While some people like to take a break from running in the winter, others don’t even consider the possibilities of running on snow, or know what that might be like. Winter running, like many other winter sports, takes a lot of consideration to clothing, conditions, and gear. I had a boyfriend once who liked to repeat the line: “there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.”
In the beginning of December, while I was trail running in a torrential downpour, I considered this proverb, as I usually do while participating in bad weather. That little line has motivated me to go out in some of the worst conditions, on many occasions. On this particular day I was making my way up JPs Trail out of Cold Stream Canyon in Truckee. The cold rain soaked my clothing and by mile four, I was drenched from head to…well, ankle. My feet were dry and warm despite the pond like puddles I had been running straight through. As my clothes bared the weight of the accumulating water and I became saturated, I thought; at least my shoes worked. I was testing out my new waterproof running shoes, the Mt. Masochist from Montrail, made with their own waterproof material they call “Outdry”. It was the perfect weekend to put them to the ultimate test, and they passed with flying colors. Since then, I have walked or run through all varieties of rain and snow and have been pleasantly surprised that not only were my feet dry, my toes weren’t cold either.
I bought my Montrails for snow running and it was just the rainstorms of early December that allowed me to test them out as a truly waterproof runner. Snow running is just what it sounds like, running on snow. Working at Alpenglow Sports I encountered many runners who never even considered running on snow, or even knew how to go about it. Well, it isn’t rocket science but like I said before, it takes a lot of consideration to clothing, conditions, and gear. I’ll leave the clothing up to you while I tell you a bit about my experiences with conditions and gear.
First off, I must say, if there is fresh snow, go skiing. Snow running is something to do in between storms when it gets firm and icy, or something to do when trails get packed down and tracked out. You can’t really run in deeper, fresh snow unless you’ve got some snowshoes and that’s not what I’m talking about here, although I’m sure there are some that do that too. I’m talking about putting a pair of spikes on your running shoes and hitting a trail or fire road that is snowy. The best spikes I have found are called Kahtoola. They have a rubber frame that comes in small to large sizing and easily fits over your running shoes. Micro Spikes by Katoolah; ask for them by name. Once you start running, you can’t even tell they are on and they keep you from slipping on even the worst ice.
As far as waterproof running shoes, I love my Mt. Masochists but that is because I run in the non-waterproof version during the summer and the sizing and performance are the same. So even if you can’t find the “Outdry” (waterproof) version to try on, just try on the regular version and special order the Outdry in the same size.
If you are a Salomon person, this is true of the Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultras, which come in a regular version and a Gore-tex (GTX) version as well. My husband wears these and is always going on about how much he loves them but lately he has switched over to a pair of Salomon Snow Crosses; designed with spikes and a gaiter built right in, these are for true snow runners.
Get your waterproof running shoes and a pair of Katoolahs, and you are ready to find a trail. This may be harder than it seems. You need a trail that is 1) groomed or cat tracked 2) snowmobile tracked, or 3) people tracked, and also has snow on it (in other words, not pavement or dirt). If you are motivated, and it is winter, you will find it. I recommend adding a dog to the mix because it will surely keep your heart warm while you are out in the cold and nothing is more motivating than Fido…except, maybe, that one liner; there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.