Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Snow Running: OH Canada!

This morning was the first snow run of the year.  And what a great morning it was for it too.  It's my Canadian version of a beach run. Why stop your running once winter hits? We all know up here in, Canada that it's coming. So why not simply adjust and keep going?

*To clarify, my definition of snow running is in the deeper, untouched snow (in a park for example).  I am not talking about road running.  *

My Wednesday mornings usually consist of my longer run early in the morning.  With last nights snow fall, I simply made the adjustment and did a morning snow run instead.  This means, not necessarily as far, but equally as effective.  :o)

We all have walked or ran in the sand along the beach before.  The body constantly adjusts for balance and lack of stability the ground provides. This creates a greater energy burn in the body, and makes for more challenging movement / a tougher workout.

For those of you who still think I'm crazy, here's a few things I make sure I take into account when I do my snow runs in the winter:

  • Dress for the weather. More layers is always better than not enough. You can always remove a layer as you go if need be. In the case of snow running, consider your socks as well. Either wear thicker socks or a couple pairs of socks. Your feet will get wet.  
  • Pick a familiar spot if possible.  I snow run in the park near my home. I run there throughout the year and I'm familiar with the terrain.  I recommend having an understanding of your snow running location so that you can keep the risk of injury/fall minimal.  
  • Snow runs are best with at least 5cm of snow.  Too little snow can be a bit too slippery for snow running. Whereas, 5cm or more (especially when snow is at least above your foot) provides a tougher workout and softer foot falls. 
  • Try to stay on flat areas and well covered areas.  In the park by my home, there is a paved path along the water, and lots of grassy areas.  These are the areas I stick too.  I know what to expect.  However, if the paved path is not snow covered much, or has a light blanket of snow, I will more often than not, avoid it to minimize the risk of slipping on black ice or slippery snow. If you don't have a park as an option, consider a football or soccer field nearby. 
  • Adjust intensity.  Keep mind, snow running is a tougher workout than a road run. Your body has to work a lot harder. Be sure to adjust the intensity.  If you move at the same pace you do on the road, you may not last as long. 
  • Packy or light snow is ideal.  We all know how usually at least once each winter after we have a good blanket of snow, we get either freezing cold nights and/or freezing rain.  This creates a hard "crust" on the top of the snow.  This increases the risk in snow running in my opinion, because the top layer you break through can hurt the shins if you hit it.  But it also creates some nasty "holes" where your foot lands.  So if you plan to run over the same path again, you run the risk of an ankle injury or fall because your footprints will be more solid in the "crusty snow".  
  • It adds variety to your workouts.  I'm hoping to this year get a pair of snowshoes to enjoy the trails etc for some great workouts.  I also have cross country skies I need to dig out.  But I've found, creating another option to get outdoors and enjoy our Canadian winters by snow running, really can keep you motivated and energized during our sometimes harsh winters.  Don't use winter as an excuse to slack in your routine! 
I hope this makes sense.  Today was a perfect example of how great snow running can be.  Perfect amount of snow, calm weather (not too cold, not too warm), and just the empty freshly snow covered park and me.