A blog by runners. For runners.

Snowshoe running: workouts + racing


New to snowshoe running? Check out snowshoe running 101 here.

So, you’ve purchased your snowshoes, a winter storm has dumped a generous amount of snow (or you’ve found a groomed trail), you’ve dressed for success, and you’re ready to start training. But what type of “plan” — if any — should you follow?

  • To begin:  I suggest just acclimating yourself to the new experience. Snowshoe running is much like regular running, but it feels very different and takes more effort. Before delving into any tricky plans or particularly long paths, get your body used to the new challenge with short, easy walk/runs.
  • Once you’ve got it down and feel more confident on your feet, try incorporating snowshoe running into your regular training once or twice a week. You still want to go gradually and build your strength and endurance over time. You may find your regular running workouts feel much easier!
  • Feeling like a seasoned (pun intended) pro? Don’t push it too far, only run only “between 25 to 40 percent of [your] total mileage” in snowshoes to avoid injury/burnout from the extra stress. (Source)
  • When all else fails, you can always hike. Some days, you’ll feel like sprinting a million miles in the snow, and others — you just won’t. Depending on weather conditions and, well, your general condition, you might not always be in the spirit. You can get a great workout just traversing the trails!

Here are some more suggestions from across the web:

  • Remember that snowshoe running to regular running isn’t a 1:1 ratio. “Snowshoe training is a far more rigorous workout than running. Aerobically, and in terms a body stress, a five-mile run on snowshoes is the equivalent of a 10-mile road run.” (Source)
  • Think in time versus distance for less discouragement, and consider wearing a heart rate monitor to gauge your exertion. “Runners who are tied to mileage could be very frustrated to find out that it might take an hour to cover just 3 or 4 miles.” (Source)
  • Experiment, but don’t forget to ease it, ease out. “When your fitness and strength improves, add some faster, higher-intensity efforts to your weekly routine (80-90% of your maximum heart rate). These should be preceded by a 15-minute warm-up and followed by a 5-10-minute cool-down.” (Source + workouts)
  • Create your path and make it a game. “In a large open area, create a maze in the snow by stomping down paths
    with the snowshoes. Make lots of twists and turns, intersections and
    dead ends.”
    (Source + more fun ideas)
  • Practice running uphill and downhill. It can be tempting to just run on the flats, but if you’re considering racing, many courses are varied terrain. Feel how those inclines stress your Achilles or how your crampons grip going down a path. (Source)

And when you’re ready, consider signing up for a race. You can check out a variety of upcoming events on the United States Snowshoe Association‘s calendar. Most start in January and run throughout the snowy season. Our snow here has all melted with the spring-like temperatures, but it’s my goal to slip on my snowshoes and try a race this year.

Written by  Ashley Marcin.