Sunday, December 9, 2012

Winterizing Running Shoes

Winter seems to be here for good now (thank goodness!). It's heavily snowing outside, which means it's time to ski more than run, but I can't help but keep running through the winter. I love the simplicity of it: grab shoes, gloves, hat, and go. While the roads are sometimes icy, I've found that for the most part, they stay in pretty good shape. Scott Running makes an awesome shoe designed especially with us Northerners in mind, the IceRunner. It has great grip and an overlay on the upper to keep snow from getting clumped up in the laces, and provides another layer between the cold air and your toesies.

This is pretty much actual size.
If you still have life in your current shoes, though, don't despair. With a minor modification of your running shoes, you can stay upright and confident in whatever weather conditions Mother Nature throws your way. There are several traction products on the market, but my favorite is the humble sheet metal screw. Available at any hardware store, you can get more than enough for just a couple of dollars. The most important thing is to get the smallest length screw you can find. I get 3/8" and never feel a poke through the midsole. The hex head of these screws turns your running shoe, and hence, you, into a winter rockstar.

As far as placing the screws, I like to put a few near the heel, and then distribute others along the sides where I know I land when I run. The beauty of this method (if you can even call it that) is that if you go running and wish you had more traction in a certain place, you can almost instantly change where they go. I don't like having a lot of screws on each shoe, but that's personal preference. One thing to think about when placing the screws is the thickness of the tread. If you screw them into the tread directly, you'll get more grip and will be less likely to go through the midsole (especially if you have a more minimal or a road shoe). I've done it both ways, and honestly, I'm not sure what worked better. Sometimes I think the screws, and traction, for that matter, is mainly a psychological comfort, but that's a different blog altogether.

Placebo or not, I haven't broken a leg yet, so I'll continue what has become for me, an enjoyable winter ritual. Then when spring comes, if there is anything left in the shoe, you can simply take the screws out and run free! The screws last several seasons if you can remember where you put them from the last year.

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