Sunday, 10 January 2010

Why snow running is good for you

With half of the country at a standstill from last weeks heavy snowfall there has never been a better time to lace up your trainers and go and run. For a start, with many of us working from home there is an opportunity to get out in day light hours which is certainly good for the soul at this time of year.

But what about the training itself ? Its slippy underfoot, the ground is frozen. Isn't this bad news ?

Well not really. Running with these underfoot conditions gives you a core stability workout to die for. All those small accessory muscles which do nothing when you are running on smooth tarmac suddenly have to earn their keep. In the hips, stomach, glutes and lower legs the stabilisers are working overtime. Whats more you quickly learn to feel what is under your feet and respond stride by stride. It brings you much closer to the barefoot running our bodies have evolved to do. I was pretty sore after the first couple of days.

So what about speed ? Again its a question of working with the situation. Sure you have to run slower on snow so run longer instead. A short block of training with more miles at an easier pace is only going to stand you in good stead for when the weather improve and you can hits those reps again.

For running fast there are some good options. At 6pm last night the roads were empty and with snow free tramlines after a day of cars on them it was perfect for running fast. I was quickly able to find a nice section on the ring road with lights and do fast strides on the road. If you dont have that option then a multi-story carpark has been a favourite for our american and european cousins for years. And you can always find some smow covered grass and do longer reps in spikes. Just resist the temptation to try and hammer the speed and let the workout come to you.

And if you are going off the beaten track take some energy gels and a mobile phone with you just in case.


terrymcc said...

Could I ask what footwear you're wearing these days. Question triggered by mention of "barefoot"...

Adrian Marriott said...

Terry, haven't been brave enough to run barefoot on snow but have been doing quite a few runs in my XC spikes with short spikes in.

Have actually experimented with a variety of footwear to see what gives the best traction. An older pair of Triumphs with a roughed up outsole seems to be working quite nicely. New shoes are a disaster as the outsole is hard and shiny !

The point I was trying to make is that normally we just 'plonk' our foot down without a second thought and let the shoe do the work. On snow/ice/slush you need to get all the feedback you can from your feet (even if wearing normal trainers) so that you can make tiny adjustments to maintain balance and power - hence the barefoot reference.


terrymcc said...

Yes, I very much appreciate the point you were making, an excellent point. Ewen would tell you I'm passionate about minimalist footwear - I managed 80 seconds barefoot in the snow today, experimentally, but I've found my Nike Free 3.0 to be wonderful on all this snow and ice. I love the feedback you get from your feet!! Discovering the Free mid-summer has returned the pleasure to my running!

And a lot of Woodford guys and gals have picked up on the same and are onto their 2nd pair of Free, after loving their first pair...

Don't know what Triumphs are, but it's not a big deal!