Think the race season is over until the snow melts again next year? Think again. You may not have multiple 5ks to choose from every weekend, but you do have options other than running to maintain your fitness and sanity throughout a long winter. Try snowshoe racing, fat biking or skate-skiing races this winter to stay fit and competitive while everyone else is hibernating and eating fruitcake.
That’s right, fat biking – but we’re not talking about the size of the athletes. Fat biking, fat tire biking or snow biking is mountain biking in the snow on a bike with fat tires. The fat tires handle slippery and deep snow conditions better than regular mountain bikes and allow you to grip around corners while climbing, but you feel like you’re floating on the straightaways. Plus, when you’re biking Alum Creek and crash (like I inevitably do), the snow provides a soft landing and usually no blood is spilled. If you’re interested in getting into mountain biking, fat biking might be the place to start this winter.
You’ve heard of cross-country skiing and maybe even tried it when you were growing up – however, skate skiing is Nordic skiing’s aggressive little sister. The skis feature a slightly increased edge, but the huge difference between the two types is in your technique. Skate skiing looks similar to ice skating from the waist down, and pushing with your arms will give those triceps quite the workout, too. Goodbye wobbly holiday arms! Your hip muscles, core, legs and arms will be massively sore after your first attempt, and you may get some time face-planting as you learn how to control your push-off. It will help you get stronger and faster and keep you having fun all winter throughout the running offseason. Once you’ve learned how to stay up while moving forward (easier said than done), try out a race to keep your training competitive.
Not ready to jump too far outside of your sports comfort zone? One of the closest winter sports to running is snowshoeing. If you’re looking for a sport that keeps you warm while you enjoy the beautiful weather, but you don’t want to learn a completely new movement, snowshoeing is for you. Not only will you increase leg and core strength while hiking or running in snowshoes, you will also become a faster and stronger all-around athlete after a full season. In snowshoes, you must lift up and push off stronger against the deep snow, and on packed trails you can run faster with running-specific snowshoes (narrow and tapered at the heel). You can even gauge your speed and fitness levels against others by trying a snowshoe race this winter, and you can see how your times compare to your 5k road races.
Locations to Try Your New Sports (fat biking not allowed at all locations)
Your local alpine ski or snowboard resorts also have trails for skate skiing and snowshoeing