Friday, January 25, 2008

My Tractor Aint Got No Traction

In many parts of the country, winter is here and you've probably been slipping and sliding a bit on your training runs. It seems that each year around this time, some new products come out to address the traction problem for runners. For several years, Judy and I have used Yak Trax for our daily walks with the dogs. They are nice because they can slip over any shoes you happen to be wearing. We gave them as gifts to Judy's parents (who live in upstate NY) a few years ago for when they need to be out walking around. Judy's father took a bad fall last month while getting their mail, pointing out the biggest design flaw of the Yak Trax; for maximum effectiveness, you have to have them on!

The last few years, I have run with just plain shoes, however, figuring that slipping is to be expected when running on snow. Also, the yak trax sometimes slip off your shoes (unnoticed to you) and so it is easy to lose them when running. With my current hamstring problem, it seems like any slipping is making it worse so I have been thinking about using the Yak Trax again. Well, in something approaching serendipity, my running buddy Dan Vega was helping me deliver and install some library cabinets and shelving at a home near here. While we were working, the homeowner was surfing the web and chatting with us. She had taken a bad fall that morning on her driveway and had stumbled across a webpage describing "screw shoes" and was asking us if we ever used them (she knew we were both runners). I walked over to her PC and she was looking at this page. Partway down the page is a photo of Dan drilling sheet metal screws into my running shoes! Here is the photo:

This photo was taken in probably 1999 at an Incline Club run. Anyway, it convinced me to go back to this old, low tech approach to winter running for this weekend's snowy run.

If you want to give this a try yourself, Matt's page (linked above) gives all the details.

Happy running!


Sarah said...

Ha! We used sheet metal screws in our shoes every winter when we lived in the Midwest - cheap, effective, and a good use for old shoes!

Still a bit envious of your weather...

Sarah (PCTR)

EnergeticRick!!! said...

Hey Paul,
What a great idea! I would have never thought of using screws for traction. It does in fact make logical sense. Thanks for the tip. We had about an inch of snow her in Santa Margarita, CA (central coast) but it melted the very next day. Next time I do run in snow, like when I ran in Chicago over Thanksgiving, I will try the screw method. Freakin' Sweet!

Shane"CRASH"Jones said...

Screws work great here in KC. We get a lot of ice from the freeze/thaw cycles. I think the Yax might be the way to go for snow , but I've had problems with them slipping off of my shoes in technical terrain. Anyone out there using the microspikes?