So many of my patients wonder how I can run outside in the middle of winter with a ton of snow on the ground. Snowshoeing provides everything that’s right about running: nature, beauty, fun, and challenge. It even encourages proper walking and running form! With every step you must pick up your leg utilizing the proper set of “walking/running” muscles.
Snowshoes are designed for a variety of activities including walking, hiking, mountaineering, and running. The latter is my preference because it provides me with an alternative to traditional running minus the impact of the roads. Common hamstring and foot issues many runners suffer (including me) are avoided as it is nearly impossible to use your hamstrings when you are forced to engage pelvic and core muscles appropriately. Also, the foot is spared with a reduction of force from the impact on snow, as well as the more important reduction in push off force that is created from the lift of the leg.
A good friend and I ran a snowshoe halfmarathon in Pittsfield, Vermont. It was an incredible challenge as you essentially ran up a mountain and back down, twice. Several participants opted to repeat the course four times and one person repeated the course fifteen times (totaling 100 miles)! Having run a 100 mile race in the middle of summer, even I can’t fathom that.
It’ll be sad to see the rain wash away the snow forcing me back to the streets. The roads, however, are necessary training for the Marathons. My hope is for the woods to dry quickly allowing the miles to continue where there are no cars: only deer, squirrels, porcupines, trees, bunnies, and the occasional kamikaze owl (true story).
For all those who struggle with the boredom and monotony of running on a treadmill or simply choose to take the winters off, I encourage you to don some warm weather clothes, try out some snowshoes, and enjoy what nature has to offer.