I am not talking about getting rid of your shoes, or barefoot running. I’m not angry at them, ha! I am talking about adding screws to your running shoes to help you run on icy and snowy surfaces. This week we had an ice storm predicted, and I was afraid I was going to be stuck on a treadmill for days. Yuck! It’s just not for me. One of my runner friends helped me add screws to my shoes, and it made a huge difference. This morning we completed a run on a thin layer of ice. While running behind the pack of runners I could see a very noticeable difference in the strides of runners with screws and the runners without the screws. It appeared as any type of poor running mechanics were exaggerated on the icy surface and the push off/kick back became less effective, since running shoes don’t grip well on ice. I also felt a noticeable difference in my own running stride. I still slowed down a tad, just to be safe.
So, here are some basic guidelines for screwing your shoes
What you’ll need
- Screws-You’ll want sheet metal screws with a hex head. I used #8 3/8” screws. #6, #8 and #10 would all work just fine. For length, you’ll want to stay between ¼” and ½”. The longer screws will stay in better, but anything longer than ½” would be dangerous. If you have really thin, minimalist style shoes 1/4’” is probably a better option, although you may lose them more often.
- Running shoes- Pretty much any running shoes will work. I chose some shoes that were about half way through the amount of mileage I am used to getting out of my shoes, and I don’t really like their color/design. You can use your daily trainers, if you want.The screws won’t hurt or damage your shoes. I plan to keep the screws in my shoes and just have them available for crummy weather days. If you only have one pair of shoes, you can remove the screws and continue to train in them as usual.
- Drill- You could insert these by hand, but it would be pretty miserable. I wouldn’t recommend it. This is really easy if you have someone who is handy with a drill. My friend was able to do this standing in a cold parking lot in about 5 minutes or less. I would feel comfortable completing the task, but it may have taken me a few extra minutes.
- Start by looking at the wear pattern on your shoes. Areas that are more worn down a good starting point. Don’t add any screws near air or gel pockets. That will damage that portion of the shoes. If you have thinner shoes, stick near the perimeter.
- Using your power drill, insert the screws directly into the raised tread of your shoes. Adding a few in the front and back side of your shoes. Insert the screws until the head is barely touching the rubber. Don’t over tighten, you should not see any indention or compression from the screws. If you do, using your power drill, back the screw out a tad. Your particular shoes and running mechanics will determine how you should place the screws. It isn’t super complicated though. For me, I land mostly on the mid and front of my shoes and roll inward. So that’s where we placed the majority of the screws. I land very lightly on the heels of my feet, but added a few to help with hills and to help keep me from falling on my bum. My friend is more of a heal striker and added more to the back side of his shoes. As, far as how many. I have seen as few as three and as many as 20. I think the “correct” answer is somewhere in between.
- Test out your shoes. You shouldn’t feel the screws while running. If you do, remove that screw and re-position it, or leave it off altogether.
While I was looking for ways to add stability to my run I have come across other options. Ultimately I preferred just screwing my shoes.
IceSpikes– IceSpikes are the same basic idea as adding screws to your shoes. These were just designed and marketed specifically for the purpose of adding them to the bottom of your shoes. Even the design is very similar to Hex head screws. They cost a tad bit more, and I would have to order them and wait for them to come in. As opposed to, just going to the nearest hardware store. It would seem in the multiple reviews that I read, that they didn’t really add much more stability compared to screws.
- If you want to read a full review, this was the most informative. http://news.runtowin.com/2010/02/25/ice-spikes-review.html
Yaktrax- Yaktraxs are a traction device that you add over your running shoes. There are models that are marketed specifically for running shoes. Yaktrax are lot easier to put on and off compared to ice spikes or screws. They just slip on over your shoes. They cost significantly more, and I haven’t seen them in any local stores. You would most likely need to order them online. I also felt like they didn’t move aa naturally as my screwed running shoes. Other runners have reported that snow can get stuck in the middle, cause them to have to stop and scoop them out. This may be dependent on the model you choose, the problem was mostly with the coiled style. The style while coils don’t “bite” the ice well, especially if you are a lighter weight runners. You just don’t have enough force to break into the ice.
If you have mixed conditions, I think the screws are your best option. When we hit dry patches there was no adjusting, just a tad bit more noise. Even with the screws, be smart and slow your pace down a tad. Be more vigilant about watching cars in questionable weather. Have fun!