Running in the snow is much harder than running on dry ground. You have to navigate slippery, uneven footing and deep drifts that force you to pick your feet up much higher than you might otherwise, and with less traction, you gain less distance with every step. These six exercises will help strengthen key muscle groups so you can run strong all season and enjoy winter running.
Climbing stairs is a fantastic way to build overall leg strength. It also forces you to pick up your feet and drive your knees in a similar way that you would when running out in the snow. If you live in an apartment building, you have a perfect set of stairs right outside your door. If not, hop on the Stairmaster at your local gym. Aim for at least a 30-minute session to prepare you for the snow.
Not only are these great for your core, but mountain climbers will also hammer your quads and help you practice driving your knee upward, similar to the stairs. These will be particularly helpful for preparing you to tackle a hill in the snow, because your stronger core will help you stay upright as you drive up the hill.
Walking lunges build quad and glute strength, while teaching the explosiveness you need to charge through the snow. They also strengthen your hamstrings, which are crucial for running in tough conditions. If you’re able to push yourself forward from the bottom of a lunge, you’ll be able to grind your way through a few inches of snow.
Bulgarian split squat
This is like the leveled-up version of the walking lunge. The movement is similar to the lunge, but requires even more power and strength, which will translate well to running in wintry conditions.
Stability ball hamstring curls
These will target your hamstrings, butt and core, all of which you’ll need to deal with the extra resistance that comes with running through the snow.
Single-leg calf raises
The final part of your stride is the toe-off, which can be particularly difficult in slippery conditions. By strengthening your calves, feet and ankles, you’ll be able to more effectively push off and gain more distance with every stride, and be able to run confidently through the snow.