QT: How to Run Without Slipping on the Ice and Snow this Winter

Rumor has it, winter is rapidly approaching in many parts of the country/world. 

Coulda fooled me, as it was 73* at 4 AM the other day!

I Digress

Every winter I hear runners talking about how lucky I am that I can run outside in the winter while they are confined to the treadmill because of the ice and snow where they live.

Not for nothing, but you can still run outside in the winter too. Just ask Jenn Walton.

Want To Run Without Slipping This Year?

Ok, so let me make this disclaimer before we go much farther, even with implementing these tips this year there is still a very real chance you could slip and fall while running outside in the winter months.

So if you’re not as opposed to the treadmill as I am, your safest bet is to head inside and run on the hamster wheel.

But, if you want to get outside and get some fresh air, these suggestions will dramatically increase the likelihood of going for a run without slipping and falling.

Keep Your Feet Beneath You

If you’ll allow me a moment to embrace my inner science nerd, the closer your foot strike is to being perpendicularly beneath your center of mass the higher your foot’s coefficient of friction will be, and therefore the less likely you will be to slip during your run.

Need a translation? Gladly.

You are less likely to slip the closer your foot strike is to being directly under your body. The farther in front of you your foot hits, the more likely you are to slip.

Science for the win!

Penguin Slip

Look 2-3 Steps Ahead

No matter how well you are at keeping your feet beneath your body while you’re running, trying to turn on a dime on slippery surfaces is next to impossible.

While you’re running, always be looking several strides ahead so you can change direction gradually if necessary.

And also, by looking a few steps ahead you’ll be more likely to spot the sheen of black ice and plan your strides accordingly.

Get Outside Assistance

I’ve never used outside assistance for my shoes when running on slippery surfaces, but if you want to give yourself the best chance to run without slipping this winter you may want to try one of the following options.

  • Trail Shoes: Running on the road with a trail shoe in non-slippery conditions may not make a lot of sense, but when it’s slick the extra grip of a good trail shoe can make a big difference.
  • YakTrax: If you don’t want to get a pair of trail shoes for your winter running, perhaps a set of yaktrax are more your speed. Yaktrax fit over your shoes and the metal bits on the bottom will help to “bite in” to any ice/snow that you come across on your run giving you a bit of extra grip. Not sure how these will work of you end up running on dry pavement for a bit though. I’d imagine you could run with them on a hard surface for short stretches, but if you aren’t worried about slipping they should be removed. But that’s just my guess, you’ll have to figure that out for yourself.
  • DIY Yaktrax: The DIY version of yaktrax requires some small screws and a pair of shows you don’t mind drilling holes in the soles of. If I understand the process correctly, you get some short machine/metal screws and literally screw them into the bottom of your shoes. The heads of said screws then serves as cleats/spikes to keep you from slipping.
DIY Yaktrax

DIY Yaktrax

I’ve heard different runners identify each of these tactics as successful ways to run without slipping, but I’m not sure where I stand with the DIY model.

If I was making a recommendation from this list, it would be trail shoes all the way. But you do what you gotta do.

What To Do If You Slip

Even if you do everything “right” to try and run without slipping, there is always going to be a chance that you are going to start slipping and sliding during a winter run.

So what do you do if you find yourself in a losing battle with gravity?

Aim for a Snow Pile

When falling, you always want to fall on the softest surface possible. In the winter time, that often means looking for a snow drift of some sort.

Hitting a drift instead of hitting the sidewalk/road can be the difference between simply being embarrassed and being legitimately hurt.

If you feel yourself slipping, aim for the nearest pile of snow in sight.

Keep Your Hands Close

What is the first thing we all do when we feel ourselves falling?

Reach our hands out to try and break our fall.

What is the worst thing we can do when we fall?

Reach our hands out to try and break our fall.

Think of an injury in the upper body, and odds are a possible cause of said injury is falling on an outstretched arm.

I know it’s hard to fight our first instinct (to put our arms out when falling), but if you can keep from extending your arms out to try and catch yourself when you fall that is ideal.

Next to impossible, granted, but ideal none the less.

You Do You

If you’re not confident that you can run without slipping this winter, that’s fine.

There really is nothing wrong with heading inside and running on the treadmill.

But if you’re like me, and the treadmill is not your thing, you can dramatically reduce your risk of slipping when running outside this winter.

Either way, remember the ideal behind our running is to have fun.

And as long as you’re doing that, that’s all that matters!

Would you love to run without slipping outdoors this winter? 3 tips for doing just that. #runchat Share on X
Do You Run Outdoors in the Winter or Do You Go Straight to the Dreadmill?

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