I’ve ran in all the traditional Scottish conditions – rain, sleet, shower, downpour, drizzle and, once, many years ago, even a dry day. But although I’m quite happy to run when wet as, once you’re wet, you can’t get wetter. After five minutes you’re as wet as you’ll ever be so you might as well continue. However, I don’t run when water turns to ice. If there’s a chance of slipping then I give a run a miss and do something more warm instead, like sitting in front of a fire while wearing a scarf, a down jacket and wrapped in an electric blanket. Toasty.
Last month though I had the chance to try something I’ve never tried before – a run in fresh snow, with no ice. We’d planned on running the Campsie and thought there might have been a nice dandruffing of snow on top but as soon as we started to climb the snow became deeper and thicker until it was up to our ankles. Then over our ankles and down my socks as the snow melted around my feet. Baltic.
It was fantastic to run in such conditions and I thought it worth sharing some tips in case you ever get the chance to do the same.
Tip 1 – Don’t do it.
Just like wild swimming, you should never run alone. If you trip, twist an ankle or run into trouble then you could be a couple of very, very cold miles away from help. Running through ankle deep snow is hard, hopping through it on one leg would be even harder still. That’s why pirates stuck to the Caribbean and you don’t see Alpine climbers with peg legs.
Tip 2 – If you’re going to go sledging, test your sledge first
At the top of Meikle Bin we met four three guys from Kilsyth who’d hiked up with sledges and were aiming to slide all the way back down the Campsie.
Went the first guy as he pushed off from the top and shot down the southern slope.
“WHEEE – DAMN!”
Went the second and third guy as they shared a sledge for 10 metres before it snapped in half because a child’s sledge is not designed for two grown men to bobsleigh together. Went it snapped, they looked like someone had just told them that Santa Claus was not real. They were not happy.
Tip 3 – Gaiters are your toes best friend
Speaking of Santa. Did you know that Santa is the only lie that that the news will repeat and will never challenge? Every year the news will pretend Santa is real, which must be why Huw Edwards always gets great presents. He’s top of Santa’s nice list.
If I had a chance to get a present for running in snow I would definitely choose gaiters. As mentioned above, the snow will quickly rise above your shoe and the space between the tongue of your shoe and your ankle will build up with snow until it looks like your playing keepy-up with snowballs. Then it will melt and you have frozen water running down you foot and refrigerating your socks. Gaiters will stop that. Or…
Tip 4 – Just accept you’re feet are going to get wet
Because gaiters are not going to help when you put a foot down and find the snow was covering a path or a patch of heather but rather it was a trap and underneath the snow is a deep muddy bog. While most bogs will be frozen, some will crack as soon as you stand on them and your foot is going to be ankle deep in slush mud. Ugh.
Tip 5 – it’s fun!
Accept you will not go anywhere fast. You will not beat any personal best or challenge for any world records. Running in snow is sluggish and challenging as you stamp down to punch through the snow and find the earth beneath. But, on the right day, with pure snow, a blue sky and no wind then you will have fun.
Tip 6 – dress correctly
But remember to wear the right clothes – I wore three layers (long sleeved t-shirt, short sleeved t-shirt, thick running jacket, a running skull cap, waterproof trail trainers and a pair of gloves).
Oh, and bring a pair of scissors if you want to get your trainers off at the end as your laces will freeze and you’ll never untie them until they melt….