Slogging through the snowy streets of Ottawa over the winter gets old pretty fast. Wet cold feet, snowbanks in the middle of the sidewalk because the city still does not get that clearing the sidewalks is important too and the really cold days when your eyelids freeze together.
A little cross training goes a long way to break things up. A couple of 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!
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, trail runners are your best bet.
- Tie the bindings 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 over heat.
- 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, beer and alpacas!- and no I have no additional motive for promoting these races, I just enjoy doing them.