We all know that winter is coming and it’s definitely on our minds! With winter most people put their bikes in storage, hide their trail running shoes and then scrape off the storage wax from their skis.
So now I want you to think back to this past spring (if you think spring actually existed!) or more so the last time you had your skis out and were storage waxing them or at least drying the wet snow off them so they don’t rust over summer. Remember that first run after a stellar winter of skiing? Remember trying to transfer all your ski fitness to running fitness? Remember how sore your muscles were? No fun and also a recipe for injury which could ruin your summer.
Luckily living in California not only do we have great skiing in winter but also great running in winter. In Tahoe unless you enjoy running in snowshoes, which many do, or are like some that get up at the wee hours of the morning to beat the traffic out (I know who you are, I’ve seen your bouncing headlamp at 4:30am up Old County!) the options are limited. However if you want to keep that running fitness throughout one excellent option is to check out some races at the lower elevations, mainly down in the San Francisco Bay Area.
An excellent resource is Pacific Coast Trail Runs. These guys have events at least twice a month throughout winter. The coolest thing is that even though it’s a race the atmosphere is designed for everyone and the focus on personal achievement. Heading to lower elevations mid winter can be a nice break from the busy weekends in Tahoe.
If you are lucky enough live up in the snow, and prefer to stay in the snow, running in Tahoe all winter is possible. As mentioned one option is snowshoeing. Atlas makes an excellent snowshoe made specifically for running on hard packed snowy trails. Light weight, a minimalist crampon, and a binding that accepts running shoes provides an excellent way to make winter running more enjoyable and safer. I believe we’re trying to have a few pairs of these in demo at Alpenglow Sports this winter. Places to go? Any hard packed or groomed trail. Tahoe XC is a great option for groomed trails however Blackwood Canyon is a good spot to go for a quick morning run and gets packed by snowmobiles. Blackwood Canyon is about 4.5 miles south of Tahoe City on CA-89 and is a California Sno-Park so you’ll need a Sno-Park Permit which we sell at Alpenglow. For more info on snowshoe running/racing this blog, Snowshoe Running in Lake Tahoe is dedicated to it and has a ton of useful info and links pertaining to the subject.
If you are an early bird and prefer to run on the roads visibility is obviously a huge concern. Reflective high-vis clothing and a headlamp are key for being seen in the dark or any time of the day. You could also use a flashing cycling tail light to alert drivers of your presence. Traction some days can be an issue too. I’ve used the Kahtoola Micro Spikes in the past for frosty fall or midwinter frozen roads and they work great. At first look you think you’ll feel them on your feet however they’re actually quite unobtrusive. One other option is by Matt Carpenter, here’s his recipe for Screw Shoes.
So until then pray for snow, enjoy the fall trail running, and take advantage of less traffic in Blackwood Canyon road (car-free makes for a nice bike ride, run or roller-ski!), hopefully it will close soon.