Embrace the faceplant – it’s part of snowshoeing
Running on Snow
You’re inspired and ready to hit the snow and snowshoe run. You’ve got the right clothes, the right snowshoes and the perfect location. The sky is blue, the temperature is just right and the snow is untouched.
Off you go. About 90 seconds, in your heart rate is pushing 200 beats per minute and you’re suffering through every step. What the hell were you thinking? Not quite the enjoyable run you were expecting. Don’t be that guy.
Let’s start over. Your first run should be well planned. Find a trail, be it the groomed shoulder at a Nordic center or somewhere snowmobilers frequent. You’re going to want a firm foundation to get comfortable with the idea of running.
I like the Prosser Hill OHV area. There is ample parking and the trail is typically well packed. Have a plan – time, water, layers that can be shed, and a care-free attitude. You’re going to trip and fall. I still do.
Start slowly. If you’re a runner, you already know how to run, so do that. Don’t exaggerate your movements, keep it simple. But what isn’t simple is your form. Just like running, if you get lazy with your running form, you will end up working harder for each step.
The thing with snowshoeing is you’ll need to triple that extra work load if you get lazy. You have to be efficient. A good arm drive equals a good leg drive, and with good leg drive you’ll keep the front of your snowshoe from digging in and causing you to trip. A strong core will keep you straight and balanced and on the trail, which is uneven more often than not.
Even on a groomed trail, chances are the conditions will be uneven. Be prepared for that and don’t be discouraged when your snowshoe sinks off to the left or you get clumps of snow under your snowshoe that causes your foot to role to the right.
Expect it. Nothing is really even and controlled. Part of the fun of snowshoeing is conquering the unexpected in the terrain. Find that rhythm that lets you get off balance and you catch yourself without losing stride. Practice this for a while before heading off into un-groomed trails or even packed single track.
Give yourself some confidence-building runs, which brings me back to the beginning: Start slowly. You’ll be moving fast in no time.
– Peter Fain is a Truckee resident and 2009 National Snowshoe Champion. He may be contacted at email@example.com
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