The Metacomet Ridge Mountains—steep and rocky—dart dramatically upward from the otherwise flat and rolling Hartford, Conn., landscape. So, while you may not think of Hartford as a trail-running destination, it most certainly is, even during the cold New England winter.
If you’re optimistic, running trails in the dead of winter is a joyful—albeit challenging—task. Winter trails tend to be less-traveled and more serene, and trees without leaves mean the ridge-line views are all the more expansive. If nothing else, you’ll feel hardy for having endured the cold miles like a local.
While weather tends to be mild through early fall, November temperatures can plummet. So, with fall fast-approaching, we asked Stephanie Blozy, owner of Fleet Feet Sports West Hartford, and Michael Le Presti, co-founder of the CT Trailmixers, for some practical advice about running local trails as the season changes:
You may start off cold, but you’ll warm up quickly after a mile or two. Dress as if it’s 20 degrees warmer than it is to account for the heat your body will generate. Layers and shirts or jackets with zippers will help you regulate your body temperature, especially in the colder months.
Even though it’s cold, you’ll still sweat. Don’t forget to drink.
No matter what the season, opt for trail shoes with traction. When winter hits, invest in a pair of trail-running shoes with a waterproof upper to keep your feet warmer and drier. If conditions are icy, spikes or screws in your shoes will give you extra gripping power.
Just because there’s a foot of snow on the ground, it doesn’t mean you can’t exercise. Running through deep snow strengthens your core and stabilizer muscles.
Make a date to run with someone to hold you accountable and make sure you don’t get lost on the trail (especially important if you’re going somewhere new). Pay close attention to trailhead signage and trail markings if falling snow covers your tracks.
Get your blood flowing, but don't break a sweat. The cold won't feel so cold if you're warm. Don’t know how to warm up? Speed-clean your house (that's enough motivation to get out the door ASAP!)
If it's windy out, protect exposed skin with Vaseline, Aquaphor, or Body Glide. Run into the wind for the first half of your run, so it's at your back and smooth sailing (relatively) during your return home.
Your core body temperature drops quickly after exercise. Change into dry clothes and drink hot fluids.
Watch the Hartford episode of Run This Town here.