World champion Marco De Gasperi reveals all to improve performance on snow, rock, mud and ice.
First tip: preparation is a must for snow running
If you are new to running, it is definitely worthwhile gradually acclimatising yourself before participating in trail and winter trail competitions, because the risk of injury or muscle contraction is higher than when running on a flat. You’ll need to get to grips with the uneven terrain and be aware of the risk you run if caught unprepared.
Second tip: how to dress appropriately for snow running
Those interested in trail running on snow-laden paths must be prepared for low temperatures and extremely high humidity. Even if the sun is shining, the conditions will be harsh. For this reason, I recommend wearing gear that adequately covers the muscles, starting with the legs. Otherwise, the risk of muscle pain is high. It goes without saying, of course, that I am not talking about typical mountain-getaway clothing here. However, the three-layer principle is vital: a first layer as a breathable “second skin” (merino wool for example); a heat-regulating second layer (fleece or similar); and a wind, rain and snow-resistant third layer. That's without the beanie hat, gloves, socks and mini gaiters. Furthermore, tuck a heavy jacket into your backpack, should you plan or need to stop.
Third tip: how to tackle the ascent
Not everyone has the stamina to run uphill. For many, it’s about walking as fast as possible. We advise landing on your forefoot and tapping your toe into the snow to discover how much you can sink, in turn creating small steps in which you can look for grip. If you try to do this with your foot “flat”, you will see that it slips backwards. In any case, it is important to significantly reduce the stride, in order to always be in control, even by using tracks or depressions made by those who have passed before us. However, if vertical climbs are too exerting or you find that you are out of breath, De Gasperi recommends that everyone use poles and maybe even crampons to increase their grip.
Fourth tip: how to tackle the descent
The biggest adrenaline-pumping moment for any winter trail runner: running on snow, at breakneck speed, downhill. However, emotion can give way to risks if control is lost. The advice is to keep your centre of gravity low and use your hands and arms to help keep your balance; these should open and lower as you move. Then there is the issue of slipping: sometimes this is inevitable and it is worth acknowledging that you can never be 100% in control on a snowy descent, especially at the steepest points. You can never know what is lurking beneath the snow: ice, stones or even holes. For this reason, it is best to focus instead on always being in control of your stride.
Which shoes should you choose for trail running on the snow?
The best shoe for running on the snow is Ribelle Run Kalibra G. This footwear model’s main innovation is the lacing system that fully wraps around the foot, as if it were an ultra-protective sock. The polyurethane membrane is fastened by means of a water-repellent zip and Velcro strap. The shoe's clean design is set apart by the Ribelle line-iconic band which wraps around the entire foot, in turn protecting and isolating it from snow, mud and ice. Even the sole is perfect, thanks to the 6 mm pointed lugs that ensure traction on ice and mud, and have been specifically positioned in such a way to generate a series of self-cleaning channels, to prevent you from bringing a lot of mud home with you in the car post-race.