Traction is an important component of winter running. The terrain can change from bare pavement to snowpacked roads quickly and you need to have a shoe that will provide traction on the varying terrains. However, keep in mind that even with traction running on ice and snow covered roads in inherently more dangerous than running on dry pavement. Traction devices help to make running in winter as safe as possible.
There are numerous commercially made solutions for improving traction on winter roads, one these being YakTrax. YakTrax are a traction solution available at most sporting good retailers. They are a rubber and metal web covering the bottom of your shoes and help provide a bite when running on snow and ice covered roads. They work well when running on snowpacked trails and roads, but can become slightly slippery when running on bare pavement. YakTrax typically cost around $30.00 a pair and are available from many online and local retailers.
Another option for winter running are specifically designed winter running shoes. These shoes can be kind of hard to find, but they are out there. The shoes typically are made from some kind of waterproof material and will have some kind of traction device built into them. The cost of these shoes is on par with other running shoes averaging 80-150 dollars a pair. Salomon is one manufacturer that makes well designed winter running shoes.
The third and the least expensive option for winter running shoes is the screw shoe. These little marvels of basement engineering provide excellent traction on snow and ice covered roads and are not too slippery when running on dry pavement. The best part about these shoes is the cost. A pair can typically be made for less than $5.00. Please see the file screw shoes for a detailed breakdown on how to make these shoes. I have run for the past two winters with pairs of screw shoes and have little to no complains about the form and function of the shoes. They simply work.
Not only is traction important, but keeping your feet warm is also a key component of winter running. Most running shoes are designed for breathability and air flow, not exactly what you like to feel on your feet when running in the middle of the winter. So there are some solutions to help keep you feet warm on long winter runs.
Applying duct tape to the mesh part of your running shoe will help to make the shoe warmer. This is especially helpful if you are prone to cold fee or if the temperature is well below zero.
Socks are something not to be overlooked while out running in the land of snow and ice. A good pair of smart wool socks will quickly become your best friend on cold days. These socks do an amazing job of keeping your feet warm and blister free while running.
Many people assume using two pairs of socks will help keep their feet warm. I’ve used two pairs of cotton socks on a few occasions and didn’t really see enough benefit to make multiple socks a mainstay in my dressing guidelines. If you do use multiple socks keep in mind the risk of blisters goes up.
A word of caution, try to stay away from the thin socks used during the summer months wearing as these will leave your feet feeling the chill. Socks for winter running have to have some heft to them. Grab the right sock and footwear before hitting the road this winter and your feet will thank you.