Having lived in a country where we had a decent amount of snow every year I came to love running in winter and master the art.
Why should you run in winter?
What makes running in snow particularly challenging and, from a fitness perspective, effective is the fact that more muscles in the body engage and work harder than when running on dry terrain.
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To keep balanced your stability muscles perform extra work. From the foot and toes all the way to the upper body. And the core is doing a lot of work to keep you upright.
So yes, you work harder and that is one of the reasons I coach outdoors all year round, to get this diversity.
How to run in the snow, wet or muddy terrain
I wrote about these elements of the running technique before
. The technique I teach has elements of the POSE Method and natural running.
Plus Karate concepts that apply to running, from my 20 years experience in the world of Martial Arts.
I chose three very important, if not the most important, elements from the technique to help you with running on snow or wet terrain.
Depending on where you are in the world winter is different. So here they are:
1. Feet under the body
No more over striding.
Forget about speed now, you do not know what you will find under the snow. You must focus on and master control over how you move your body.
The shorter the strides the more control you have. This applies to running on mud as well.
Keep the feet under the body.
Think about penguins. Learn from them. They keep their feet under their bodies, and these little guys walk on ice!
2. Pull don’t push
Pushing off means slipping and falling on your face.
To master body movement
, essential for running in winter, and be in control lift the back foot off the ground rather than pushing off against the ground.
Shorter strides will help with this element – the longer the stride the more difficult it will be to transfer the body weight and lift the foot so you end up pushing.
Long strides force you to push against the ground. The foot is far behind you so you cannot lift. The shorter the stride the easier it is to lift the foot gently off the ground, gently even if you run fast.
Short and long strides are different for each individual. A short stride for you might be a long stride for me.
So bear in mind to keep your feet under the body and that will keep the stride short for your height.
How your food lands is as important as how you pick it up. Land heel first and chances are you will slip.
Well, when you land heel first your bum is pushed back and your body weight distribution is lost. Furthermore, your feet go ahead of the body, they are not under the body anymore, so you have less control.
Second, chances are that if you land heel first you don’t place the foot on the ground, you rather drop it, or you drop the front of the foot as it lands. And that itself causes stress on the joints
and loss of control.
Landing mid-food (not on the toe, heel must touch the ground) or flat foot means you can keep your feet under the body and control over movement.
Think about Martial Artists
The Masters, Japanese Masters but not only, who understand body mechanics, will never step heel first and, when stepping back in a stance, never lifting the toes and dragging the heel back.
They, who know what they are doing, will step with toes first and step back with toes on the ground.
Running is the same.
You may be over striding, pushing off and landing with the heel and you already feel in control. Bring in these elements – feet under the body, pulling and mid food landing – and you will see how much more control you will have them.
You can only see the difference if you try them both and work to develop the technique.
Bear in mind these are only three aspects of the technique, there are many others. These are a good point to begin with.
Tai Chi Philosophy
: injury happens when brute force meets brute force.
: for any action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
– push against the ground and the ground will push against you
– strike the ground aggressively when you land and the ground will send back aggressiveness
– lift and place down softly and you get back what you send out
Be aware that snow can hide ice, roots (if you run off road) and much more. Always be prepared and expect the unexpected.
Learning falling techniques is a great element to add to your training.
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