Translating Snowshoeing

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Ask the Coach

Many trail runners also snowshoe run and race. Would it improve my trail-running times?

Illustration by Jeremy Duncan

Many trail runners also snowshoe run and race. Would it improve my trail-running times?

—John Wilke, Phillips,WI

Unequivocally, yes! Winter snowshoe running can have a big impact on your fitness and summer trail racing. After a long season of trail running and racing it’s always good for the body and mind to try something new. With your regular road route covered in slush and ice and your favorite trails buried in snow, why fight it? It will certainly be more entertaining than the treadmill, but for trail runners there are real-world benefits to snowshoe running.

Snowshoe running demands a tremendous amount of lung and leg strength while using the same muscles as trail running. With the added weight of the snowshoe and the increased resistance of running through snow, snowshoe running is more demanding than your typical trail run.

Says Adam Chase, captain of Team Atlas Snow-Shoe, “Snowshoers develop strong cores, hip flexors, abductors and adductors, not to mention the lung capacity and cardio benefits of running.”

Snow’s forgiving surface can also give your joints and tendons a break after a long season of pounding trails. It’s a proven formula for top athletes too. Adds Chase, “Top snowshoe racers excel in spring trail races and off-road triathlons, take, for example, both of the 2010 United States Snowshoe Association National Champions and triathletes, Amber Ferreira and Josiah Middaugh.”

By the time the snow melts, you are bound to have improved cardio capacity and stronger legs built for trail speed.

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