You Betcha… we run in da winter.

5 Winter Running Tips

If you are a runner and living in North Dakota or Minnesota running outdoors in the winter is something you have to learn to do safely. Because let’s be honest, winter lasts about 6 months out of the year.  You could run indoors on a treadmill but who honestly enjoys running on a treadmill.  I started running outdoors in the winter a couple of years ago and this is what I have learned so far.

Layers, layers, layers!!  It’s all about layers, Jerry!

You must dress in layers appropriate to the temperature and, more importantly, the wind conditions outside.  I have found the temperature to be much less of an issue than the wind.  In fact, I will often plan my running route based on wind direction and trying to limit the time that I am running into a headwind.  You want to dress in layers that will keep you warm but not so warm that you sweat excessively.  It’s important to keep the muscles warm when running to avoid muscle strains.  I have found that having a wind/rain repellant outer layer definitely helps keep you warm and a moisture-wicking base layer helps as well.

You’ll need traction, running gear for winter

There are a couple of different options to help with traction in the winter. It is rare that you end up running on a bare sidewalk. Most of the time there is a layer of packed snow, snow on top of ice or just snow if they haven’t been plowed yet.  So to keep you from slipping, falling, breaking something and ending up in PT (I hear Apex has great PTs) you can try YakTrax to improve your grip. This is something you put over the outside of the shoe to improve you traction in the wintertime. The downside is that it may change your running pattern but you won’t slip and fall.  So, you have to see if they work for you.

Getting into your stride

Another thing to try if you don’t think YakTrax are for you, is to change your running pattern. By changing your step length (shortening it) you will be able to more of your foot on the ground for a longer period of time. When you shorten your stride, rather than landing on your heel, you are landing more on the middle of your foot. This increases the amount of your foot hitting the ground. With shortening your stride you also decrease your toe off (amount of force you are using, through your toe, to propel you forward).  By running with a shorter step length you may end up running slower than usual but you will remain upright and uninjured.

Warm-up first, like starting a cold car

Prior to leaving the house for your run, find a dynamic warm-up that works for you. By warming up prior to running outside to try to avoid muscle injury which can happen when muscles are cold.  Dynamic warm can mean many different things to different people; from walking on the treadmill to dynamic stretches (butt kickers, high knees, etc) to squats and lunges but it is important to do before running.

Lastly, be safe!

Not every day in Fargo is an outdoor running day, there are some days where it is just a bad idea to run outside. I don’t like these days either because it usually means running on the treadmill. A couple things I have found to make this more bearable is; a TV (youtube has trail running videos where it look like you are running outside) and interval training. Interval training on a treadmill is a good change-up from running outside and it make the time pass quickly.

There is snow on the ground for much of the year in the F-M area, hopefully, this gives you some ideas on how to do it safely.

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