Snowshoe running in spring slush |

Snowshoe running in spring slush

This time of year is typically the hardest for me. Iand#8217;m dreaming of running on dirt, but I usually wake up to dirty, Slurpee snow.

Iand#8217;ll try to go for a run (no snowshoes) in spots that I think the snow may be less, but I usually come back with sore ankles and wet feet (even with Gore-Tex). Unless I head down the hill, snowshoes are still essential for that spring training. To get the best conditions, early morning runs are best.

Nights are usually cold enough for the snow to set up, and when it doesnand#8217;t, well, youand#8217;ll just have to deal. But donand#8217;t kid yourself. Winter isnand#8217;t quite over yet. Just when you think spring has sprung, another storm will come. I usually blame it on the guy who just washed his car.

Once the snow is firm, seek newer snowmobile tracks. They tend to be firmer than the ones that have gone though the freeze-thaw a few times. Or if you like to run at Nordic centers, you really have to go when they first open. When the snow softens, snowshoes really put big holes in the groomers, even when on the shoulder.

Your other option is to head high. Peter Grub hut is a great snowshoe right now. The trail is in good condition and if you have done it this year, now is the time. Another favorite is heading up to the radio towers at Sugar Bowl. From Sugar Bowl Academy, you aim straight for the ridge. Thereand#8217;s not much running on the way up, but once on the ridge it is definitely runnable. And, the way down is a blast.

Because I have trouble with my schedule, Iand#8217;m forced to run in warmer parts of the day and on slushy trails. If you have to do that, too, then there are a couple things to keep in mind.

First, slow down. Most of your steps will be off canter and changing with each step. You probably wonand#8217;t roll an ankle, but you will be sore if you push it. Second, thereand#8217;s almost always a sweet spot. Meaning, even if you work harder for each step in the untouched snow, at least each step will be uniform.

Bottom line, plan on an easy workout day if the snow is soft. Again, when I mean soft Iand#8217;m not talking about new snow. Weand#8217;ve already covered that.

Last but not least, donand#8217;t forget to dawn a headband and head to Squaw Valley on Sunday morning to challenge the Billy Dutton Uphill. Registration begins at 7 a.m. outside Daveand#8217;s Deli., and the race starts at 8 a.m.

and#8212; Peter Fain of Truckee is a competitive runner and 2009 National Snowshoe Champion. He may be contacted at

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