Moving north has had its advantages (fish frys, cheese curds, donuts, etc), but it's also had its fair share of disadvantages (snow, cold, bad drivers, etc). And with last week's blizzard event, I came face-to-face with one of the biggest disadvantages: running in the snow.
I don't mind running when it's cold out, but when mother nature serves a healthy dish of icy and snowy goodness, running becomes not only difficult, but dangerous. As soon as we knew for certain that snow was imminent, I made sure to sneak in a long "final" outdoors run.
The day of the blizzard, I ran indoors on a treadmill (our office has a nice gym available for free), and I was immediately reminded of how much I loathe treadmills. Grinding out six or seven miles on a treadmill is pure torture - it's so boring and dull, even with headphones and a television. After the third mile, I would've given anything to be running outside... but, with 16-18" of snow covering every passable surface, my wishes were unlikely to be realized.
So, I trudged out 3 more days on the dreadful treadmill... in the meantime, I looked for solutions to help me get outdoors to run again - I looked at snow shoes, trail running shoes, slip-on spike systems - you name it, I looked at it. None of the solutions got rave reviews from online sources; fewer fit my shoes (size 13). I was growing desperate...
I had stumbled across an article about using sheet metal screws as replaceable spikes, but was afraid to try it for a number of reasons. After careful consideration, I ventured to the local hardware store and bought a handful of 3/8" long sheet metal screws. I placed 10 screws into each shoe (6 on the front, 4 on the heel) and gingerly stepped into them. I didn't feel anything sharp or pointy, so I donned the rest of the running gear and hit the outdoors.
Success!! The screws worked like magic. They gave me ample traction when the going got rough; they worked best on icy or hard-packed snowy surfaces. On dry sections of sidewalk, they're a bit noisy and you can feel that the shoe isn't completely "normal," but it's not uncomfortable by any means. Winner, winner chicken dinner!!
I've done 5 runs on the current set of screws, and it's looking like I'll have to replace the screws with some fresh ones. Although, to be honest, the sidewalks were about 98% clear today, so I may run without the spikes until the next snow storm hits. Here's what the screws look like after about 45 miles of use:
It's amazing how well that $0.70 solution works, especially when it's compared to other solutions that cost upwards of $40. It's also refreshing to know that when the next snow storm hits that I won't have to spend too much time on the 'ole dreadmill. :-)
We're off to a fish fry tonight, so stay tuned for an update later on!