Tag: winter training

Snowshoe Hiking in Colorado

I’ve been running a lot this past winter. We’ve had a lot of snow this past month and the trails I usually use are very deep soft snow. Even the roads that the snowmobiles pack down are really loose and bad footing to run on. At the Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake this January I was talking to a sales rep for a Colorado snowshoe manufacturer and he recommended I try snowshoe hiking.

Snowshoe Hiking Selfie - note the really cool shades
Snowshoe Hiking Selfie – note the really cool shades

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 used them on Denali in 2011 and on Rainier a few years before that. I talked to the sales rep about switching out to running snowshoes, but thought I’d get some miles in with snowshoe hiking before I try running.

I started at the road intersection where the county stops plowing and put the snowshoes on. I headed up the hill trying to match my recent loose snow running pace of around 17:00 per mile. That’s really slow for some of you sea level pavement runners. Just for fun try running at 10,000′ and in shin deep loose snow over creek overflow ice and chopped up ice from the snowcat treads. With my snowshoe hiking pace I was able to stay within a minute or two plus or minus of that pace. My heart rate was good in the upper ranges of my primary training zone.

Snowshoe hiking behind Labonte's Cabin and Santiago Express at Keystone Resort
Snowshoe hiking behind Labonte’s Cabin and Santiago Express at Keystone Resort

After snowshoe hiking 3.1 miles (about 5k) I got to the base of the lifts at Keystone Resort. This is the road that the Ski Patrol uses to access the Outback and North Peak area of Keystone. I took a few pics and turned back toward the paved road with the target of doing a 10K, about 6.2 miles. I popped off my snowshoes at the shuttle bus stop. The roads were really bad from the snowstorm. I was glad to get to the hot tub after that. I was dressed very lightly since my intent was to go fast enough to stay warm.

Snowshoe Hiking Video

Is snowshoe hiking a good workout?

By the time I was done with my snowshoe hike I really felt the difference with that extra pound or so on each foot. I was wearing heavy goretex trail running shoes and I could feel the snowshoe bindings in a few spots on my foot. My legs were pretty tired. My stats from Movescount.com CLICK HERE show that I have a 29 hour recovery period coming my way after burning 1097 calories. If you go to that link to check it out, you will see some of the stats in Metric unless you register. Here’s a screenshot from my account so you can see my heart rate zones and other information to evaluate whether snowshoe hiking could be good cross training in your plan.

Snowshoe hiking stats on Suunto Movescount website
Snowshoe hiking stats on Suunto Movescount website

Snowshoe Hiking Tips:

Dress appropriate to your movement and speed and your body will go that fast. If you’re dressed like the Michelin Man you will shuffle along at a 1.0 MPH pace. Your hike will take forever. You might not have fun unless your goal is to count pine cones.

Same for shoes. You can go in Sorel style Mukluks or whatever you want. I’ve been on Denali in Everest Style System Boots (the big heavy boots with built in gaiters for high altitude and frigid temps) with snowshoes. I was wearing heavy running shoes today. The snowshoe racers wear racing flats with their snowshoes.

Learn to use a Nordic Grip on your trekking poles. This will allow you the most flexibility in using them for pushing off as well as balance. They’re not there to hold you up while shuffling. In the video I had to carry my poles in one hand so I could hold the camera in the other, so you don’t get to see pole action. I’ll try to get a non-selfie shot for you so you can see it.

Snowshoe Hiking Keystone Gulch GPS Track

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This won’t be my last time snowshoe hiking this winter. I’ll keep you up to date on how it works out for me. If you have any questions or suggestions, please drop me a note below in the comments. Thanks.

Spiked Running Shoes: Hoka One One Stinson EVO

Spiked running shoes are essential gear for the Winter runner. I had a pair of Hoke One One Stinson EVO with about 300 miles of trail use on them and I thought that I would be able to extend their life by spiking them. I also have a pair of Mafate WP that I’ve turned into spiked running shoes ARTICLE HERE.

Spiked Running Shoes in the snow without gaiters
Spiked Running Shoes in the snow without gaiters

I do a lot of trail running outside in the Winter. Up here in Summit County Colorado that’s sometimes about 6 months, give or take a little. It’s great training for moving fast on glaciers and it helps you build up resistance to the cold. The coldest I’ve been out now is -10/-24 Real Feel. It was cold. Yeah.

I began the spiked running shoes project just the same as with the Mafate. I brushed off the soles and drilled little holes for the screws – #6 x 3/8″. The rubber on the Stinson is pretty thin so you don’t really need longer screws, though it won’t hurt anything in the thick rubber midsoles. I used a power driver to put the screws in and then hand-tightened them a turn at the end. If you compare these photos with the Mafate WP, you’ll see that I have a lot more screws in the mid-foot area in the arch. I found over time that I spend a lot more time there than on my heels on flat surfaces, so I put more screws there. Screws on the heels are essential to downhill running so don’t skimp there. I put a screw more forward for pushing off with the toe.

Spiked Running Shoes: Stinson EVO Gallery

Since I created these spiked running shoes for winter training use, I’ve put about another 100 miles on them on varied surfaces. I’ve used them on dirt roads that are commonly used for snowmobiles and snowcats at a local ski resort. I’ve used them on single-track trails on mountain ascents. I’ve used them for running on ice-slicked and snow-packed roads and paved recreation paths. They work pretty good overall. It’s especially good if you consider that the screws all together cost about $1.00 US. Compare that to a set of Kahtoola Microspikes at $60 or more. I think it’s one of those 80/20 things (Pareto’s Principle) – the screws work on about 80% of what the spikes would.

Spiked running shoes next to their tracks - note obvious screw head imprints
Spiked running shoes next to their tracks – note obvious screw head imprints

Spiked Running Shoes Disclaimer

I had contacted Hoka One One about the midsole to find out if there were any plates or gas bladders to worry about when drilling or screwing. They said there was nothing to worry about. I saw some air channels in a cut-away sole at the OR Show in January 2014, but nothing significant. Your shoe might have some type of plastic plate in the midsole layers. Your shoe might have air or gas bladders. Your shoe might have a very thin midsole. If you don’t know for sure, then please don’t attempt to convert it into a spiked running shoe.

When wearing them, be very careful walking on tile floors. They might actually feel slippery on tile. They might also tear up your carpet or scratch your tile. Walking on metal grid stairways is a bit sketchy (BTDT). On boiler-plate hard blue ice you will still skate. I slid over 20′ down a steep grade where a creek flowed over the road and froze. I was flailing and pedaling with my feet trying to find something they would catch on for traction. I finally managed to steer to the side and stop in ankle deep hard snow.

Remember, I know nothing about you or your shoes so be careful and don’t get hurt while making them or running in them.

If you have spiked running shoes, either ones you’ve made yourself, or that you bought ready to run, let me know on my Facebook Page HERE and share pics of your soles. I’d love to see what you have.