Training between December and March in the cold Canadian winter climate typically comes with certain challenges including what type of cross-training to do, and when to do it.

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Beyond the more traditional means of cross-training in the form of pool running, treadmill running, swimming, or cross-country skiing (click for tips), an often overlooked discipline is snowshoe running. This is especially relevant if you live close to trail systems or your area has received a large dump of snow.

Canadian Running reached out to David Le Porho, who in 2015 ran Quebec’s fastest marathon in 15 years at the California International Marathon, for some tips and workout ideas. He’s well-versed in the snowshoe running scene.

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“Snowshoe running can be seen as perfect cross-training during the winter, it helps work on different aspects (cardio, muscular strength, weight loss), but it also helps in improving your running mechanics,” said Le Porho, who represents Asics and Le Coureur.

Le Porho was the snowshoe world champion in 2011 and 2012, won the Quebec championships on multiple occasions, and has run more than 40 races over the span of the past four years.

Below are some of Le Porho’s favourite workouts as described by him.

Workout No. 1 – Speed

Terrain: A six to seven-minute loop with powder snow.
Warm up: 15 minutes of easy jogging (very important, especially in cold conditions) plus two to three strides (with high knees) – you should feel as if the training is almost done by the end of the warm-up.
Training: 10 to 15 x (45 seconds with 90 seconds active jog recovery).
Cool down: 10 minutes of easy jogging or active walking plus one’s typical stretching routines.

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Workout No. 2 – Endurance

Terrain: A 3K-loop with packed snow.
Warm up: 15 minutes of easy jogging with strides focusing on form and mechanics.
Training: 10 to 15 x (15-second sprints with 15 seconds active jog recovery) followed by three to four x (3:00 at 10K snowshoe race pace with 2:00 active recovery).
Cool down: 10 minutes of easy jogging or active walking plus one’s typical stretching routines.

Workout No. 3 – The long run

Terrain: On trails with elevation changes (personal favourite).
Training: A one to two-hour long run at a slow but steady pace (try your best not to walk) regardless of the snow quality (light, compact, packed or powder) to work muscular resistance during fatigue. For more experienced snowshoe runners, a second training run can be added on the same day, only shorter.

Editor’s note: Above are some of the many key workouts that Le Porho used during the buildup to a number of major championships in recent years. This article was originally published in December 2015.


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