Is It Safe To Run on Snow and Ice?

Woman running on snow
Photo by Jordan Siemens

"There's a lot of snow and ice on the roads that I usually run on during warmer months. Should I be running on the snow and ice, or should I stick to the treadmill?"

Some runners banish themselves to the treadmill during the winter months, since snow and ice make running on roads, sidewalks, and trails a bit treacherous. But it's possible to still run outside and be safe even when the conditions aren't perfect, as long as you take the right precautions.

One of the biggest concern about running on ice or snow is wiping out and getting injured (and possibly embarrassed). One way to get more traction and avoid slipping is to use cleats or ice grippers, such as Yaktrax. You don't have to invest in a new pair of shoes -- they're very lightweight spikeless coils that slip right over your running shoes. The coils give you a little extra grip so you don't slip or slide.

Another safe and fun alternative is snowshoeing. The movements are not that different from running, so if you can run, you can snowshoe. Many shops that rent skiis also rent snowshoes, so you can try them out and see if you like it before investing money on your own pair.

The other issue to worry about with running on snow or ice is, of course, keeping your feet from getting wet and cold. If you plan to do a lot of snow running, you may want to invest in a pair of trail running shoes, which are thicker, more water-proof, and have better traction than regular running shoes.

If it's really cold, you may even want to wear two pairs of running socks –- one thinner (synthetic material) pair closest to your feet and a thicker (wool) pair over them. If you try this, just make sure that running shoes are not too tight with the extra layer. Some runners also like to use disposable toe warmers in their shoes to keep their feet warm.

You may also want to carry an extra pair of socks so you can change them if your feet do end up getting wet from the slush and snow. And after your run, make sure you change out of wet clothes as soon as possible, so you don’t risk hypothermia.

In addition to watching your step so you don't slip on the ice or snow, be on the lookout for other hazards. Use caution when crossing roads and running in areas where you may be hidden behind piles of plowed snow. Try to make eye contact with drivers so you know that they see you.

Also see: Tips for Running on Snow and Ice
Cold Weather Running Safety Tips

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