In many parts of Canada, winter came early this year. The streets outside look more like mid-February than early December, and it’s been that way for a few weeks already. The transition to winter running can be jarring for some, but Dylan Wykes, co-founder of Mile2Marathon, has some great tips on the club’s site.
Wykes is well qualified to dish on this subject, having left Vancouver’s balmy bubble for the deep-freeze of Ottawa a couple of years ago. We’ve extracted the nuggets we consider essential from his excellent tips.
Headlamps are not just for trail runners
If you’re running in winter, chances are you’re running in the dark, no matter what the clock says. Even if your route is well lit and you’re wearing reflective clothing (both strongly advised), wearing a headlamp means you are always visible, and not just in a vehicle’s headlights. Also: if running on the road, you’re safer on the left.
Consider the wind direction
Running outdoors will ensure you become well versed in reading and interpreting weather reports. Environment Canada‘s site (and the WeatherCAN app) are a good place to start, though if you want to get nerdy about it you can check out the weather radar for your area. The trick is to plan your route so that you’re running into the wind on your way out, and with the wind on your way back. You’ll warm up and start sweating as you run, and running into the wind makes you feel colder. Not only do you want the way back to be easier, you don’t want to feel colder than necessary on the return journey once you’ve worked up a sweat.
Wear technical fabrics
Trust us–you don’t want to run in an old pair of sweats. A decent pair of running tights is essential equipment for winter running. With the abundance of technical fabrics available, there are plenty of choices in winter running tights, and even if you only get one pair, consider it an investment in your training. (Tights made especially for cold temperatures cost more than regular tights, but you can layer them over a summer half-tight, or for women, a summer running capri. Even an old pair of pantyhose or thermal underwear will do in a pinch.)
What’s on your feet?
If running on snow and ice, leave those worn-out trainers at home and either invest in some winter tires for your feet (Wykes, a Saucony athlete, recommends the Saucony Mad River TR, but ASICS’ Gel-Sonoma 4 GTX and Brooks’ Ghost 12 GTX are also excellent choices). Another option, if you’re running solely on snow and ice, is microspikes like Yaktrax or Kahtoola.
Get acquainted with the treadmill or find an indoor running track for days when conditions are just too gnarly to risk going out there. Here are some links to help you find an indoor running track in Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax, Toronto, Winnipeg, Regina, Calgary, and Edmonton.