10 Essential Winter Running Tips

Winter is here! But that doesn't mean you need to hide out on a treadmill until spring. With the right preparation, you can still enjoy a workout in all the elements! 

  1. It's dark out there, dress to be seen.
    The frequency of accidents increase during rainy, dark weather due to compromised visibility. 

    During the daytime hours, aim to wear neon colours to stand out. However, in the dark, neon colours are less useful.  Instead, try reflective gear and artificial lights. (Unfortunately, that single reflective strip on your jacket you rely on doesn't cut it.) Studies have shown that to be seen, you need multiple visibility points. A good call is having lights or reflective bands on your ankles and wrists, as well as a top with reflective strips and some small lights that can be seen on every side of your body. 

  2. Bring a phone with a good charge and some money.
    A cell phone may come in handy if you need to call a family member, or if you find yourself in a situation that requires an emergency response. Bring along some cash or other form of payment, too.  You may need it to buy food, liquids or perhaps you’ll need to catch a cab ride home.

  3. Always tell someone where you are going and when you'll be back.
    It will bring you and your loved one’s peace of mind that they have an idea of how long you are supposed to be gone.

  4. Hydrate and fuel up on long runs.
    You are at a higher risk for hypothermia if you are also dehydrated. You may not feel like drinking or eating, but your needs don't change all that much when winter rolls in. 

  5. Take smaller strides.
    If you don't, a surprise ice patch might get the better of you. If you do hit ice, continue with those short strides and get yourself to the grass, a pile of snow or another safe zone, without drastically changing your stride.

  6. Wear the proper layers.
    Proper layers will allow warm air to stay trapped but do not trap perspiration next to the skin. Most often, that will be a long sleeve technical shirt that will wick moisture away and thus keep you warmer, and a water-resistant jacket here in Vancouver. When the weather gets really cold, you'll want to add an insulating layer. The golden rule is that you should be a little chilly but not cold when you start out (and stay warm up until you begin your run). 

  7. Consider switching out your shoes and socks.
    Sure, you can run all year in the same highly breathable shoes, but some of us get cold feet. You might consider a pair of GORE-TEX shoes. Alternatively, simply try switching to a warmer/thicker sock that stands up to west coast winters.

  8. Accessorize.
    Wear mitts and a hat. They make for a very portable way to control your body temperature. Just make sure you opt for accessories made with wicking fabric.

  9. Assume that cars do not see you and run against traffic where possible.
    That way, you can see cars coming at you. And don't just go ripping across the road. Slow down and make eye contact. Being aware of your surroundings and changing your road behaviour may be one of the best ways in preventing pedestrian-vehicle accidents.

  10. Run with friends.
    Not only will they keep you safer but far more motivated about getting out there and having fun in the dark, wet, (snowy) weather that is Vancouver in January. If you don't have running friends who are happy to drag you out into an icy monsoon with a smile, you can make some instantly at the Rackets and Runners Run Club