Snowshoe Running 101

Everything you need to get started in winter’s most underrated endurance sport

Start of the men's 10K at the 2012 USSSA National Championships.     Photo: Whitney Dreier

“Do you ski?” is the question I've been asked most frequently since moving to New Mexico more than a year ago. I'm always tempted to tell people that hurtling downhill on a pair of skis appeals to me about as much as sticking my finger in an electrical socket, but I usually just mumble something about wanting to learn. I’m a runner, so partaking in any activity that raises my risk of twisting a knee or crashing into a tree, thereby derailing whatever marathon training plans I have, just seems silly.

So I was relieved when Geoff Goins, co-owner of the Enchanted Forest XC Ski and Snowshoe Area (EFXC) in Red River, New Mexico, assured me that I was perfectly normal. “So many people don’t like sliding,” he says, noting that more than 1,000 folks come to EFXC each winter to snowshoe. “Anyone can do it,” Goins says. “You just need stamina.”

I decided then and there that snowshoeing was going to be my new weekend activity. After all, the sport provides a great cold-weather endurance workout in the same mountainous settings enjoyed by other winter sports enthusiasts. And I didn't just want to be a recreational snowshoer: I wanted to go fast.

In the months after my initial conversation with Goins, I have become a faster and more efficient snowshoer. I qualified for the United States Snowshoe Association (USSSA) National Championships at the end of February, where I won my age group. Here's how I got there—and how you can, too.

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