5 Essential Winter Trail Running Tips

5 essential winter trail running tips snow
For some runners, the arrival of snow will signal a transition to training on skis or perhaps running indoors on a treadmill. For others, like Vancouver trail and ultra runner Jeff Pelletier, it’s simply a chance to play in the mountains in a less structured way.

Trail running in the winter can certainly bring with it its own challenges, but as Pelletier tells us, it can be a lot of fun provided you are adequately prepared with the right equipment and follow a couple of simple pieces of advice. Here are his 5 tips for having fun while winter trail running this season.

1—Don’t Overdress, but Be Prepared

In colder months, the cold, damp air can instantly send chills down your spine the moment you step outside, making it tempting to want to layer up. You’ll quickly start to warm-up once you start moving and may find yourself in a sweat by the time you hit the first climb. You’ll then find yourself in a potentially dangerous situation once you start to cool down again on the way back down.

Try dressing for temperatures at least a few degrees warmer, and expect to be a little cold for the first few minutes of your run. Opt for tighter-fitting, wicking materials that cover your legs and arms but aren’t too thick. Dressing in layers that you can easily shed as you warm-up can help, and I like to bring something extra like a lightweight down jacket, in case I want to stop for a few minutes on a summit or I run into trouble.

2—Use Appropriate Traction

There are some entry-level traction devices available that work well for icy pavement, but on the trails I prefer something more robust like the Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra. Running downhill can really put these devices to the test.

I’ve experimented with lightweight snowshoes designed for running, but have found them to be overkill for packed snow, while it’s difficult to actually ‘run’ in deep powder. Whatever you choose, be sure that they are light-weight and flexible enough and that they are appropriately sized for your specific shoes.

3—Consider Gortex Socks

Keeping your feet dry can be close to impossible in slushy conditions, and blood tends to flow away from our extremities to our core when we’re cold. There are quite a few models of Gortex shoes on the market, but snow can easily get in from the top unless you’re also wearing gaiters, and even then they tend to underperform.

I’ve found that by wearing Gortex socks, like the Rocky Stretch GORE-TEX Oversocks, paired with regular socks underneath for warmth and some quick-draining shoes does the trick. You may need to size up your shoes by a half or even a full size to allow for the extra bulk and maintain proper circulation.

4—Remember to Eat and Drink

It’s easy to forget to hydrate in cold weather because your body isn’t overheating in the same way it does in summer months, and eating can be difficult when wearing gloves. We’re often working even harder though when running on snowing terrain and burning more calories just to keep warm. The dryer air can also catch up with you if you’re not staying on top of your hydration.

5—Slow it Down and Lower Your Mileage

Running in snowy and icy conditions engages muscles differently and can tax the body in different ways, so expect to cover fewer miles in the same time you would on dry ground. Drop your mileage to give your stabilizing muscles a chance to develop slowly to avoid injury, and focus more on time-on-feet than on distance.

Jeff Pelletier is a trail and ultra runner born and raised in Vancouver, BC. He’s a member of Team Salomon Canada and winter running gear, Hillsound Equipment Ambassador. Check out photos, videos, and reports of his adventures on the trails at: http://jeffpelletier.com

Food & Drink

Block 16 Brings Some of the Best of Non-Vegas Restaurants to Las Vegas

Now you don't have to blow all of your winnings in the casino to get a good meal in Vegas.
Fashion & Style

Winter Running Gear: Equipment to Help You Brave the Cold

An effective collection of winter running gear is a great way to increase your motivation and make running in the cold an easier feat.
Food & Drink

The Night Is Dark and So Is Ommegang’s New King in the North Stout

Quench your thirst for more Jon Snow with the newest GoT tie-in beer from Brewery Ommegang.
Outdoors

Meet Donnie Vincent, a Bear Hunter Who Gives a Damn About Nature

The bear-hunting conservationist chats with The Manual about tracking bears, conserving nature, the sadness of a kill, and the problem trophy hunting.
Living

Why Your Desk Chair Matters and the 7 Best to Boost Your Productivity

A bad chair doesn’t just lead to a bad back.
Living

Chimney House in Slovenia Pays Homage to Its 16th Century Neighbors

Chimney House was designed with a traditional pitched roof, but with a contemporary twist.
Living

Marcel Breuer’s Stillman Cottage Is Up For Grabs

You may not know the name Marcel Breuer, but you know his designs.
Outdoors

Going off the Grid? You’ll Need These Essentials

Whether you're saying goodbye to society for a month-long campout or an indefinite plunge into the wild, going off the grid requires careful planning and preparation.
Food & Drink

This Smart Oven Bakes, Steams, and Broils Perfect Meals at the Push of a Button

The Tovala Steam Oven delivers professional-quality meals and all you have to do is scan a barcode.
Podcast

Beards, Booze, and Bacon: The Party Planning Episode

Party planner to the stars, Bronson van Wyck, joins the crew of Beards, Booze, and Bacon to tell them what to do and what not to do when throwing a party.
Living

Survive the Apocalypse in Doomsday Bunkers That Are Mildly Terrifying But Super Luxurious

Enjoy penthouse-quality accommodations during the end of the world.
Food & Drink

The Complete Guide to Types of Kitchen Knives and Their Uses

You could be missing out on the perfect utensil for making sushi, slicing ribs, or creating radish roses and not even know it.
Living

How to Build a Fire Pit with Your Own Two Hands

It's time to rekindle that fire — the drive to take an idea, make a plan, and build something. Here's how to build a fire pit.
Living

Could You Live in a 320-Square-Foot ADU? Plús Hús Thinks So

There’s no more room in the city of angels, but new regulations may mean people can get creative with backyard houses.