A blog by runners. For runners.

Running in the snow, sleet, and ice


So, we’ve covered running in the dark, the best temperatures for running, and jogging in the wind. We’ve even looked at some common winter running excuses and how to blast them. But what combines the vast majority of these situations? Winter storms. They’re on the horizon, and running through the snow, sleet, and ice can be tricky, if not impossible at times.

Avoid weather, if possible
Practice abstinence whenever possible. Keeping an eye on the weather during the winter is a great first defense. It’s not a perfect science, of course, but if you can determine which days might be iffy ahead of time — you can shift your workouts accordingly. Maybe Sunday is looking slick, but Saturday is clear and, therefore, a better day for a long run. We live where there’s lots of random, lake effect snow, so I’ve learned to be quite flexible during those peak times.

Identify safe paths
Many parks will still maintain their roads and pathways when weather hits, but it’s difficult to rely on, say, your neighbors to shovel their sidewalks when you’re ready to run. If you can, think back to last year — what areas are salted or shoveled in a timely fashion? Which ones are well lit or, alternatively, which are ones you’ve run into trouble on? You can’t change the weather, but you can choose the safest, most pleasurable routes once it hits.

Dress for success
When there’s ice and snow, it’s likely cold and icky out otherwise. Wear a brimmed hat to keep those flakes out of your eyes and your vision 20/20. Wear wool socks (or even two layers) that keep moisture at bay when precipitation inevitably soaks through your shoes. Dress in layers, too, so you’re not distracted by being either too hot or too cold, falling over trying to make yourself comfortable. The key is eliminating distraction so you can be on your toes, quite literally.

Change your footing
There’s surely an art to running on slippery surfaces. The first step is to slow down, significantly according to the level of snow or ice cover. Shorten your stride, too, and keep an eye on what’s underfoot. Don’t shy from walking over particularly tricky sections you encounter (usually where snow has piled up around street corners, etc.). You likely won’t break the sound barrier with your workout, but you’ll save yourself a trip to the emergency room. If you are running while the weather is happening, just note that while it may be OK going out, the way back might be another story entirely.

Consider snowshoeing or wearing cleats
I’ll write up a guide to snowshoeing sometime soon, but if you live in a particularly snowy region, picking up a lightweight pair of racing snowshoes can be an excellent investment for runners to make. It’s a whole different workout, adding extra difficulty with the added resistance from the snow. Beware: The first time I tried it, I got hooked. For everyday running on slick surfaces, a pair of ice grippers can be handy, too. Just don’t rely on them entirely, and be sure to follow the other suggestions in this article.

What are your tips for running over the river and through the wood when the weatherman forecasts ice and snow?

Written by  Ashley Marcin.