The Possibilities of Winter Running

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, just soft people” is a famous quote from legendary University of Oregon Track & Field coach, Bill Bowerman, a phrase he repeated often to his runners in the seventies. Today, this coach would be proud to train Canadian athletes, given the climate in which we run. I wholeheartedly agree with his school of thought. When well dressed and well prepared, the weather is no excuse not to run outdoors. Here are my tips to overcome the challenges of winter running.

The Right Running Shoes

In winter weather, we deal with icy, snow-covered sidewalks on a daily basis not to mention below zero temperatures, making traditional running shoes unsuitable for winter running.

The sole of a traditional shoe is smooth and efficient on asphalt, but must be replaced with one that has grip in winter conditions. Some brands offer pronounced lugs and a softer, more flexible sole for better performance on ice and snow and much needed traction on your favourite outdoor routes.

Avoid soggy socks by opting for a shoe with a waterproof membrane. Traditional shoes tend to have a very thin, breathable upper sole, while winter shoes with waterproof membranes shield your feet from wind and water to help keep them warm. You will especially appreciate the waterproof feature on sludgy days spent dodging puddles. Dry feet means a more comfortable run!

Multi-layered Clothing

With high-intensity outdoor activities, such as running or cross-country skiing, we recommend wearing multiple thin breathable layers rather than one very warm piece of clothing, as you would do in downhill skiing, for example. Multiple breathable layers allow heat to stay trapped between the layers, acting as an insulator—this regulates body heat and wicks sweat to keep you dry. Several layers can provide the same amount of heat as one thick layer, but can breathe and trap heat to keep you warmer longer.

What’s more, it takes longer for cold to penetrate several layers, so even though your layers are thin, you body will be protected from the frigid temps.

The layering system I use on cold days that reach -15°C include: a thin, long-sleeve shirt as my base layer, a fleece-style shirt as my second layer, and a very light running jacket without insulation on top.

Don’t Forget the Accessories

Consider investing in worthwhile accessories! We tend to lose heat through our extremities, so even if you are very well dressed, you can’t forget the hands, feet and head! We all have our own tolerance level when it comes to the cold. Personally, I am often chilly so I would never leave the house in winter without a pair of thick merino wool socks made for hiking, and leather alpine mittens! You may also want to consider tuques, neck warmers, tubes and long underwear.

Fortunately, everything you need can be found at Sportium. By being well equipped, your favourite summer sport can be enjoyed all year long!