Snowshoe Racing

Snowshoe Origins and Evolution

Snowshoes have been around for about 6,000 years, but snowshoe racing is a fairly recent phenomenon.

According to the United States Snowshoe Association, (USSSA) snowshoeing originated in central Asia and come to North America with the ancestors of the Inuits and Native Americans.

Over the past 30 plus years, snowshoe racing and running have grown in popularity along with all the other outdoor endurance sports.

As the sport has grown in popularity, snowshoes have evolved as well.

Snowshoe Evolution

Ancient snowshoes were made of modified slabs of wood. In North America, Native Americans adopted white ash frames and raw hide for snowshoe construction. Through the 1960’s and 70’s this design remained relatively unchanged.

I grew up wearing this type of snow shoe. For hiking they were fine, but I never tried to run in them.

snowshoe racing, winter sports
Photo – snowshoes.com

In the 1960’s some manufacturers offered neoprene lacing. Neoprene did not stretch when it got wet and was low maintenance. In 1972 Gene and Bill Prater developed the oval-shaped aluminum framed Sherpa snowshoe and steel hinge. In 1989 they replaced neoprene with polypropylene to make the Sherpas even lighter.

In 1990 Redfeather Snowshoe Company introduced an aluminum framed beaver tail snowshoe that became very popular. The company sponsored several snowshoe racing events in Colorado that gained the attention of marathon runners and triathletes. These athletes brought attention and credibility to the sport.

In 1991 Tubbs Snowshoe Company (Est. 1906) introduced the Katahdin and Sierra snowshoes. Tubbs and the entire industry enjoyed strong sales growth of 20-30% over the next 20 years.

In 1994 444,000 pairs of snowshoes were sold in the US. In 1995, 640,000 pairs were sold and in 1996 over a million pairs were sold. Today approximately 5.5 million people participate in snowshoeing in North America alone.

Most snowshoes are now made of aluminum and are either 8″ X 25″ or 9″ X 30″. Other sizes are available for deep snow hiking and other conditions. For officially sanctioned USSSA events, regulations require snowshoes to have at least 120 square inches of functional surface area and dimensions no smaller than 7″ X 20″.

The USSA web site lists the known models that meet these specifications. The website also has their official rule books for Sprint and Distance races.

Cute Moose Snowshoe manufacturer’s list has 13 manufacturer’s of all types of snowshoes including race and hiking snowshoes.

Snowshoe Racing

As a kid I was familiar with snowshoes. We always had a few pair around the house and I became proficient at walking in them on trails or in the woods.

With all of the snow in 2016, I began to pay more attention to snowshoe race listings. They seemed to keep popping up while I searched for 5K races. I even ran in snowshoes in the Nutty Irish 5K Cocoa Run.

snowshoe racing, 5k race

I wore a pair of Tubbs hiking snowshoes which at 9″ x 30″ were less than ideal to run in. But, it was an adventure that I’ll never forget!

Snowshoe Racing Nationwide

The United States Snow Shoe Association (USSSA) is the governing body and organizer of the Snow Shoe National Championships. They usually list local races also, but as of January 23rd 2022, they only had two races races on their list! See my links below for local race listings.

The two Nationals events are:

Jr and Collegiate Nationals in Leadville, CO January 29, 2022
Open Nationals in Cable, WI March 13, 2022

Over the past few years many races have been cancelled due to lack of snow.

Usually there are non-USSA sanctioned races put on by local running clubs and non-profits. These races have also suffered from the lack of snow the past few years.

Snowshoe Racing in Your Area

I’m a big advocate of racing locally. I like to support local groups and hate to drive two hours to run a 5K. Check out these links to races and to find races in your area.

2022 Snowshoe Festival
Norway, ME |19 February | Saturday | 10:00 AM

Run a 5K or 10K for $10. A 2K race is also available for $5.

Snow Devil Ultra Snowshoe Races
Pittsfield, VT | 5-6 February | Saturday/Sunday | Various times

You have a choice of distances for this evert:

100 Mile or 100K at 6 am or Noon respectively, Saturday February 5
Marathon starts at 8 am Saturday, February 6
1/2 Marathon starts at 9 am Saturday, February 6
10k starts 10 am Saturday, February 6

The course will be a gorgeous 6.5-mile loop in the Green Mountains of Vermont. Each loop will have 1200 feet of elevation change and sweeping views of the surrounding mountain ranges!

Registration is open – $175 for the 100 Miler, $120 for the 100K, $85 for the Marathon, $65 for the Half and $55 for the 10K.

Sugarhouse Snowshoe or Trail Run 5K/10K
Shelburne, VT | 26 February | Saturday | 9:00 AM

Run a 5K or 10K for $30.

The Sugarhouse Snowshoe 5K/10K is back this year! This race appeals to competitive snowshoe runners as well as relaxed fitness walkers.

You’ll be treated to a beautiful run through the sugar grove of Shelburne Sugarworks. If mother nature cooperates, this will be a snowshoe race.

Otherwise, it will be a 5K run/walk or 10K run. You’ll start and finish at Shelburne Sugarworks where there could be some sugaring in the works (depending on Mother Nature).

Just prior to the race, we will be offering a short (200-300 yard) race for kids. This portion of the race will be free. No awards or shirts will be involved with this “fun run” snowshoe event.

22nd Saratoga Winterfest 5k Snowshoe Race
Saratoga Springs, NY | 6 February | Saturday | 11:00 AM

Registration is only $20 and there are only 90 bibs left! Sponsored by Dion.

Selkirk Shores 5K Snowshoe Run/Walk
Pulaski, NY | 6 February | Saturday | 11:00 AM

Race will begin and end at our enclosed shelter that overlooks Lake Ontario. Enjoy our thrilling woodland racecourse with portions of the trail groomed. Finish by warming up around the stone fireplace and enjoying some refreshments. Everyone if welcome to participate. Masks will be required indoors.

Registration is $20 through February 5th.

These are just a few. Check out the links below for more local listings.

The Dion – Western Massachusetts Athletic Club web site has information on their 2021-2022 snowshoe racing series. These races are all in New England and New York and run through March.

Snowshoe Magazine has product reviews, race information and local club listings. With so few race opportunities, hooking up with a local club may be your best bet if you want to get out and enjoy the sport.

World Snowshoe Federation lists snowshoe races all over the world. You can also find information on the World Snowshoe Championships. The USSA was a founding member in 2010, now there are 14 member organizations.

Cute Moose Has a list of races in the mid-West and is a great resource for information on snow shoes and all things snowshoe related.

Acidotic Racing has listed snow shoe races in the past but I don’t see anything for 2022.

Maine Trail Finder is a great resource. You can search for trails by town or county, difficulty and type of activity. More for hiking than snow shoe racing, but still a cool site.

Western Mass Athletic Club hosts the DION Racing Series and lists the full schedule. They also have tips for beginners.

Top 10 Snowshoe Races 2019-2020 from northernlites.com has some good information on races all over the country from New Hampshire to Alaska!

The National Weather Service has a page where you can get current snow conditions. This will help you figure out if a snow shoe race may actually be able to happen!

Have you ever run a snowshoe race? If you find one in your area, would you try it?

Run well my friends!

Andy

New England Marathons Winter 2022

A short list is better than no list of winter marathons!

Updated December 22nd

COVID-19 has been tough on winter marathons and it looks like we may have lost a few. Keep your laces tied!

The Roxbury and Millinocket marathons take place before the Winter Solstice and Millinocket is the only December marathon in New England. I’ve also included them in the fall directory where they belong.

Astronomical Winter 2022 officially began on Tuesday, December 21st at 10:59 AM EST. The “Winter Solstice” marks the beginning of winter. On the Winter Solstice the sun reaches the southern most point in the sky at Noon local time.

Click on race names for the latest details. Let me know if you know of other New England Winter Marathons.

New England Marathons Winter

Roxbury Marathon

*.* November | 8:30 AM | Saturday

Cancelled for 2021

Hurlburt Recreation Area – 18 Apple Lane, Roxbury CT

This scenic, hilly, no-frills, early winter 26.2 mile foot race will cost you only $40 or $35 for the Half.

Race day registration is $50 for either race.

In 2019 there were only 47 marathon finishers. This race is not for the casual runner.

Here is a report on the 2017 race.

Registration is not open.

Millinocket Marathon and Half 2022

4 December | 10 AM | Saturday

Registration is closed!

33 Penobscot Ave Millinocket, Maine

In 2018 184 runners crossed the Marathon line and 1120 finished the Half!

213 runners from across the country ran the Marathon in 2017. Maine runners took the top three finishes. 942 runners completed the Half.

In 2015, six runners ran the marathon and 42 finished the Half.

This race continues to grow in popularity and make contributions to the Millinocket region.

Our FREE marathon & half was started in 2015 to help a struggling northern Maine mill town that has been devastated by the closing of their major employer. Do not run Millinocket for what you get instead RUN MILLINOCKET for what you GIVE. Please do not take spots in our race unless you are serious about doing your very best to show up (of course we know life happens) but please don’t register just because our race is free. All participants are required to generously patronize Katahdin area businesses in lieu of an entry fee. Our 2016 edition was a tremendous success and we look forward to growing our event in 2017 and all the positive influence it brings!

Millinocket used to be a mill town with two paper mills. When I was growing up the economy and the town were vibrant. The high school had competitive sports teams and they were just another city in Maine.

Now the mills are gone and times have changed in Millinocket. The organizers of this race seek to draw runners from near and far to help inject a little economic life into this Northern Maine town.

As they say in the quote above, don’t sign up just because it is free. Sign up because you want to run the race and provide some stimulus to the local economy while you are there.

Arena Attack Race Series Indoor New England Marathons

Cancelled for 2022

Imagine running in a proper distance race, in the middle of a typical New England winter, but you can dress like its September. Awesome, right? We thought so too… so we made it reality. Introducing the Arena Attack Indoor Road Race Series! Utilizing the wide concourses found in indoor arenas, we run distance races ranging from 5k to the marathon.

This was a series of the running events, each consisting of a marathon, half and 5K.

Here are some of the things that you can look forward to at your Arena Attack Race:

NEW FOR 2020! All marathon & half marathon finishers receive awesome Arena Attack shirts!
Finisher medals made from stainless steel, made by a CT-based explosion proofing company.
Race distances include marathon, half marathon, & 5k.
We control the climate, so we can make sure the conditions are optimal.
Perfectly flat course!
Absolutely spectator-friendly! You’ll see your runner on each lap.
Water stations and real bathrooms are never more than a half-lap away!
We digitally track your laps and project your lap count clearly in your line of sight.
On-course music keeps the runners and spectators entertained all day.

XL Center Hartford, CT

TBD January |9 AM | Saturday

Cancelled for 2022

Runners will complete 130 laps on the course with a 5 hour time limit. The marathon has a waiting list as of 2 December. Registration is $90.00 if a spot opens

Mullins Center Amherst, MA

TBD January | 8 AM

Cancelled for 2022

Marathon runners will complete 133 laps on the course within 5 hours. Registration is $80.00. There is also a half-marathon and a 5K option.

Boston Prep 16 Miler and 5 Miler

30 January | 10:00 AM | Sunday

West Running Brook Middle School – Derry, NH

Derry 16 miler, winter running, New England Marathons Winter

I’ve run this race twice and it’s been very cold or freezing both times. The first time I ran the race the school parking lot was glazed in black ice. I kept sliding down the parking lot while waiting for the race to begin.

Bring your big boy shorts for this run!

The 25th Annual Northeast Delta Dental Boston Prep – this moderately challenging 16-miler is ideally scheduled for runners training for the Boston Marathon, any other spring marathon or a Runner looking for a mid-winter challenge! Are you a regular runner but not ready for a full 16? Try the “BP-Lite,” which offers a taste of the Boston Prep experience on a 5 mile course!

Registration is $65 for the 16-miler and $30 for the 5-Miler.

Registration ends January 28th.

Everyone should put this race on their bucket list. It really is an experience not to be missed.

Here is my 2015 race recap.

2022 Hyannis Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K & Marathon Team Relay

27 February | 10:00 AM | Sunday

Hyannis, MA

New England Marathons Winter, Hyannis MarathonRegistration opens soon. Previously Marathon registration was $65, the Half was $57 and the 10K was $50. The Marathon relay was $115 per team.

The marathon has a registration limit of 400 runners, so don’t wait!

These races are USATF Certified:

  • USATF Certification # MA11001RN – Marathon
  • USATF Certification # MA11002RN – Half Marathon
  • Boston Marathon Qualifier – 6 Hour Course Time Limit

2020 ALL Race Results

PEAK Snow Devil Winter Races

12-13 March | 8:00 AM | Saturday – no updates for 2022 yet

Pittsfield, VT

This is a snow shoe event where you can run a 100 miler, 100K, a Marathon, Half Marathon or a 10K.

The 100 miler begins at 6AM and the 100K begins at Noon on February 5th The Marathon begins at 7:30AM, Half at 8AM, 10K at 8:30AM and 5K at 9AM all on February 6th.

Snow shoes are required and this race is not for the faint of heart. The course is a 6.5 mile loop with 1200 feet vertical. Only 13 runners finished the marathon in 2018!

Registration was $175 for the 100 Miler, $135 for the 100K, $85 for the Marathon, $85 for the Half, $70 for the 10K and $35 for the 5K race.


New England Mararthons Winter

The Ocean’s Run Marathon, Half Marathon, 4 Miler & Kids’ Fun Run

TBD March | 8:00 AM | Saturday – no updates for 2022 yet.

Misquamicut State Beach, Westerly, RI

All courses are USATF Certified and the marathon is a Boston Qualifier! This race has always been a great tune-up for Boston and other late Spring Marathons.

This race winds through the quiet Westerly beach communities of Misquamicut and Weekapaug. There are water views at nearly every stretch of the race. With hardly any climbs to speak of, this race is fast and furious!!

The race starts and finish at the Misquamicut State Beach! A portion of the proceeds to benefit The Westerly Track and Athletic Club!

Registration for 2020 has not opened. In 2019 registration was: Marathon – $90.00,1/2 Marathon – $60.00 and 4 Miler – $30.

This race received some bad reviews for 2019 and I do not see any information listed for 2021. It looks like this race may not be held in 2021. If you hear differently, please contact me.

The Hampton Half

28 March | 10:00 AM | Sunday – registration is open!

Hampton Beach, NH

I know it’s not a marathon, but who wants to sit around until spring?

I’ve run this half three times and it’s one of my favorite halfs.

It’s often cold and sometimes there is a cold breeze off of the Gulf of Maine. Sometimes it’s just a beautiful day.

Here is my 2019 race Recap.

This is a USATF measured and certified course.

Registration is open!

If you are a race director and I have missed your race please contact me at: info@omnirunning.com. If you are not a race director and know of a marathon that I missed, please contact me at the same email.

Run well my Friends and try to keep warm!

Andy

Snowshoe Running What You Want to Know

Snowshoe Running

By Mark Rosenblum (guest blogger for OmniRunner)

Updated – June 14, 2021

When old man winter blows in hard and furious, creating icy roads and huge snowbanks narrowing Brooksby Snowshoe classic, snowshoe raceroadways, what can you do (besides treadmill running)? Running on roads with less traffic still has risks. Seeking out well plowed streets offers limited choices. Well, there’s another choice which is safer, more fun, and gives you a more forgiving surface than running on the roads: snowshoeing!

Snowshoe models

If you want to get into snowshoeing, you’ll first need to decide which type and model of snowshoe to Tubbs 6000 snowshoes, snowshoe running, snowshoesbuy. The majority of snowshoes on the market are designed for either mountain hiking or trail walking. Running in the former is possible but challenging. The latter is fine for starting out. These will cost $100-$200.

However, if you want snowshoes primarily for running training and possibly snowshoe racing, you are better off getting running or racing snowshoes. These will cost $200-$300 for better models.

Atlas racing snowshoes, snowshoe running

The good news is that companies are starting to offer more choices every year as this sport catches on. The bad news is that most outdoors specialty retail stores do not carry this type of snowshoe, so you will most likely have to buy online and read up on different options, vs. having an in-store salesperson help you.

Try before you buy

If you have never been snowshoeing before, you will probably want to try it before buying snowshoes. REI rents snowshoes, or you may find a small local retailer that does. Rentals typically will run $10-$20/day. Many XC ski touring centers will also rent snowshoes. A great opportunity to try out different models of snowshoes for free every winter is “Winter Trails Day”, held in several states on different dates in January. Go to www.wintertrails.org for more info. There you can try 3-4 different models in an hour or two and get questions answered.

You are not likely to find racing snowshoe models at these stores or events. However, many races will provide an opportunity to use a racing model provided by a sponsor for an extra $5 – $10. The numbers are often limited so you may need to register early.

Technology

If you were buying snowshoes for hiking, you would want to learn about “flotation” and get a snowshoe size based on your weight and type of snow conditions you will encounter.

For snowshoe running and racing, you will want a narrower and lighter snowshoe. The following webpage lists 35 models of racing snowshoes which are ‘legal’ per racing snowshoe regulations: http://www.snowshoeracing.com/legal_size.htm

Here in New England, Dion dominates the market, with their Model 121 being most popular.

One thing you will want to consider is how easy and comfortable it is to fasten your hiking or running Dion snowshoesshoes to the snowshoes via the bindings, which typically involve some type of leather, rubber, or plastic straps. Dion’s ‘Quick Fit’ binding comprised of flexible VELCRO®-type straps is one of the easier types available.

Other details to consider when trying snowshoes for running is how closely the snowshoe snaps back to your foot, kick back of snow, and weight.

Lastly, while most snowshoe hikers also get a pair of ski or trekking poles, for both balance and leverage, they are not needed for snowshoe running, and are not used for racing.

Footwear

Asics Gel Arctic 4, winter running shoeIf just looking looking to get into snowshoeing as cross-training for hiking, hiking shoes are your best option. For running training, consider getting a GORE-TEX® running shoe, especially if you are prone to getting cold feet. See “The best way to enjoy winter running” for some suggestions. Another advantage of these shoes is that they will offer better forefoot protection against binding straps, which may otherwise provide uncomfortable pressure points.

Such shoes are also fine for racing, where you might not mind trading off some extra weight for comfort. At the other end of the spectrum, some racers looking for the lightest weight and comfort have found ways to custom mount a pair of racing flats directly to the webbing of the snowshoe, eliminating the need for bindings.

Gaiters are especially helpful for snowshoe running. This topic was also covered in the blog post Altra Gaiters, snowshoe gearmentioned earlier. For most conditions, ankle height gaiters will be your best option. Most models will attach via clips to your laces, and laces or straps under your arch to secure the gaiter. Instead of the latter, some models attach to your heel with a strip of VELCRO®.

 

Clothing

You will quickly find out when you do snowshoe running workouts that you will generate more heat than for a corresponding road workout. Thus, an initial guide for what to wear is to dress for about 10 degrees warmer than what you would wear for running. You will quickly find what works best for you. The only other special consideration for snowshoeing is that there is just no avoiding kicking up snow behind you, which can leave a mass of ice crystals clinging to the back of your pants. Slicker materials such as running tights or rain pants will minimize this.

Where to go

Mt Hood golf course, snowshoe hikingIf your local golf course is available for winter recreation, you can run with as little as 2” of snow if the ground is well frozen. Avoid running over the greens. A similarly good location is around playing fields at local schools. Rail trails and some woods trails will be fine with about 4-5” of snow, whereas rocky woods trails may need 8” or more before you can get out without risk of damaging your snowshoe crampons or twisting an ankle.

If you go on trails and find cross-country ski tracks present, proper trail etiquette requests snowshoers to avoid stepping in the tracks.

Racing and Race opportunities

If you are a competitive runner and get into snowshoeing, you will probably want to try snowshoe Katherine Kulig, Granite State Snowshoe Championshipsracing at some point. The quality of the snow at the time of the race will be the biggest variable that you will encounter, from very hard to very soft, very smooth to ‘choppy’, and from well packed to fluffy fresh powder.

The conditions obviously will affect how fast you can go. As a result, times are not comparable even for the same race from year-to-year. Under typical racing conditions, expect your times to be anywhere from 50% to 2x (or more) greater than your times for a road race of the same distance.

All that being said, snowshoe races offer runners a fun and interesting experience for racing, quite different from other races. You’ll generally find other runners at snowshoe races, typically those who enjoy cross-country, trail, and mountain races.

Snowshoe races frequently have ‘single-track’ sections: narrow paths in woods where the snow-packed trail is not wide enough for two people to run side-by-side. It is very difficult to pass on these sections. If you sense someone is on your heels and itching to pass you, try to quickly find a good spot to step to the side to let them pass. You will appreciate the same favor when the situation is reversed!

Here are a few snowshoe races and sites to learn more:

Goose Adventure Racing Snowshoe Series Western New York

2020 Series Details:

The Goose Adventure Racing Snowshoe Series consists of five races in 2020. At each event, racers will compete for points based on their placement (not time) in each race. 100 points will be awarded to the first finisher in both genders, 2nd place will receive 99 points, third will receive 98, etc. Cast a Shadow presents an opportunity to rake in a lot of points! Every lap completed will earn 10 points up to a maximum of 100 points (relay team members only collect points on their own laps). The Little Rodent 4ish Mile race the morning of Cast a Shadow will also award points starting at 50 points for 1st place. However, a maximum of 100 points can be earned from combined points from both events. Competitors must race in a minimum of TWO Goose Series Races to be eligible for prizes. At the finale of the Series, awards will be presented to the top three male and female points leaders as well as first place in the Masters (40+) age group (with no double dipping).

Whitaker Woods Snowshoe Scramble 4 Miler

15 January | Saturday | 10:00 AM | North Conway, NH

Registration is open!

Norway Snowshoe Festival 2K, 5K and 10K

TBD February| Norway, ME

Snow Devil Snowshoe Races 100 Mile, Marathon, Half and 10K

TBD March | Pittsfield, VT

Sugarhouse Snowshoe or Trail Run 5K/10K

26 February | Saturday | 9AM | Shelburne, VT

Registration is open!

http://dionwmacsnowshoe.com (NY, VT, and western MA).

Nationwide race information can also be found at http://www.snowshoeracing.com/

Snowshoeing with others

Lastly, snowshoeing with others is a great way to keep active during the winter. Having someone guide you through trails, especially at night, is a lot easier than going off by yourself. Also, when there is deep fresh snow, making tracks is a lot easier with a group.

So, whether you are looking to find a safer alternative to running on the roads during the worst winter days, interested in a growing way to stay competitive during the winter, or looking for a fun way to take advantage of winter’s bounty and enjoy the company of friends out in the woods, consider taking up snowshoeing!

Run well My Friends,

Andy

Five Easy ways to Prevent Windburn

What is Windburn?

Windburn is dry, chapped skin caused by prolonged exposure to cold, dry air.

Windburn is caused by your body’s response to cold, dry air. Wind accelerates this process by drawing heat and moisture from your skin.

Sunburn has similar symptoms but is caused by prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light (UV) from the sun. It’s not unusual to get windburn and sunburn together.

Moisture evaporates from your skin through a process called Trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL). This is part of the natural process your body uses to maintain your skin, the largest organ in the body.

When your skin is exposed to cold, dry air your body responds by dilating blood vessels near the surface of the skin. This increases blood flow to restore normal skin moisture and temperature levels.

Over prolonged periods of time and in harsher conditions, the rate of evaporation exceeds your body’s capacity to respond. When normal skin temperature and moisture levels cannot be maintained your skin becomes damaged and you get windburn.

In the short term, wind burn results in red, dry skin which may become chapped or crack. In the long term, repeated or extended exposure can cause permanent damage and pre-mature aging of your skin.

Sunburn is caused by exposure to the sun’s Ultra-Violet (UV) rays. Similar to windburn, UV rays also cause your skin to dry out from accelerated TEWL. More significant is the damage UV rays cause to the DNA in your skin cells. This accelerates the aging process and can also lead to cancer.

It’s not uncommon to simultaneously suffer sunburn and windburn. It’s not uncommon to experience dry, cold and sunny conditions together.

Five Ways to Prevent Windburn

preventing windburn, winter running

The best way to treat wind burn is to prevent it. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

For athletes this means training indoors when conditions are harsh or changing the time of day you exercise outside. This is just like avoiding the hottest, sunniest parts of the day during the summer months.

For most athletes, over exposure to the elements is common. We cannot control the environment and sometimes we are unprepared to deal with harsh conditions.

It’s not unusual for conditions to change during a run. If race day turns into a bad weather day, most of us still show up.

Since most of us still show up for races in harsh conditions and still train in less than ideal conditions, we need to take steps to protect ourselves.

Here are Five Ways to Prevent Windburn

1.) Use a skin cream that locks in moisture. Products that contain petroleum jelly, cocoa butter, jojoba oil, shea butter, lanolin or beeswax are good to use.

These ingredients are known as “Occlusives.” Occlusives form a thin non-permeable film on your skin which locks in your skin’s natural moisture and helps prevent TEWL. Check out these articles from Skin Therapy Newsletter and Botaneri for more information on occlusives and products to look for that contain occlusives.

Occlusives stay on the surface of your skin and are not moisturizers. They form a protective layer to lock in your skin’s natural moisture. Since occlusives cannot be absorbed, they can clog pores and cause acne.

A product containing occlusives will need to be washed off with soap and water.

Some dermatologists recommend using sun screen every day. When you know you will be exposed for long periods you should use a sunscreen containing an occlusive. The most common occlusive found in sun screen is zinc oxide.

This is the easiest tip to implement. Keep a tube of quality sun screen in your bag and in your car. Keep sunscreen out of the heat and check for experimentation dates.

2.) Don’t forget your lips. Our lips are exposed to sun every day and the bitter cold of winter does not help. Some chap stick and lip balm is made with bee’s wax and have a decent SPF. Beeswax is a natural occlusive that most people are not allergic to.

I often use chap stick when running. My lips always seem to dry out and it can drive me crazy. I don’t always use a product with an occlusive but I always look for the SPF on the package. Always read the label.

3.) Avoid exposure to extreme temperatures for prolonged periods of time. In the summer time you want to avoid outside activities when the UV Index is highest. In cold temperatures you want to avoid being outside for long periods of time in harsh conditions.

You may have to run at different times of the day or drive the kids to school. When the days are short and the nights are frigid, a treadmill may be your best friend.

If you do have to run in harsh conditions, cover as much skin as possible. Use a lotion with an occlusive on your nose and exposed portions of your face. When it’s below freezing I try to wear lotion even in the dark.

Kids should wear gloves and knit caps for the bus stop or walk home. A baseball hat doesn’t protect ears from frostbite or windburn and has virtually no insulation for your kid’s head.

4.) Break up your exposure time. Your body responds to the conditions and can protect you over the short run. But it needs time to recover from exposure. See the chart below for frost bite. Cut those times in half for windburn and plan accordingly.

Your body will heat up from running but exposed skin is still vulnerable to wind burn. Try breaking a long run into shorter runs and give your skin time to recover in sheltered warmth. Re-apply your skin cream.

You can also break up your outside chores by taking a break from snow shoveling to re-hydrate and help your skin recover.

Breaking up activities is probably the most difficult thing to do. It’s hard enough to get outside when it’s cold. Taking a break could cause you to not go back out.

If the conditions are really bad you may have to use the treadmill or risk cutting your run short. Sometimes a little in-doors cross training is the best bet!

5.) Check the weather forecast; know the wind chill. Quite often winter forecasts will include the wind chill factor. Knowing the conditions is key to protecting your skin.

Use this chart to estimate the wind chill in your area. Click on the chart to get a National Weather Service pdf down load.wind chill, winter running, windburnIt’s important to keep in mind that conditions constantly change. If the air temperature is 20° and you get into a 30mph wind, you have a 1°F wind chill.

Due to the variability of conditions it is best to be a little cautious. Wearing a quality sun screen all the time is a good idea. If conditions are marginal, you should be prepared to seek shelter and change your plans if conditions worsen.

How to treat Windburn

Windburned skin is damaged, sensitive skin. Moisturizing lotion and avoiding further exposure will help your skin recover. Avoid lotions with fragrances or harsh ingredients and look for lotions for “sensitive” skin.

Aloe Vera is a good choice, but consult with your physician or pharmacist for advice on the best treatment for you.

While a hot shower may feel great after coming in from the cold, hot water is not good for wind burn or sunburned skin. If you want a hot shower try to keep the hot water off of your damaged skin.

Hot water and soap break up and wash away the lipids on the surface of your skin. Lipids are the natural oils in your skin that hold in moisture and help keep your skin soft. Try to wash your damaged skin with warm water and then apply lotion.

Run well my friends,

Andy

Longest Run of 2020 so far

Sometimes a long run doesn’t go as planned. I thought twelve miles would be good then dropped back to ten. One wrong turn and I ran almost 14 miles! 19 degrees turned out to be the least of my worries!

Sunday was the Melrose Running Club’s 6th long run of 2020.

I’ve missed the last two runs due to conflicts with races. On February 2nd we ran the Super Sunday race and on January 26th, we ran The Great Stew Chase 15K.

My weekly miles have been pretty low so far and my longest run this year was The Great Stew Chase at 15K or 9.53 miles for me.

The full long run this Sunday was 16.2 and I decided that 12 miles would be enough for me. You really don’t want your weekly long run to by twice as long as any of your previous week’s runs.

I’ve read that the long run should be no more than six miles longer than your longest week day training run. I find that a tough rule to follow.

At shorter distances you can get away with increasing your long run to 150% of your longest weekly run.

So you could go from running 6 mile training runs to a 9 mile long run. You can definitely go from running fours to a 6 mile long run.

The key is to take the long run easier than your shorter week day runs. Most of us would not run a half marathon at our 5K pace. The same thing applies to your weekly long run.

Longest Run of 2020

When I reviewed the 16.2 mile route I figured that I could cut it back to twelve miles easily.

At about 5.5 miles I took a right and the long run people turned left. My plan was working.

I made my way back to the water stop and had two cups of Gatorade/water and headed out. One of the long runners left the water stop just ahead of me and I followed him. I knew there was a turn coming up that I always miss.

I made the turn and Mike Sikkema caught up and passed me. I managed to keep Mike in sight long enough to see him take the right turn onto Main Street/ Rt. 28 in Stoneham.

Sunday Long Run 6, longest run of 2020This took us along the back side of Spot Pond. I didn’t think of it at the time, but I wanted to go straight and run the front side of the pond.

That was my crucial error.

I was now running by my self but knew where I was and all of the turns.

Soon after the wrong turn my watch chimed in for mile eight.

After I left the long run group I decided that ten miles was a better idea than twelve.

This route is very hilly and my quads were beginning to feel it.

When my watch hit eight miles on the back side of Spot Pond, I knew I was in trouble. There was no way to turn this run into 10 miles from this point in the run.

I had left my phone in my car and only had $5 in my pocket. There was no way to bail on this one.

A Bridge Too Far

As my watch hit nine miles I went under a Rt. 93 bridge. It was definitely a bridge too far.

My pace was still pretty good at 9:24 but I was fading fast.

The next turn was a left onto Elm Street in Medford and another hill. I then took a right onto Highland Ave at the rotary by Flynn Ice Rink. I thought there was a water stop there, but I didn’t recognize the car.

I avoid trying to open trunks of unknown cars.

It was a cold day, so it was okay.

As I continued down Highland I knew the next turn would put me on East Border Road. This is another hilly section which would dump me onto the freakin Fellsway East.

When I got to the second rise in the hill on East Border Road I decided to walk. I hit mile 11 just after cresting that hill and began to run down to the intersection.

Mile eleven came in at 10:34. At this point I wasn’t too concerned with my pace. I was more concerned with surviving to run another day.

I wasn’t cold or depleted but my left knee was beginning to act up. My body just wasn’t prepared for this many miles.

I took the left onto The Fellsway and cursed my self for not turning left at the rotary instead of right. With that turn I would have run about twelve miles and avoided these bloody hills!

I walked some of these hills and ran the down hills as best I could. While running down the last Fells hill I hit mile twelve. That was my stretch goal for the day and I knew I had at least another mile and half to go!

I ran to the intersection with West Wyoming Street and was able to cross the street quickly. Traffic was light and people let me go.

I was now on the home stretch and my knee was telling me to stop.

After mile thirteen I decided to walk. I was beyond anything I had planned and who cared anyway?

As a runner approached I waved and they didn’t even acknowledge me. I guess you don’t look like a fellow runner when you are walking.

As I neared the rail road tracks I started running and kept on until I turned the corner onto Main Street. My ankle and knee were both killing me. Than I “ran” in the last bit to the finish but didn’t have the juice to round it out to 13.75.

13.72 miles was quite enough, thank you!

Hydration and recovery

I went into Brueggers, got an ice coffee and sat with friends for about ten minutes before heading home. As I sat there I could feel both calves getting ready to cramp.

On the way I drank a BodyArmor sport drink which has electrolytes and a variety of vitamins.

After a nice hot shower I applied some arnica gel to both knees and slipped my Body Helix knee compression sleeve onto my left knee.

I recently reviewed the Body Helix compression wraps. I’ve been using the knee wrap for a few weeks as needed and it seems to help.

I don’t get a commission, but you can get 10% off any Body Helix Compression Wraps you buy with code BH10RUN.

I hope you had a good long run this weekend and one that went according to plan.

Run well my Friends!

Andy

Super Sunday 2020

What a great day for the Super Sunday 2020 5 miler and 5K.

It was usually warm for February 2nd and we even had some sun! I tell people this race is always cold and some times it’s god damned cold! This year was as good as it get’s in February in Cambridge.

I’ve been running this race since 2015 and they have always had teams. It’s a great way to drive registrations and it’s a lot of fun to run with a group of friends.

Super Sunday 2020, VIP Tent RowLast year the Melrose Running Club had 31 runners. In 2020 we had 40 run the 5 miler and 9 more run the 5K. We had 11 more non-club members join our team, so we had a total of 60 people!

We got a VIP tent for the second year in a row. Special thank go to our Team Captain, Judy Dolan. Judy worked hard last year to get us a tent and this year took it to another level in getting 60 people to sign up!

Judy also brought hot coffee, pastries and chocolates. Last year she wrote a note for each runner, but with 60 runners, she just couldn’t do it this year. Can you blame her?

I think everyone had a great time and even with the “nice” weather, we enjoyed the shelter of the VIP tent.

Running the Super Sunday 2020 5 Miler

Along with 39 of my fellow MRC runners, I chose to run the 5 miler. I ran the 5K in 2015 but have enjoyed the longer race each year since.

Athenaeum Street is always a wind tunnel. This part of Kendall Square is only a few hundred yards from The Charles river. So there is always a cold breeze blowing down these side streets.

This year was as good as it had ever been. They start the 5K ten minutes after the 5 miler and my first year I had to wait in a freezing howl off of the river. Maybe that’s why I switched to the 5 miler!

There was a huge crowd and I could hear understand a word that the race director, Alain, said. Apparently he asked the crowd to step back because the crowd started pushing us back.

In 2019 we ran towards Third Street, but this year we ran towards First Street which is towards Boston. No big deal, but a bunch of runners had lined up on the front side of the starting line.

Super Sunday 2020 start and finish areaWe didn’t really hear the start either, but we strained our eyes and saw the front of the pack start to move and in just a minute or two all of us were crossing the line and starting our watches.

It was pretty crowded but even the first turn went well. I didn’t have a full head of steam yet so there wasn’t much slowing needed to negotiate the corner.

Then we turned onto Binney Street which must be six lanes across. A wider road than much of the Boston Marathon route.

It was great to look around and see purple MRC shirts of all varieties. Last year the club bought 100 winter hats and I could see them all over the place.

I always love running through the intersection of Binney and Third Street. Each night I drive through this intersection and during the race I get through the intersection faster than driving!

Third Street in Cambridge is a total mess. This part of Cambridge has been under construction for at least the past ten years. If the city is waiting to fix the roads, it could be ten more years.

Super Sunday 2020 5 mile course mapThis road beats the shit out of my car and as a runner you need to watch where your feet land. I’ve replaced my shocks, I can’t replace an ankle.

From Third we took a right onto Broadway for our long slog out to The Harvard Art Museum where we took a sharp right onto Cambridge Street for the long slog back.

I’ve been on Cambridge Street many times, but I always feel disoriented when I’m running down this street.

About the Super Sunday 5 Mile Course

East Cambridge is a very flat area. The two “hills” had an elevation gain of 27 and 20 feet! The 20 footer came in the last mile of the race and I actually got to pass a few people.

Binney Street is nice and wide and Broadway and Cambridge street are pretty wide also. By the time we got to Broadway the crowd had thinned enough that the narrower road did not feel crowded.

As we ran west on Broadway the crowd continued to thin. At the first water stop, I was actually able to get a cup of water and they only had about five people manning the table. I’m not too proud to grab some water on a short course. I know I need it to run the way I do.

It was fun to run out Broadway and actually be able to look at the shops and restaurants. In a car you have to focus on cars, bikes, pedestrians and lights. It can be exhausting.

The Harvard Art Museum is quite the impressive modern building. They have an exhibit of Japanese art and I thought my youngest daughter might be interested in seeing that.

As I was admiring that building and reading the sign for the exhibit all of a sudden our turn was there!

I had been running with Marty Hergert and Pam Walcott. We kept trading places but at the turn we were close by.

We were now half way and headed toward mile three. This is where the folks who stick to 5Ks start to run our of gas. I knew that over the next two miles I’d be passing some of these people. All I had to do was maintain my pace.

Just keep pushing.

My first three miles were 8:02, 8:13 and 8:07.

I was working but everything was working. Nothing hurt and my breathing was pretty good.

I wasn’t breaking any land speed records, but I was doing pretty good for a guy running less than 25 miles a week.

As we ran along I tried to take in the scenery. Cambridge Street is in pretty good condition, so I didn’t have to pay strict attention to my feet.

I don’t recall much of this part of the race but I do recall enjoying the ability to actually see things.

As we headed down the hill at the end of Cambridge Street I was ready. I had pushed the last half mile and was ready for the final kick.

As we turned onto Athenaeum Street I could see the finish line! And there was a small crowd cheering us on.

I was with a good sized group of runners. So when we got to the finish line it was impossible to line up for the photographer.

Garmin had me at 41 minutes even. How unusual is that? My total distance was 5.08 for a pace of 8:04.

My official time was 40:47 at five miles exactly for an 8:11 pace. My 5 mile PR is 36:46 back in 2015 at the Harpoon Brewery Five Miler.

A Rockin Party

Our tent was packed. We had a huge crew and friends from other clubs kept dropping by. Like bees there was a constant flow of runners in and out of the group in search of beer. We’d go get some and head back to the tent.

Twice the race brought us three Za pizzas. They were nice and hot and really hit the spot. I missed the first delivery, but managed to get two delicious, hot slices on the second round.

I was riding with someone else, so I was on a mission to enjoy my self. And that is what I did.

The band was so good, I thought they were playing an Aerosmith tape over the PA. Even when I stopped to listen closely, they still were spot on.

Melrose Running Club at 2020 Super Sunday Race

With such a large crew there were people I hadn’t seen in a while and many new club members. It was really a great time.

When we went to leave the parking garage, we found out that it was free! We had no idea and it felt like such a bonus on top of a great race and great time.

If you’ve never run this race, I encourage you to try it next year. It’s well organized, the swag, food, band and beer are all great.

2020 Results

2020 Photos

Run well my Friends!

Andy