These winter running safety tips will help keep you safe, running happily outdoors all winter long, and prepared for potential hazardous situations!
I’m not a fan of winter running. Some may say I abhor it. Okay the “some” may actually just be me. When I was discussing training plans with my coach, he reminded me I needed to balance my dislike of winter running with my goals of a spring race.
But just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean I won’t do it. I try to run outside as long as possible during the winter. For someone who doesn’t like cold weather running, I’ve done more than my fair share of sub-zero runs. Who doesn’t like winter now, eh? Okay, still me.
If you’re planning on running outside all winter long, there are some safety precautions you should take. Winter brings with it an entirely different set of potential hazardous situations and you’ll want to be prepared. These winter running safety tips will help keep you safe and running happily outdoors all winter long!
Winter Running Safety Tips
1. Keep your phone with you — and working.
There was a stretch of time during my 2015 marathon training cycle that it was so cold out that nothing helped to keep my phone on and in working condition. I learned my lesson that winter. In sub-freezing temperatures, cell phone batteries can (and will) drain quickly. Be sure you’re charged up before you head out for a run. And for maximum safety, bring a handwarmer with you and occasionally warm your phone with it. But don’t hold it against your phone or the case for too long or bad things can happen!
Pro tip: handwarmers are a good idea to have with you in case of emergency regardless of the phone situation.
2. Gain traction!
Winter running safety tip #2 is… gain traction by studding your shoes! Or purchase a pair of Yaktrax. Either option will keep you upright and help you avoid biting it on snow covered ice. Be careful not to run on non-ice/non-snow covered surfaces in Yaktrax. Running on bare concrete or asphalt could pop the springs.
3. Don reflective gear!
Be bright and be seen! Wear reflective gear especially on gloomy days, at dawn, or at dusk. The more reflective surfaces and the brighter the outfit the better!
4. Wear darker — or brighter — colors when it’s snowy.
This may be an odd one, but trust me when I tell you it’s infinitely easier to see someone in darker clothes against a white backdrop than lighter clothes. Better yet, get yourself a highlighter green jacket, shirt, or hoodie.
5. Let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll be back.
This is the most common sense of all the winter running safety tips — and it’s cross-seasonal, too. Before you head out for a run, be sure to let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll be back. Safety first, people.
6. Stay hydrated!
Just because it’s cold out doesn’t mean you won’t lose fluid through sweat. If you’ll be out for a significant amount of time, be sure to run with hydration. It’s easy to gauge thirst and hydration needs when it’s warm out. It becomes exponentially more difficult to judge in adverse weather conditions.
7. Speaking of hydration…
If you run with a bladder and bite valve set-up, it’s important to keep your bite valve free of ice build-up. There are tons of tricks in the book to keep this from happening but the most tried-and-true way is to blow back into your bite valve and hose after you take a drink. When you reattach the mouth piece to your pack, make sure it’s pointing up toward the sky instead of down toward the ground. This will keep any liquids from pooling, freezing, and clogging the valve.
8. Stay warm and dry.
This one’s a no-brainer, right? You’d think so, but that’s often not the case. When you’re planning your winter running activities, be sure to plan your wardrobe ahead of time. Here are some helpful suggestions:
a. Swap your road shoes for trail shoes. The added tread, durability, and weather-proofing of trail shoes makes them an ideal option for winter running.
b. Switch from a light, short sock to a thicker, taller sock. Socks made from merino wool are great options for winter running.
c. Layer. And then layer some more. In winter running, you can never have too many layers! For a great guide to layering for winter running, check out this post.
Cold weather running has an entirely different set of potential emergencies and shouldn’t be taken lightly. By following these winter running safety tips, you’ll be well on your way to running comfortably through the most RUNderful time of the year!
Well, most runderful may be a stretch but…
Do you enjoy winter running?
What’s one tip you’d add to this list?
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