If you live in the north where the snow flies, winter running takes some consideration. Snow, wet, ice, wind, and cold all conspire to make staying outdoors year-round a challenge. If you have a treadmill at home then staying inside can be a simple solution. However, if getting on the treadmill means a drive to the gym first and packing up your gear, it’s easy for the runs to tail off. When it comes to triathlon, running is actually pretty simple in terms of gear and planning, so what does it take to make popping out for a run a viable year round option? One thing in particular: the right shoes.
I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to running shoe weight. For speed work and 5k races I use the Saucony Type A at 5.2 oz and longer runs the Saucony Kinvara at 7.7 oz. Both are relatively light shoes, and something I can train in sockless without discomfort. However, both prioritize breathability and lightness, therefore are the opposite of waterproof and warm. In winters past I have skipped runs due to weather, or risked life and limb running on the road if the sidewalks were poorly plowed. Finally last year I made a change, and was able to run through the winter, only 2 treadmill runs all year!
The difference was the Saucony Xodus 5.0 gtx from Runners Choice in London. Two key features make all the difference in terms of comfort and safety for this shoe: grip and waterproofing. For grip, they feature a Vibram outsole that stands apart for it’s deep and wide outer treads. Sure, this won’t keep you up on the smoothest ice, which requires a stud, but will comfortably handle slush and hard packed snow. For waterproofing, the shoes are fully Gore-Tex lined, which serves the purpose of keeping out both wet and wind. I find that the wind is often what I underestimate when I start a long winter run. Even if conditions are dry and things are mild to start, turning into a brisk head-wind in an exposed area can quickly lead for frosty toes.
Downside? These are not a light shoe. At 12+ oz you’re going to have to dial back the long run pace or you’ll be feeling the weight towards the end of your run. These can double as a trail running shoe for the really messy, rainy race days, but if you want to compete seriously on the trails you’ll want another, lighter option in your arsenal. If you’re running in the snow you won’t be watching your pace anyways, so use these to take away any excuses you might have when the weather is bad. Your toes will thank you.
For brief reviews on this and other waterproof trail running shoes, check out: http://thebestrunningshoes.info/best-waterproof-trail-running-shoes/