Sunday, January 06, 2013

Running on Snow and Ice, with loose screws

ORN:  10.0 miles, on trail, 1:59:10, R/W 4/1

Update (29 Oct 16):  I just produced a video with this information here.

In my HUFF 50K Race Report last week, I mentioned the suggestion I got from a veteran runner on how to get traction when running on snow and ice.  His idea seems odd at first blush...send sheet metal screws into the soles of your shoes, allowing the screw heads to make "cleats" to grab the slick surface better.  After my fall at the HUFF, I was teachable.

I took a week off of running after HUFF and, as usual post race, was antsy to get out and run again on Saturday.  I had looked for this concept on-line and, indeed found descriptions and photos here, here and here...notably all from runners in cold climates.

The deal is simple.  You buy #6, hex head sheet metal screws, 3/8" long.   This size screw had a 1/4" head.  Use a 1/4" nut driver or a 1/4" bit on a screw gun to simply drive the screws into the soles of the shoes.  No pilot holes needed...just push hard and screw them in.  It wasn't hard to do.

I dug out an old pair of Brooks Beasts and tried this seemingly radical concept.  I figured on the old shoes it really didn't matter.  The other links suggested plunking the screws right into the wear pattern of the other words, right where your weight bears on to the ground.  I didn't quite believe this...sensing, gee, won't the pointy parts of the screws hit my feet??  Not a pleasant thought.  

So, here's a closeup of the front part of my shoes, post screw insertion but before I ran on them.  I only put 5 screws on the forefoot of the shoes...I also put 3 on the heel. 

And out the door I went for a 10 mile trail run.  The snow pack was complete and, wow, what a difference these made!!  I found I ran with confidence across snow pack, icy patches and the sand/mud mix which is the normal base on our only local trail alongside the Wabash River.  It was terrific.

Interesting, was also the mile or so of bare asphalt I ran on getting to and from the river.  The sound was interesting...clack, clack, clack, the screws rattled away on the pavement.  Yet I felt really nothing on my feet.  That was surprising.

So, what's the next element of kaizen on this?  I could add more screws, closer to the wear pattern of the shoe.  Second, I'll try this on the Brooks Adrenalines  the shoe I wear now.

Running all winter in the Midwest is no picnic.  But this is a real help.  Try it yourself.

Persevere.  Even if it does look like you have a few screws loose.



Backofpack said...

Eric and I both ran an entire marathon using screws a few years back. Worked like a charm! Now we have yak-trax. They work great too.

Sherri D. said...

Joe, I bet you tried a few Fred Astaire tap dancing moves, too, didn't you? Looking forward to seeing you again this year at Circular...have 3 other friends signed up for the solo and 2 teams. yay!

Sarah said...

Glad you found something that works!

Wes said...

I've seen that before. Someday, I may have to try that :-) Just waiting on our next blizzard here in the ATL!