Human Powered Priviledge in Snow Shoe Running

Being a mother of two very active, young boys who thrive on experiences in the outdoors, I am always looking to adapt and evolve my own need for athletic challenge to our current  environment. Committed to introducing my boys to the art and skill of alpine skiing I often find myself scheduling  winter weekends around road conditions, ski lessons, storms, and unfortunately traffic. The rewards of family time in the mountains, doing something we all love outweigh these challenges to be sure. Not to mention, I kinda thrive on a good challenge. This however, makes endurance training for spring marathons harder because my weekends are spent in the deep snow with not a lot of opportunity for the long, slow, run (LSR).

Last year, when training for Boston Marathon I had a moment of genius. Snow shoe running! By nature this activity is slow (for me) and it should have the same effect as the LSR, especially at seventy-five hundred feet elevation.  On top of that, our little ski cabin backs up to one of the largest cross-country ski trail systems in North America AND connects to the alpine ski hill where my family indulges  for down-hill adventure.

So let the adventure of this new endurance activity begin!

Slow, cumbersome, awkward. Those are the words that describe this new, exciting activity. Excited yet? Now, some may say, “why run?” Why can’t you just walk like most people out there. Two reasons. One, my heart rate doesn’t go up enough to deliver me the endorphin kick. And reason two, it is numbingly boring by myself. Then there is a third reason, actually. It takes twice as long, leaving no time to do some down-hill with my boys.

So I persist, as we all do when something is important to us. I equate this first snow shoe running experience to the first time I stepped out to run while pushing my child in a stroller. It is not easy. There is a learning curve. It does however, get easier and that is when the real fun begins.

A year later, snow shoe running is such a part of my routine that I ache to do it. Even just a one hour spin through the woods can suffice. It has also opened up my winter home to the same human-powered freedom running offers me. It is freedom to know that by my own  human-power I can go where I want, when I want, and at whatever pace suits me. I am not stuck because of weather, closed roads, a closed chair lift, or other humans.  I am limited only by my own strength, will, and capabilities. When all else fails, I always have options.

Since adopting snow shoe running I have also sought out other “modes of human power” transportation in my expanding winter playground. Nordic skiing (both skate and classic) can take me places in the mountains even faster and, have introduced me to an entire new endurance sport! Next up? The back-country! I see the gates to the snow-filled back country I explore in my running shoes in the summer time, and I want to go through them. The only thing stopping me from my next adventure is avalanche safety training and AT gear!

I did successfully finish the Boston Marathon. Did snowshoe running help me out? Well, it certainly didn’t hurt. The real reward out of adopting a new form of sport however, was not fitness. It was freedom.

Memories from my time in West Coat

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At the Dentist

A funny, and not so fun, thing happens when I take my kids to those dentist appointments where they put the silly-gas mask on their face. When I see them lying there with all these instruments and health professionals my chest gets tight, my heart aches all the way into my mouth, and this horrible sense of dread flashes through my body. In other words, I panic.

Today I am here with Noah, my youngest, for a simple but uncomfortable procedure. He is getting sealants on his molars, something I wish my mom had done to protect my teeth. So why the panic? The same experience happened a few years ago when Eric, my older one, went through this. (deep breaths here)

I hear him whimpering through the nasal mask, and I see his body squirming. I want to reach for him. I want to tell him I am sorry and that he will thank me later for protecting his beautiful, perfect teeth from the very decay I have to have drilled out and filled in my own teeth next week.

The panic, my panic is a post trauma reaction triggered by the environment and this yuck nasal mask! This simple, uncomfortable procedure is setting off memories and feelings I experienced in with Eric in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit over ten years ago.

Enough time has passed that the triggers are few and far between. Enough time has also passed for me to learn to recognize what is happening when the panic comes over me seemingly out of no where. I would however, be remiss in believing that it has been ONLY the passage of time that helps me today recognize it is not the dentist working on my son that I am panicking about.

Years of learning and working to understand the true nature of my feelings and eruptions has enabled me to see this. Seeing it then gives me options. I can acknowledge the feelings and memories in a knowing way. Knowing they are coming, remembering, and be grateful. Then I can come back to the present moment right here at the pediatrics dentist office, and see the good mom I am and, be the good mom telling him how proud I am of HIS courage to do this.

Why is pickle juice popular at running event aid station?

Pickle juice has come into view as trending “sports drink” and an aid station item at ultra running event. This is primarily for the salt and perhaps to meet some kind of strange endurance-runner palate craving . The craving and electrolyte may have little to do with why some athletes benefit from pickle juice according to this interesting research.

Cramping continues to be pretty allusive and an unsolvable problem for many athletes. I think some cramps, the kind that start as small tingles and grow into major cramp, are likely to be triggered by lack of hydration/electrolytes.

Ion muscle-channel activators found in pickle juice and mustard that may serve as an “anti-cramp” by helping to relieve the dramatic, sudden, and paralyzing-type cramps that occur in sport.

I workout first thing in the morning, when should I eat?

I workout first thing in the morning, and lately I’m increasing my workout ( adding strength training and interval training). Normally I don’t eat anything before, but I’ve been feeling wiped out during the longer workouts. I’m wondering when you would recommend eating and of that might help me?


It is no wonder you are feeling wiped out!  An increase in intensity and duration of a workout can increase your energy needs, and after an eight hour fast (while you were sleeping), you have little fuel available in your blood stream for immediate use by those  muscles.  You need to get some quick fuel in to fire up the muscles to work better for you! High in carbohydrate food eaten or drank before you get started  can make a big difference in the quality of your AM workouts.

If you roll right out of bed and into your workout clothes there will be little time for foods containing fiber, fat, and protein to digest. So keep it simple to limit stomach aches. My appetite isn’t all that first thing in the morning so I grab eight ounce glass for juice and a banana. This will provide quickly digested energy that will go straight your super-energy highway (your blood stream) to be delivered to the muscles for energy

If your workout is longer than one hour sip on a sports drink to give your muscles a continuous supply of energy.

Be sure to follow up your morning workout with other healthy breakfast items that are rich in both carbohydrate and protein such as bowl of cereal milk and fruit, or an egg with toast and yogurt.  This will prepare your body for consecutive daily workouts by  helping to promote faster recovery.


Energy from Your First Chair to Last Chair

The layers of clothing are on. The gear is packed. Poles, boards, boots, and helmet are ready for a great day of whatever the mountain has to offer. Only one thing can stop us is now, lack of energy and dehydration.  When I say “energy” I don’t mean the kind you get from the stimulating effects of a good cup of coffee. While that is a nice boost to help feel energetic, it is not actually the energy muscles and mental focus need to keep moving all day.

Hitting the last chair as hard as the first is challenging for us all. You can however, increase your odds of sustaining the energy you need if you plan good nutrition to support your activity.

As a snow sports enthusiast, a mom of two boys who love to charge, and a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) at Clif Bar & Company, I know a thing or two about nutrition for sustained energy.

Her are my top nutrition strategies for full day of snow packed adventu

  1. Make the activity the main event, not the food

Plan what your will eat and when around the activity instead of the other way around most people are accustomed too. This is a big shift on and off the mountain. Doing this helps me to improve the quality and quantity of what I eat. I am more motivated to by energizing my activity then I am satisfying a fleeting craving.  Making the epic activities the centerpiece of the day may help you plan for optimal energy and hydration around your main event.

  1. Eat at hearty, wholesome, breakfast with staying power.

To best fuel the day around activity start with a hearty breakfast like an oatmeal loaded with nuts, seeds, and topped with some Greek yogurt for extra staying-power. This should ward off hunger pains through the parking lot trek and early morning turns.

  1. Plan for hydration have easy-to-handle snacks and water available.

Hydration and carrying water on me makes a huge difference in my energy level on the mountain. It doesn’t deliver energy itself but, it keeps the energy from the foods I eat circulating and helps me maintain focus throughout the day. An insulated (so the water doesn’t freeze in the reservoir) hydration pack is a great option for bring water along. I like to think of me brain and muscles as sponges. If they dry out they just don’t function as well as they could.

  1. Rethink your lunch hour

Plan small energy snacks for two to three key occasions before lunch. You can tuck almonds, CLIF BARs, or dried fruit in your pockets for easy access. Eating small, nutritious snacks will help you extend your appetite for a later lunch and take advantage of shorter lift lines while everyone else fights for seating and chows down.

  1. Boost the afternoon with small dose of sugar

Yes, you heard me right. I said eat sugar. Sugar eating during activity can serve as a valuable source of quick energy to the muscles and mind. I have one son who is particularly sensitive to a drop in energy which, is really just a drop in blood sugar. So, I keep small “doses” of sugar available in the form of CLIF BLOKS energy chews to distribute when I see the grumpiness sneaking in.

  1. Après recovery

Everybody loves the cozy comfort of après ski, me included! If however, I want to ski multiple days in a row I consider what my I need in the form of recovery food after a long day. SO long as Foods that provide a combination of carbohydrate (grains, pasta, bread) and protein (fish, cheese, beef) along with a healthy dose of nutrients from vegetables are a great bet and they can be fun foods too. My favorite recovery meal combination is a cheese burger and a side of veggies.

Nutritious food plays a big part in delivering energy to active bodies, and it is common to underestimate the impact it can have on your day.  So think of it like this, eating the right food at the right time is like good gear and it is a necessary piece to get the most out of your lift ticket and an excellent powder day!