December 21, 2020 

Albany, NY

Today was a running day. I needed to run, wanted to run. I would usually say avoid running in snow, but today I had to run. There are days like this and so we train in different conditions and note the changes. Sports are about continuously testing the body and figuring out how to make it work with the conditions at hand. 

First of all I don’t run when it’s wet and below freezing. Not worth it at all, but when it is above freezing- I am in.   

Here are some tips I’ve compiled so far about running in the snow in the city when the temperature breaks freezing: 

  1. Bounce your eyes up and down from pavement to forward to look for shiny pavement and also where you’re going. This will ensure you’re constantly assessing what’s in front of you and if there is wet looking ground, this could be slippery concrete. It’s like when you’re trying to see if you fit between spaces in drivers end, bounce your eyes up and down instead of left and right.
  1. Be alert. This seems obvious, but you need to be even more alert, SUPER alert– more than a normal run. That means maybe using one ear for your headphones. Make sure you can see and hear everything. Don’t risk slipping when you’re close to cars. In fact, I just stop anywhere near cars because if you slip into the road, you’re screwed.
  1. Treat snow like lava. Avoid it at all costs like that ‘keep off the ground’ game where the floor is lava. All sports are related, so for you bicycle folks, treat the snow like sand!
  1. If you must go through the snow, HANDS OUT. This one is very important. First of all, for this one, NOTHING should be in your hands for this run at all. You need to stop to change your music even if you are normally coordinated to do it. Nothing in your hands. 
  1. Turtle not the hare. The whole slow and steady thing is what I am talking about. This is NOT a sprint day. Focus on distance or just the enjoyment of getting outside and getting some miles in. Don’t get me wrong, I found dry, dry, (SUPER OBVIOUSLY DRY) ground and did some faster running, but in my head, these conditions mean slow. For the most part, with snow, sprinting is a no go. 
  1. If you need to go straight through snow, which are huge PILES in Albany right now, you have two options:
    1. Walk it through. Take your time and just walk with your hands out. When you get through, stomp your sneakers out hard before you keep going. If ballistic movements kill you, scrape your sneakers really well. Not great for your tread, but ice will collect and form in your sneakers right away from slush. No running until you have traction. 
    2. Other option: Run like hell. So if you are going to run, you have to keep momentum as much as possible. When you go fast, hands out again, and for a day like today (hard, 2 day old snow) hit the snow with all your weight. Check if it is fresher snow in which case, it won’t take that much weight. The point is to make some ground through the snow and be able to go right to your next foot. If you do slip, your next leg should catch you if you have the momentum. Go fast through the slip. If you are too far gone, just fall. Don’t bend your knee the wrong way or do something you can’t recover from. You’re on snow. Use your weight, hit your butt. This has saved me so many times. If you are a hiker, this is the same principle. You always lean your weight where you are okay to fall. 

If you are ever unsure, walk. There is no reason to get hurt. Remember, think of tomorrow’s run too or even the rest of this run. Enjoy the dry spots. Run when you can. Remember, be proud of every run even if you have to go slow slow slow. 

  1. No Ice Ice Baby– ice is a no go, an absolutely not. This is not like the snow rule. You have literally no traction on ice. Like a car, turn around and go another way. Otherwise, go in the snow around in what would be grass. This is better than slipping again with absolutely no control. 

Think absolutely no shine. That is it. 

  1. Follow other runners. Now this one sounds creepy but again, this has saved me. Local runners, who are out in these conditions are just as crazy as you and have the same goal. The goal is dry land. If you’re both in search of dry land, follow. See, I am slow for a more serious runner (who would be out in this weather) so I get behind pretty quickly. Less creepy this way.
  1. Be Smart and Smarter when it comes to gear. With cold and especially snow, gear is key. Bring an extra pair of gloves so if you do fall, your hands are not freezing and you can keep going. Cover your ears, wicking socks or you’re dead already. Ice feet champion over here and I still wear serious socks. I wore two pairs today and managed to continue going even though I sloshed right into the icy water of despair. 

10. Be proud and most of all, take in the compliments, from others and yourself. Compliment yourself because you’re doing it and you’re training to be better. You aren’t giving in to conditions out of your control, making you a badass runner. And believe me, when you’re out there in these conditions, you are going to get some praise from your neighbors. Take it. Smile. Say ‘thank you’ and keep going.