Slogging through the snowy streets of Ottawa over the winter can be a challenge. Wet feet, snowbanks in the middle of the sidewalk because they get cleared last, and the really cold days when your eyelids freeze together.
A little cross training goes a long way to break things up. A few years ago, I discovered a great distraction, Snowshoe Running and I have The Mad Trapper to thank for it.
Snowshoe running is hard work: think hill training on a sand dune with tennis rackets on your feet. But it’s fun. My first 10K race on snowshoes took me 1 hour 43 minutes, an hour longer than it generally takes me to race 10K without them. But it was fun…honest!
You can Snowshoe run pretty well anywhere you can snowshoe. Look for trails that are already packed down unless you are looking for a real killer workout.
Here is what you need to know to start:
- There is a difference between run snowshoes and regular snowshoes. If you can find somewhere to rent or borrow run snowshoes, do it. If you plan to do more, buy some. There are Run Snowshoes and Race Snowshoes. The race are a little lighter but less durable. Unless you are really serious go with the run.
- You will get snow all over your legs and probably your back too. Gators help but bring a complete set of dry clothes.
- It’s really hard to pass other racers. So start where you think you belong and be kind to the people behind you if they catch up pull over and let them pass.
- Don’t wear winter boots, waterproof trail runners are your best bet.
- Tie the bindings tight but not too tight. If you don’t your snowshoes will fall off and putting them on in the middle of the woods is a pain.
- Night races are amazing! Make sure you have a good head lamp and extra batteries . It’s beautiful and peaceful in the woods alone at night (snowshoe racing is not a crowded sport) but it would be easy to get lost.
- Dress in layers so you don’t overheat.
- Don’t sweat it if you end up walking up the hills you are still getting a workout!
- If you live in the Ottawa area Mad Trapper Racing at The Ark is the place to go, friendly completion, runners of all levels, great food, and beer. And no, I have no additional motive for promoting these races, I just enjoy doing them.
Useful links for more information
The Dion Ontario Snowshoe Racing Series