Category Archives: Team Post

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!

Join the Atlas Ambassador Team

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Are you interested in joining a community of winter enthusiasts? We are looking for Atlas Ambassadors for the 2017/2018 season. The Atlas Athlete Team boasts a variety of snowshoers: runners, hikers, backcountry adventurers, families, as well as all ages and from all regions of the globe.

We look at the people more than we look at your experience. So if you’re a die-hard snowshoe enthusiast, or if you’re just finding your snow legs, we want to hear from you.

We ask our ambassadors to contribute to blog posts, share on social media, and be leaders in the winter outdoor community. In exchange you get some sweet gear! Check out our website to learn more about our current Atlas Athlete Team.

Are you in? Click the link below to apply. Applications are due September 1st, 2017. Those accepted to Team Atlas will be notified by email.

Find the Team Application Here

National Trails Day is Coming!

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Photo credit: adventure cycling.org

June 3, 2017 marks the American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day. You might be asking, why does a snowshoe company care about a trails celebration when there’s no snow?

Well, we’re so glad you asked! It’s because we’re not just here to talk snowshoes, we’re here to encourage everyone to get outside, get active, and explore their surroundings. The outdoor community is, let’s face it, an awesome one. But, there are people who just don’t have the resources to get out and take on new adventures. We want to encourage newbies and experienced explorers to get out as much as possible, get healthy, involve their family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. Snowshoeing is a great way to stay active in the winter, and is friendly to all ages and athletic levels, but there’s  also a lot to do once the snow melts.

We asked our Atlas athletes to share their favorite trails and tips. Sarah McMahan and her family have an incredible place to explore all year long. Here’s what she shared with us:

The reason we live where we live (in Lake Tahoe, elevation 7,500ft) is there are trails abound!  Year round, we can head out straight from our front door to run, bike, or snowshoe.  And our goal is always to climb, high above the trees, to soak up the views.

In Tahoe, we love the Incline Flume and Rim trail, which is great for our whole family- 3 boys ages 6 and twins 11.

Just about every vacation we go on we explore trails, and climb our way to bliss.

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Feeling inspired? Check out the American Hiking Society’s website to see how you can get involved in National Trails Day.

Getting out on your own? Share your photos and stories with us @atlassnowshoes to keep the inspiration rolling!

The Most Underrated Winter Endurance Sport

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Atlas Team Member Karen Melliar-Smith

Over the river and through the woods….Thanks to Beaver Creek for once again putting on a great snowshoe race, which has to be the most underrated winter endurance sport. And to Atlas Snowshoe Co. for engineering some great running snowshoes, I am sure I test them to their limits.

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#Blizzard2016

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Atlas Adventure Team Member Matt Novak

I’ll admit it here: I’ve never liked winter (GASP!). For my adult-life anyways, I’ve never liked winter. Without the proper gear and a serious physical bend for S.A.D. It just never struck me as a season that was particularly cheery. Here’s the great irony in all of this: I realized that my anti-winter attitude was more about not being able to get outside than anything else, so once I discovered snowshoeing, I actually, dare I say it, might love winter. Still not seeing the irony? Well 2015/2016 happens to be an unusually strong el Nino year and if you live in the North-East like me then you’ll know we’ve had about as much snow as they typically get in Georgia. See it now? The winter fairies are laughing at me… no snow. The thing I’ve waited for for months now.

All that changed last week as Winter Storm Jonas came barreling up the Eastern Seaboard and wouldn’t you know it, the Hudson Valley was about to get HAMMERED. I messaged my friend Lawrence and gave very clear, short directions. “BIG SNOW. HIKING FROM MY HOUSE FRI @ 3P. BRING SNOWSHOES.” He listened well enough and rolled up to my house at 2:30 with dog in tow and some grass fed beef for the fire.

We hiked out, shoes on our packs because there wasn’t a flake on the ground yet but the atmosphere felt dense with promise. And it was there, that we plopped down on the outskirts of a half frozen reservoir and began the wait.

Forecast called for first flakes at 11PM with high winds, big drifts and snowfall rating about an inch an hour. and that’s what I kept repeating to myself as I sat by the fire and waited.

11PM – Nothing

12PM – Nothing

Finally I slept; dejected; knowing there would be no snow. It must’ve been one of those typical nor’easters: easily drifting out to see as they woudl dump two feet of snow.

But when I woke up, not true. Winter wonderland had come. Enough to make fresh track for days and make this guy pretty stoked to have decided he didn’t hate Winter after all.

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Winter Fitness

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Atlas Team Member John Tribbia shares how to accept winter weather in your running routine, and why snowshoeing is great off-season cross-training.

Uncertain footing in snow and ice can discourage the dedicated endurance athlete, even a member of the Atlas Race Team like myself, from running during the winter. When it gets ugly underfoot, it’s all too easy to just give and go to the gym and get on the treadmill. But if you’re looking to get your fix of fresh air and sunshine, along with a great workout, snowshoe running might be the ticket. Snowshoe running is a fast-growing sport in the US, offering a safe, low-impact alternative to running on trails, giving you a new way to build strength and fitness during the winter months.

Interested? Here are a few basic tips on how to get started:

EQUIPMENT

Running snowshoes differ from trekking/hiking snowshoes in three ways. First, they have spring-loaded bindings. Your cadence and footplant are slowed down significantly when running on a very soft surface like snow, and this is exaggerated with the added bulk of a snowshoe. Spring-loaded bindings help provide a quicker return when you push off the soft ground.

Second, running snowshoes have narrower frames to enable you to run with a more natural stride, instead of forcing you into an awkward waddle. Thirdly, they are constructed with lighter materials to lessen fatigue. Running in snowshoes uphill, in soft snow, or at altitude will tire you out more than any workout you’ve probably ever done, and the lightweight materials of running shoes do actually make a big difference.

CLOTHING/FOOTWEAR

Don’t overdress. The weather outside might be frightful, but running in snowshoes kicks your internal thermostat into high gear. Like running in sand, running in snow is a lot more work, and you’re going to sweat. Light, wicking underlayers and breathable outer layers (with ventilation options if you’re going with a hard shell) are key.

In addition, keep in mind that most snowshoes kick up snow on your backside. With your body temperature rising as you run longer, the snow being kicked up on you will melt and surely turn you into a soggy mess. For that reason, waterproof or at least water-resistant outer layers are key. Avoid back pockets or hoods, which fill up with flying snow from your stride.

On your feet, you’ll want either a light hiker or a running shoe, preferably with waterproof or weather-resistant protection. Gaiters come in very handy to keep the snow out of your shoes; an overbootie is not a bad idea if your shoes aren’t very waterproof. Wool or wool-blend socks (ski socks) are ideal because wool can still keep you warm, even when wet. If it’s sunny, sunglasses are a must to protect your eyes from the reflection off the snow.

WHERE TO GO

Start at home. Practice putting your snowshoes on and taking them off; the last thing you want is to be in a cold trailhead parking lot and not know how to work your bindings. Your run will not go well if your snowshoes are flopping around, so make sure in advance that the bindings work well with the shoes that you’re planning on wearing. You can also walk around on carpet or outside to get a feel for what it is like to move with snowshoes. For your first run, start small. Try something short, mellow and close to home—a groomed or packed trail is ideal.

Once you’re ready to venture out, most Nordic centers allow snowshoes, some parks and forest-service areas have trails that are groomed; the Northeast is known for having well-maintained snowmobile trails to run on. You should also check out snowshoes.com to find snowshoeing trails near your home or vacation spot.

GET SOCIAL

Organize a group snowshoe run with friends, find a local running shoe store that is hosting group snowshoe runs, or hop in a race. There is a wide selection of races, mostly 5K and 10K distance, across the U.S. To locate a race near you, check out the following resources:

United States Snowshoe Association

Atlas Beaver Creek Snowshoe Race Series

Pedal Power, Vail Series

Athlete Anticipation

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Atlas Team Member Sarah McMahan talks about the excitement for the coming season after an ankle injury and disappointing snow last year.

The word on the street in Lake Tahoe is this year we are expecting and El Nino winter. Since I believe in the power of positive thought, I’m planning for lots of snow and finally some snowshoe races in our area.  2014 was quite disappointing — most nordic centers didn’t even open, trails were bare, and snowshoe races cancelled. We felt confined to climbing ski slopes on man made snow before the sun came up and the resorts opened.

I’m especially excited to get my winter running on after sitting out all summer with an ankle injury. I love to grab my snowshoes and head up to our local Mt. Rose meadows for a run. Choose from packed down popular routes, flat loops, peaks to climb, or bomb off trail in deep snow for a real leg burner. I don’t keep track of my time or distance – just go. (OK I do peek at my watch when I’m all done just to see.)

 Let it snow!!!

-Sarah