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How to

Here's what you need to know about running in snow.

A runner on a snow-lined road during the winter
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If you've never run in winter conditions before, the thought of running in snow might initially lead you to run for the treadmill, literally and figuratively. But if you don't have access to a treadmill or just plain prefer to be outside, fear not; with the proper precautions, you can safely run in snowy conditions.

Here's what you need to know when it comes to cold-weather running tips.

Don't be a speed demon

The first thing to keep in mind when it comes to running in snow is that you should expect to slow down. You don't want to slip and potentially injure yourself, especially if there's ice lurking underneath that beautiful, fluffy trail of snow. Snowy running days are not the days to throw down a fast workout, so adjust your training schedule accordingly.

Gain some traction

Fresh snow is the safest option to venture out into for a run. But if you're running in icy, crunchy snow, it would be wise to invest in some traction cleats, which look like mini snow chains for your shoes, or a pair of trail running shoes. Cleats will slow you down as well, but with good reason, since safety should always come first. Your local running store may also be able to put studs in your shoes to help you avoid slipping and sliding.

Runner on a snowy trail surrounded by hills

Dress for the weather

As far as other gear goes, it's wise to purchase some quality pieces of winter running apparel, particularly items like wool socks or tops and bottoms made of sweat-wicking fabrics so you don't get cold when you inevitably still sweat.

Layer sweat-wicking and wind-breaking tops strategically. Remember, you can always remove a too-warm layer, but you're out of luck if you're cold and have nothing to add on. At the same time, dress like it's several degrees warmer than it actually is. (Don't pile on that parka.) You'll find that you warm up fast when you start running. If you're dressed adequately, you quickly won't be bothered by the brisk air.

Accessories like gloves and a headband or hat to cover your ears are sure to keep you more comfortable. Hand and foot warmers also make all the difference. Simply tuck them into your gloves and shoes before a cold winter run.

Warm up those muscles and joints

Finally, don't be afraid to slow your roll to start. Do a few dynamic ankle, leg, and hip stretches in your toasty house, then gradually ramp up your speed once you hit the pavement. You need to warm up your muscles when running in snow and cold weather in general to prevent injuries. The first 10 minutes will likely feel the hardest, but after that, you should feel fresh and lighter on your feet.

Once you've done your first snowy run (or your thousand and first), don't forget to take care of your body in the usual ways: a post-run snack and some hydration, which is still key in cold weather. Now, go out and hit that winter wonderland!

Our writer's advice is intended for informational or general educational purposes only. We always encourage you to speak with your physician or healthcare provider before making any adjustments to your running, nutrition, or fitness routines.

Written By
Emilia Benton

Contributing Writer

Emilia Benton Running

I'm a Houston, Texas, native who's run 11 marathons and 30-something half marathons, with 3:30 and 1:39 personal bests. I'm also a freelance health and fitness journalist, a USATF Level 1-certified running coach, and a lover of country music, baking, and world travel.