Have you ever tried running on sand? How about with ankle weights on? Well, that is a good comparison to running on snowshoes.
Snowshoeing is one of the fastest growing winter sports and can be done by anyone. If you can walk, you can snowshoe; if you can run, you can snowshoe run. It really is that easy to get started. The sport of snowshoe running has a competitive element with races around the world. The sport has both National and World Championships, and there is an effort to include the sport in future winter Olympics.
So, why are so many athletes turning to the sport of snowshoe running?
First of all, it burns more calories than road running. Snowshoe running is approximately twice as hard as road running. For example, running at four miles per hour in unpacked snow would be similar to running eight miles per hour on a treadmill. (UBC Research, 2004)
There is the additional anaerobic impact that does not exist in road running, jogging or walking, due to the snow conditions, especially in powder, and the weight of the snowshoes.
For those concerned with the impact of road running on their joints, snowshoeing reduces the impact as one is running on softer surfaces.
Types of Snowshoes
In general, there are three categories of snowshoes: Running, Hiking and Backcountry.
Running-specific snowshoe are light and small and meant for speed. Sometimes, these snowshoes are called Aerobic or Fitness. They closely mimic natural running stride, and are not meant for deep powder and backcountry conditions.
Hiking snowshoes are geared toward recreational day hikes. These snowshoes work best on simple terrain that does not require a lot of steep climbing or descents.
Backcountry snowshoes are the toughest, made of durable flotation material, strong aluminum frames and geared towards powder and experienced snowshoers.
Where to Snowshoe
You can snowshoe anywhere where there is snow. Trails, parks, golf courses and backcountry mountains are all great places to snowshoe. Different types of terrain and snow levels can create different experiences. On packed snow, you can move fast and get your heart rate up quickly, whereas in deeper snow, you can experience the joy of floating on top of the snow beneath you. Running downhill can be exhilarating, and going up hill can be a tremendously effective workout.