Tips for Running on Snow and Ice

How to stay safe when running in snow

If you like to run outside in the winter but worry about slipping and sliding on the snow and ice, there are still ways you can get outside and be safe. The usual cold weather running safety rules apply. You want to dress properly and pay attention to the temperature and wind chill. But you also need to take some additional steps to keep your feet warm and avoid slipping and falling.

Taking a moment to prepare for running on snow and ice is worth the time. We don't have precise data on the risk of injuries due to running on ice and snow, but we do know there is a significant risk. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there were 42,480 workplace injuries involving ice, snow, and sleet in 2014 alone (the last year for which we have data.) Certainly, this encompasses many types of injuries and only includes those which happened at work, but it does illustrate the importance of thinking safety first before you step out the door to run.

Here are some tips to stay safe and comfortable when you wish to run on ice and snow.

Wear a Hat With a Brim

Asics Winter Running Hat
Photo courtesy of PriceGrabber

If it's snowing as you're running, wear a hat with a brim to keep the snow from hitting your face. The reduced visibility from a face full of snow, closing your eyes, or squinting, can lead to falls even if it's not slippery.

There are winter running hats that come with a brim, such as this one from Asics (Buy on Amazon.com.) If you don't have a hat like that, you can use a regular running hat with a brim and wear a fleece hat or headband over the hat to keep your head warm.

Use Ice Grippers

Yaktrax Ice Grippers
Photo courtesy of PriceGrabber

Lack of traction on snow and ice can easily lead to slipping, sliding, and falls. Getting a grip on snow and ice can reduce this common risk of running in winter.

Yaktrax Ice Grippers (Buy on Amazon.com) offer traction and confidence for winter running. They slip right over your running shoes, without adding any weight. The spikeless coils provide a solid, predictable grip so you don't slip or slide.

Try Snowshoeing

Wearing snowshoes in the ice and snow can be a great alternate to running when the roads and trails are a hazard
Photo courtesy of PriceGrabber

Mix things up and try a different type of workout with a pair of snowshoes. If you can run, you can snowshoe, and snowshoeing bypasses the inherent risks of running in snow and ice.

Many places that rent skis also rent snowshoes, so you can try them out and see if you like snowshoeing before making an investment. You may also find used snowshoes at tag sales and on sites such as craigslist or eBay. Since many people purchase snowshoes and use them little, if, at all, you may find new or almost new snowshoes for much less than store prices.

Get a Pair of Trail Running Shoes

asics gel kahana trail running
Photo courtesy of PriceGrabber

If you do a lot of snow running, you may want to invest in some trail running shoes. Trail running shoes are usually more water-proof than traditional running shoes and can provide a little more traction in the snow.

And trail running shoes aren't just good for winter running. You can still use them in the warmer months when you're running on trails. If you're not sure what trail shoes would be best, check out these thoughts on the best men's and best women's trail running shoes.

Put Screws on Your running Shoes for Traction

Some people have tried clever DIY methods to reduce their risk of slipping on snow and ice while running. One person secured hex-head screws on the soles of a pair of running shoes; you can check out his YouTube video on how to make your own ice/snow running shoes. If you look around you'll note that many others have devised very creative methods of increasing traction to make winter running safer.

A note of caution is in order, however, if you choose to try one of these ingenious methods for making running on snow and ice safer. There are inherent risks to adding hardware to your running shoes (probably one of the reasons you don't see these marketed) and you should keep this in mind when you head out the door with your doctored footwear.

Use Two Pairs of Socks

Teko Evolution Womens Running Socks
Photo courtesy of PriceGrabber

Keeping your feet warm during winter runs can be a challenge, but there are a number of things you can do. First of all, there are a few extremely simple, but oft-forgotten measures you can take. Try to make sure your feet are warm before you head out the door and avoid puddles and slush if you can.

If it's really cold, you may need to wear two pairs of socks—one thinner (synthetic material) pair closest to your feet and a thicker (wool) pair over them. You can learn more about the best winter running socks.

The one caveat for this strategy is that you have to be careful that your running shoes still fit properly with the extra layer. You may want to purchase another pair of running shoes that are a 1/2 size bigger than regular running shoes, so you have some extra room.

To help prevent your feet from sweating too much, spray antiperspirant on them before you put your socks on.

Another option for keeping your feet warm is to use toe warmers in your running shoes.

Bottom Line for Running in Winter?

Running on snow and ice brings the potential for slips and falls, but a few simple measures can improve your safety. Remember to keep an eye on the temperature and wind chill factor, and let someone know when you are expected back and the route you are taking.

Sources:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, 42,480 Work Injuries Involved Ice, Sleet, or Snow in 2014. https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2016/42480-work-injuries-involved-ice-sleet-or-snow-in-2014.htm

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