One of the biggest challenges facing distance runners during the winter is all the snow and ice on their running routes. In some areas it can be so bad that they have no choice but to run on a treadmill, which is what I did just a few days ago. Although I got my “miles” in, it’s really not the same thing as a long run in the outdoors, at least to me. I need to actually go somewhere, I need the fresh air, I need the outdoors, I need the wise guys saying “you can only juggle 3?!”. On the treadmill I felt like the human version of a hamster running on a hamster wheel.
So I decided I had to do something to improve my traction when running on snow and ice. I picked up a pair of the Yaktrax Walker Traction Device at the local sporting good store for $20(for 1 pair), which makes them one of the cheapest traction enhancers. Instead of spikes like other traction enhancers, it uses rings of metal(abrasion resistant 1.2 mm steel coils) around rubber to help improve your traction as you walk or run on snow and ice.
It’s very easy to put them on your sneakers. Simply hook the front section of the traction device to the front of your shoe, then stretch it out toward the back to fasten it. It comes in many sizes, XS, S, M, and L, so if you’re looking to buy one make sure you get the right size. Since my sneakers are 8.5, I got a S.
I’ve used them a few times and I immediately noticed an improvement. I am running faster over snow and ice without slipping, even in areas where I would usually slip or slide. I nearly fell in the river last time due to the ice on this hilly stretch of my usual route, but it was like the ice wasn’t there this time, thanks to the Yaktrax.
They feel a bit awkward at first, but I quickly got used to them. They are very easy to remove. Sometimes I fear they may slip off if I run in them enough, but nothing like this has happened so far. I hope they last until the end of the winter, if not into next winter. I’ll keep everyone posted on how long they last.
With the right attitude and the right equipment, outdoor distance running is possible is virtually any condition.