December 8, 2007

Project: Ice Shoes

Well, here in Midwest, we finally got our first real winter storm, complete with snow and ice. Since I returned, I've been pretty good about getting my daily run in. It's so hard to restart at a later date that I don't really want to take much of a winter break. While snow is just more work, ice can be dangerous to run on leading to all sorts of injuries. So, better to be prepared.

Specifically I love trail running (cross-country) and I'm lucky enough to have a wide boulevard nearby that I can run for miles in the grass between tree-lined lanes. So, a bit of snow is just more challenging. The scary part is the pavement that cuts across this green expanse, especially when it's covered with sheet of ice. You can buy things like the YakTrax Pro (~$28) which can be put on the bottom of your shoes for improved traction.

But, on Bad Ben's Trail Running Site (aka Kansas City Trail Nerds), he posted a link for Screw Shoes, posted by Matt Carpenter. It's not a new idea, but Matt has put together a nice instruction page on how to turn a pair of running shoes into ice-eating machines. [laugh]

The idea is very simple - buy 30-40 machine screws (~$2) and screw them into the bottom tread of your shoes. Like Matt says in his instructions, using a drill and a socket greatly speeds the process. I used 3/8" screws for the ball of the shoe and 1/2" for the heel. Not one screw came up through the bottom but I decided not to take any chances with them poking up through during a run. After I had screwed them in, I removed them and used wire cutters to cut off the pointy tip and then re-screwed them back in. The point doesn't really serve any purpose after the hole has been made anyway.

Here's a picture of the finished soles

As you can see, I put 5 screws in the heel and then 12 screws in the forefoot. I just used the raised flat areas on the tread to determine placement and number. So, each tread will have differences. And I pulled out the insole just to check to see if the screws came up through the bottom. Everything looks good.

Took them out for a run today and they worked great. I didn't slip once on the ice.

PS. If you do run this winter, be careful. Our city streets are dangerous enough with huge vehicles traveling at break-neck speeds, but throw a little rain, snow or worse, ice into the mix and it is infinitely worse. So, be careful and be thankful that you can keep running another day.