By Harvey Weber
Nothing impresses people more than hearing you run through a Saskatchewan winter. But running outside safely in the cold, dark and ice requires a bit of thought and preparation. Here’s how to set yourself up for success.
1. Be careful on icy or slippery surfaces
When you approach any slippery area you’re unsure of, slow down, put your arms out for balance, and take smaller steps.
2. Respect the wind
Run into the wind first when starting your run and also try to pick a route that provides shelter from the wind by using trees or buildings as protection.
3. Pick you run time and route wisely
Try to run during the warmest part of the day and when there is sunlight. If you have to run when it’s dark, wear reflective running gear and a headlamp. Run on paths, trails or sidewalks instead of roads because drivers cannot see runners at times in the dark.
4. Run with others or carry your cell phone
Especially for long runs on very cold days, run with someone else or a group for safety. If that’s not possible, take your cell phone with you when running alone and keep it in an inside pocket so the battery doesn’t freeze.
5. Use the right shoes
Wear grippy and warm running shoes such as Gore-Tex or waterproof trail shoes. If you don’t want to buy new shoes you can winterize all-season shoes by using pull-on traction grips or IceSpikes. Putting duct tape over the toe box is a great way to make shoes warmer.
6. Don’t expose tendons to the cold
Wear crew height socks instead of ankle socks to avoid exposed ankles and Achilles tendons. You’re less likely to get injured tendons if they are fully covered from the cold.
7. Wear layers
Dress in lots of layers, but avoid cotton for bottom layers; try to get a fabric that wicks moisture from your body. Mid layers with quarter zips are a great option as you can pull them down as you warm up. A wind breaking layer can be light or heavy depending on temperature.
8. Keep your hands warm
Mittens are warmer options than gloves. Layer a mitt over a glove for extra warmth.
9. Protect your face
Balaclavas are easy to breathe through and protect your face, throat and lungs from the cold. On particularly cold and windy days, consider using ski goggles to protect your eyes.
10. Stay hydrated
Be sure to drink water before, during and after your winter runs to stay hydrated. Drink warm fluids after your run to soothe your throat — plus it’ll warm your inner core.
— Harvey Weber is a Brainsport fit specialist and coach with Running Wild Athletics. He holds multiple Saskatchewan age group records on the track.