Running in MSR Snowshoes

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.

Running in MSR Snowshoes - Pace Intervals on STRAVA
Running in MSR Snowshoes – Pace Intervals on STRAVA

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.

Running in MSR Snowshoes with overlapping grooves shown
Running in MSR Snowshoes with overlapping grooves shown

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