During the winter, it’s not just the cold weather that keeps me indoors, but the fact that sidewalks are covered in snow and ice and therefore unsafe for running. However, with a little bit of planning and creativity, it is possible to find safe places to run outdoors all winter, and avoid the boredom of the treadmill. (If you’re willing to deal with the cold, of course – make sure to dress properly for the winter temps.)
Photo on the left by Pete Beuscher
Shop my outfit: Lightning bolt socks (same), Brooks Pure Cadence shoes (similar), Bright green long sleeve top (similar), Green beanie (similar), Pink neck gaiter (similar)
Any business district that relies on foot traffic either for their employees to get to work or for patrons and shoppers to support their business needs to keep sidewalks and walkways clear of snow and ice if they want business to continue. The great thing for you is this means it’s also a safe spot to run.
Some park districts also keep their pedestrian walkways cleared all winter. For example, the Lakefront Trail in Chicago, a 20-mile path along Lake Michigan, is maintained by the Chicago Park District, and is cleared of snow and salted year-round. On some days the Lakefront Trail is in better shape than some city streets.
There is some disagreement over whether or not it is disrespectful to run in cemeteries. If you decide to run there, always stay on paved routes and do not run over or around actual gravesites. The paved routes are typically cleared all winter since funerals happen year-round. Also pay attention to when the gates to the cemetery are going to be closed and locked up.
Schools and college campuses
Students are often getting around campus on foot, so schools and college have to remove snow and lay down salt year-round as well.
Running in the street can be risky, but as long as you are safe, it is a great option. I typically wait until after the snow plows have gone through, and stick to quiet side streets. I always run against traffic and step out of the road if I see an oncoming car. I also make sure that I am seen and wear reflective gear, bright colors and a light.
Where do you run when there is snow and ice on the ground?