Winter Activity Series – Winter Running

Daniella San Martin-Feeney is one of our volunteer ambassadors, and contributed this guest blog as part of our winter activity blog series.

Winter in Edmonton is long, dark and cold. It would be all too easy to pull the blinds and lock the doors and hibernate until spring, but a lot of people don’t realize how easy it is to get outside. 

The river valley during the winter is gorgeous. If you haven’t been IN the river valley in our snowy season, you’re missing out. Running is one of the best and easiest ways to play in the river valley. Soft fluffy snow, animal tracks, views of the riverthe landscape is familiar from the summer but transformed into a magical winter wonderland. 

A great winter running route is along River Valley Road, which passes by the iconic Walterdale Bridge.

When friends find out that I run in the river valley all winter, they either express shock (It’s cold! Don’t you slip? Wouldn’t you rather be inside?), or they smile knowingly. If they’re also winter runners, then they know how much fun and accessible it actually is.  If you haven’t tried winter running yet,what are you waiting for?! You are missing out on months of running and on experiencing a whole different side of the river valley. With so many parks and trail access points along the river, it just takes a moment to slip into the river valley and escape the city. 

Our furry friends make great running companions

While some people are daunted by the thought of running outside when it’s below freezing, there are only a few key things you really need to think about before you get out there:

  • The main concern is what to wear. Most people who are new to winter running have a tendency to overdress. A good rule of thumb is to dress for weather 10 degrees warmer than it actually is. You’ll also want to dress in layers, which will help keep you warm by trapping air between layers of clothing, but will also allow you to remove layers as needed. 
  • Cover your exposed skin. Pay special attention to your ears, hands, and face. On windy days, getting on a single-track trail where you’re enclosed by the trees will help cut down that windy feeling. Try the trails “below” the University of Alberta between Kinsmen and Emily Murphy parks, or head to Terwillegar Park.
  • Early morning or evening run? Wear a headlamp to help keep yourself visible and so you can see the trail. But if you don’t have one, try holding a flashlight or stick to a lit multi-use path. Try running along River Valley Road to take advantage of the streetlights. 
  • And finallytraction! Many runners use a variety of traction devices to help with challenging winter footing. This could be especially important on slippery trails, hills, and after those annoying freeze/thaw cycles that leave everything covered in ice. But guess what? They are not necessary. You could run on cleared pathways. You could walk the slippery sections. Don’t let it stop you! 

Honestly, you could spend all day worrying about what to wear, where to go, but the more you wait, the more you’re missing out. 

See you on the trails!