Winter Trail Running in the Upper Valley
Dont let the cold and snow keep you from hitting the trails this winter, with some grit, a bit of information, and the right gear it could be your best winter yet. Staying active over the winter can almost guarantee a strong running performace come spring. Here’s what I’ve learned over the past few years of living in the Upper Valley.
Embracing the elements is a must. Dont dillydally about whether or not to go out. You know you want to run, so just go. Have you ever regretted it? This is excellent mental training and can give you the powerful edge of Grit. However, proper clothing and gear should be considered. Like all runners I’ve stuggled to find the perfect layers to stay warm without overheating. Try not to overdress, you should feel a bit cold at the start, an elevated heart rate and your body movement will help to keep you warm. If you plan on running in remote places its important to think about winter saftey. Bring a fully charged cell phone, a pack with dry clothes and gloves, a headlamp, and some food and water. Things can get real pretty quick, being minimal on remote winter trails is not recommended. For most running around the Upper Valley you can enjoy the trails with the same winter clothing as you would if you were running the roads.
The only gear you may need to enjoy the snowy trails would be for your feet. There are a few options out there to give you better traction and confidence against the winter elements. You can make your own screwshoes by literally screwing in 1/4 inch hex screws into your running shoes. I wouldn’t recommend this for you minimal runners out there (ouch!). Yak Trax offers a traction system that slide over your shoes to help give you getter grip, though these are very similar to screwshoes. Microspikes are the most popular with trail runners here in the area. They slide on over your shoes, like the Yak Trax but offer far superior traction like a low grade crampon. You’ll find you can confidently run on ice without any hesitation about falling. I should note that the only time I’ve slipped with microspikes is on smooth granite rock, so be smart with your foot placement if the trail has exposed rock faces. One final recommendation is to invest in a pair of running snowshoes. Deep powder and slushy snow can’t hold you back with a pair of snowshoes.
The local Upper Valley trails are numerous and near perfect for winter running. Your only excuse for not running them would be trail conidtions. This is a big deal when you think about all the trail users and the amount of traffic the local trails get. While it can be fun to posthole through the deep snow and pretend you’re Rocky Balboa training in Russia, its best to do so on your own property. Please dont go trail running in fresh snow or when the temperature is above freezing. If you are leaving noticeable tracks, turn around and wait until the weather cooperates. The tracks you make may later freeze solid leaving treacherous holes for the next trail user behind you. There are several groups, particularly in Boston Lot, who spend alot of time grooming and packing down the trail to make it enjoyable for all users. If you really want to be active that day consider running on the roads, the rail trail, a packed snowmobile trail, or better yet go snowshoeing. To stay up to date on the trail conditions in Boston Lot check out the Upper Valley Mountain Bike Association’s website, http://uvmba.com .
If you’re looking for winter trail racing, you wont find very much as conditions can be so variable. The Winter Wild Race Series is an excellent source for winter fun, camaraderie, and a great workout. Check it out at newinterwild.com . There are a few snowshoe races out there for folks so inclined, http://www.granitestatesnowshoeseries.org (also several other races that aren’t part of the series but harder to find the information for). Sometimes a regular run in the winter conditions can be just as exicitng and exhilarating as a race. Wherever you run, and whatever you have on your feet I hope you keep winter fun. Best of luck, see ya out there!