Start Slow: Your first time out, walk or run for 15 to 20 minutes on a flat, packed trail to get a feel for the shoes and find a comfortable pace. Take time to stretch afterward. For basic conditioning, gradually increase your time and pace, and seek looser snow and varied terrain. Once you’ve built a good aerobic base, step it up with the following workouts, suggested by the Winter Fit program, found at resorts, parks and schools nationwide. All can be done either walking or running. Always warm up beforehand, and cool down and stretch afterward.
Snow Depth Dashes: Snowshoe along a trail and periodically locate objects off the trail in deep snow, such as a tree or log. Veer off the path and snowshoe hard and fast until reaching the object. Return to the trail, walk easily to recover, and repeat farther along the path. If you’re snowshoeing with a group, the dashes can be done as races. Or each person can take turns picking out objects and heading for them while the others try to catch up.
Spectrum Loops: This works best after a snowfall on a 300- to 500-meter loop. Begin by snowshoeing around the loop in deep snow. Then rest for 20 percent of the time it took you to complete the loop. Repeat three to six times. Because the snow will change with each loop, your speed will change as well.
Hill Hikes: Pick one to three hills. Do hill repeats, ascending and descending at a steady pace (e.g., two minutes up, one minute down). Be sure to monitor your intensity or you may start out too quickly. Use this workout to build leg strength.
Timed Intervals: On a trail or loop, warm up for 10 minutes. Then do two-minute intervals, alternating low and high intensities. Start with 10 minutes of intervals and build to 30 minutes.
Workhorse Workout: Find a good sledding hill that takes one to five minutes to climb. Snowshoe up, pulling a child on an inner tube or sled. Then race them down. Repeat until your kids lose interest or you collapse.