Running in the Snow – Doing it safely and its added Benefits

I enjoyed a long run along the Union Canal in the snow on Saturday. There is no better feeling than hearing the ice and snow crack beneath your feet as you motor along.

I posted some pictures up about my run and how great it felt to be out on such a crisp, frosty morning. In response I recieved a lot of comments along the lines of “Your mental!” “Its to dangerous to run!” “Ill slip everywhere in that”

While I understand peoples genuine concern for safety I can only tell people from my own experience of running in snow that I have yet to slip (tempting fate i know).

So I thought I could share some tips on running in the snow, its benefits and things to look out for to keep you safe. Please feel free to add anything that you want 🙂

Happy running and dont let the winter weather stop you in your tracks!

1. Freshly fallen snow will act as a shock absorber, get out on the trail with some snow and your joints will be delighted.

2. Try and stick to the snow that is less packed together, this can be more dangerous than loose snow.

3. Snow can hide roots and poor surfaces, wearing a pair of sunglasses with yellow lenses will help you to see better.

4. If you are planning a 10 mile run and only end up doing 7, don’t get to upset about it, in the snow you will be working harder than usual.

5. Running on snow will give other stabilizing muscles that don’t normally get such a workout to be put through their paces so don’t be surprised if you have unusual aches the next day.

6. Snow is great for resistance training, try finding some deep snow on a level surface and sprinting through it.

7. Make sure you take a phone with you, if you do slip and injure yourself you want to be able to contact someone for help.

8. Ensure that you wear appropriate shoes, try a good pair of trail shoes with added traction.

9. Dress in layers, start with a sweat wicking base layer, DO NOT wear Cotton as this will soak up moisture and keep you wet=cold! Then on top of the base layer go for a Gore-Tex material jacket or windbreaker. If really cold get a fleece type middle layer on.

10. Get some lip balm on, I made the mistake of not doing this and my lips were cracked and painful for days after.

11. Buy a pair of YakTrax, they are great for running and walking in snow and ice. A step down from crampons and a lot more practical! Be sure to take them off when you go indoors as they can be dangerous on tiled surfaces (i.e. Supermarket floors)

12. Finally, you cant beat that feeling of being out there when everyone else is curled up in front of the TV, that’s one of the best things about running through Winter, the feeling that your doing something not many people would like to. Running in such harsh weather can surely only serve to harden you for future endeavours.

Hope this has been helpful 🙂 and remember, dont eat yellow snow!

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About Mark Cooper

My name is Mark Cooper, I am an ultra runner, motivational speaker, expedition consultant and public relations rookie. I help people achieve greatness in their lives. For bookings or more information you can email
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31 Responses to Running in the Snow – Doing it safely and its added Benefits

  1. Jerry S says:

    Good suggestions Mark.

    Mine are to ensure that if you are carrying a water bottle do so in a pocket or back pack, your body heat will stop it freezing up. Also it is not a shock to the system when you drink cold water…keep that core warm.

    The other is if you are crossing stiles and opening gates wear some gardening gloves to soak up the snow and frost which melts and makes your hands cold.

    Worked perfectly on Sunday when it was -6 C in Kent running 50 km 🙂

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  3. chelsian says:

    would have to agree with that totally, its a bit treacherous but well worth the effort, nobody around and even better off road.

  4. Penny Walker says:

    Having run a fair bit in icey and snowy conditions down here, I can highly recommend the Kahtoola microspikes for that extra bit of traction If you are running in loose snow, I would also recommend the little Kalenji gaiters that you can get from Decathlon to stop snow from getting inside your running shoes.

  5. Nice! It would be fun for a change to see some white stuff, but not for the whole winter 😉

    Now how about snow and clay?

  6. Pingback: Snow Part 2… «

  7. Paul Bradley says:

    If only it was snow we had down here in Brum. Attempted a 4 mile tempo run yesterday only for it to turn into a four mile tip-toe, stop-start stutter.
    How do you do a tempo run in a city (ie no trails) on ice without breaking your neck?
    Think the tips are good tho. Quite agree that there’s nothing like the quiet of a run in the snow.

  8. Kate Percy says:

    Nice tips Mark – no snow down here in Bristol (yet!) but lots of ice….I reckon I was the only person running yesterday lunchtime – it’s a great feeling being out in the crisp cold weather. The only tips I’d add would be take a hankie with you as the cold makes the nose run constantly and make sure you’ve got some nice hot soup to come home to for a quick recovery/warm up.

  9. I’ve had some great runs in the snow last winter and already yesterday and tonight.

    Last winter though I did have a couple of falls. I find the main problem is when the snow freezes and you are trying to run on an ice ring.

    That’s when I move to the road but that has it’s problems as cars tend to drive on the road!

    But I love number 11. Tonight only two of us turned up for our weekly fartlek session and there was something good about being out on the cycle path working hard knowing everyone else was back at home!

  10. Pingback: Let it snow! – Mark Kalch - Adventurer | Explorer | Athlete

  11. Mike S says:

    Re water bottle: why not fill it with half juice and half hot water from the kettle before you leave. Then run with it for five minutes in one hand and swap…

    Result: warm hands/fingers and a drink at body temperature by the time you take a swig.

    Works a treat!

  12. Pingback: Edinburgh today: snow still shuts schools, housing ‘crisis’ meeting and £500,000 bins bill |

  13. Hollin says:

    Great article about running outdoors in the snow. One question. . .what’s the best way to keep feet dry and warm in running shoes while running through the snow? Cold weather does not stop me from running outside, but snow-topped, cold, wet feet do. Any suggestions on how to manage this would be appreciated. Thanks.

    • Penny Walker says:

      I have never yet had cold feet when running, even if they are wet. The most important thing is to wear a pair of wicking socks (I use X-socks skyrunners) and wear shoes that will allow the water to be expelled i.e mesh uppers. In snow, I wear the little mini gaiters from Decathlon (I have given a link above) that do a reasonable job of preventing snow from getting inside your shoe.

      • Hollin says:

        Thank you, Penny and Mark for your suggestions. I went out an purchased some ‘smart wool’ socks that have the wicking capability. Haven’t had any fresh snow for a while, but the socks do a great job just keeping my feet warm. Snow in the forecast, so let’s see how it goes in the snow. Hollin

  14. Mark Cooper says:

    Tricky one this, I guess you could try for trail shoes that are solely made of leather? Dont get many without ventilation material though. Try UK Gear XC-09’s, love their products, the pt-1000’s are the best shoe ive ever used. Good luck and Happy New Year!

  15. Devon Begg says:

    Thanks for the tips about the types of clothing layers to wear. I have recently started running and I’m becoming frustrated by all the snow and especially the cold winds. I finally clued in to the fact that it helps to wear gloves! I refuse to sit inside just because it happens to be crappy out.

  16. JammyJo says:

    Can only agree, running in the snow is so invigourating. my tip would be to invest in a compression top, they come into their own in weather like this. The only other comment I would make is to share the experience with someone – great to run with a running mate in the snow.

  17. Pingback: snow training « the day to follow your heart

  18. Sam Resuggan says:

    Just read your article after having gone for my first run in the snow. I kind of got the same response from family & friends about being crazy, but I really enjoyed it! Did get a little difficult at one point when I had the snow coming down but I got through – maybe I should invest in some glasses 🙂

  19. Angie says:

    Thanks for the Advice Mark… I found it to be very helpful as I will be taking my first run in the snow tomorrow… so wish me luck! :))

  20. Kim Meyer says:

    Thanks for the great advice Mark. I’ve never run through the snow before. And how do you like this for my first initiation: the first day of snow in Lausanne has coincided with the half marathon…. A little bit nervous about the snow element.

  21. Gráinne says:

    This got me out the door this morning! Had read about running in snow last week but skipped it. Woke to fresh snow this morning but didn’t want to miss my run. Your tips convinced me that I’d be OK. And I was! Really enjoyed it. Thank you!

  22. Chrissy Lawson says:

    Union Canal on my doorstep. Due to back injury in 2010 not up to running quite yet, but thinking of walking it at some point during the day when daughter at school.

  23. Saad says:

    I came to Canada from an extremely warm country i.e. Pakistan..and I am currently in Winnipeg, where its really nasty during the winters, e.g. this whole week the average high was around -20C, the low was around -26-27. I used to do 8.2 miles regularly, over here, because of the snow making it much more difficult not to mention teh extremely cold wind, I am lucky if i can do a 10k everyday. But its really worth the effort, makes me feel proud (not to mention makes my lungs burn when I try to do speedwork!!!)

  24. Pingback: Snowed under | Running in Winterpeg

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