Trail running can be an incredible experience, but many summer trail runners start to hit the pavement or the treadmill once the first signs of ice and snow arrive. While some trails are just not runnable in the winter months, there are plenty of miles of single-track that are perfect for winter trail running. If you want to extend your trail running season, use these 9 trail running tips and tricks to stay safe and warm this winter.
1. Layer, Layer, and Layer Some More
During winter runs, layers are your best friends. Start with a warm base-layer that wicks moisture away from your body, and then add on a mid-layer for warmth and insulation followed by a jacket. Layering gives you the flexibility to take off or unzip when you heat up and then add back on when cloud cover rolls in. What you want to avoid is getting too sweaty, which can make you feel cold in the windchill.
2. Make Trail-Running Friends
Why run alone when you can run with friends? There is safety in numbers, and that is especially true when it comes to trail running. While solo summer miles can be peaceful, joining a running group in the winter gives you extra peace of mind. You might be surprised to learn that some of your running buddies are eager to get out there in the winter and just need an invitation.
3. Rethink Your Stride
When you are trail running over uneven terrain, snow or even ice, your stride will inevitably change. Don’t fight that change and embrace a shorter stride. You may take more steps per mile, but the overall result is safer and will result in fewer falls and slips in the snow.
4. Always Run with Your Phone
Having your phone with you on the run is important for many runners year-round, but that becomes especially critical in harsh, cold weather. While running with your phone in your hands is not practical on the trail, keeping your phone close to your body means the heat and warmth can prolong battery life despite chilly temperatures. FlipBelt products can offer peace of mind and allow you to traverse the trails hands-free while still having easy access to your phone in case of an emergency.
5. Carry a Light
Winter trail running means late sunrises and sunsets that come far too early. While you might not expect to be dealing with the dark on your long run, a few wrong turns can mean you’re running in dwindling daylight. To be safe, always carry a light with you when trail running in the winter. The FlipBelt Running Light is a convenient, hands-free option that won’t bounce and can light your way on a dark trail run.
6. Invest in a Quality Waterproof Jacket
There can be something enjoyable about getting caught in the summer rain while out on a run, but that is not true in the winter. Being wet on a winter trail run is more than uncomfortable: It is downright dangerous. If you invest in one winter running item, make it a quality waterproof jacket. Staying dry in cold weather can make the difference between chilly and hypothermic.
7. Choose the Right Shoes and Traction Devices
Even heavy-duty trail shoes probably won’t be enough when your favorite trails are covered in ice or snow. Most winter trail runners invest in traction devices to keep them upright no matter what the terrain. You can buy traction devices that slip on right over your favorite running shoes and can be removed when you hit the pavement or the treadmill. Or, you can add hex screws right to the bottom of your shoes, a low-cost alternative for instant ice traction.
8. Let Someone Know Where You’re Running
This is a great tip for running whatever the season, but it becomes extra important during the winter. Before you head out for your trail run, let a friend or family member know what trail you plan to run, how long you expect to be gone and how many miles you want to cover. Then, send them a quick text or call when you’re back home safely after your run.
9. Prevent Your Hydration from Freezing
The same hydration methods you rely on during the summer may be less effective in the winter, but you still need to keep drinking liquids out on the trails. Fortunately, you can invest in a water bottle that you keep close to your body, using your naturally generated head to prevent freezing. FlipBelt Water Bottles are curved to hug the body and fit right in your FlipBelt, minimizing bounce and allowing you to keep your hands free on the run. Another tip is to start out with warm water or add a little salt to the mix in order to stop liquid from freezing too quickly.
This winter, don’t let cold weather keep you off the trails you love. By adjusting what you wear and how you run, you can tackle trails all winter long and emerge in the spring as a stronger, tougher runner.