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Winter Trail Running Essentials

Winter Trail Running Essentials | Wild Rock Outfitters

by Justin Ross, Social Media Manager & Hard Goods and Aerobic Sales

Let's face it, the weather is cold and the light is limited. The days of the post-work bike ride are fleeting. Like most, I crave the endorphins of a good workout and at this time of the year, the only option for me is taking to the trails for a run. While I’m no professional, I have learned a thing or two about trail running over the years and I’m going to try my best to fill you in on the details so that you, too, can Go Out and Play.

So, let's talk about equipment for a moment. The best part about running is that unlike many outdoor sports, the start up cost is low. If you boil it down to the bare minimum, you need a supportive pair of shoes designed for the environment you plan on running in. But to paint a broader picture, here’s my list of things you might want to consider:

  • Trail Shoes: find something with support, traction, and if you plan to run in all conditions - something waterproof. I like running in the Salomon Sense Ride GTX. This shoe has lots of cushion for mixed terrain as well as a Gore-Tex liner to help keep your feet dry and happy.
  • Socks: From the outside, all socks look the same. But like anything else in the outdoor sports world, not everything is created equally. A sock designed specifically for running will be anatomically correct (yes, you can have a left and right sock) and have extra padding in key areas to keep your feet comfortable and (hopefully) blister free. Don’t cheap out here; be prepared to spend about $30 on a pair. My personal favourite is the Icebreaker Run+ Ultralight mini. Merino wool helps regulate temperature and keeps your feet from stinking to high heaven.
  • Headlamp: Your best friend in the winter. The brighter the better when it comes to these things - look for a high lumen output. Most headlamps nowadays will be around the 300 lumen mark, which is bright enough to do most things, running and skiing included. I use the Petzl Swift RL for running. This headlamp is lightweight, rechargeable and packs a whopping 900 lumen output - it’s like running with a small sun strapped to my face.
  • Running Spikes: These may be a mystery to some but they are worth their weight in gold for winter running. If the Harold Town trails are your thing, consider something a bit more aggressive like the Black Diamond Distance Spike. These spikes are made of heat treated stainless steel for maximum durability while maintaining a small, lightweight package. If you fancy the road, I would recommend YakTrax. These spikes are made with their classic coil design so you have level heel-to-toe traction.
  • Running Vest: Running with a vest isn’t a necessity! However, they are super convenient when it comes to carrying the essentials. I almost always run with mine on so I can keep my hands free while out on the trail.
  • Clothing: For clothing, I try to dress as though it's 10-ish degrees warmer than the forecasted temperature. The human body does an amazing job at circulating blood once you start moving, and the last thing you want is to overheat 10 minutes into a 10K. My favourite piece of clothing is the Patagonia Houdini jacket - this thing is fantastic because it blocks the elements, is thermal regulating, and can pack up to fit in your pocket.

Above all else, start slow. If you have a history of riding bikes, you will probably have the cardio to out-do your legs. The muscles and ligaments needed for running are very different from those used to ride a bike. Give them time to adapt. Start slow and have fun; the 1st kilometre is the hardest part.


Some key running terminology you may find useful:

Drop: the amount of change between the heel and toe height of your shoe

Pace: the amount of time it takes to complete 1 kilometre (or mile, if you are old)

FKT: the “fastest known time” of a certain trail segment

Strike: the part of your foot that makes contact with the ground first, heel or toe

Tempo: the type of training run intense people do to get fast

IT band: the thing on your leg that will almost inevitably hurt you

Type 2 fun: All endurance sports… you’ll suffer while it’s happening and then tell your friends it was super fun

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