Core Power

3 Tips for Running the Winter Trails

By Tara Warren

Who says you have to get off the trails once the snow falls? Here are some basic winter running tips that should keep you outside and happy through the dark, glorious winter.

Plan ahead.
Know the conditions before you go. I try not to make long runs longer than 2 to 3 hours in the winter to minimize my exposure.

Take care of your feet.
Invest in some great wool socks. I prefer wool toe-socks that keep my tootsies nice and cozy. Some people like wearing ankle gaiters in the snow, but I’m not out long enough usually to bother with them.

Find shoes that you’ll be comfortable in. You don’t need Gore-Tex shoes to run comfortably in the cold, wet months, but you may need traction. For snow-packed trails, ice or mixed elevated conditions, I like to use screws in my shoes, like those by Goat Head Gear. They allow me to keep the same gait and shoe flexibility without taking away from my effectiveness on the trail. Putting these in and out of my shoes don’t cause harm to the soles or the trail surface.

If I’m running on a lot of dry surfaces with maybe some mixed terrain where I want to take traction off and on while out on a run, I use Kahtoola micro spikes. These aren’t ideal for long miles, but they will get you through some difficult winter conditions when you’re only wanting traction here and there.

Wear layers.
On the top, I usually go with a wool tank top, wool long sleeves, and a jacket or shell of some sort depending on the weather. There are so many wonderful, easy wool options available right now for colder weather running. I use tights or leggings when it’s below 35° and/or snowing. If it’s not snowing and above 35°, and I’m going for under two hours, I wear shorts and long over-the-calf socks.


These are just a few basic suggestions based on my experience. Give it your best shot and see what works for you, but don’t give up hope that the outside running season is over. It has only just begun!

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