Trail Running Microspikes in Winter

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.

Trail running microspikes by Kahtoola on my Hoka One One Stinson EVO shoes
Trail running microspikes by Kahtoola on my Hoka One One Stinson EVO shoes

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 by Kahtoola, Hoka running shoes, and UA gloves, drying out after my run
Trail Running Microspikes by Kahtoola, Hoka running shoes, and UA gloves, drying out after my run

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.

About Charles Miske

Author, Climber, Mountaineer, Publisher, Athlete, Fitness

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