Running in the Snow

Mr. Porro is marathon training right now. This has some downsides, because he is not the slacker I am, and will not be satisfied to marathon train by going on one long run and maybe one short run during the week. His training plan includes at least four runs and one cross training day, and so far he has stuck to all three days of it, which included getting up and running in the snow this morning.

I have decided to be supportive and not taunt him by lying in bed, plus it works well with my goal to exercise every day in December. So the current plan is to get up at 5:30 in the morning every morning and either run or go to the gym. All of this is fine except it means two things: 5:30 is dark o’clock, and sometimes the weather is uncooperative.

I’ve run in the snow before, and I always like it, but running on the roads in the snow at 6am when the streets are deserted is totally different than running on a trail at noon. Yesterday, the whole mid-atlantic got hit by a slushstorm and this morning’s conditions were just very slushy, which is more dangerous than snow.

Running in snow, pure, white, freshly falling snow is fantastic. If it’s dry, it’s not slippery, and it’s absolutely beautiful and quiet. Running in slightly older snow is a lot like trail running – the crunch-crunch of the snow under your feet, avoiding the big icy chunks, following a narrow trail already blazed.

Running in the slush on a dark morning through sidewalks that were not properly cleared before the snow turned to freezing rain sucks. It’s slippery and you have to pick your way very carefully. My 3.1 mile run took me a whopping 37 minutes because I had to stop and walk. We live near the water, so my run usually has a lot of pedestrian bridges, most of which were not clear. Businesses are usually good about clearing in front of them, so most of the streets in our historical shopping district neighborhood were good, but our city had not cleared the promenade in front of the shopping mall that is part of my route. Nonetheless, it was a good morning for a run. But I’m offering the following safety tips:

1.) Reflective gear. My husband passed me at a turnaround and as I watched him fade into the distance, I felt very concerned. He was wearing a dark shirt and dark pants and was hard to see. I was sporting my reflective vest and orange shirt, both boasting reflective patches.

2.) Midfoot strike. When I run in icy conditions, I plant my foot flat, every time, and land solidly on top of it to minimize skidding.

3.) Stay alert. You have to watch the ground the entire time. Do not EVER get comfortable. When in doubt, stop and watch. Remember bridges, especially wooden ones, freeze first.

4.) Alter your route to avoid traffic. If you can, try to pick a route that minimizes cross streets. Cars might have trouble seeing you, and will have trouble stopping.

5.) Dress warmer than you normally would. For a 35 degree run normally, I might not wear gloves and a hat, but in the snow, I go at a slower pace and found that my hands were colder than usual because I wasn’t going as fast and I wasn’t able to run quickly to warm up. Additionally, if you wear gloves, they will protect your hands if you fall, and a hat will help protect your head.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Running in the Snow

  1. 3Up Beth

    You nailed the feeling of running in the snow!! I actually really love it. Like you husband I once used a training plan to make myself stay moving in the winter.

    My question is: what shoes do you wear?

    • vadoporroesq

      I just wear my regular sneakers. If I lived somewhere snowier, I would get Yak Trax, since I hear they are pretty awesome.

      For trail running or super icy conditions, I break out my Salomon Trail Runners.

  2. This has less to do with snow and more to do with running at 0-dark-30. My brother used to run on the yellow lines in the middle of the street when he ran that early in the morning. If he saw a car coming, he would run to the side but it seemed to work well for him (yes, I still have safety concerns about this but I thought I’d offer it up). Apparently he wasn’t the only one with the idea because one early morning, he was running down the yellow lines and ran smack into a woman who was doing the same thing, the other way. šŸ™‚

  3. Mr Porro

    #2: as part of keeping your weight over your foot and using a midfoot strike, take shorter strides (understanding this / turnover rate was the missing piece for me in transitioning to a midfoot strike).
    #4: minimizing cross-streets also reduces the number of curb-cut puddles you soak your foot in. Yuck.

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