How to Train for Your First Snowshoe Race
A little friendly competition is not only good for the physique, but it is good for the mind and the soul as well. Learning a new sport helps you build muscle, strength and endurance. It can also introduce you to a fun new social community.
Best of all, your new hobby can keep your brain young by building new neural connections (here, you can think of your new sport like “physical fitness for your brain”).
In this article, learn the steps you need to take to successfully train for your first snowshoe race.
About Snowshoe Racing
If you like running, it is likely you will love snowshoe racing. Running in snowshoes is the best way to run outdoors in snowy conditions, which likely explains its ever-increasing popularity.
In fact, to the delight of enthusiasts nationwide, 2016 ushered in the U.S. Snowshoe Association’s (U.S.S.S.A.) first-ever snowshoe marathon – a blissfully challenging 26.2 miles of racing in snowshoes. Even better, from here forward, this event will be open to all competitors, not just those who have successfully competed in pre-qualifying trials.
Snowshoe racing is simple in concept if more difficult in execution. There is the race, the runners and the…snowshoes. This makes running slower and more physically challenging, raising athletic achievement to new levels. As such, training for your first snowshoe race will require some additional preparation.
Running in Snowshoes 101
Your very first challenge will be choosing snowshoes for running. Because snowshoes add additional weight to your feet, ankles and legs over what you would experience wearing regular running shoes, it is best to opt for the most lightweight snowshoes possible.
Just as there are so many different styles of running shoes, so too there are many different types of snowshoes you can choose from. If your goal is to compete in snowshoe races, then it is critical to select lightweight snowshoes that are specifically designed for running.
Training to Run in Snowshoes
Winter running quite naturally adds additional obstacles over running in warm weather. With ice and snow to contend with, your body is now adjusting for the cold temperatures, the uneven terrain, the presence of soft or hard snow surfaces and (often) the need to navigate hilly terrain.
For these reasons, expert snowshoe racers suggest following a dual training regimen that focuses both on building your running skills and translating them to running in snowshoes.
The reason you shouldn’t focus solely on training in snowshoes is that you may face years when it doesn’t snow much or at all and you are literally running in your snowshoes over dry ground. So you will need to master both skill sets to compete successfully in snowshoe races from year to year.
Here are some handy tips to train for snowshoe racing:
- Practice on sand. Sand holds similar challenges to snow conditions. For soft-pack snow training, snowshoe on fresh dry sand. For hard-pack snow training, snowshoe on moist sand nearer the surf.
- Start with a walk/jog. Snowshoe running taps into an advanced level of aerobic fitness that asks more of your body, especially the groups of stabilizing muscles. You will cover less distance but burn more calories. So to avoid injury, it is best to start with a walk/jog pattern until your muscles get the hang of running in snowshoes.
- Incorporate hills into your regiment. Most snowshoe racing events will include flat ground and hills. So it is important to train in both environments. You should start with groomed hills and practice first walking up and down and then running up and down.
Finding Competitive Snowshoe Events
With the popularity of snowshoe racing today, it is easy to find events you can compete in. Here are some great websites that list races you can sign up to compete in:
- United States Snowshoe Association (USSSA)
- Bigfoot Snowshoe
- White River Snowshoe
- Iowa Games
- Snowshoe Festival
- Snowshoe Shuffle
- Rangeley Moose Dash
- Winter Warrior Snowshoe Dash
- Krank Events Snowshoe Runs
Snowshoe running offers so much more than a great workout, which is probably why it continues to enjoy such widespread popularity. People of all ages can find something to appreciate in winter running.
There is the aerobic workout, the athletic challenge, the gorgeous scenery, the fresh air and the connection with nature, the enthusiasm of the running community and the chance to enjoy adventures with family and friends….and you may find even more to add to this list when you give snowshoe running a try!