Running in the Snow
By Brian Metzler
Veteran runner Brian Metzler of Boulder, CO shares his advice on running in the snow.
Every time I enter a snowshoe race, I remember my first one.
About 12 years ago, a couple of friends convinced me I should enter a 5K with them in the foothills west of Boulder, Colorado. As an avid trail runner who wasn't adverse to the cold of winter, I agreed. Running a race on snow sounded like a fun way to enjoy a morning, especially after the foot of snow that had fallen over the previous days.
Dressed in a Gore-Tex jacket, nylon running pants, a pair of hiking boots and a pair of large mountaineering snowshoes, I showed up at the race no idea what to expect. Those were my first mistakes. But sprinting away from the starting line with the lead group was my worst blunder.
Five minutes into the race, I was an overheated, exhausted and stumbling ball of sweat.
The reason I remember that race is because of how much I learned about this fledgling sport. Snowshoe racing is a great way to experience the splendor of winter trails while also doing an intense anaerobic workout. Plus, prancing through the snow - regardless if you're going fast or slow - can be a heck of a lot of fun.
The sport has been growing by leaps and bounds in recent years, thanks to advances in snowshoe design and the desire of many runners, triathletes and cyclists to test their competitive mettle during the winter. Are you running a spring marathon? Or do have plans to do an XTERRA triathlon or two next summer? Or are you just trying to say in shape during the winter months?
For any case, snowshoe racing can be a valuable offseason training tool, says Denver resident and pro XTERRA triathlete Greg Krause.
"Snowshoe races keep me motivated to train in the winter," says Krause, who won the 2004 U.S. Snowshoe Championship. "I use the races as my only hard workouts in the middle of my winter base training, and I think it pays off huge in the spring and summer months during the tri season. The strength I gain snowshoeing in the winter comes in handy when climbing on the bike or in the late stages in the run in a triathlon during the summer months."
The sport offers plenty for those who don't aspire to be a front-of-the-pack competitor, too. Getting out for an hour of unique exercise and experiencing trails in a way you might never see them can be very rewarding. Plus, snowshoe racing is rated near the top when it comes to calorie-burning sports.
It's a great way to get your heart rate up with little or no impact on your joints or bones, says Adam Chase, an experienced snowshoe racer from Colorado.
"To me, it's just a lot of fun," says Chase, who manages the Atlas Snowshoe Racing Team. "In longer races, I enjoy the quiet of the winter mountainscapes. And I like running downhill at a fast enough clip that you spray snow over your head."
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