Tips for Winter Run Commuting

I typically get my weekday mileage in during my lunch break, but every now and then I decide to forgo the bus in favour of running to/from the nearest SkyTrain station for part of my commute. Usually this happens in the summer, but yesterday I decided to give winter run commuting a try.

The weather here has been hovering around zero in the Metro Vancouver region and our pesky New Year’s Eve snowfall is lingering. Many houses did not shovel their sidewalks and it has since frozen into practically impossible to remove ice.

These conditions are unusual for this area, which generally experiences warm, rainy winters.

Invest in a comfortable running pack

First things first, my coworker recently got a running-specific pack for Christmas and can’t believe the difference between it and his previous backpack … duh! If you’re going to make run commuting a regular, semi-regular, or even occasional occurrence, you will a good pack.

I use my Salomon s-lab adv skin 12-set vest but depending on how much you have to carry, you may want to go larger. I’ve heard great things about the Ultimate Direction 20L fastpack and the Salomon S-lab Peak 20L.

Bring light, packable clothing for work

I have a few work dresses that are super light and almost impossible to wrinkle. I pack one with me in a small waterproof sack along with a bra, underwear (obviously), and a pair of leggings or tights in the winter. If you don’t want to fork out a bunch of money for a fancy pack, you may want to consider planning ahead and bringing a change of clothes the day before your run commute or a week’s worth every Monday. I always keep at least one pair of shoes and a towel at work.

Layer up

My run commutes are slower than my other road runs. I’m not sure why – maybe it’s due to the time of day, carrying a full pack, or all the stop lights. So I dress a bit warmer and with layers, especially because I have a 40 minute SkyTrain ride either before or after my run depending on what direction I’m going.

Yesterday I wore:

I also packed my Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody (down) which is great to have on hand for the SkyTrain. It packs up small into its own pouch but is quite warm and cozy.

See and be seen

This time of year, it is dark both when I go to work and when I leave. There are a decent amount of street lights along my route but it doesn’t hurt to have a headlamp, especially when it’s icy out. It also adds to you visibility for cars. Which brings me to my next point …

Wear bright clothing. I almost walked out the door yesterday morning dressed like a ninja but luckily realized this and threw on my long neon yellow compression socks and an orange Buff. On my way home I wore a my super reflective Nike running jacket which I had stashed in my office – it’s amazing!

Get traction

After a slippery New Year’s Day run, I’ve been packing my Kahtoola microspikes with me. However, as icy as the sidewalks were yesterday, they actually weren’t that slippery. Plus with stretches of pavement, the microspikes would have been overkill so I opted to not wear them. Yaktraks might be a better option for winter running in the city.

My Altra Olympus 2.0 trail runners seem to have good traction on slippery roads. I wore them for my New Years Day 50K and my run commutes and have been very impressed. I haven’t even fallen yet!

Don’t stink too much

I’m lucky to have showers at my work (or maybe it’s my coworkers that are lucky). If not though, winter running is great because it’s too cold to sweat much, at least for me. If you don’t have showers you can always do a “combat bath” with wet wipes. I also keep deodorant, body spray, and a bottle of Saje “tranquility mist” in my desk. I haven’t had any complaints but maybe my coworkers are just too nice.


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