>Cross Training>Snowshoe Running / Running Snowshoes
Needs more cowbell!
The area where we currently live isn't particularly conducive to Winter running. Roads are either heavily traveled or poorly plowed. But we live near 3 really nice parks ideal for snowshoeing.
I've seen a few models of snowshoes designed specifically for running, like these. Has anyone tried these or something similar? Do you simply wear regular running shoes with them (plus gaiters, I'd assume)?
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Out here, most of people who know what they're doing seem to wear Dion snowshoes. And yeah regular running shoes, no gaiters.
Those Dion shoes are cool…totally a la carte customizable.
I use Dion's now, but started with Northern Lites. Dions are slightly more narrow making them better on single track on side slopes. (My old wooden modified bearpaws could never handle what the newer 'shoes can handle as far as sideslopes and traction since they didn't have cleats.)
I use regular running shoes, but will use neoprene overbooties when it's below 0F or if there's fresh, wet snow when it's warmer.
Running snowshoes are the most fun when there's a few inches of snow on top packed snow. Less than that, and it's easier to just run. The base is needed to dig cleats into for traction - or at least it's easier that way. I may use snowshoes to pack a base, then do regular runs without them. Also, each pass you make on a trail makes it firmer, so your run changes as you progress.
PS: something to consider is if you'll be in icy conditions, then get sturdy cleats. Some of the titanium ones on some snowshoes used to break during races where all we had was snow that was almost ice. (I think mine have had aluminum regular ones, then stainless steel for icier conditions.) And, yea, when it's gets icy, you may not need snowshoes.
BTW, Bob Dion is a runner himself and frequently has his 'shoes at races in Western Mass area, iirc. When Nationals were up here, he told me who to look for to see what his 'shoes looked like. The guys were really accommodating in showing me the various models they had.
Nifty stuff! Ice could be an issue…we get a lot of short freeze-thaw cycles all Winter. But when we do get snow it can easily be a 6-12" dumping. If the past week is any measure of what we're in for this year I suspect I could get a lot of use out of snowshoes. So many times over the years I've post-holed along on roads with YakTrax and wondered why I don't just give snowshoeing a go. Now that we live near several parks (including one with trails that are lit at night, maybe 5ish miles away) it seems stupid to confine myself to sloppy roads while playing chicken with cars if I have better options.
Yea, if you've got trails nearby, they're great. Some of our mountain trails are heavily used single track, so don't usually use ss there. Some ski trails may be multi-use and can get on those, esp. right after a snow. (check local rules since sometimes ski trails are ski only, and skiers tend to be really protective) We don't have consistent enough snow where I am for races anymore, but Fairbanks still has some.
This is from US Nationals at Kincaid Park in Anchorage in 2005 - one of those embarrassing years with no snow - until just before nationals. None of our qualifying races were able to be held so they gave automatic qualification to all Alaskans (I did the citizen race, not the actual championship). Otherwise it would have been a pretty small race. (travel was expensive for many from outside) But that gives you an idea what snowshoe running can be like. Enjoy!
That looks beautiful!!
Baby Got Track
I ran snowshoe for the first time last winter and mangled a pair of Tubbs. After that I narrowed it down to Dion or Atlas. I liked the interchangeability of parts that Dion provides, but I didn't like any of the binding systems he offered. I went with the Atlas, purchased on sale at the end of the season, because Backcountry.com could give me a satisfaction guarantee. I have not tried them yet, still waiting for enough snow.
Leah, mother of goats
i'm a new england girl; and every winter (yes, i run year 'round outside), i get all panic-y trying to figure out how to run, what roads are safe AND plowed, etc etc......... whenever i see these snowshoe posts, i think i should give it a go. can you run on poorly plowed roads in snowshoes? thanks!
I run on a seasonal road, which means it gets no maintenance from Dec to Apr. People drive trucks or snowmobiles on it though, and that works for snow shoe running.
The other roads in my area are plowed, but not down to the surface. The footing would be dicey for plain running shoes, but there is absolutely not enough cushion of snow for a snowshoe run. You would break the teeth, in fact I am pretty sure that running without enough snow is what spanked my last pair. You don't want the cleats on them to be scraping the ground if they go down through the snow all the way.
I find traction control devices like Stabilicers to be the best way to bridge the gap for conditions that are too slippery for plain shoes but not enough snow for snowshoes. A cheap home brew alternative is to put hex head screws in your shoes, but it makes me cringe to think of putting holes in $100 shoes.
Have not tried screws in the shoes trick yet, but have run in Yaktrax. That can get downright painful on pavement. I also picked up regular snowshoes a few years ago and they do make serviceable running snowshoes. Just as you can run in boots or tennis shoes. It's possible, but you wouldn't want to race in them. That said, running in snowshoes is hot, hot work. Layer up, cuz you'll soon be peeling. Also molto largamente compared to running. At least the way I do it.
When running on roads, I usually just use my trail shoes or strap-on studs. I've got Stabilcers - both Lites and Sports - but don't use them much anymore. I tend to go from studs (pointy, most pounds/sq in) to Kahtoola microspikes (bit of paddle) then snowshoes when flotation is needed. Most of the ultra runners around here resist putting on the snowshoes unless really needed, just because by the time they have the winter ultras most trails have some base. When the base gets covered with the last snowstorm is when the snowshoes come out.
Snowshoe running can be fun, but it's also a really good workout.
Oh, and it's not cross training. It's the way you run when there's a bunch of snow.
Chantell: very impressive!! Way to tough out the winter temps!! Great question!
Moved to northern MN (last yr) and been contemplating about snowshoes this winter. Last winter, business travels had me in other places where I could still run on trails. Have cross-country skis but got bored with it about 10 yrs ago. I really need to stay conditioned and been hearing about how one can get a great workout from snowshoeing. There are cross-country ski trails around here.
AKtrail, loved the photo, and always appreciate your insight on topics, thanks! Each of you have had some great suggestions and what to consider in regard to winter running, with or without snowshoes. I do run in the winter here, mostly when the sun is out, it's too beautiful and tempting to not go outside for a brisk invigorating run. I run in my trail shoes (more traction) but I know I risk slipping (and injuring myself) on icy patches. Snowshoeing sounds challenging and fun and engaging. Re-incorporating cross-country skiing into my routine with snowshoeing may help to keep my boredom at bay and stay conditioned. Read up on some and leaning towards Crescent Moon. Anyone tried these?
PRs In my 50's: 10k trail=52:00;10 m rd=1:23;10 m trail=1:31; HM=1:52; 25K Trail=2:40; FM=4:10; 50k=7:18
I ended up ordering a pair of the Atlas Run ones I linked to in the OP. I like the idea of Dions, but they'd be a bit more $$…and since I'm not really planning to race (mostly because we don't have a ton of snowshoe races nearby. If I go 3 hours north there are bunch) and don't even know if I'll end up loving them, the Atlas ones seemed like the best choice. Plus they get pretty universally glowing reviews and were 20% off in a lot of places…at least where they're not already sold-out for the season.
Now that I've ordered them the temps have been above freezing and the snow is nearly gone. Having surgery in a few days and will be benched for 2-3 weeks, at least, so I'm gonna shove 'em under the tree until the 25th.
Funny, but the lower price was the reason I went with Northern Lites (about $200, iirc) and Dion (a little under $200, with discount) while Atlas were over $300 at the time (2004-2006 time frame). I think Red Feather and the other brands were also in the $300 range.
BTW, when I had colon surgery 3.5 yr ago, I could walk ok on firm surfaces (like floors and tm), but outside I struggled with the fresh snow - never realized how much the core was used on trails. I finally discovered that slowly walking in the snowshoes on ski trails on the south facing side of one of our mountains worked really well. It was stable and I didn't punch through like without the ss. Not to mention the sun and the view.