Winter is coming. The daylight hours are waning and the temperatures are dropping. I’ve already noticed the absence of many regulars on the roads I run. Some runners are holding on for the last Turkey Trot of the season, but many have decided to seek refuge indoors.
Of course, the die-hard runners are still out there battling the elements and looking forward to the epic ‘man vs. nature’ struggle to complete their training runs as they prepare for the spring racing season. Slippery roads, cold temperatures and the monotony of winter road running can make it a tough to get out the door.
The fast-growing sport of competitive snowshoe racing is the perfect antidote to the winter running slump. Not only is it fun to run over the hills and through the woods to Grandma’s house, it will also help you become a stronger, faster runner once the snow melts. Doesn’t that sound better than another long run on the slushy streets dodging snowplows?
The mechanics of snowshoeing are very similar to running. However, wearing snowshoes will force you to lift your knees higher so that you can clear the snow with the extra snowshoe on your foot. This should translate to faster times when you get back on the roads.
The cardiovascular benefits of snowshoeing are obvious. Running through fresh snow uphill on snowshoes is a tremendous workout. Those who are new to the sport of snowshoeing are encouraged to start slow. Snowshoeing will be slower and a lot more challenging than a run of equal distance on the roads.
Approaching winter training with a mix of road running, snowshoe running, and strength training should result in a very nice jumping off point in the spring. And, if you have run some longer races in the fall as many athletes do, that should set you up for an easy transition into snowshoe season. Add some snowshoe running to the mix, and you’ll be in prime shape to knock the socks off the competition come St. Patty’s Day.
Visit the United States Snowshoe Association for events listings near you.