Confidently Run in Slippery Conditions

Confidently Run in Slippery Conditions

Posted by Steve Stearns; January 15, 2014

Running outside in the winter is great! The air is crisp,the world is quiet and beautiful. There’s no time of year where I feel more peace and solitude outside than winter. But winter running does come with it’s own set of unique challenges not the least of which is maintaining your traction and staying on your feet when surfaces get slippery.

Running confidently when surfaces are icy, snow covered or wet requires a different set of skills and mindset. Here are a few tips for maintaining better traction, balance and confidence when it gets slippery.

Shorten Your Stride

A shorter stride keeps more of you connected to the ground and helps you make quick adjustments to avoid slippery spots or obstacles. When you run using a shorter stride you also land closer to your center of gravity further improving stability and traction.

Keep it wide

Add a little side to side distance between your left and right foot. A wider, lateral running stance provides a more dependable platform and reduces your chance of falling during a slip.

Keep your elbows out

Run like a trail runner with your elbows and arms out to the side for added balance. If you were to flap your arms like a chicken, halfway between the top part of the movement and the beginning is where you want your arms to be when it’s icy and slippery outside.

Slow down

Ice, snow and speed don’t mix, so slow down. Take your time and realize that, just like in a car, it’s going to be harder to stop and turn when you’re running on a frozen surface. Be really careful when going around corners!

Stay Focused

Running in slippery conditions requires concentration. Look ahead, stay focused, and stay alert. A slip could happen at any time and you’ve got to be ready.

Stay Confident

This is a balancing act, you need to be cautious but not too cautious. If you’re too timid it can creep into your form causing you to lean back. When your weight isn’t centered, you’re more apt to land on your heels and a heel strike won’t provide the solid, weighted platform you get from a mid foot landing. Instead stay confident and maintain good form. A slight forward lean and mid foot strike is the best option for centering your weight and maximizing traction.

Bonus Tip – Walk

It’s ok to walk if it gets too slippery to run. Better to walk through a really slick section then twist an ankle or worse. When you walk you still get to enjoy your time outside, get in a good workout and stay ready for your next run.

By maintaining your focus and confidence, making a few adjustments to your stride and approach you can confidently run even in slippery conditions.

Have a great run!


Steve Stearns is an avid outdoor enthusiast and host of the Outside Health and Fitness podcast. He shares practical advice, resources and interviews experts from the world of fitness, nutrition and health. His goal is to help others discover new, fun and effective ways to be naturally fit, healthy and happy.
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