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.