Michele, owner of NYCRunningMama, lives in Staten Island and has been running outside the past week during the major snowstorm plaguing the east coast. Below are her tips on how to brave the elements and run outside in the snow.
Prior to this year, I always chose the treadmill at the slightest sign of snow or cold weather. This year, I am making a concerted effort to spend as much time as I can on the roads (or trails) and off the treadmill.
The northeast has been hit with a bit of snow the last couple of weeks (and the forecast for the next 10 days shows a few snowstorms) and while it has thrown a wrench in my plans, I’ve managed to get almost all my runs (including long runs) completed outside.
Below are some things I’ve learned that may help if you are thinking about heading out the next time the snow hits.
Is it safe? This is the first question I ask myself when there’s snow on the ground. The last thing you want is to take a hard fall because of black ice on the ground or ice under the snow that you can’t see - which can potentially cause an injury. I keep in mind things like: temperature the last couple of days (has there been ice before it snowed?), current air temperature, wind chill, what type of snow is already on the ground and what precipitation is currently falling. All of this information helps me determine if there is ice on the ground – and if there is, I avoid the roads. However, if you are lucky enough to have some trails nearby, that may be a safer option if the roads are too icy.
Wear the right clothing. Staying protected from the elements cannot be emphasized enough.
Don’t dress for the start of the run. This is especially true if you are planning on running for a few hours OR if you plan to run as the sun comes up/temps rise. It is okay to feel a bit chilly for the first 10 minutes as your body is warming up. Your body will generate a lot of heat and keep you warm once it has been given the chance to warm up. Dress for that as opposed to how you feel when you first walk out the door. If you overdress, you’ll end up sweating and could become dehydrated.
Protect the extremities. These are the areas where heat tends to leave the body. Protect these and you’ll be amazed at how much warmer you will feel. Focus on your feet, hands, neck, ears and head.
Layer. Opt for lighter, comfortable, and breathable (technical materials or wool) clothing as opposed to something bulky and constricting (avoid cotton). Additionally, consider a light wind and waterproof jacket which will help keep your core warm if it’s still snowing and/or windy.
Footwear. Wool socks work well – just ensure they are high enough to cover your ankles. Wear shoes with as much traction as possible (trail shoes, yak trax or even screws in the soles of your shoes) to provide you stability in the snow.
Be Seen. I am extra cautious when I run during times of limited visibility. Wear a reflective vest (or other reflective clothing) and headlamp if you plan to run when it’s still dark out. Or even better, wait a few hours and run after the sun has come up (if possible). Vehicles will be able to spot you and you will be able to see potential hazards on the road.
Disregard Pace. Wear your Garmin to track distance but avoid trying to do any type of speedwork or even hitting your normal pace. You’ll want to shorten your stride in order to give yourself more traction and reduce the chance of slipping or falling. Instead of worrying about pace, focus on getting the miles in while enjoying the beautiful scenery around you.