Running in an Icy Wonderland

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the view from my driveway

What was looking like the perfect Christmas in Vermont took a nasty turn for the worse this weekend. The temperature rose and all the nice fluffy snow started to melt. Since Friday we’ve been getting freezing rain… just perfect. My driveway is officially a bumpy ice skating rink.

I wrote a winter running guide, but how do you run outside when everything has a ½ inch sheet of ice covering it?

1.     Traction

There are plenty of ways to make your running shoes more suitable for icy conditions – Yaktrax, Microspikes, and Bugrip to name a few. Some people will even drill screws into the bottom of their shoes.

I’ve got a pair of Yaktrax that I use in icy conditions. It’s a rubber device that stretches around the bottom of your shoe with steel coils and provides a much better grip than normal shoes do. It comes in plenty of different sizes to fit everyone.

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I started out pretty cautious, but soon realized the Yaktrax were doing a fine job and could run at my normal pace. The ones I have mainly have the metal bits towards the middle of the shoe. Since I’m mostly a heel striker I tried to land more on my midfoot (especially on the downhills) to try and get the best traction possible. This made me feel a little awkward, though. It could have been fine without me doing this, but I wasn’t going to take a chance! To anyone that saw me running the past few days, I don’t always look so strange!

2.     Pick the safest route

The roads were pretty deserted today, as winter travel was highly discouraged due to the weather. This made it possible for me to run more in the middle of the road where there was less ice. The shoulders, at times, were pretty coated.

When doing this you have to be very cautious and aware of any oncoming traffic. If there is a blind corner or blind hill coming up then you should be on the shoulder. Plus, if it’s windy out this can make it hard to hear any oncoming traffic. I felt comfortable doing this today since there were hardly any cars and it was not particularly windy.

3.     Avoid Dirt Roads

This might not apply to many people, but my town has plenty of dirt roads that are great for running. There is less pounding and less traffic, which makes it a runner’s paradise.

However, this is not so true in the winter. Any snow that comes down packs onto the dirt more easily than it does to pavement. The layers keep building up and building up until it gets pretty icy. Add some freezing rain and you’ve got a disaster waiting to happen.

4.     Warm Stove

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My shoes and clothes were thoroughly soaked after my run yesterday. Luckily, I have a wood stove to dry them out and make them nice and toasty for my run the next day. A heater will work fine as well, though.

Here are some photos from the trails in back of my house. Photo credits to my mom!

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Does anyone else run when it’s icy out? What are your tricks for dealing with it?

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11 thoughts on “Running in an Icy Wonderland

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    • oh goodness – I didn’t realize that Texas had an ice storm as well. They’re all over the country! lol. I guess the treadmill might be safer depending on the weather.

  4. You live in Vermont! That makes me so happy! I live in NH, but I lived in VT for like five years when I was younger! We lived in Burlington. Church St was always my favorite, esp. this time of year. I was actually planning on going to UVM, until I realized I couldn’t afford 55,000/year and could get the same education closer to home and at a fourth of the price. But I love VT (minus the sales tax!) so much. I’d go back in a heartbeat!

    • That’s awesome! I love New Hampshire – the hiking there is spectacular. Yeah, UVM can be pretty pricey. I’m lucky I’ve got in-state tuition. Burlington is fantastic. I love running there better than when I’m at home because they take better care of their roads and bike paths. What are you studying at school?

      • I’m going for my ASN in nursing. I fell in love with UVM’s nursing program and I even had my LNA license set to transfer to VT so I could work at Fletcher-Allen instead of doing an on-campus job. I just didn’t see the sense in going to have to drop out after my freshman year (and spending the next 10 years paying off just 1 year of loans). I’m really glad I just go to my community college. I will have less than 10 grand in student loans. Sure it’s taken me a little longer, but I am able to work full time and be more of an adult. Sure I won’t get those crazy college years like some people but it’s probably for the better because I know how expensive college is and appreciate my education more. I read that you’re going for exercise science.. that’s pretty cool! Until I really go into nursing I wanted to be an athletic trainer for the longest time. But now I don’t see myself being anything but a nurse.

        • Yeah, that seems like the best decision probably. School can be EXTREMELY expensive and there’s no sense stacking up loans when you can get a good education somewhere else. It sounds like you made the logical decision. When I was thinking about what I wanted to study in college my top two were actually nursing and exercise science. Such a small world!

  5. Sweetie – with all the luck your family has had in the last year – Dad on bike – Mom-with her bumps and cuts – be careful out there!!!     Luv Aunt Pat

    Pat Hughes, pat.hughes@snet.netHughes Realty Co.,Inc48 church St.Rocky hill, Ct 06067

    ________________________________

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