the closest trail to home, cr. Dave Moskowitz

Modes of ambulation: Included in the category of 'mountain running' are skate skiing, cross country skiing, randonee, trail running, speed mountaineering, and fell running. Trail and fell running are best executed on a runner-supportable surface of snow that is either fresh and shallow, old and icy, or posessing a thick crust. If the snow you have encountered is none of these consistencies try moving on to some cross training in the form of skate or AT.

enjoying some cross-training, Methow Valley, 2015

Traction: YakTracks are for walking; Microspikes are for ice; track spikes are for nutso speed climbers. To run comfortably in hard-packed snow, hobnail your shoes. If you're unsure how to do this, either order the beginner-friendly kit from La Sportiva or sign up for some coaching with me.

Layering: The key to hypothermia-free snow running togs is layers - but not too many. Any more than three layers on top or two layers on the bottom will leave you feeling like a sausage no matter how svelte or voluptuous you might be. Start with paper-thin layers and, if you get to three and two and it is still cold (while you are moving) up the thickness of the layers. Add a pair of merino or windproof gloves and a thin toque and you're set. You will be cold for the first bit of your run if you're properly-attired.

winter in the desert = magick, San Jacinto Range

Terrain: For those of you who are also alpinists or skiiers, it goes without saying that a runner without an avalanche beacon is safest running well away from avalanche terrain. When choosing a casual (or grueling) training run, select terrain that is out of harm's way. Some surfaces that tend to suit snow running are well-trodden, ungroomed single-track and plowed or snowmobile-packed Forest Service roads. Please avoid groomed crosscountry and skate ski tracks or obvious backcountry skin tracks.

Take a break: If you live in a location like my hometown that remains snow-bound for months out of the year, consider planning a running vacation. Whether you, like me, travel someplace exotic like the Joshua Treed deserts of Cali or simply travel to lower elevations putting a running trip on your calendar can be just the motivation you need to keep moving when the white stuff flies.

Read my e-book: The lessons overflowed from this post! Check out my e-book called Running In Snow to learn more.


I gleefully coach mountain runners, snow runners, and backcountry skiers of all stripes! My support lends structure and efficiency to your dedicated practice.