How Ultra Running affects your body

This was an article in the Washington Post. I found it interesting, entertaining and accurate.


run 100

What happens to your body during anultramarathon

Story by Bonnie Berkowitz, illustrations by Richard Johnson


Nov. 9, 2015

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Sometime in the past couple of decades, the idea of running a marathon became less crazy.

Since Oprah Winfrey finished the Marine Corps Marathon in 1994, millions of average Joes and Janes have tackled the distance, and now “26.2” shows up routinely on bumper stickers and bucket lists.

But for some people, a 26.2-mile marathon just isn’t long enough. These athletes are turning to ultrarunning, a sport that not long ago was considered the reclusive, funky-smelling cousin of traditional road racing.

About 1,000 of them will line up Nov. 21 in Boonsboro, Md., to run theJFK 50 Mile, the country’s oldest ultramarathon and one of the two largest. (An ultra is anything longer than 26.2 miles; the most common distances are 50 and 100 miles and 50 and 100 kilometers, or 31 and 62 miles.)

No one is saying that a marathon is short or easy, but there are some huge differences — physiological, logistical and psychological — between running far and running really, really far.

How more miles can affect your body

Hallucinations are part of ultra lore. When you run around the clock, extreme fatigue and strange shadows in the wee hours can sometimes play havoc with your mind. A nap usually fixes the problem.

Temporary blurred vision can happen in longer ultras, probably due to corneal swelling.

Insect stings and bites are more common in ultrarunning.

Cuts and bruises from falls are common because of the uneven terrain of ultras.

Heart problems are rare in long races; running usually makes the heart and circulatory system stronger. But some recent studies indicate that distance runners may be at slightly higher risk for atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat. Other research has shown some temporary cardiac dysfunction after long races, particularly in the least-trained participants.

A high rate of respiratory ailments found among ultrarunners in a 2014 study may be largely attributable to dust and flora along trails.

All distance runners should be aware of the risk ofexercise-associated hyponatremia, a potentially deadly condition in which drinking too much water or sports drink dilutes the body’s sodium, causing cells to swell and burst.

Body temperature is more likely to drop too low (hypothermia) in an ultra, when energy stores are depleted and weather conditions vary. Heat illness is more common in marathons, in part because of the more intense effort.

Marathoners burn a higher percentage of carbs and can get by on sports drink and gels. Ultrarunners burn a higher percentage of fat and usually need real food, which can mean more gastrointestinal problems.

The longer the race, the more likely muscle crampswill strike, most often in runners’ quadriceps, hamstrings and calves. No one knows exactly why cramps occur, but most research points to fatigue in the mechanisms that govern muscle control and contraction.

Stress fractures and other musculoskeletal overuse injuries can plague long-distance runners. Feet are the most common site of stress fractures in ultrarunners, but fractures of the pelvis, femur, tibia and fibula also occur.

Blisters are more common in ultras, thanks to mud, water, rocks and dust that can get into shoes and socks. Also, moving on varied terrain, such as steep downhills, can cause friction spots.

Sources: Martin Hoffman, research director for the Western States Endurance Run; Mike Joyner, physiologist and anesthesiologist at the Mayo Clinic and “The Runner’s Body,” by Ross Tucker and Jonathan Dugas.

In contrast to big-city marathons, U.S. ultramarathons tend to be spartan, low-key affairs, often beginning in very small towns near very long trails. JFK, for instance, is run mostly on the Appalachian Trail and the C&O Canal Towpath.


Many ultramarathons have fewer than 100 runners and almost no spectators.

“You’re surrounded by nature,” said Amy Pope Fitzgerald of Chantilly, who has run both Marine Corps and JFK each year since 2012 and has completed one 100-miler. “I like the fact that ultras are smaller, and you’re just running, so you make friends. I’m not having to fight for my spot on the course.”

Not yet, anyway.

The closest thing ultrarunning has had to an Oprah moment was the 2009 publication of Christopher McDougall’s “Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen,” a bestseller that introduced many readers to the world of ultras. U.S. participation has more than doubled since then.

More than two-thirds of those participants are men, according toUltraRunning Magazine, and more than half are older than 40.

Longer distances seem to attract older runners who can compensate for lost speed with greater perspective and experience — not to mention perseverance.

Most people finish a marathon in three to six hours and make it home in time for lunch. But a 50-miler takes an average of 10 hours, said Karl Hoagland, publisher of UltraRunning Magazine, and 100-milers typically take 24 to 30 hours or more of nonstop forward motion.

“As you get older, you realize the sun’s going to come up, and you get less rattled,” said Mike Joyner, a distance runner and a Mayo Clinic physiologist who studies how human bodies respond to exercise.


Not long after runners cross the start line, other factors unique to ultramarathons appear.

In marathons with huge fields and prize purses to match, the top runners fly off the start line and maintain a pace of less than five minutes per mile until they finish a little more than two hours later.

Top ultrarunners also start fast, but courses and human physiology don’t permit them to maintain a constant breakneck pace for hours on end. Even the fastest competitors hike rather than run at times.

“Everything has to be adjusted. You’d crash too soon if you run at marathon pace,” said Jim Hage of Kensington, who won Marine Corps in 1988 and 1989, then won JFK in 2002 at age 44. “You have to take everything a little bit easier . . . and if you get in trouble at 20 miles? Wow, that’s a long way home.”

The lower intensity is measurable. Marathoners’ hearts often beat at 75 to 85 percent of their maximum heart rate for the duration of the race, Joyner said. That’s not a sprint, but it is a moderately hard effort.

Ultrarunners, he said, spend a lot of time at 50 to 65 percent of their maximum heart rate, with elites on the higher end and the just-happy-to-finish folks at the lower end.

This is probably a main reason heart problems show up less often during ultras than in marathons, according to Martin Hoffman, who has studied the medical side of ultrarunning as research director for the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run. Western States is to ultrarunners what the Boston Marathon is to marathoners: a showcase for top racers with a challenging entry standard for regular runners. It also has a robust research arm, and much of the data scientists have on ultra­runners was gathered there.

Hoffman said ultrarunners’ age and experience also means that any hidden cardiac problems are likely to have surfaced earlier in their running lives.

As for recent studies concluding that long bouts of vigorous exercise over a lifetime are dangerous for the heart, Joyner said other studies show the opposite, and the question may never be settled because there are so few people to study who don’t have mitigating factors such as coming to running to try to reverse a health problem.

“Exercise is not a vaccine for heart problems,” Joyner said. “But people who have been lifelong, high-volume runners tend to have big, compliant hearts and very good vasodilation” — in other words, very healthy circulatory systems.

Although most ultrarunners don’t have to worry about their hearts during a race, they do have to worry about their stomachs.

Unlike marathoners who can get by with sports drink and maybe a few energy gels to fuel them to the finish, ultrarunners usually need to eat real food along the way — some salty, some sweet, such as sandwiches, potatoes, chips, pickles, candy — which can lead to gastrointestinal distress.

Eating on the run

At marathon aid stations, you’ll find water, sports drink and maybe energy gels. Ultra aid stations have those things plus real food, such as sandwiches, pasta, cake, pickles, soup, burgers, M&Ms, salted potatoes, baby food, bean burritos, soda — occasionally even liquor and beer.

Hoffman said this is probably because blood is diverted from the digestive system to muscles to keep them churning and to the skin to remove heat.

“Digestion is not the body’s priority at the time, so blood is shunted elsewhere,” he said. “Once that happens, there can be certain things that enter the bloodstream from the GI tract that can cause inflammatory reaction throughout the body and cause nausea.”

In some cases, he said, the problem may be simply that the stomach isn’t moving its contents down the line quickly enough, so fluid and food just sit there. In other cases, food is jostled down the line too quickly, causing diarrhea and abdominal cramps.

Runners who don’t manage their food well can “bonk” or “hit the wall,” which occurs when the body runs out of energy and the brain tries to put on the brakes. A unique and instant kind of despair follows — and ultrarunners can hit more than one wall during a race.

“I’ve made every kind of mistake possible,” said Mike Wardian of Arlington, who won JFK in 2007 and is among the country’s most prolific distance runners. “You’ll have really high peaks where you’re be, like, ‘Aw, man, I can do this all day! I’m doing everything right!’ Then five minutes later, it’s the lowest low. . . . ‘I can’t believe I twisted my ankle!’ or ‘I can’t believe they didn’t have chocolate gummy bears!’ I think as the race expands, there are so many more things that can go wrong.”

The list is long, even with proper fueling. Hoffman said that, compared with marathoners, ultrarunners have a greater chance of respiratory problems, cuts and bruises, serious blisters and insect bites — all at least partly attributable to the courses.

Most marathons are run on exactly 26.2 miles of asphalt streets, which are wide enough to accommodate lots of runners, flat enough to not scare away the masses, smooth enough to allow for even pacing and accessible enough for fans who want to watch. Many offer prize money and some, such as Boston, Chicago and New York, offer six-figure paychecks for first place.

Most ultras, at least in the United States, are the exact opposite.

They often occur on rocky, root-filled, narrow, steep and slippery trails with big elevation changes. Organizers gleefully scare people away with names like Mountain Masochist, Badwater, Bear Bait and Frozen Dead Guy. Most offer little or no prize money.

And the distance is almost always a ballpark number because trails are so hard to accurately measure. That means a 100-mile event could actually be 99.4 miles or 110 — which is just as well because most courses don’t have many mile markers.

The uncertainty can make pace-obsessed former marathoners crazy, and the transition can be unnerving even for the fast folks.

“I had no idea where I was on the course,” said Hage of his 2002 JFK 50 Mile (which is actually 50.2 miles, according to race director Mike Spinnler). “You’re running through the woods; it’s easy to get lost. That’s never an issue in a marathon. You can still figure out your splits and go, ‘Oh, that last mile was a little slower, a little faster.’ But in an ultra, the lost-in-the-woods feeling prevails.”

Ultrarunners often carry many of their supplies because aid stations can be spaced 10, 20 or even more miles apart, compared with every mile or two in most marathons.

Packing light

Ultrarunners have to be more self-sufficient than marathoners because aid stations may be hours apart, but they don’t want to weigh themselves down. Some things they may carry: rain gear, gloves, an ear warmer, duct tape, wet wipes, toilet paper, antacid, painkillers, anti-chafing lube, quick-energy snacks.

“The main difference in an ultramarathon versus a marathon is that you have to make sure you take care of issues before they become a real big problem,” Wardian said. “If there’s a rock in your shoe or something, in a marathon you could be, like, ‘Okay, that’s going to suck for 10 miles,’ but if you’re out there [in an ultra] and it happens at the same point and you don’t address it, that little rock can become a huge blister, and it can be the difference between finishing the race and not finishing.”

The terrain, the unknown and the solitude mean that ultras require a different frame of mind for runners trying to conquer a new distance for the first time.

“You have to almost trick your mind that you are invincible and that you are going to finish this,” Fitzgerald said. “The ultras allow you to do something that’s awesome, but you do it at your own pace. You don’t have the pressure to finish in a certain time. As long as you’re finishing, it’s considered awesome.”



icy runner

How do you keep your hydration pack or hand held from freezing on long runs in the winter?

If you are using a hydration pack, the water in the bladder doesn’t usually freeze solid (at least I’ve never had it totally freeze). It will get ice crystals in it. The hose is another matter. Over this last weekend, my running partner’s hose froze and we had to share until the sun came out and thawed his. Drinking a sip of water frequently will prevent both the hose and the mouthpiece from freezing unless it is very cold.

I’ve tried to think of different ways to keep this from happening. The first is to not leave any water in the hose. I always squeeze the mouthpiece and hold the hose up to drain any water. You can also blow the water back into the bladder, but this fills your bladder with air and causes it to make a sloshing noise as you run. These two methods don’t always work because some water remains in both the mouthpiece and the hose.

The second possibility is to buy or make a sleeve from neoprene that will insulate the hose. There are snowboarding hydration packs, which may be an option for you.

The third option is to put the hydration pack under one of your layers of clothing to keep it warm.

A fourth option is for you to use a sports drink or at least mix some in with your water. The sugar will slow the freezing down. A shot of alcohol will also do this :0) Just don’t use too much, or you’ll have more problems than frozen water.

Rather than using a hydration pack with a bladder, you can also buy one that uses bottles. However, you do want to get some insulated bottles rather than the ones most packs come with.

For a handheld it is a must to buy the insulated bottles. This will not only stop the water from freezing, but it will stop it from freezing your hand.

Of course there is the option of running a loop and leaving a stash of water in a Styrofoam cooler, but loops get boring after a while.

Let me know what you have tried, any additional suggestions are appreciated especially at the lower single digits.


Running as We Age

aging runners

We all wonder, what is going to happen to my running as I age? Will I get slower? I think most people assume you will get slower as you age, which is probably a good assumption, but how much do we slow?

A huge study done in 2010, showed for each year over the age of 40 a runner slows only by 0.2%. That works out to be about one second per mile per year. This continues up to the age of 60. Here’s the interesting news, after 60 years of age men’s advantage over women hits the wall. Men’s performance begins to take a pretty steep nose dive (sorry guys).

For highly trained runners, the loss in muscular strength and oxygen uptake goes down at a much slower rate than for moderately or untrained runners. Running economy (how efficiently you burn energy as you run) remains consistent up until age sixty.

The impact to your running is higher the longer the distance is that you run. While at the 10k and half marathon you only lose one to two seconds per mile after the age of 40, at the marathon distance it works out to be four to five seconds per mile.

The general advice for runners over the age of forty is to not focus on the high miles. Adjust your miles so you are able to bring in more strength training and stretching. Making those changes to your training program will guard you against the effects of aging.

Cut out those low mile rest days and replace them with some yoga and either body weight strength training or light weight training. Maintain your high quality runs such as speed work, race pace, and long runs.

As always never increase your miles by more than ten percent a week, and you may want to lower it to 5-7 percent as you pass fifty five. Also make sure an incorporate a rest week every fourth week of training by dropping your miles by twenty-five to thirty percent for the week.

Running forever is the goal.

Sleep? Who needs it.

sleepy runners colin m. lenton

photo by Colin M. Lenton

I’ve been known to say, “Sleep is overrated,” and “I hate sleeping.”

I truly do wish that sleep was not required by my body. I have so many things I want to do and loosing eight hours a day to sleep seems like such a waste. Just think of all the other things you could do during your life if you didn’t spend at least a quarter of it sleeping.

But the sad reality is, our bodies do need sleep, especially as runners. Sleep is the time when the most healing and building occurs. When the body enters REM sleep, growth hormone is released which is the main component needed to fix those micro tears we cause during strenuous workouts.

Sleep deprivation also impacts your immune system. It drops the number of T-cells, which eventually leads to getting sick. And well, if your sick you probably aren’t running.

Lack of sleep can lead to overtraining and visa versa overtraining can lead to not being able to sleep. And we all know what overtraining leads to: grumpy injured runner.

While your body is sleeping it is also processing, synthesizing and cataloging the details of how to run. It learns the way your muscles and nerves must work together to power each step and the way you need to position your body as it moves through running motions.

How much sleep do you need? The recommendation is eight to nine hours of sleep a day. If you are getting less than six hours, it’s going to hurt your running and your functioning in daily life. Ideally, you should add one minute per mile you run during the week to the usual about of time you spend sleeping. So if you usually sleep seven hours a night and run fifty-five miles a week, you should be sleeping 7 hours and 55 minutes a night.

Another good way to figure out how much sleep your body needs is to take a seven day vacation and sleep until you wake up. Don’t use an alarm clock. During days 1-4 you will be catching up on sleep so just sleep and don’t worry too much about how much you are sleeping. On days 5-7, write down the time you go to be and the time you get up each day and then average the amount of sleep you got each night. This is going to give you the best calculation based upon YOUR body’s needs.

Signs you are not getting enough sleep: you fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow, you need caffeine to get you through the day, falling asleep when your body is at rest like at movies or meetings, or if you are hitting the snooze button more than once.

“Sleep is the most crucial part of my training. If I cannot recover from my training, then there’s no point in training.”

Ryan Hall, Marathoner.

Don’t Panic!

don't panic

At some point in your running life, something is going to go wrong on your run. Sometimes it is something small, like you break a shoelace. No big deal.

Things just happen and the longer your runs get the more likely something is going to go wrong. There is a saying among ultrarunners related to stomach issues during a hundred miler, but I think it applies across the board, “It’s not if you have stomach problems, it’s when.”

A few weeks ago, Spongebunny dropped his gloves on the way up a mountain. We were doing a 17 mile trail run. He didn’t realize it until I was pulling my gloves on because it was getting colder as we climbed. This is how it went:

Spongebunny: “Shit, Nik, I dropped my gloves.”

Me: Snickering and shaking my head. “Well let’s go back.”

Spongebunny: “No, I’ll be fine. I don’t know how far back they are.”

Me: “Are your hands going to be okay at this temperature for two or three hours?”

Spongebunny: “No, damn it.”

And we turned around. The gloves were only a mile back and Spongebunny kept his fingers.


Next potential panic moment occurred last weekend. Here’s the play back:

Spongebunny and I are happily running down the trail finishing a crossing from Big Cottonwood canyon into Millcreek canyon. We had cars parked in both canyons. We were a mile from our finish line car in Millcreek Canyon and twenty three miles into the run.

Spongebunny stops. He bends over. He puts his hands on his knees. When he turns to me, his face is ashen.

Me: “Are you okay? Are you dizzy? Are you going to throw up? Sit down.”

Spongebunny: “You’re not going to like this.”

Me: “What?”

Spongebunny: “The keys to my car are in Big Cottonwood Canyon.”

Me: laughing hysterically. “Let me call Swiss Miss.”

This last one could turn into a major issue and all trail runners should be prepared for this type of situation. We were not, but thankfully, it wasn’t one where it was going to end in an unexpected camping trip.

Just this last Saturday, Spongebunny and I went out for an easy ten-mile run. We parked at Church Fork and ran an out and back to Elbow Fork. Once back from Elbow Fork, we were going to summit Grandeur Peak.

We were very familiar with the out and back portion of the trail and Grandeur is a popular climb. We were only going out for ten miles and temperatures were in the forties, so I didn’t take any food or water, which is very typical for me at that distance. Spongebunny had his handheld.

We get to the summit of Grandeur and the view is amazing. I stand on the top and take pictures all the way around. Another group of runners join us at the top for a few minutes and then they are off back down the mountain. When I’m done taking pictures, I follow them down the trail.

The trail is rocky and steep. Spongebunny and I are watching our feet not wanting to trip and land on one of the rock fins sticking up out of the dirt. We

We get to the summit of Grandeur and the view is amazing. I stand on the top and take pictures all the way around. Another group of runners join us at the top for a few minutes and then they are off back down the mountain. When I’m done taking pictures, I follow them down the trail.

The trail is rocky and steep. Spongebunny and I are watching our feet not wanting to trip and land on one of the rock fins sticking up out of the dirt. We get a mile and a half or two miles down the trial and Spongebunny has to pee, so we stop on a flatish section.

I walk out to an overlook and stand there looking around.

Me: “Spongebunny, we’re on the wrong trail.”

We both turn and look back up the trail. It’s at least a 1500 foot climb back to the peak.

Spongebunny: “Son of a b****.” (for sensitive ears)

Me: laughing, “Embrace the suck.”

Spongebunny: “I gotta be somewhere at 11.”

Me: “Yeah, that’s not happening. Do you have her phone number? I’ve got service here.”

The worst thing about it was we didn’t have water for the extra miles. If it had been summer, we would have been seriously dehydrated by the time we got back. We ended up with eighteen miles rather than ten.

Eventually you’re going to have to deal with an unexpected situation, so you should always have a plan and the first on the list is don’t panic. The second should be laugh. If it’s going to be funny later or funny to your friends, then it’s funny now. When you are done laughing at yourself, take a deep breath, think over your options, and talk about them (even if you’re alone because that’s funny too).

Always tell someone where you are going and what time they should start to worry. Always take extra food, water and a jacket even on a short run.


Run Through Challenges, Not Away from Them.

trail running

It doesn’t matter how bad my day has been, how horrible I feel about life, or how angry I am at myself or someone else, when my feet hit the trail, my soul opens and lets it all go.

Within a half mile, all the tension melts from my muscles and the mountain air has cleared my head. Because of this wonderful ability of the trails, my running partners know me better than almost anyone in my life. My training partners laugh and say, “If you want to know Nik, run with her.” And it’s very true, I am most open and relaxed when my feet are moving over the dirt.

Running has always been my time to figure things out. It doesn’t matter how difficult the problem is or how hopeless I thought it was, if I run with it, a solution will present itself. There’s a lot of research that shows people are more creative during and immediately after exercise due to the higher oxygen levels and the release of stress. This extra creativity helps get a new perspective on issues and makes thinking outside the box easier.

When I was running alone, I would work out life problems, outline novels, and devise the theory of my next trial. Now that I run with other people, we bounce ideas off one another. We talk about our struggles and our triumphs. It’s been great to get other’s opinions, and it is interesting to see what possible solutions we can come up with as we dodge branches, hop between rocks, and splash through creeks.

It can be snowing and windy outside and still the trail works its magic. I can even run on roads with a similar experience, although not as profound. The only thing that seems to stifle it, is running indoors.

There’s nothing I can’t work out while running. Running teaches you to face challenging things rather than take the easy way out. If you always run flat routes at a constant pace, you’ll never get any better. You have to face the hills, rocks, and rivers.

And sometimes you’re going to trip and fall on your face.

The Off Season

off season


Many runners use the winter as their “off” season. They reduce their miles to a minimum base, but don’t stop running entirely. The off season allows your body to recover and gives you a prime opportunity to build strength in those supporting muscles.

You don’t want to stop running during the off season because you will lose all that aerobic fitness you have fought so hard to gain. You will also lose the muscle you have worked on building. The aerobic fitness loss happens within two weeks.

How many miles should you maintain? It really depends on your goals. If you plan to run an early season Marathon, it’s a good idea to maintain between 20 to 30 mile weekly base. For someone who runs 5k and 10k races, I’d suggest maintaining 15 to 20 miles as a base throughout the off season. You’ll want to throw in speed and hill training as well just to remind your muscles what they need to do.

Most runners use the colder months of the year as their off season. It’s just hard to get out into the cold, especially when it takes you thirty minutes to put on all the layers you need when temperatures are really cold.

There are a lot of things you can do to boost your running fitness during your off season. Strength training is an excellent way to prepare your body for the increase in miles as race season rolls around. Overall body strength is the most beneficial to runners, so don’t just focus on your legs. Your upper body maintains your running form in the late stages of a race. Poor form means poor energy efficiency. Hip strength is another place you will want to work on. Many running injuries develop from weak hips including shin splints, runners knee, and ITBand issues. You don’t want to build bulk just strong long lean muscle.

Team sports are another great choice. Most team sports require you to move forward, backward, and laterally. This lateral movement is going to strengthen those supporting and stabilizing muscles that get neglected during race season, but can really cripple you if they are injured. The team aspect is an excellent way to rebuild all of those relationships you let slid during your peak race season.

Other options, if you like the snow and cold, are snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. These work different muscles than running like your hips. It also keeps you in the outdoors, which is helpful for those with seasonal blues.

Other things you can work on during the off season are learning about different aspects of running, improving your food choices, implementing a foam rolling routine, and set goals for the next race season.

Take advantage of your off-season whenever it may be, relax and rebuild.

Running in Snow


It’s getting to that retched time of year here in the western mountains of the US, winter. Technically, it is still autumn, but the snow is trickling in especially at the higher elevations (AKA mountains).

I am not a snow lover, living in Utah, that makes me an oddity. My goal this year is to continue to run the trails despite the snow, at least until I decide it’s too dangerous for me.

Running in the snow has its benefits too such as lower impact and if I really have to admit it, it’s beautiful. There are definitely things you can do to make running in the snow easier.

Sunglasses will protect your eyes from the glare off the snow. Seeing is important.

Don’t wear toe socks. Toe socks rob you of the benefit of letting your toes keep each other warm. My feet typically stay warm so long as I’m moving. Do wear long knee high socks. Using long socks protects your lower legs from scrapes and sharp snow (especially when you sink your foot in past the crust).

Absolutely no cotton, choose wool and tech clothing. Cotton gets soggy and will freeze rather than dry. Wool and tech clothing will pull the sweat away from your skin and move it to the outside layer of clothing.

Layers of clothing are your best friend. The space between the layers traps heat. Your outer most layer should be wind resistant when the temperatures are dipping below freezing.  A hat is a must and make sure your ears get covered because they are particularly susceptible to frostbite.

Your fingers are also prime frostbite territory (and your noes) so keep them warm as well. Gloves are nice for tying shoes, unzipping pockets and opening the granola bars, but mittens will keep them warmer. There are tons of combos out there with a flip over mitten for your fingers. I just double layer with mittens over my gloves.

Make sure you have good tread on your shoes. A trail shoe with aggressive tread is going to be much better than a flat road shoe. You can also drive short screws through the soles of your shoes to help with ice and snow. To do this, pull the bed of the shoe out and put screws through from the inside. Cover the screw heads with duct tape and then return your shoe bed to its proper place. There are also yaktrack and ice joggers, which pull over the outside of your shoe and serve the same purpose as the screws.

Pay attention to changes in snow type and texture will help you stay upright. Light powder snow is not the best to run in because it’s slick, but it’s better than slushy wet snow. Slushy wet snow will soak your feet and land you on your ass. The best snow is packing snow. The snowball fight snow.

The other difficulty with snow is what it hides. Rocks, roots, and other toe catching gremlins lie in wait just below the surface. Changes in the surface of the snow or the type of snow can indicate there is something unsavory beneath.