Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Screw Shoes

This December has been pretty brutal in central Illinois.  With the last snow storm, we officially passed our record for snowfall in December.  Normally we only get about 6-7 inches for the month--this December we are already past 20 inches.  Throw in some nasty single digit morning temperatures and a little wind....and it is cold!  And slippery on that snow and packed ice.  I've been on the treadmill more often than I'd like to admit.  When I do venture outside on the roads or trails, I use a tip picked up from Matt Carpenter and the Incline Club out in the Pikes Peak area of Colorado.  They put sheet metal screws (the ones with the hex head with a slight lip around the top) in the bottom of their shoes for traction. Twist in 10-12 screws per shoe and you are set (do not do this with a hand screwdriver--use a power drill).  Screw shoes work quite well and cost almost nothing.  I use the 3/8 inch screws, others use 1/2 inch ones.  Much longer and you might feel them through your sole.  Much shorter and they may not stay in your shoe.

For details about the whole "screw shoe" procedure, see Matt Carpenter's web page. The picture at the top of this post is from his page.  At only pennies a piece, screws are a very economical way to make it through icy winter runs. Who needs fancy (expensive & heavy) Stabilicers, Icespikes, Icebugs, Yaktrax, Microspikes, or Hobnails?  Go with the screw shoe instead!

Even with extra traction on your shoes, running on ice and snow can still be slippery.  It's a great situation to improve your running technique.  Stay balanced over your center of gravity, take short strides, don't push off, and keep those knees bent. When you feel yourself slipping, concentrate on improving your running form.

PS:  Don't try this on your bare feet!  For some conditions, you just need shoes.

NOTE: For Janak and others reading this post thinking this is something new, it's not.  Carpenter and others have done it for years and I've used this technique for about 4-5 years myself.  It's worked well.


janak said...

Aren't you on Facebook? I had posted the photo.


The screws don't stay well on the front since it is very flexible (a good thing) and also my barefoot running habits make me land there which makes it flex far more. But I have used those shoes for three winters and have not needed to replace the missing screws.

Chris said...

I've used these screws for about 5 years. Lost only a couple of the screws over that time period. It helps having extra shoes that I can dedicate to "snow running." Nope, not on Facebook.

jar said...

so I finaly put screws into one of my shoes, NB100, used 10 per #8x1/2", they when thru a couple of places on the forefoot..walked down the drive and around the fittek aprking lot with ice, seemed to do ok, of couse just walking

Chris said...

You shouldn't be using screw shoes at the FitTek gym--they will tear up the treadmills! ;-)

Of course, it would be nice to have someone else destroy a treadmill besides me.

Mike said...

I know this post is a year old, but I also see that you write about minimalist shoes a lot. Have you successfully turned any type of minimalist (or zero drop) shoe (like Trail gloves) into screw shoes. Obviously, VFFs would be too thin to do this, but do other shoes have enough material in the soles to allow for screw shoes?

Chris said...


I've used the screws in my NB 790s (and they should work in the NB 101/102s). Most racing flats have enough midsole to accommodate small screws too. Almost all of the Inov-8 trail shoes have enough sole for the screws. Won't work for VFFs or my Feelmax shoes (anything with 5mm or less sole is out).

Fortunately, I only need one pair to turn into winter shoes.