Preseason Training

Snowshoe running is a very forgiving winter activity on your body. However, at the start of each season, many snowshoe runners tend to overdo it a little for the first few runs. This can leave you feeling a little stiff and sore, but also can increase the risk of injuries. Many of the initial aches and pains can be eliminated by taking a few preventative measures.

The best cardio machines you can find to get you ready for the snowshoe season are Elliptical Machines. I remember being impressed with them when they first came out on the market (about 10 years ago) when I was purchasing equipment as the manager of a fitness centre. What I really like about them is that they offer a great, low impact, cardio workout. Also, it closely mimics a snowshoe running motion, with your feet being slightly wider apart than normal running.

Ideally, a few weeks before you expect to be out for your first snowshoe run, I would recommend trying to incorporate a couple of elliptical workouts into your training schedule each week. This will really help to give you a head start on the season.

Some strength exercises that would also be beneficial include:

• Lunges (legs, glutes)

• Stability Ball Crunches (abs)

• Wide Grip Chinups (back, arms)

• Pushups with feet on Stability Ball (chest)

• Stability Ball Back Extensions (lower back)

~ you should aim to complete this routine every second or every third day and do 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions of each exercise (note: you probably won’t be able to complete many chinups, but just do what you can and gradually increase).

You’ll notice that I’ve also included some upper body exercises. Believe me, after your first few snowshoe runs of the season, you will find that your upper body is almost as tired as your legs.

With a little bit of planning, and a few weeks of elliptical and strength workouts, you’ll be ready to fly on the trails when the snow finally arrives.



  • Derrick and Sara are trail runners from Eastern Ontario who discovered that running on snowshoes in the winter months is a great way to enjoy their favorite trails year-round. They competed in their first snowshoe series (The Mad Trapper Series in Low, Quebec) in 2005, each finishing 2nd in their respective divisions. Plans for 2006 are to return to the Mad Trapper, to take in some races in New York and Vermont, and hopefully cap their season with the U.S. Snowshoe Championships in March, as Canadian guests. Derrick runs a company, Spafford Health and Adventure (, which specializes in coaching and event promotion. He is currently planning an annual snowshoe race to be held in the Kingston area, starting this winter.