Traction Devices

This is part of an off-season gear series here at Of Miles and Mountains.

First and most importantly, screw shoes! You may have heard runners talk about this. It’s the cheapest and simplest option. You simply screw sheet metal screws into the sole of your shoe, so that the heads of the screws function as little studs and grip the ice, or the road below the slush. They work great on roads with black ice, or that have a layer of slush or loose snow on them. They don’t work as well in thick snow, or on packed trails in the snow.

What you’ll need:

For my screw shoes, I prefer #6 sheet metal screws, as the heads are lower profile. That way, you don’t feel like you’re running in soccer cleats. The best length depends on your shoe. If you have max cushion shoes that don’t compress much (firmer cushioning) you may be fine with 1/2.” If your shoes compress a lot, or are minimalist, you’ll likely need 3/8.” I couldn’t find 3/8″ at Home Depot, so I got self-drilling screws, and cut the ends off the ones in the extreme forefoot, where the cushion is slightly thinner and more compressible.

A drill with a socket, or a socket driver (looks like a screwdriver, but with a socket on the end. A ratchet will just frustrate you, as it’s nearly impossible to get the pressure applied straight.

Here’s a two-minute video to show you what to do.

 

Snowshoes!

If you’ve not tried snowshoe running, you’re missing out! Its a fast-growing winter sport aimed at the Olympics in the near future! In the Northeast, we have the Granite State Snowshoe Series, as well as the Northeast Snowshoe Championship (also part of the GSSS). You can also enter a race to snowshoe up the Mt. Washington auto road!

In addition to races, snowshoes are a great training tool. If you are prone to hip flexor soreness, begin very slowly, as the extra weight is noticeable after the miles stack up. Snowshoes will slow your pace down a little, but you’d be surprised at how natural running can feel with them, and how quickly you can move with them!
I personally recommend Dion Snowshoes, though there are some other great brands as well. Dion’s 121 model is the narrowest and smallest snowshoe allowed by the US Snowshoe Association. It’s incredibly light too, at 2 lbs, 4 oz per pair with bindings and cleat! They’re also modular, so you can get other frames to swap out when you want to go hiking.

Snowshoes are (obviously) designed for deeper snow, but will also work on packed snow, as long as there is plenty underfoot so you don’t scrape them up too badly on rocks.

Other traction products:

“Microspikes”

These are mini-crampons that you strap onto your shoes, kind of like Yak-Trax. They’re triangular points, about 5/8″ long, arranged under both toe and heel. Ideal for running and hiking on packed snow, or if there are a few inches of fresh powder on packed snow. Not ideal for large amounts of unpacked snow, or very thin amounts of snow.

Good brands are: Hillsound (look for the Trail Crampon or the Ultra Trail Crampon, which are stainless steel), or Kahtoola.

Yak-Trax

Be careful with these. You need to stay away from anything with coils on the bottom, as they are designed basically for shoveling. You WILL slip on ice with the coils! I’ve heard good things about the Yak-Trax Run, which has combination coils and carbide spikes, but I can’t recommend it personally. I also would be hesitant to say try them if you are a heel-striker, as the coils are on the heel.

 

See my post about clothing for running in the winter, and where to find the BEST deals on gear!

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