Winter running tips from Bend’s Max King

We’ve been blessed this week with a blanket of fresh white snow, but that doesn’t mean you have to put up your running shoes in Central Oregon. 

We chatted with Bend professional distance runner Max King about tips for staying fit and fast during the weeks when winter hits hard. King, a man of many talents, was the founder of the Bend Marathon and Half which returns to town Sunday, April 16.

Max King’s Winter Running Tips 

Head East:  When it’s snowing on the west side of town, in general the trails and roads east of town are free of precipitation,” King says. “Horse Butte, the Badlands, and Smith Rock are great options for trails for hiking, running, and biking.” 

Learn to Layer: First figure out if you run warm or cold, and then find the right layers for you. Personally, I hate cold fingers, so as long as I have the right warmth of glove then I’m good. I also find that a good running vest is an often overlooked option. My core generally gets cold, but my arms don’t, so I like having a vest. I have different layers for about every 10-15 degrees of temperature change to make sure I stay warm but don’t sweat through all my layers and end up cold by the end of the run.  

Get Creative: In the winter you can really get stuck in a rut just running on a treadmill inside or the same snow-free route outside. I like to do my easy runs on snow or varied routes outside and stick to the treadmill for my intense workouts. I find it less boring to do the hard work on the treadmill than the easy stuff. 

Light it Up: Lighting technology has come a long way in the past five years and there are very bright lights that are comfortable to wear and make running in the dark both safe and inviting. Check out the new selection of headlamps and lighting technology at REI in the Old Mill District. It’s pretty versatile. If you’re running the road there are several options that also have a built-in red rear light so that cars can see you from behind. 

Screws-in-the-shoes vs. Yaktrax: Both are great options but serve slightly different purposes. Screws are great for days where you are running on hard surface and don’t want to accidentally end up on your rear by hitting a patch of hidden ice. The Yaktrax are great for giving more traction in a packed snow surface like a packed snow-covered road or trail. 

Stay Safe with the Stroller: This is a tough one but the main thing is to make sure conditions are safe and you have good traction on your shoes so that you can stay in control of the stroller. 

Cross-training:  Outside biking during the winter is difficult but it can be done. Personally, I prefer to switch over to the skis and do a lot of Alpine Touring or Ski Touring (uphill/downhill skiing). Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are great options as well.  

Gal running on the river trail on a winter day.