Pounding Powder

Tips for winter running.

Let’s get one thing straight: running is a summer sport—at least for normal people. But we all know many outdoor enthusiasts who are far from normal, and the craziest of them all might just be runners. For those of you who hate yourselves and plan on running through the coldest months, here are some pointers for staying motivated, staying fit, and staying warm.

Go in groups. To stay motivated when temps are in the teens and the streets and trails are iced over, join Run Bozeman for twice-weekly group runs. They leave from their downtown shop and have multiple routes of different distances for all fitness levels. Once a month, the Big Sky Wind Drinkers host a winter fun run, which seems like an oxymoron to us. Check them out at winddrinkers.org

Believe it or not, winter is a busy race season 'round these parts. Again, runners are masochistic psychos hell-bent on world domination, so you shouldn’t be surprised that they like to gather in groups and prove who’s craziest when they should be curled up on the couch or sliding around on powder up at Bridger. For a rundown of races, visit outsidebozeman.com/events. If you only run one this winter, make it the Run to the Pub downtown. This festive race turns St. Paddy’s Day on its head; instead of stumbling around binge-drinking Olys, compete in a half-marathon or 10k, with a portion of registration fees ($35-$100) going to local nonprofits. Fret not if you like a barley pop or two—the finish line is at Pub 317, so you’ll still get your fill. 

Don’t bother buying anything new: winter-specific gear (for the most part) is a waste of money. For your feet, whatever trail-running shoes you use are fine, just upgrade your socks. Try liners for wicking sweat, which will keep your feet dry, and a mid-weight wool option for warmth. Unless you’re running through icy puddles, this combo should keep your toes toasty all season long. Wrap your shoe in some Yaktrax for traction, and you’re good to go. 

Sport-specific layering probably works great, but is it necessary? No—save your shekels for a Plum Street Porter at Bozeman Brewery after your run, and throw on whatever long johns you have lying around. Remember, while you’ll be cold to start, running is a high-output activity and after a few minutes, you’ll likely be sweating. Keep the layers closest to your skin light, and play around with your mid-layers throughout the early season until you find a system that works. For your bottom half, a combination of long johns and running shorts will get the job done. If the barometer really plummets, throw on fleece pants, too.

If it’s dumping at the start of your run, you’ll want waterproof protection. Your summer rain shell works great, considering you’re layered up underneath. It’s lightweight, and most models have armpit zips you can open once you’ve warmed up. If the skies are clear, a softshell is what you want, as it breathes better.

Gloves, hat, and balaclava are all necessary, but you don’t need to buy anything special. Spring-weight ski gloves, a fleece-lined hat, and your favorite fishing buff will provide all the protection you need.