A Winter Challenge

I have been running consistently for about three years now. Before I started running, I used to walk and go to the local gym in the winter. But after a while I decided that I really don’t like going to the gym. I don’t like being around a bunch of people, waiting for one of two treadmills, being restricted by the gym hours or driving to the gym and back. When I picked up running a few years ago it was in the summertime, right after my birthday. As summer turned to fall and fall into winter, I just added more layers and read about useful cold weather running gear and other tips. I kept running outside, even though I was always a “winter-hater” before. But I was determined not to let the weather get the best of me. Winter came early in the UP that year as it began to snow in mid-November. I got some shoes with spikes for the ice and slippery roads and kept on running. Some days the snow was quite deep and I wondered what in the world I was doing out there, but kept on going. Then one day I saw an ad for a nearby outfitter that was offering a Winter Solstice snowshoe hike and they had free snowshoes to borrow. Well, I figured since I was trying new things, maybe I’d try snowshoeing. The hike was great fun, and I ended up right behind the leader who was breaking the trail. We mostly walked, but what I really wanted to do was to try RUNNING on those snowshoes! Eventually I got my chance and I thought I might just be onto something here! When the snow was too deep to run on the roads, I could snowshoe on the trails!

I ordered my own pair of snowshoes soon after, and then I found that there were organized 5K and 10K Snowshoe races offered here in the UP and Wisconsin. So I signed up for the Tahquamenon Snowshoe 5K in Paradise, Michigan, about an hour and a half from my home. I also went on another more adventurous group snowshoe hike, across frozen Lake Huron from one of the Les Cheneaux Islands to another and all around the non-inhabited Island. Again, I had the opportunity to run a bit on my snowshoes. One of the other participants in the hike mentioned that her sister had special snowshoes that were just for running. “What?!” I didn’t know there was such a thing, but that was my next purchase and they came in just before the Tahquamenon race. They were narrower, lighter and great for running. I started out wearing my boots with them, then leather walking shoes and now Goretex Running shoes (along with a pair of leg gaiters to keep the snow out of my shoes).

What I have learned about snowshoe racing is that it’s a workout! It is not easy, and you really have to practice to get used to running with those things strapped onto your feet. Also, that means there’s extra weight on your feet, so more effort is required to run. This is especially true in soft snow, since you cannot drag your feet or you will most likely end up face planting. But through it all I have learned that I like the challenge of snowshoe racing. Having a race lined up every month all winter keeps me motivated to keep up with my daily training and fitness. So try it and you just might like it too!

Written by Susan Horn, 2016 Fitness Ambassador