I am relocating to the area in January and was wondering if there were any good areas to do tempo work during the winter months, preferably in the mornings. Also, what are some safe areas to run during the early mornings?
UPDATE (Dec. 7): Onondaga Lake Parks are now dedicating the West Shore Trail to winter sports (snow shoeing, cross-country skiing) where the East Shore will be plowed from the concessions to the Good Dog Park.
Great question! We get about 10 feet of snow in the Syracuse area every winter so you're smart to plan ahead. So what do you do if you still want to train fast and stay off the dreadmill…I mean treadmill? There are a handful of places that plow regularly. Winter running is all about being creative and finding some cleared spots.
The best winter place to run is easily Onondaga Lake Park in Liverpool. It’s a pretty active spot for local runners, walkers and cyclists year-round. East Shore Trail is more than 2.5 miles and the West Shore Trail is 4.5 miles. It's pancake flat on the East Shore side with some slight inclines on the West Shore and both are plowed regularly. Depending on the wind you can get some really great resistance or an extra boost depending on your direction. There’s plenty of parking at several locations and a bathroom at the concessions area by the Salt Museum. It is however, not salted so it can sometimes become a bit icy.
Then there’s the nontraditional route…get it route…when looking for a winter running route. Moving on. Local high school and university campuses tend to keep their roads and walkways plowed and salted even during breaks. There are some really nice campuses that have some good loops to run on. I’m a bit biased because I lived there and coached there but the Baldwinsville campus is really good! OCC and Syracuse have some challenging hills in certain spots but are both maintained and well-lit too. OCC can get pretty windy as well, which adds to the difficulty if you’re looking to hit certain paces routinely.
We do have a very long stretch of paved trail along the Erie Canal going from the eastern part of Syracuse but I could not find any concrete information on winter maintenance of the canal. Also it’s not lit so you’d need a headlamp especially on these dark winter mornings. I’d proceed with extreme caution there as parts are very secluded.
For the most part people just stick to the roads here. After a few runs you become pretty acclimated to running in the snow, sleet and ice. We also have a lot of products in the store to help with traction such as trail shoes, Yaktrax and Saucony makes a shoe designed for winter running. The shoe is called the Peregrine ICE + and has a specific material that grips on ice and other slick/wet surfaces. It comes with a white rubber tab that changes color to blue when the temperature goes below freezing. Stop in to check those out as well as some of our safety products to stay visible in the morning and at night. And as always Ashley, keep running!
- Coach Phil
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