Ice Ice Baby


No, not that kind of ice…

It may be well into November, but winter still hasn’t really hit in this part of Alaska yet. We got a few inches of early-season snow, with nothing since then. Instead, we’ve had several rounds of freeze-thaw-freeze-thaw, leaving our sidewalks and trails covered in ice.

Still wanting to get outside and run, but not wanting to fall and hurt myself, I properly studded my shoes┬áseveral weeks ago. I’ve tried numerous traction devices for running in the winter on snow and ice, and have found simply inserting screws into my shoes to be the most effective, and (better yet) the least expensive method. Even with studs in my shoes, things can get a bit perilous on glare ice, of which we currently have plenty. Over the years, I’ve learned to slow down and alter my foot fall a bit to ensure I stay vertical.

Another sneaky technique I’ve used for dealing with the ice is to run on the indoor track at The Dome. Back in October, they had a great deal on annual memberships. My dear wife, not wanting me to injure myself, got me a membership. My son has karate two nights a week, and his dojo just so happens to only be a few blocks away from the Dome. So I’ve been spending a lot of time lately running around in circles while my son learns the touch of death. No, it’s not the same as running outdoors, but it is nice not having to deal with the ice, and being able to just run in a t-shirt and shorts.

What are your tips and techniques for dealing with running on ice?

4 thoughts on “Ice Ice Baby

  1. Tracy K

    My friends and I have been using Icebugs, which seem to have better traction on the Butte ‘s freeze-thaw-freeze bulletproof ice than the hex sheet metal screws I’d used before. Had also tried running in Microspikes and Nanospikes…they’re great for hiking but running in them is a different story. They clamp down on my toes and inflict blood blisters on the tops of my toes. ­čśę (My friend found her goretex Icebugs online at Amazon for half off the usual price.)

  2. Mike F

    Kahtoola Micro-Spikes!

    In my experience sheet metal screws, Stablicer screws, and studs may slow your skid but don’t offer much real traction. (With experience comes better form, though, which definitely helps as you mentioned!) They seem to be fine initially but lose effectiveness within a matter of miles. Cheap traction with triangle cuts that are bent down work fine until they all get bent back flat (which can be fixed by prying them with a screwdriver). I would strongly recommend against the original Stabilicers, akin to a thin Teva sandal with screws that are like sharper versions of sheet metal screws. I ran in mine earlier this week and remembered why I hate them so (for running shoes): they weigh a ton, they not really effective, and the straps push against the heel and cause horrible blisters.

    I love my micro-spikes, though I’m always hesitant to wear then on too much asphalt for fear of dulling them. That said, in the past I’ve just ground new points on them, and my two runs this week with them had enough ice to keep them in fairly good shape. On just ice (versus looser snow), they can be a bit tough on the feet, but I’d rather have achy feet than blisters or a broken bone. And if you don’t put them on snug enough, the jingling chain can focus your thoughts on the sound of Santa’s reindeer. (Okay, yeah, that can be annoying.)

    I’ve done a few runs without any traction, too, and I have to say that I’d really impressed with my La Sportivas. They do great on dirt, gravel, asphalt, slickrock, and, apparently, 30F ice.

  3. Mike F

    I thought I’d pass on that I’ve now tried some Yaktrax Runs. I always thought Yaktrax were silly, offering traction on packed snow (where none is really needed), but the Run model has coils under the heel and six studs under the ball of the foot. I’ve run about 15 miles in them, mostly packed snow to glare ice (no pavement to speak of), and they’ve worked well. No noticeable wear to the studs, either, though one of them is slightly displaced from where it’s supposed to be. (Probably due to the aggressive tread on the shoes I wear, which do a number on anything traction device with a plate on it.) I give them a thumbs up so far.

  4. Thanks Mike. I’ve run in Yaktrax before myself (though not specifically their model made for running). They worked well enough, but actually broke before making it through a single winter.

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