Looks Can Be Deceiving

Winter Run
Snowy running path at Kensington Metro Park, Milford MI.

Despite the beautiful view of a Michigan winter scene that includes a somewhat worn

path by previous runners, you may be better off to simply forego the layers of running clothes and stay indoors on certain winter days. Consider the “pluses and minuses” of treacherous winter conditions with respect to your training.

On the “plus” side of things:

  • Running in winter conditions will always result in burning more calories than staying indoors and reading your favorite running book. Depending on the length and intensity of the run, a runner may burn anywhere from 500 to 1000 calories.
  • The runner may also gain a sense of confidence from taking on and winning over Mother Nature too. Certainly a few more miles in the ole log book always look good, right?  Maybe not.

Consider the minuses:

  • When running in snow and particularly snow that may include ice, the runner is altering their stride.  Most likely a shorter and slower stride. Their foot strike is different too. The runner may be actually practicing poor running form.
  • There is an ever present risk of significant injury well beyond any normal risk associated with running in dry conditions. The worst case is a fall that results in a broken bone and related damage.  A more likely incident is one where the runner may need to bend in an unusual manner to avoid a fall thus straining a muscle in the process.
  • Any injury can result in loss of future training. A muscle strain may result in a loss of several training sessions and bone breaks could alter the runners training for a year or more!
  • Roads and risk of travel. Often runners may drive to a park or running route location. In terrible winter conditions there is the risk of experiencing a fender bender or swerving off the road.

There are alternatives for the runner. The runner can stay indoors and pay a visit to their treadmill, perform some level of weight training, practice a series of dynamic stretches, devote serious time to yoga routines, or best yet, some combination of all of the above. These alternatives can easily combine to burn off at least as many calories as the runner may burn during a treacherous winter run without risk to form and some type of injury.  In fact, it can be easily argued that by devoting a complete workout that incorporates all of the above options, the runner will actually become a stronger runner. A stronger runner is a faster runner. A faster runner is a better runner.

Embrace these treacherous winter running conditions; they may actually be hidden opportunities to improve your running performance!

Run Safe & Run Happy

Coach Lee

PS:  Visit therunningarchitect.com for information regarding coaching services for runners.

One thought on “Looks Can Be Deceiving

  1. I especially like the part about altering your stride in the snow. I am leery at best of running in snow or ice for this reason. Even with yak tracks and such I doubt I’ll ever relax enough to run normally. And I don’t mind the treadmill.

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