Tips for Safe Winter Trail Running

Those who are attracted to trail running over road running usually have a little bit of an adventurous streak, and a little winter weather isn’t likely to stop them. Trail running in the winter can be strikingly beautiful. The woods are quiet, uniform in color, often untouched by nature, and all yours for the taking. What’s not to love?  

There’s no reason to stop trail running in the winter, but it is important to take additional precautions when heading out in colder, less predictable weather. Here are a few things to keep in mind:  

1. Consider running with a partner

Solitude on the trail is great … until it isn’t. Some areas are remote enough that cell coverage is spotty, and if an injury happens, it may be a long time before another person comes along. Consider joining up with a partner for your runs. Most running stores will have local trail running clubs, and a quick search online will likely yield several results as well.  

2. Be prepared

Before you run, make sure you have everything you need, including your phone, a wind-breaking layer, moisture-wick clothing, and a hydration pack. Surfaces can be deceiving, and even experienced runners are more likely to slip in winter weather. Run smart by being prepared in case something unexpected happens.  

3. Check your shoes

Surfaces can be unexpectedly slick, even when there isn’t snow or ice on the ground. Make sure your shoes are in good shape with plenty of grip for running on unpredictable surfaces.  

4. Take your time

Winter trail running isn’t the time to set a new personal record. A winter injury can set even veteran runners back several months in training, and the last thing you want is to be behind when spring comes around. If you need a hard workout, do it on the road or at the gym, not on an icy trail.  

5. Dry your shoes

When you get back to the car, swap out your wet running shoes for a different pair and stuff your shoes with newspaper. It’ll help dry them out quickly. Never put running shoes in the dryer or over a heater—those temperatures can cause materials to shrink, which changes the fit and causes them to break down faster.