Five Things to Know About Snowshoe Running
Snowshoe running is simple – it’s still just putting one foot in front of the other – but it can be intimidating at the start. I tried it a few times this winter and can attest that it’s a fantastic workout, but I’m hardly an expert. So I asked my former college teammate (and national-class snowshoe racer) Margot Branigan for a few tips.
1) Racing Snowshoes are Special
Sure, you can strap on any pair of snowshoes you find in your garage, but they are probably designed for walking, not running.
Both running and racing snowshoes have less surface area for decking, a tapered body, and have a lighter frame, making them easier to run in than hiking snowshoes. Unlike hiking or backpacking snowshoes, running and racing snowshoes do not depend on weight of the individual; both are made to be lighter and more tapered to run in, one size fits all.
Some races rent running snowshoes. You can also find rentals at running stores, state parks and ski rental shops. RunMN in Burnsville carries two brands of racing snowshoes: Dions and Northern Lites.
2) You Probably own the rest of the Gear you Need
The rest of the equipment you need – a non-cotton base layer, thick socks, and a good pair of tights – are likely already in your closet.
The snow will stick to and soak cotton fabric so I avoid cotton clothing and I wear breathable, wicking fabrics like wool or polyester. When you run with snowshoes you kick up a lot of snow so a wear a vest or jacket to keep the layers near your body dry.
3) Snowshoe Running is easy to Learn
You just have to try it!
Snowshoe running is a great way to break up the monotony of road running, to get change of scenery and to stay warm. The motion is intuitive, similar to running, just lifting your knees higher and the snowshoes provide additional resistance on your feet.
4) It’s a great Workout
The condition of the snow – groomed or powder – can make a big difference in perceived effort. The combination of the snow with the resistance of the snowshoe can make for a rigorous workout. Snowshoe racing is a great way to stay active, explore the views of the Midwest woods, enjoy camaraderie of friends and competitors and the best part, post race chili!
5) Snowshoe Racing is a ton of Fun!
Already own running snowshoes and run some miles on the trails? Sign up for a race! Many of the races in Minnesota and Wisconsin have already come and gone this season, but it’s not too early to plan for next year!
Book It Across the Bay is hands down my favorite race. The race course is a night race illuminated by only by candles and the stars in the night sky. The course is on Lake Superior with sporadic fireworks illuminating the finish line, so you can’t miss it!
Have you tried snowshoe running or racing? What was it like? What other tips might you share with someone trying it for the first time?