Winter Running

Winter is a runner’s reality with its slippery surfaces and colder temperatures. Rather than lament the chilly time of year and long for spring to arrive, I choose to embrace the snowy and icy terrain and use it to work on improving my running form. There are so many aspects of good running form that winter can help us with; I’ll expand on a few of them here.

1. Posture

If you’re body is bent at the waist and your foot lands on a slippery terrain, you can feel off-balance and potentially fall. The same is true if you’re trying to lean slightly forward, whether it’s from the ankles or the waist. To improve your running posture, you can try running with the same upright body positioning as when you stand or walk. If you’re outside, you can look at your shadow beside you to see what your body positioning looks like.

2. Landing

If your foot lands ahead of your centre of gravity and the surface is slick, your leg could slide out in front of you. However, if you land under your centre of gravity, there’s much less chance your foot will slip as there’s no force pushing it in any direction but down into the ground. Taking short strides, helps ensure a closer landing to your center of gravity.

3. Foot Strike

Landing on your heel results in a very small initial contact area with the ground. If that small area is slippery, there’s a greater chance of your foot sliding out from under you. Landing on your forefoot is a greater contact area with the ground, maximizing the chance that there may be some non-slippery surface under your foot for better traction. To land on your forefoot while running, try to remember where you land on your foot while you jump in place, and try to recreate that landing feeling.

4. Pushing Off

If you push your foot off the ground to take the next running stride and there’s no traction under foot, your leg might slide out behind you. Rather than pushing off, if you lift your foot directly up from the ground, no slide is initiated before your foot leaves the ground. To minimize pushing off, you can try to lift your foot off the ground by lifting your heel as close to under your hip as possible, rather than pushing your foot behind you.

 

These tips work just as well on any slippery surface, it doesn’t have to be snow or ice, it could be mud or even wet tile. If you find that your feet are sliding out from under you, you can try working on any of these tips, albeit one at a time. In addition, it’s much easier to change your form running at slower speeds than faster speeds, not to mention somewhat safer on slippery surfaces.

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