Jason Warick on a winter run.

Five ways to run safe this winter

As winter descends on Saskatoon, runners who get outdoors year round need to adapt. The preparation for running outside on a cold, dark and snowy morning is much different than on a warm, clear day.

Jason Warick, Saskatchewan’s marathon record holder, coaches a group of performance-oriented runners in the city and reminds them every fall to be smart and careful as the mercury drops and the snow flies. This week he shares five winter running tips with the Brainsport Times.

1. Dress properly

With the right clothing, you can run outside in any temperature. But not bundling up enough can be dangerous — cold lungs, muscles, tendons and joints don’t work as well as warm ones.

Dressing warmly means donning a toque, mitts (or socks on your hands), a wind breaking layer over a base layer, high socks (no ankle socks) and thick tights or wind pants. If it’s colder than -20C make sure you cover your mouth and nose.

“You wouldn’t stop for a smoke during a run, so don’t suck frozen air into an uncovered mouth deep into your lungs,” Warick says.

2. Warm up where it’s warm

Do two to three minutes of jogging or running drills on the spot before throwing on your final layer and getting out the door.

3. Stay upright

Don’t run on ice or in deep snow. Slow down on corners or if you hit a dodgy spot on the trails.

Winter running shoes or anti-slip pull-on grips or spikes can help prevent slips, but “common sense is the first defense,” Warick says. If the sidewalks are unplowed after a major snowfall or slick after a freezing rain event, hit the treadmill or Field House track or head out of town to a grid road where traction is better.

Replacing a run with a winter activity like cross country skiing is also a good option.

4. Have a post-run plan

After a cold run, make sure to get warm. If running straight home, have a hot shower or change into a warm, dry set of clothes. If you’ve driven to a workout make sure to have a fresh set of clothes in the vehicle to change into.

Also make sure to have warm foods and beverages readily available after a chilly run.

5. Don’t forget your core

Winter is the off season for most runners and that makes it the perfect time to recommit to core and strength work.

You don’t need a home gym to do this — basic exercises like push ups, V-sits, and planks can be done in the comfort of your home with no equipment.

Even five minutes of core or strength work three times a week will help prevent injury when hard, fast running starts again.