09 February 2013 By Rachel’s

Tips for the Trail – Winter Running Part 2 – Xterra – 1-28-2011

By Rachel Cieslewicz

published in Xterra 1/28/2011

Elite runner and triathlete Rachel Cieslewicz of Salt Lake City, Utah, introduced the inaugural XTERRA “Tips for the Trail” feature with an entry on running in cold weather.

Here is part two of her tips for running in the cold.

Winter trails

If you have a favorite trail for summer, it may be available in the winter. But ¦ the going will be slower. Think of it as a crazy strength/core workout with face plants included. Go for time and not for distance. Also consider avalanche danger. For hydration, wear a small pack on the back or waist under the outer jacket to keep from freezing, filled with water or energy drink and a couple of emergency bars or Gu. For a big excursion, plan accordingly as you would for any big run.  Know where you are going as snow covered trails look different than they do with rocks and snakes.

What to wear on the feet?  If the snow is fresh or deep or the air is over 30 degrees, the going will be slow, which means it is time to bring out the running snowshoes. If you want to become strong without a lot of gym work, this is absolutely for you. It is training specific. You will feel your hamstrings, glutes, quads, calfs, abs and many muscles you never knew or forgot you had. Save the speed work for spring!

Spikes are good for hard-packed older snow/ice on trails. They are also fantastic for fresh snow on the roads, before they are plowed. It’s the most fun ever when the rest of the world is trying to dig out their cars after a big snow and you dance by, happily running down the middle of the road on your way to the best trail running shape ever!

What to eat and drink

For food and general hydration, do what you would normally do in the summer. You probably won’t think you need as much water on the cold runs, but between respiration and sweating you will lose a lot! Drink at least several ounces every 20 minutes. Food, I don’t like to be too scientific, but typically if I am out on the trails for over an hour, I bring 100 calories for each additional 30 minutes I am out. Hydrate throughout the day and after you return. Just remember not to eat the yellow snow.

I live in northern Utah and if you make it here this winter, contact me, and I will take you out for an adventure on foot of the greatest snow on earth — XTERRA style. Happy running.
Rachel Cieslewicz is an elite runner and triathlete based in Salt Lake City, Utah. She placed fifth at the 2010 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship in December at Kualoa Ranch, Hawaii. She is a talented sports massage therapist, Pilates and yoga instructor and is a certified running form coach. She can be reached at  or visit her website or follow her on

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I will always remember waking up at the age of 12 to the pain I saw in so many while simultaneously realizing how lucky I was to feel fantastic.

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