Category Archives: Fitness

Let’s Rock 2018

Emily's snow photo

Now that we’re fairly settled into the new year, snow is (hopefully) falling for most of you, and we’ve gotten past the “resolution rush”, now is a great time to start thinking about, or remind ourselves of, what we want to accomplish in 2018.

For a little bit of inspiration, we’ve turned to our incredible Atlas Athletes, who are sharing their stories, their motivations, and their goals this year.

Brandy

I use snowshoe running to get in shape for my summer of mountain/trail running! If I get the opportunity to travel to Snowshoe Nationals, my goal will be to make the National Snowshoe Team by placing in the top 5 and also finish as the 1st master’s runner.

As for my summer racing goals, they are a work in progress. My two main focuses right now are the Mt. Washington Road Race & trying to make the US Long Distance Mountain Running team to compete at the Long Distance World Championships in Poland in June. If selected, my goal will be to place in the top 10.

My goals for Mt. Washington are:

1) Finish in the top 3 women.

2) Run a post-baby PR.

3) Break the Master’s record.

To obtain these goals, I am currently working on weaning Zeke, getting him to sleep through the night and build a huge aerobic base. Lack of sleep definitely affects one’s training.  We moved to Summit County this past summer. I live near Keystone resort which allows uphill running/snowshoe access. I’ve been using this “hill” to build my strength and endurance. My goal is to run up the mountain at least 3 times a week!

Other goals I have for this summer,

1) Compete in at least one new race.

2) I’d also like to compete in one new or longer distance race this fall.

A few general tips I have for goal setting:

1) Be specific and make your goals measurable.

2) Be realistic with where you are at right now and set smaller goals to help you reach your ultimate goals.

3) Use your goals as motivation on the days you struggle to get out of bed or out the door.

4) Enjoy the process/journey of training for your goals regardless of the outcome.

5) Be grateful for the gift of health!

Colleen

My entire focus for this year is being able to show up at the start line in Silverton Colorado for the Hard Rock 100.  I am fortunate to get a second chance at a  race I’ve been gunning for for years. It certainly will not be a podium finish.     I made it in last year and tore my ACL and Meniscus in a training race.  It’s been a difficult journey back.  It’s a hard injury to come back from at  any age and even more so at my age.  I struggle with doubt and uncertainty but mostly the unknown.  I hope I am doing what I should be doing.  I’ll be pushing to the max when technically I should ” just about be back to normal”   I question when to push when to rest.  I lack trust in my body which is a new sensation and scary.  I am tentative which I deplore, but this is a new journey and goal is to continue to learn and grow and finish!!

Emily

My goals for 2018 all focus around training smarter. As an injury-prone athlete, I want to make the most of each run and minimize the risk factors leading towards overuse injuries. In order to train smarter, I have significantly decreased my mileage during the winter. This allows for harder, more goal-oriented workouts, more time and energy for snowshoeing, and several cross-training classes a week to equalize any muscle imbalances. Once marathon training rolls around in the spring, I will slowly amp up mileage with the added benefit of a solid base of speed and strength. I think making it through a training season without injury is 75% of the battle in reaching your goals. If I can make it to the start line uninjured, my other goals will follow.

Geoffrey

Over the past few years my goals have moved somewhat away from my personal experiences in the outdoors, and closer to a desire to find as many ways as possible to help others experience the pleasure and nourishment from moving their bodies through wild and scenic places. This winter I have begun to work more closely with a group of kids here in Juneau, Alaska who are trying out for the upcoming Arctic Winter Games snowshoe events. For the remainder of this winter, and for years to come I hope to be able to continue to work with others to teach them any skills, tips, and experiences that I have gathered along the way in my athletic career. These experiences working with others have become the most satisfying part of being an athlete, and the thing I most look forward to going forward.

geoffrey kids snowshoe

Jake

Personally, I am not motivated by a single race, event or activity on a fixed day or even over a specific period of time, as my main goal for my athletic pursuits is to continue to become a better all around endurance athlete through diversity in a variety of sports and more integration into my everyday life.  That’s not to say that I don’t want to race or compete, I certainly like to push myself, my focus is just more on competing within and finding new ways to improve and enjoy the outdoors in unique ways through multi-sport endeavors.  An example that comes to mind from the past was about 7 years ago, when I couldn’t even legitimately swim a single freestyle lap in the pool, and now I occasionally, and confidently, participate in 2+ mile open water swim events for fun.  I’m also attempting to pickup skate skiing this winter, which seems much harder than the classic skiing I’m used to from the couple times I’ve been out briefly, but the lack of snow this year has not been very helpful in supporting that effort.

Most front of mind for me in the coming months and year, is to mitigate running related injuries by continuing to integrate more strength and mobility work, and being smarter about identifying potential issues and addressing them before it’s too late. 

Additionally, I’d like to do more on the bikes this coming year, including a gravel event (signed up for one in April), a CX race and generally just becoming a better mountain biker, and maybe trying to do some climbing and bouldering outside of the gym.  Beyond the athletic related pursuits, I hope to travel and camp more this coming year and spend more casual time on the water (fly fishing and paddling); ideally also integrating some travel, adventure and racing across the various pursuits, whether it’s on the snowshoes, trail running or on the bikes, just getting outdoors and having self-propelled fun.      

Jake training

 

Karen

At 43, I am not sure I am going to get much faster then the times I ran in early to mid thirties! So this year I will lead a healthier life, give back more and be grateful for each day that I have. My sister had a unexpected double lung transplant this past June which put ideals for our family back in perspective.  Instead of getting frustrated that maybe I didn’t get enough workouts in, or woke up not feeling well the day of the race, I will try and not complain about silly little things  and think about someone who really has a problem, like just being able to breathe. Sometimes its better to not focus on a time or a place in a race but be grateful to physically be able to compete.

Sarah

My New Years resolutions are filled with fitness goals and new challenges, and 2018 is no exception! I plan to enter a fitness body competition, fine tune my diet as my needs are always changing as I age, and travel to more snowshoe races this winter. We love to race as a family and I’m proud that our 7 year old and twin 11 year olds can run a 5k snowshoe race no matter how difficult the course or how nasty the weather. It’s the perfect family day with exercise and well deserved treats after. Besides hot chocolate and pastries. Some races serve homemade soup! And I love the sound of “McMahan” being called to the podium 5 times.

sarah mcmahan family

Stephanie

Below are some of my goals for 2018:

1) Compete in US Skyrunning races:  I love mountain running and have found this to be my strength over the years.  I live in the mountains and do almost all of my training in the mountains, so this year I am more focused on racing to my strengths.  Skyrunning events take place at high altitude with high elevation gain.  In the past I’ve raced with no specific plan in mind, but this year I am really focused on racing challenging courses which get me really excited – not just choosing races for the sake of racing.  Doing mountain racing also allows me to really use snowshoeing in the winter to my advantage.  With snowshoeing, I can still get out on the trails in the winter and work on my uphill strength.

2) Complete the TransSelkirks Stage Race in Canada.  My absolute favorite format of racing is Stage Racing in the mountains  I have been lucky enough to compete in the TransRockies 6 Day Run twice, so I am really excited to head to Canada to the Canadian Rockies for their 5 day run.

3) Gain UTMB points to eventually compete in the CCC.  This is a race that covers challenging mountain terrain through France and Switzerland.  To gain entry, you must complete qualifying races worth certain point amounts.

4) Professionally, my husband and I just purchased a gym in Big Bear Lake, CA – one of my favorite places in the world!  I feel such a connection with the mountains and town there and it has been a dream of ours for years to purchase an existing gym there.  We plan to make the gym a big success!  I have a big goal to start a trail run and snowshoe series in Big Bear!

 

 

Review: Spindrift “Get Up to Get Down”

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Courtesy of Outdoor ProLink

Get Up to Get DOWN!
For when those couloirs are finally filled in, you’ve shaken the
summer rust off your ski legs, and you’re ready to really get after it, the Atlas Spindrift snowshoes are there for you. When it’s too steep for skins, and too deep to just pop the ski crampons on, these snowshoes will get you up the big lines. With use in the Chugach Range of Alaska, these snowshoes have been put to the test in temperatures of 0F, and on slopes up to 35.

spindrift skier uphill

Fit/Comfort
Thanks to Atlas’s new PackFlat™ binding the spindrifts stay snug on
the boot, with no adjustment needed throughout the hike. The Z-strap design and light-weight construction make them feel like an extension of your foot; essential in climbing steep coolies.

spindrift closeup

Look/Style
While no one wants to admit it, style is an important component of
our gear. Atlas’s design team updated several features of these snowshoes, style being one of them. The red trim on black is a pretty sleek look, but I appreciate that they aren’t trying to catch anyone’s attention with flashy colors.

Features
The urethane strap bindings are the first thing I appreciated about
these snowshoes, along with the extra utility strap that comes with the Spindrifts. They’re exceptionally easy to replace in the field. That being said, I had no issues with the durability of the straps. Unfortunately, in cold weather the straps are a bit difficult to work with. The heel lifters are the second feature that caught my attention during use. They’re easy to put up and down, and on snowshoes built for steep ascents, efficient lifters are an absolute requirement. If you’ve ever tried toe pointing up a hill, you know how quickly your calves burn out. These heel lifters give a much-needed assist on big climbs.

Weight/Packability
The Spindrift 25’s weigh in at 3.8 pounds per pair, but mind Atlas’s
size chart when buying them. If you and your gear weigh upwards of 180, go for the heavier Spindrift 30’s. Sure, it’s an extra 0.4 pounds, but the extra floatation will help save your energy for when you want it on the descent. When its time to strap them to your pack and charge back down the mountain, they easily attach to your pack, allowing you to keep the weight of your pack close to your body.

spindrift backpack

Function/Performance

According to Atlas, the Spindrifts are designed for speed and performance on technical terrain. To that end, they do exceptionally well. However, (on low density snow) they don’t always provide as much floatation as you need. This is a trade off you have to accept for their lightweight build and small profile, and they’re certainly a better option than boot packing.

Durability/Construction

So far, so good. Though it hasn’t been a full season, the Spindrifts have held up incredibly well and Alaska isn’t known for going easy on its people or their gear.

The final word

The Spindrift’s do exceptionally well in most conditions. Given spring temps on days you’re most likely to be climbing steep couloirs, they are easy to strap on, feel great under foot, and keep you from post-holing up to your waist as you might on a boot pack. When the temps drop, so does the functionality. The Atlas’s urethane straps become harder to adjust with a gloved hand than you might expect.

Bio

Logan spends his summers as a guide (ice climbing, glacier travel, rafting) in the Alaskan wilderness of Wrangell-St. Elias NP. He chases snow and big mountain lines through the winter. If he’s not on skis you’ll likely find him climbing rock or ice.

New to Snowshoeing Series, Part 3: Fuel=Energy

Photo credit: Dare2Tri

In Part 3 of our “New to Snowshoeing” series (which isn’t just for newbies!) we’ll be discussing fuel, nutrition, and hydration. The third major piece of the goal-conquering puzzle.

If you missed part 1, you’ll find it here

If you missed part 2, get it now

So you’ve got the gear, you’re training your mind and your muscles, and you’re ready to head out for a longer training or even for the big day (hike day, race day, etc). You’ve spent all that time (and money) getting ready, you need to make sure you’re fueling properly. There’s no glory in reaching the peak in record time if you end up fainting on the trail or in the hospital that night.

Proper fuel and hydration is a key component to training in the cold. The common problem is most people think they only need to hydrate when it’s hot out. NOT TRUE! Here are a few reasons why dehydration can sneak up on us in the winter (courtesy of the endurance experts at Fleet Feet):

1)     Cold air contains less moisture than warm air. With each breath we take, our lungs must moisturize the air, which steals moisture from our body. If it’s really cold out, you can try wearing a mask or a balaclava that covers your face which will help to moisture and warm the air before it enters the lungs. The air inside of buildings is also really dry during the winter months. If you are traveling and will be flying, you can add that to the list of dehydrating factors. Think of how dry the air inside of an airplane is.

2)     Sweat evaporates quicker in cold weather. If you are properly layered, your base-layer should wick the moisture away from your body, so you won’t feel like you are sweating that much. Perspiration that does reach your skin is quickly evaporated and you might not even feel that sweaty at the end of your run. You might think, I didn’t sweat that much, so I don’t need to drink that much. Not true! Try weighing yourself before and after your run or hike. You should drink about 20 ounces of fluid for every pound that you sweat out.

3)     Urine production is increased during cold weather. Blood flow is constricted when it’s cold. This constriction causes an increase in blood pressure. The body tries to counteract the higher blood pressure by getting rid of some of the volume of water in the blood. It does this by increasing urine output which contributes to dehydration.

4)     Cold weather does not trigger the thirst response like warm weather does. Blood flow to the extremities is constricted during cold weather. The blood instead is directed towards the internal organs in an attempt to maintain core body temperature. As long as the core has sufficient blood flow, the brain does not detect dehydration, and the thirst response is not activated. This is good for survival, but bad for hydration! The take home point here is, don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink!

Pro Tip: How much and what to drink?

Everybody is different in terms of how much fluid they need. A general rule of thumb is to take in about   6 ounces of fluid for every 20 minutes of exercise. For exercise lasting less than an hour, water typically does the job just fine. When running or hiking for greater than an hour, you should also be replacing electrolytes.

Pro Tip: Nutrition

If you’re going to be out there for longer than an hour (even if there’s a RISK you could get tired or lost and be out longer than expected) bring non-liquid nutrition such as gels, blocks, granola bars, a PB&J–anything with calories to keep your energy up. This is where that hydration pack or small backpack comes into play. No excuses!

Pro Tip: Train with what you plan on eating for race/summit day. Remember your stomach is a muscle; you train it just like you do your legs. You wouldn’t run to the top of Mt Hood without training, would you? Then don’t expect your stomach to handle new foods, especially if they’re jostling around with running. Training with different foods helps you know what your body can handle, and unfortunately what it can’t.

Believe it or not, fuel can be a mental support mechanism as well. It’s okay to reward yourself with proper fuel when you’re out there. If you’ve brought your favorite bar or most epic trail mix, think of it as a reward for reaching certain points in the day. That will remind you to eat and keep you happy and healthy. Again, we’re having fun out there.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our series and stay tuned for more tips and tricks throughout the season!

New to Snowshoeing Series, Part 2: Training Your Way to a Happy Day

Photo credit Jill Bethany

This article is the second part in our “New to Snowshoeing” series. (If you missed part 1, you can find it here.) But it isn’t just for people who are new to snowshoeing; these tips are also great for snowshoers who are looking to tackle a new goal such as summiting a major peak or running a race.

In this chapter we’ll be discussing training.

Training

When a lot of us think of “training” we think of logging tons of volume in the end-goal activity: hiking, running, swimming, biking, lifting weights. However, our Atlas Athletes will be the first to tell you that a winter training mentality is very different from a summer training mentality.

With winter comes more obstacles:

  1. Motivation/Commitment: Addressed in Part 1.
  2. That Temperature: Having the right gear to combat extremely cold weather is extremely important.
  3. Safety: Snow and ice are slippery, there are less daylight hours, and much less visibility.
  4. Physical Challenges: It’s harder to work your muscles when they’re cold or when you’re coming from an “off season” regime of eating gingerbread men and watching “A Christmas Story” marathon.

But have no fear, we have tips to address all these obstacles!

First: Mental Training

Pro Tip: When we asked Team Atlas how they train different in the summer versus winter, a lot of them gave mental training tips. First and foremost: HAVE PATIENCE, both long-term and short-term.

First, have patience with your body. It takes longer for muscles to warm up and get used to moving in the cold, on snow, and with shoes that aren’t worn everyday. Cold temperatures can also cause your body to fatigue quicker.

Second, have patience with your mind. It’s hard for the brain to adjust to thoughts of “Oh, I’m going slower,” or “Wow I’m more tired than normal.” Try to stay positive and alert. This is supposed to be fun after all!

Second: Preparing Your Body

Whether you’re training for a snowshoe run or a larger hike, your body will go through some physical changes (we want to challenge ourselves, right?). Snowshoeing is great cross-training if you normally participate in other activities, but you can cross-train for snowshoeing too!

Atlas is an outdoor company, but we understand the gym has a place in our lives. Sometimes the weather is simply too bad to be outside, or we need a mental break, or we don’t have time to drive to the hills. That’s okay!

Pro Tip: If your day involves the gym, make the most of it. Join a class to spice things up. Use the stairclimber to mimic uphills. Use the treadmill for speed workouts or hill repeats. Strength train your WHOLE body, not just your legs. Strengthening your core and upper body help you stay balanced, keep your form, and prevent fatigue.

Additional Pro Tip: You can also use the ramp of a parking garage or the stairs in a tall building to work the climbing muscles in your legs.

Third: Getting On The Snow

Pro Tip: If you are taking it to the snow, make sure you include a longer-than-average warm up. You don’t want to pull a muscle on the way up, or tire yourself out too early.

All of these short bursts of strength and speed indoors will help you obtain your snowshoe goals outside, even if they’re endurance-based. Going uphill, even a small hill, is no joke if your body is already tired.

Pro Tip: Don’t forget that what goes up must come down. If you reach the peak and you’ve completely wiped yourself out, it’s not fun using those same muscles to get back down. Plan for your whole day, not just the peak! That includes saving some muscle and mental energy to get yourself home safely. It also means fueling your body properly, which we’ll discuss in Part 3.

Photo Credit: Tim Hola, Atlas Athlete
Photo Credit: Tim Hola, Atlas Athlete

New to Snowshoeing Series, Part 1: Get Suited Up

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Perhaps you received some fancy new Atlas snowshoes as an awesome holiday gift… Maybe you’re making a New Year’s resolution to spend more time outside (even in the winter)… Or you could be trying to win the office step competition for bragging rights… Whatever your reason, snowshoeing is the answer.

And Atlas is here to get you started (and win that competition). Our ambassadors have loads of great advice for all abilities and fitness levels so you can get out on the snow safely to walk or run in potentially cold, wet, weather. Trust us, it’ll be great!

First: Commitment

Sometimes it’s hard to make yourself go outside in the winter. But the first step is making the proactive decision to just do it. Do you need motivation? Join a hiking group or sign up for a snowshoe race. Having something on the calendar will give you the extra motivation to train.

Pro Tip: It’s okay to feel awkward on snowshoes at first, but just commit to it and you’ll love it in no time!

Second: Gear

It’d be really hard to snowshoe without snowshoes, or a good jacket, or the right shoes. Every one of our ambassadors will tell you that the most important thing to them is quality gear. (We don’t pay them to say that, we swear!)

Snowshoes

Consider the type of terrain you will most often be exploring and factor in your weight to get the right amount of float on the snow.

Pro Tip: The filter on our website is a huge help. Simply select the gender with which you identify, where you’ll be using your snowshoes, and your desired terrain for a customized recommendation.

Footwear

Atlas makes great products, but you still need quality footwear to go into the bindings. If you’re using a speed series snowshoe, you can wear normal running shoes (our athletes recommend adding gaiters for extra protection). If you’ll be hiking, pair some thick socks with good hiking boots to keep your feet warm and dry. Nothing will cut your day short faster than cold, wet, toes.

Atlas Snowshoes - How To Dress

Clothing

Every one of our athletes had one word on when asked about clothing: LAYERS. The general rule of thumb is:

  • A high-quality breathable base layer
  • An insulating layer (thermal top, vest, jacket)
  • A waterproof shell

Remove a layer if the weather is warmer or dryer. Some people get cold easier so don’t base your needs on what your friends are wearing.

If you’re running or aggressively hiking, bring layers that are easy to remove and store. You’ll need those clothes to stay dry later on the way back down or if you pause to take a break. It also helps to have a lightweight pack to stash your layers, snacks, and HYDRATION (more to come on that in Part 3).

Pro Tip: If you’re dreading the cold day, Atlas athletes recommend putting your base layers in the dryer (if it’s safe to do so!) for a few minutes to warm them up.

Extras

A face buff is a great extra piece of gear to carry. Use a buff to warm your neck, put over your mouth to warm the air before it gets into your lungs on extremely cold days, or use it as a headband/hat or pirate headpiece (wanted to see if you’re paying attention).

Eye protection is often overlooked when snowshoeing but sunglasses are another great piece of equipment to stash in your bag. You think you’ll be in the woods the whole time or that it will stay cloudy, but if that sun comes out and reflects off the snow, you’ll want to save yourself from the glare; they can also protect your eyes from the wind and cold.

And don’t forget your gloves!

Safety

If you’re going to be running or hiking in low light or darker conditions (we don’t recommend it, but it happens) make sure to wear reflective clothing and bring a light with you. For just a few dollars at running stores, hardware stores, or even larger pharmacies, you can add this to your kit for great piece of mind. If you plan to spend a lot of time on the trail after dark, a reliable headlamp is a must. Make sure you’re seen out there!


Coming Soon, Part 2: Training Your Way to a Happy Day

Getting Off the Beaten Path on Mt. Hood

TomTomHood1
Photo Credit Jamie Mieras
Photo Credit Jamie Mieras

By Adam Chase, Atlas Team Captain

Even though Mt. Hood is just a 90-minute drive from downtown Portland and considered PDX’s playground, the amount of snow the upper regions of the volcanic and glacial mountain receives keeps the hoards away, leaving its open wilderness and National Forest areas wide open for exploration.

You can gain serious elevation by starting from Timberline Lodge, a beautiful 1937, Depression-era Work Projects Administration structure six miles up the access road from the town of Government Camp. Climber’s Trail is an obvious option for those wanting to head directly toward the rather daunting yet alluring summit. In other words, it goes straight up the mountain. The going isn’t easy but the views earned from ascending with every step are well worth the effort. Timberline Lodge sits at 6,000 feet above sea level while the summit of Mt. Hood is at 11,245 with the terrain getting rather technical above 9,500.

We did a four-mile out-and-back on snowshoes on a mostly sunny yet breezy day with temps in the high 30s and low 40s. It took more than 90 minutes to ascend 2,500 feet and less than 30 minutes to descend on the soft snow. We saw skiers and boarders who took two lifts to get to just above our turnaround point and plenty of climbers who were headed to make a Saturday night high camp before going for an early Sunday summit and the return home.

Unless the temperature is just right, you’ll need snowshoes, skis with skins, crampons or other traction device and maybe an ice axe or poles. It is a great calf workout and for those coming from sea level the altitude is sure to get the heart and lungs pumping hard.

It was tempting to turn around to check out the view of Portland, below, as the views were spectacular. But we were less than 3,000 feet from the top of the peak that is marveled at regularly by Portlanders, the way Seattle residents are in awe of Mt. Rainier. The ridge line of the summit and its snow- and ice-encrusted crown, like a white saw against the blue sky it cut with its teeth, is so compelling.

 

An Ode to the Local Shop

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Oh, Mom & Pop Shop!

Thank you for being you.

You support our adventures. You don’t laugh when we walk into your store and tell you our dreams. You hi-five us and lend us advice.

Thank you for being you.

You empathize with us. We share stories of victorious climbs, and commiserate when a goal goes unreached. You encourage us to keep moving.

Thank you for being you.

You educate us. When we don’t know what gear to bring, or want advice on your favorite products, you provide the guidance we need to begin our journey outside of the store’s walls.

Thank you for being you.

You bring us together. Be it the local community or connecting us to outdoor enthusiasts across the globe. You work long hours putting on events, giving us advice, teaching new skills, keeping us safe on our journeys, and bringing together new friends.

Thank you for being you.

Signed,

The Atlas Snow-Shoe Company

We encourage everyone to shop local this holiday season. Your local Atlas dealers can be found on our homepage. These dealers are leaders in your outdoor community and we are proud to direct you to them for your purchase needs, customer service, advice, or just to have a community of like-minded enthusiasts. Happy shopping everyone!

 

 

Long Distance Runners Can’t Jump

Photo Credit Jill Bethany

By Adam W. Chase, Atlas Team Captain

Adolescence is an intimidating enough period of life as it is, especially for runners, who tend not to “blossom” until much later in life . . . like our 40s or 50s. Add to that the awkwardness of growth spurts, cracking voices, acne, hair or glandular sprouting, and the angst of Holden Caulfield or Napoleon Dynamite the fact that we had to take the Presidential Fitness Award tests in junior high or middle school gym class and you have a veritable crescendo of humiliation.

I can’t say that I had really begun puberty by the eighth grade, or the eleventh grade for that matter, but I did suffer the embarrassment of having that delinquency made all the more apparent by forced showers every first Monday of the month, following the mandatory “20-minute run” in gym class. One first Monday we didn’t have the usual run. Instead we got to go through a battery of tests for the Presidential Fitness Award. Our gym teacher, who was the quintessential gym teacher who was only there to coach football and wore the obligatory polyester shorts, knee socks, polo shirt, whistle, and baseball cap, announced that we would be doing eight different tests and that would be scored against National standards. Before you read the next paragraph, quiz yourself to see how many of the tests you can dredge up from those awkward days.

The tests were: the mile run, 100-meter dash, shuttle run, curl-ups (sit-ups), push-ups, pull-ups, sit and stretch, and vertical leap. Girls did the “bent arm hang” in lieu of pull-ups. How would you fare if you were to perform those tests today? They will likely throw you right back to junior high or middle school days and make you feel humble. Hitting the 90th percentile or above in each of the seven graded tests – for some reason, the sit and stretch isn’t counted in the final tally – is a worthy goal because to do so locks in the Presidential Fitness Award.

As a runner, meeting the standard is relatively easy in the mile. The pull-ups, curl-ups, and push-ups may be more of a challenge. For push-ups the rule requires that you touch your chest to a three-inch pad for it to count and the women are allowed to do them with their knees on the floor. The shuttle run is harder than you’d think. The trick is to wet the soles of your feet for greater traction on dusty gym floors. Long-distance runners may be challenged by the 100-meter dash.

But, for endurance folks like me, the sockdolager of the Fitness Challenge is the vertical leap. Is this a test for basketball players? Hell, I skip rope and do squats on a regular basis. As a snowshoer I have to regularly leap over logs, small dogs, and other obstacles that block the path. And I’m not a heavy guy either. What’s the story?

I was bemoaning this fact to Nikki Kimball, who was on the podium back at the first snowshoe National Championships and was a member of Team Atlas, and is a physical therapist, and she told me that the book she was reading had the perfect explanation. Bernard Heinrich’s Why We Run, does indeed put it quite nicely: “One cost of aerobic running fitness is loss of explosive muscular strength.  When untrained, I normally bound up three stairs at a time, but I know I’m becoming trained for long-distance running when I can do only two at a time.”

Well, I suppose that after more than 30 years of training my body to run long distances, there just isn’t much spring in my skinny little legs. At least my voice doesn’t crack, I don’t have zits, and unlike some of the big guys out there for the Fitness Challenge, a mile run is merely a warm-up.

Meet The Team

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We here at Atlas Snow-Shoe Company feel incredibly lucky to have people who love our product. Our engineers spend years working on perfecting something as large as a crampon and as small as a buckle, and it’s pretty cool to see our fans out in the real world using the snowshoes to tackle a mountain, a race, or a family hike.

The benefit and the drawback of outdoor adventuring is that it’s often done in less-populated, quiet, areas. We want to show how much fun everyone is having on their snowshoes, but it’s hard sometimes! That’s where our ambassadors come in.

We are happy to announce our 2017/2018 Atlas Athlete Team. We received a LOT of applications to join this adventure and racing team. Our ambassadors reach far beyond this group; we welcome everyone to continue getting out there and sharing your adventures with us by tagging us on social @atlassnowshoes.

The Atlas Team represents people of all ages, geographic areas, skill levels, and they all have different goals for the next winter. Follow them on our blog, and on our social (@atlassnowshoes), to see where their snowshoes will take them.

Meet the Team

Adventure On Atlas Fans!

Staying Outside During “Back to School”

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It’s that time of year again! New clothes, new pencils (or electronic pens and tablets), new backpacks. Some kids are excited, and some might be dreading, the inevitable back to school weeks.

For a lot of families, “Back to School” might also mean more time indoors. As school programs start to reduce, or maybe even cancel, gym and recess, it’s important to make sure your kids are continuing to learn outside the classroom. We at Atlas encourage year-round outdoor adventures, not just for your physical health, but also as exercise for the mind.

According to a study from The Child Mind Institute, “The average American child is said to spend 4 to 7 minutes a day in unstructured play outdoors, and over 7 hours a day in front of a screen”. This uptick in indoor-time even has a name: Nature Deficit Disorder.

Why is getting outside so important? Can’t kids learn just as well with their screens? The article lays it out for us:

  • It builds confidence. The way that kids play in nature has a lot less structure than most types of indoor play. There are infinite ways to interact with outdoor environments, from the backyard to the park to the local hiking trail or lake, and letting your child choose how he treats nature means he has the power to control his own actions.
  • It promotes creativity and imagination. This unstructured style of play also allows kids to interact meaningfully with their surroundings. They can think more freely, design their own activities, and approach the world in inventive ways.
  • It teaches responsibility. Living things die if mistreated or not taken care of properly, and entrusting a child to take care of the living parts of their environment means they’ll learn what happens when they forget to water a plant, or pull a flower out by its roots.
  • It provides different stimulation. Nature may seem less stimulating than your son’s violent video game, but in reality, it activates more senses—you can see, hear, smell, and touch outdoor environments.
  • It gets kids moving. Most ways of interacting with nature involve more exercise than sitting on the couch. Your kid doesn’t have to be joining the local soccer team or riding a bike through the park—even a walk will get her blood pumping. Not only is exercise good for kids’ bodies, but it seems to make them more focused, which is especially beneficial for kids with ADHD.
  • It makes them think. Nature creates a unique sense of wonder for kids that no other environment can provide. The phenomena that occur naturally in backyards and parks everyday make kids ask questions about the earth and the life that it supports.
  • It reduces stress and fatigue. According to the Attention Restoration Theory, urban environments require what’s called directed attention, which forces us to ignore distractions and exhausts our brains. In natural environments, we practice an effortless type of attention known as soft fascination that creates feelings of pleasure, not fatigue.

We get it, technology is a part of our everyday lives. But we encourage you to make a goal this fall and winter: to get out more or get out in a different way. Maybe this is the time to buy your kids some snowshoes. Maybe it’s getting them so cool new gear that gets them excited about being in the snow. What can we do to entertain our kids away from their screens? The Washington Trails Association has some great games you can print and bring on your hikes. Your kids will have fun, enjoy the outdoors, and YOU get more happy family time. Win win!