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Q:

The Best Running Solution for Icy Roads: DIY Sheet Metal Screws

A chill is in the air, and it feels like my morning jaunts are under threat. How should I prepare to keep running through the winter?

Applying sheet metal screws.     Photo: Bob Parks

A:There’s a cheaper way to add traction to a pair of shoes without buying Yaktrax, Kohtoola Microspikes, 32 North Stabilicers Sport, or any of the other popular accessories runners use to ply icy pavement. It’s the practice of driving common sheet metal screws directly into the rubber outsoles of running shoes. You could say it’s an underground practice, but some road clubs now bring a box of screws and a cordless drill to winter workouts in case anyone wants to upgrade their kicks then and there. As Skyrunner explains, you simply drive 18 or so fasteners into each sole before starting out. They add only a fraction of the weight of the slip-on accessories. Then, at the end of the season, you back them out and can still use your favorite shoes in warm weather.

For our test of the sheet metal method, I outfitted my beloved Karhu Fulcrum Rides, shown above, and results were mixed. It’s certainly cheap, fast, and easy. (On Amazon, you get 100 screws for about six bucks shipped.) But in practice, the screws wore down pretty fast on asphalt. One fell out after catching on a rock on a fast downhill.

An alternative to sheet metal would be to upgrade to screws that are specifically engineered to add traction to running shoes: Icespike. These steel composite screws last for 500 miles, bear a special head that resists collecting debris from the ground, and come with a serrated washer that holds them in. They cost $17 for enough Icespike fasteners for a pair of running shoes, many times more expensive than ordinary screws. And unlike the slip-on traction accessories, you can’t take them off at the gym. N.b.: Running on the treadmill with any kind of screws drilled into your shoes will get you banned for life at most heath clubs.

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