As a morning runner, my first thought is usually how many layers do I need? But after a frosty night or a snow storm, I’m on the lookout for ice…especially black ice.
Many days I’ll opt to stay indoors on the treadmill because I just don’t want to risk it, but other days the sun pops out, everything is shimmering and I just have to go.
When it comes to running on icy roads or trails, there are a few things which I’ve found to help.
Top Running On Ice Tips
Beyond don’t fall, what can actually help you get through a run on the ice while remaining up right? Let’s be real, I can trip on a perfectly flat clear sidewalk, so I had to do some research and reach out to more experienced winter runners.
But I can now vouch for these techniques!
Just Don’t Do It
Well seriously, we know the potential for risk is higher so if you can find a clear path take it.
- Know in advance which sides of the road melt quicker and which refreeze. Around our neighborhood certain patches are perpetually in shade, so running on the other side of the road can mean avoiding the need to slip and slide past someone’s house.
- Consider the treadmill. I know many of you despise it, but check out all the ways it can actually improve your running and hey a morning on the treadmill that eliminates an injury is worth it long term.
Be a Little Type A
Sounds ridiculous, but just like trail running you’ll only feel more comfortable with the change underfoot the more you do it. So practice, practice, practice and let your inner Type A flag fly.
Year-round Boulder run, Nicklaus Combs says “Short stride and quick cadence” can make a big difference because the less time you are in contact with the ice, the less time you have to slip! Plus it means you are taking a lighter step, place less force on the ice. Short steps doesn’t mean faster, it just means increasing your foot turnover.Nervous about running on the snow and ice? Checkout these great tips #runchat #winter Click To Tweet
Just like you need chains on your tires for the mountains (yeah things I learn in Colorado), you need to winterize those shoes.
Adding a spike or other gripping tool to your shoes is a great way to enhance traction. There are a lot of options depending on your budget, which range from actually putting screws in your shoes to buying shoes with cleats. One of the most commonly used is YakTrax and I do like them, but with the cylinder shape sometimes worry about slippage on ice where I know they grip well on snow.
My new friend Kate who lives, runs and enjoys the outdoors year round in Alaska had this advice:
“To run on ice I use a waterproof shoe and slip my Khatoola Nano Spikes over the top to protect me from slipping and sliding. We also sell a shoe called “IceBugs” that have carbon spikes in the bottom of the shoe that are placed correctly as to not affect your gate when you run.
Sometimes when running stores “stud” shoes for runners (or put screws in tennis shoes) they can put them in crooked or in the wrong place and over time can cause injury for the runners. If spikes are not an option for any reason – I always… always recommended padded shorts.” Ok I really love that last piece of advice.
Be Afraid…But Just a Little
It’s not the time to head out for strides and sprints, instead remember that slowing down or turning corners is more difficult, so you’ll need to slow down. It’s time to be cautious, not set any personal bests, unless they’re snow personal bests.
- Plan for runch over an early morning run so you can use the sunshine to spot ice and possibly warm it to at least slush
- If you can aim for snow over slightly shoveled, you’ll often find more traction
- Wearing something like the Oakley Prizm lens can help make the ice more visible due to the contrast it provides
- Early morning runners always take a headlamp, instead of relying on street lights
- Understand how black ice forms so you can be vigilant
“The prime times for the development of this ice are around dawn and in the late evening, when temperatures are typically the lowest. The ground temperature causes the precipitation to freeze upon impact, thus creating ice.” – Accuweather
Embrace the Trails
Because trails haven’t been scooped, you are more likely to find snow than ice in most places, which means better traction and less chance of slipping. Running in fresh snow means a little more work, since it’s softer. Treat that like running on the beach and keep your run shorter, knowing it will engage new muscles.When the trail has started to become packed down, any of the spikes listed above or trail shoes will give you better traction than on a slick sidewalk.
Trails can also be a good option to simply remind you to relax and enjoy the run. Winter running is usually a base building time, so embrace the obstacle as a way to improve your preconception and enjoy some easier miles.
Do you have any snow and ice tips?
Do you avoid it or embrace it?
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