You’re in the thick of your off season training, building the base that will support your 2010 triathlon season and you’ve gotten comfortable running on that treadmill. So why should you get excited at the prospect of running outside when it starts to snow?
Because some of the best winter running is in freshly fallen snow. It’s not only beautiful but also has many benefits. You’ll be surprised how much harder you have to work on snowy trails or snow packed roads.
Running on snow and ice can be a great cross training tool with a long list of benefits including; improved balance, increased ankle strength and increased reaction time.
Snow can be a great way to build strength and reinforce good running form. It forces you to run with a high cadence and on the mid-foot and forefoot which is optimal. Using shorter, quicker strides allows you to get through the snow with less slippage and since you get on and off your foot more quickly there is less muscular impact so you will run lighter and quicker. This is what you are aiming for when you want to race fast or run intervals during training.
Freshly fallen snow is also a great shock absorber. It takes some of the work off of the bigger muscle groups and helps your shoes last a little longer.
When you’ve made that decision to run out in the cold make sure to dress properly and keep warm by wearing layers. To avoid feeling wet and clammy or cold, the innermost layer should be fabric that wicks moisture away from the skin. An outermost layer of Gore-Tex, or similar fabric, will block wind without sacrificing breathability.
Be sure to wear a hat too because up to 50% of body heat can be lost through your head. When you run you generate heat in your legs and therefore need fewer layers on your legs than on the less active parts of your body.
It’s okay to cut your mileage when running in snow. You are working harder to travel through the snow than when running on a dry surface. Your pace may slow down because of the cold air on your lungs and the slippery streets but pace isn’t as important in February and March when you are still in your base training period. Avoid overtraining just to jot down the same distances you ran this summer in your logbook.
So, no more excuses when the snow begins to fall. Just go and get on your windproof, sweat wicking, base, mid and outer layers, hats and gloves. After all, running is the only one of the three disciplines you can do year round in Canada. It might be mentally tough but the reward will be apparent on race day.