Snowshoe Running 101: Start Slow

Snowshoe running is harder than regular running, so plan on easing your way in

Lambert talks to fellow former national team member Ceal Walker.     Photo: Ellen Miller-Goins

Anybody who can walk can snowshoe, and anyone who can run can race in snowshoes. The enjoyment factor, however, skyrockets if you already have a high aerobic capacity. “Snowshoe running is more difficult than road running or trail running, particularly if it involves deep powder,” Lambert says. “Start very slowly and find your rhythm; there’s a powerful tendency to start out at your normal running pace, but you just can’t expect your running times to translate to snowshoeing.” You’ll likely be at least a minute per mile slower running on snowshoes, probably more, depending on the conditions. Even the same course can vary from year to year.

If possible, find an open, flat area for your first snowshoe experience (golf courses and athletic fields are always good). Take a slow warm-up lap, and concentrate on maintaining normal running form and breathing. “Because wading through snow with running snowshoes requires some effort, even the most physically fit runner requires some time to adapt to the process,” says Mike Bucek of the USSSA. In addition to snow, Bucek notes that other factors, such as snowshoe weight and cold, contribute to the difficulty of snowshoe running.

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