

Protect Exposed Skin

For temps below -10 Celsius you may want to consider Body Glide or Vaseline on your cheeks as well as lip balm to protect exposed areas.

Cold Muscles

Even with thermal layers it may take a little longer for our legs to warm up.  Don’t be afraid to begin your runs very slowly (as per Kipchoge and 6:00/km warmups) and assume you’ll always be slower in snowy and slippery conditions.  

Stay Hydrated

Even in the cold we lose fluids through sweat.  Keeping your water bottle under your jacket can help prevent it from freezing.  I sometimes plan my long runs so I can pop into a Running Room or Starbucks to grab some water without having to carry it.

Footwear and Traction

On the snowiest days, wear some ice grips/Yak Trax or invest in a good pair of winter trail running shoes.  Gore-Tex or waterproof uppers go a long way in keeping your toes warm.

Shorten your Stride

Running in the snow leads to more backward slip, which forces your calves and hip flexors to work harder.  Keep your stride short & light and keep your glutes strong, which help minimize the strain on calves, Achilles and hamstrings.

Categories: Journal