I was able to run for a couple hours in the dark with my Black Diamond Spot headlamp. Here are some of my thoughts after 11 miles along the highway, residential streets, and rec path in Utah County in a pre-dawn training run.
I’ve had my Gore Windstopper tights by UnderArmour out for a handful of winter running outings. Temperatures were between 17F and 34F. It was a tad chilly at 17 and a tad warm at 34, but otherwise a good selection for winter training outside. No real fit issues. No chafing. Easy in and out for bathroom breaks. Easy to adjust the waist tie. No complaints.
See on AMAZON HERE
Gore Windstopper tights by Under Armour Review
I just got some new winter running tights with reflective panels and Gore WindPro lining for water and wind resistance. I’m hoping to be able to run in these along the Wasatch Front of Utah (Utah and Salt Lake Counties) in temperatures between 10 and 40 F. They’re compression fit, but I got them a little large since I don’t like that squeeze feeling. More in the video.
Under Armour Winter Running Tights Video Intro
Today was a great day for a trail run. I went trailrunning this morning at -1F (according to the weather channel). Accuweather had it at -13.
I went out on the deck and it felt more like the weather channel had it at -1F so I dressed for that. It was snowing pretty hard and there was at least 8″ of new snow on the ground. I wore a minimum of clothing, in spite of the cold. It’s better to be slightly cold and dry, rather than dressed really warmly but sweat too much. That sweat will chill you if the wind hits it.
I wore my Pearl Izumi Trail N2 with Kahtoola microspikes. I’m glad I did. The trail was really bumpy with icy spots under the powder snow. You couldn’t see under the snow so it was good to have the extra spike aggressiveness. I had thought of wearing my Hoka Stinson with the screws in the bottom.
Winter Trailrunning Video on Vimeo:
I wore Salomon hybrid top and bottom. When I say hybrid I mean a thin athletic fleece with wind and water resistant panels. I wore the loose tights without a base layer. On top I had on an Arctyrex mid-weight base layer. That’s it for clothing. For socks I wore thick wool mountaineering socks. For gloves I had on bike commuter lobster mitts from REI for my hands. On my head I wore a buff, a mid-weight helmet liner, and a swag Salomon baseball cap I got at a race.
The snow was light and fluffy and dry so I didn’t really need to worry about my feet getting wet. When I turned around at the 2.5 mile mark the wind was pretty cold on my chest. I had a thin insulated vest in the UD Pack, but in a few minutes I was warm again so it was worth waiting before I got it out. It ended up I didn’t need it.
Winter Trailrunning GPS Track:
I normally only wear trail running microspikes, like the Kahtoola Microspikes while doing speed ascents on mountains, like Quandary or Grays, Colorado 14ers. The snow this year has been so soft, and the trails have been so slow, that I tried running in just plain lugged shoes, snowshoes [STORY HERE] and my spiked running shoes [STORY HERE]. A couple weeks ago the Spring Thaw finally arrived and after a couple of good damp snowfalls and a few days of sun the trails became more firm with a good surface for spiked running.
Trail Running Spiked Running Shoes in Winter
I was feeling really good on 19 February, so I took off up the trail with a target of something over 2.5 miles. I ended up with 2.6 miles on my spiked Hoka shoes. I was feeling so good that on the way down I did an interval of just cutting loose and came pretty close to a 5:00 pace. That felt awesome. If you love stats check these out, from Strava and Movescount.
One difference between Strava and Movescount is that Strava doesn’t count standing still in the final calculation, whereas Movescount goes from watch ON to watch OFF. It adds in the dead time when you first start the watch and then when you finally roll in to the bus stop and dig through layers of clothing to turn it off. Not a major deal though.
It was great to average 12:14 after averaging in the 15:00-17:00 range for the last 8 weeks. Did I mention that the snow had been deep and soft up to now? It was inspiring and I decided that I’d rest up a day then try again with trail running microspikes on over my non-spiked Hoka running shoes. Say what you want, but I do enjoy the recovery speed in these shoes.
Trail Running Microspikes in Winter
I went back to the trail then on 21 February after a day of rest and for some odd reason I set my target as a fast 10k trail run on the snow in the trail running microspikes from Kahtoola. Like I said before, I had worn them several times on the mountain trails on my ascents. I just had never tried for a less steep speed run in them.
Putting on Trail Running Microspikes – the video
For fun I decided to share this little video of putting on the trail running microspikes. I’m in a bus shelter near the trail head, just for convenience for shooting the video.
I got onto the trail and began running. And I just kept on running. And running. It felt good. I enjoyed the traction and the extra few ounces on my feet from the trail running microspikes was almost negligible. I felt like I was going pretty quickly and that inspired me to just keep going to the turn-around point of the run near the bottom of the Santiago Express lift at Keystone Resort. This road is used by the ski patrol and maintenance crew for the Outback area of the ski resort. That’s why the surface texture varies quite a bit. When the snow is soft it’s shin deep snowmobile chop. When the snow is firm and packed it’s the corduroy snowcat tracks. Like that day.
I felt good at the lifts so I took a chug of water and then took off back down. My goal on the way downhill was to let gravity help me to achieve a smooth even speed at about my maximum endurance level. I hung on hard for the whole downhill and it felt great. I don’t know for sure if the extra traction of the trail running microspikes helped, but I’m very happy with the 6.7 miles I ended up with. At a 12:19 pace. Here are the stats for you that are interested:
The most fascinating thing to me is that in the 2.6 miles I was in Zone 6 (anaerobic pace zone via Strava) for 1:45. In the 6.7 miles I stayed in that zone for 9:30. Freaking amazing to me. In trail running microspikes in the snow. To go 2.5 times (two and a half times) as far and only lose 4 seconds per mile (12:14 vs. 12:19) proves that something I’m doing in my training is working. Gives me a lot to think about, for sure.
Trail Running Microspikes in Action – the video
Here I am holding a camera out away and trying for different angles without breaking my 8:30-ish pace or falling down and breaking me. I love the shadows on the corduroy snow the best. Then the trees blowing by. Enjoy…
So, how do I feel about the trail running microspikes, now that I’ve had a chance to use them? For one thing I can feel them, even through the thick sole of these shoes. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When I picked up the pace I was moving fast enough to ignore them. I loved the traction. The weight is obviously irrelevant. I’m going to experiment with what’s left of the Winter going back and forth between the trail running microspikes and the spiked running shoes to see if I can refine my opinion. If you want to be alerted when I write more articles like this, please subscribe to the blog for updates. Thanks.
If you remember my last article about Snowshoe Hiking in Colorado [CLICK HERE] I mentioned that I was using MSR EVO Ascent snowshoes and that I would hardly consider running in them. Here’s the article quote:
I have a pair of MSR Evo Ascent Snow Shoes, and so long as you’re not trying to run, they’re decent enough for snowshoe hiking.
I decided to give it a try to see how I would do, in spite of that, since I know a few people do run in them. I’ve seen someone running in MSR snowshoes on the Steven’s Gulch Road toward the Grays Peak Trailhead. Trail running has been rough the past several weeks with all the fresh snow we’ve been getting in Summit County Colorado. I’ve been getting slower and slower with each run. The snow has been loose and just sucks your feet in no matter what type of spikes you wear. I did my 10k hike in the snowshoes and my speed was actually right in there with my slower trail runs. So I decided to try running in MSR snowshoes to see what happened.
Experiment: Running in MSR Snowshoes
I began with a fairly mild pace, going for about 15:00. That seems slow if you’re used to running pavement at sea level in warm temps. In loose snow trying to figure out the whole snowshoe running thing while going uphill at 5-10% it’s not too bad. After I felt warmed up I set the camera on the tripod and started an interval up and down the road. I was surprised that my watch reported the two back to back intervals at 7:30 and 8:00. I didn’t feel like I was going that fast. Later I checked STRAVA and sure enough it coincided with the watch readout.
The last time, on my hike in snowshoes, I wore my Salomon 3D Ultra shoes. My feet got pretty sore in a few spots so this time I wore my Hoka One One Stinson EVO for the extra padding. I have an older pair I run in a lot on the snow because I spiked them [SEE ARTICLE]. These are a newer pair with no spikes and only about 50 miles.
Video: Running in MSR Snowshoes with Non-synchronous Poles
In this first video I’m using a pole action similar to what I do in my vertical running training. I reach forward, walk up to the pole till approximately even with it, and let it trail to the rear as I set the opposite pole. I might take 2, 3, or 4 steps between pole plants. It’s easy on the arms and I can always push harder or lighter with the poles.
Video: Running in MSR Snowshoes with Synchronous Poles
In this video view of running in MSR snowshoes I’m using synchronized pole plants. I’m using them in a short arc jab, one for each foot landing. I found it to be very powerful and fast feeling, even though the interval time was slower at around 7:40, there wasn’t an appreciable difference between the uphill and downhill speeds. That was interesting. I noticed this pattern in the Nordic events in the Sochi2014 Olympics and wondered how I could make use of it in my own training.
I spent some time in the 12:00 range, which is a little faster than I’ve been doing in spiked running shoes in the loose snow. I was surprised that running in MSR snowshoes wasn’t that bad. I thought that as wide as they were I’d have a weird gorilla gait. It turns out you can slide them right over each other with the edge inside the little groove in the toe of the snowshoe. This allows for a closer foot path while running and helps prevent you from tripping over the other shoe.
In the photo above, taken during my previous snowshoe hike in my Salomons, I added in red arrows to show the overlapping grooves that allow you to keep your feet closer together while running in MSR snowshoes. I’d love to try other brands to see how they perform, now that I’ve had a taste of this fun winter sport.
On the flip side, I found that running in MSR snowshoes is a bit noisy. When the flat plastic plate hits the snow at various angles you can hear a definite pop and slap noise. It’s not a major issue, just a minor annoyance that I’m sure you can hear a few times on the videos.
UPDATE: Found this really good Trail Runner Magazine Article on Snowshoe Running