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What to do when it’s snowing

by featured Local Legend Adam Kimble

After the first major snowfall of 2021 hit us in late January, I was reminded of the fact that winter running in Tahoe can be challenging when there is so much snow on the ground.  As a professional ultrarunner, I’m always prioritizing running even in the midst of all the other great winter activities available to us here.  It’s all part of the life of a runner in the mountains; getting creative is part of the process!  During the five winters that I have lived here, my running regimen has continually evolved to incorporate a wider range of options.  Every year my goal is to get outside of my comfort zone and find some more interesting ways to keep training fun and exciting.  Here are some of my favorite recommendations for making the most of running during the winter:

1. Snowshoe Running

Who says snowshoeing means hiking only?  Purchasing my first pair of Atlas Snowshoes was a game-changer for me.  I used to have a much bulkier pair of snowshoes that I never would have run in, but with the lightweight aluminum of a robust snowshoe designed specifically for running, my desire to run on big powder days has increased significantly.  The kicker?  This is an incredible cross-training workout and helps to build strength as well as any exercise I can think of.  Generally, it feels to me like a snowshoe run is equivalent to two times the effort of a normal run!  Keep that in mind if it feels more challenging than you expected.

2. Traction Devices

Thankfully, this area has a number of great bike paths and paved trails where people can recreate in the winter. Even when the paved options are clear of snow, however, they are often still scattered with ice.  There are several great traction products to keep you safely running on the pavement even when it’s slick.  Most of them (e.g. nanospikes, microspikes, Yaktrax, etc.) are products that fit over your shoes, and give you the added protection you need when traction is bad.  If you’re a DIY-type person, you can add screws to your running shoes for traction as well!  In any case, it’s one less thing to worry about and an added reason to get out and run on a winter day.

3. Snowmobile Trails

The beautiful thing about snowmobile trails is that they are packed down incredibly well and much firmer for running (thanks, snowmobilers!). In fact, they are often so packed down that I will run on the trails without any snowshoes or traction devices.  I love this option because it allows you to get in a trail run at a time when the snow would be too deep otherwise.  It’s the perfect compromise for a trail runner in the winter, especially one who isn’t interested in utilizing one of the two aforementioned options.  Just grab your shoes and go (but be on the lookout for snowmobiles)!

4. Go Down the Hill

Sure, it’s a bit of a cop-out, but that’s one of the best things about living in a place like Tahoe! If you want to escape the winter, even for just a weekend, you can drive down the hill to Auburn or Reno to get on some dry dirt trails.   Most other mountain towns require hours of travel to make that happen, so why not indulge from time to time?

The next time you think “it’s impossible to run in the winter,” think again!  There are plenty of fun options to get you out the door and enjoying winter running in the mountains.  Some of them require additional gear, but most of that equipment is quite affordable.  Of course, the treadmill works too, but if you’re looking for a little more scenery, it may be time to add a couple of these to your repertoire!