Winter Running Reflection (and a Question for You All)

Today I decided to embark on a 4.6mi run outside. I live in the north-eastern part of Toronto; where the weather today was -110C (120F) with the wind chill and the sidewalks were either slushy or not shovelled at all. For the first mile I was doing ok; I usually run somewhere between 10:45/mi – 11:00/mi and I was right in that range. I then turned from one major street to the next, only to be hit with block after block of ankle-high snow that wasn’t compact. At this point, my pace slowed DRAMATICALLY to around 14:00/mi.

Last winter was my first winter where I made an effort to run outside and my pace did slow once there was snow on the ground. Mind you, I was a slower runner last year than I was this year, (around 11:30/mi). I bring this up, because although I know I can’t really compare last year to this year, I did have a sneaky suspicion that the snow would slow me down. I expect to gain some time…but 3:00/mi? That’s crazy.

My question for all you winter-runners is this: how do you run in the snow and still keep a decent pace? What strategies do you guys use? I’m going to be training for a half in the New Year and I really don’t want this to be a hindrance.


-Running Fast, Lifting Heavy

19 thoughts on “Winter Running Reflection (and a Question for You All)

  1. I am in New Brunswick and we have sucky conditions too. I hope the whole winter won’t be like this. Yesterday’s pace was over 2 minutes / mile slower than usual but it felt like the same effort. I am training for a spring Marathon and I think I am going to have to do my speedwork on a treadmill ( I have gym membership) I ran all last winter but this is the first year that I am training in the winter, and I am just realizing that there is a difference between running and training. Good luck, my friend.

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    • New Brunswick winters are even worse than Toronto ones! Bravo for getting out there! I guess I’m just going to have to accept the fact that I’m not going to get much faster during crappy conditions. My condo has a little gym that I work out in and has treadmills, so I’ll probably do my speedwork there. Thanks for the suggestion!

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      • I hate treadmill but I have to convince myself that I love it. Don’t worry about your speed too much in crap conditions. Just run safely. Snow is like speed training in disguise. When the snow is gone in the Spring, you will be flying.

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  2. I didn’t have to worry about this until I experienced my first snow two years ago, but then I learned to only go out for easy runs where pace doesn’t matter. I did hear that yaktrax are supposed to be good, but generally I would try to get speed work elsewhere.

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  3. If you’re running in ankle-deep snow, adding 3:00 per mile to your pace sounds about right! I did a run recently where the road and sidewalks were too slick to even walk safely, so I tried running on our rail-to-trail. I usually don’t go near it once the snow hits. I was running about 2:00 per mile slower and it wasn’t deep at all, but I was slipping and sliding on packed down snow.

    I spend a lot of time on the treadmill in the winter because I’m paranoid about slipping, because it’s usually dark outside when I run in the evening, etc. The treadmill is great for maintaining my speed and tempo paces. I try to at least get outside on the weekends, and I have two good places where I can run. There’s a metropark with a 6-mile loop and they maintain the path. A local university is another great option because they also keep the sidewalks cleared and salted for the students. I’m not sure if you have options like these, but it’s worth looking into!

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    • I tend to use the treadmill in the winter as well for speed work…it just makes things so much easier! I am fairly close to a university, so that is an option. There’s a lot of high schools/elementary schools near me as well, so I may just include them on my routes to ensure I have decent sidewalk conditions. Thanks for the tip!

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  4. So happy to hear you’ve started.winter running! I peesonally love winter running although winter trail running has to be my ultimate favourite. As far as keeping up my same pace as without the snow, I actually just change my thinking; you are wearing more hear and therefore are heavier, you’re workings harder trudge g through


  5. I didn’t mean to end it there….new phone here😄….. As I was saying, you’re working harder trudging through the snow(which can be as hard as running through sand) . I feel as though it’s actually more challenging to my body and I get a better workout in a shorter time. My heart rate is up with the snow and keeping my knees up climbing through the snow and I am tired after a shorter time.

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