Resistance training in the snow

run faster

Hey - it's snowing again and who doesn't love snow?! Winter isn't how winter is supposed to be if there isn't any snow. To my mind, there is nothing worse than dark, dank, winter days that make you feel dark, dank and uninspired but snow makes winter worth it. Don't you think?

So, have you been out for a run in it yet? I got up early to go before everyone else realised what a great day it is to be outdoors. The landscape was at its best with snow covering the fields and hills, like a gigantic duvet, and sticking to the branches and roof tops as if it had been ordered specifically for a Christmas card photoshoot! Running through the woods was magical. The snow seems to quieten everything so that running through felt amazingly relaxing, even though the effort was probably greater than normal because the snow offers resistance.

Depending on the depth and texture, snow running requires the same energy as sand running and burns lots of calories so it has come at a great time for me as I have been trying to burn a few of those since Christmas! Everytime you push your foot down you push the snow aside so only a fraction of your energy goes towards moving you upwards and forwards. This results in smaller steps and so more steps to cover your route and more time running and so more training load.

The resistance, offered by the snow, develops strength-endurance as it works all of the lower leg muscles, ligaments and tendons against the resistance of the snow. It’s not only about the lower legs, though. When you run through snow you will notice that you work hard to drive your knee up and through and so your hips and even your arms get a great workout as they go through a greater range of movement working against the resistance. For the first part of my run, even though I had gloves on, my hands were freezing.(I did run out into a head wind though). By the time I got back, however, I had worked up a good sweat and was warm all over so I'm sure that I did burn more energy than usual. I feel lucky that I had the snow at just the right depth and texture today and on a Sunday too! It was an inch or two deep, fresh and soft. Perfect for a Sunday morning run!

I guess it may not be like that tomorrow. Everyone else: runners, mountain bikers and walkers, will have been out on it, by now, so unless it snows again, tomorrow's snow may be compacted, icy and slippy. It can be challenging to stay on your feet on that kind of snow so it's not  always enjoyable and it can be dangerous. There isn't only the risk of falling but also of running with an unnatural running style as your fear of falling makes you tense. I remember a couple of years ago we had some great snow followed by a period where it stayed around but had turned to ice. Some of my training partners developed injuries that they put down to changing their running style whilst trying to keep to their training programme in icy conditions. Not all of them, though, one bright spark made himself a pair of screw shoes!

I'm looking on the bright side though and have my fingers crossed for a fresh fall of snow in time for my run tomorrow!

Follow these links for advice on running in extreme conditions and general advice on winter running.