When a person is running outdoors in January, in North Dakota, you have to question their sanity. When you get right down to it, however, it’s easier than most people think, if you follow a few simple guidelines. I may tackle some of these topics yet, before the winter is gone, but for today, I want to talk about traction aids.
When the sidewalks or roads are mostly clear of snow and ice, a runner can get by wearing just their normal shoes. When you encounter areas that look slippery, you can slow down, take shorter strides, or simply make a detour around the problematic spot. When you make it to the dead of winter, however, there just aren’t that many areas, if any, that are mostly clear of snow and ice. That’s when it becomes necessary to enlist a little help.
I purchased a pair of slip-on traction aids a number of years ago when I delivered newspapers. They are called “Get a Grip” and I purchased them at a sporting goods store in East Grand Forks. They are positively fantastic on snow and ice: They never slip! On the negative side, however, they are not the most comfortable when walking on clear pavement or sidewalk. Running with them on your feet when you’re on a regular surface is even worse. They add a little extra weight, but all in all, they are a decent trade of bulk for traction. I used them several times last winter when I ran outside.
I’ve also seen a couple of Red River Runners wearing an aid called “Yaktrax” and I thought they looked more comfortable than my “Get a Grip” aids, so I purchased a pair this fall. I wore them for two short runs around Christmas, and was favorably impressed by their performance. They were almost as good as the “Get a Grip” pair on snow and ice, but were much more comfortable on dry pavement. I thought they were just what I was looking for!
Unfortunately, this last Saturday, during my third run in my comfortable “Yaktrax,” they started coming apart. A wire enforced piece of rubber broke on BOTH feet during the same run. Maybe I was running too fast? Maybe I weigh too much? Maybe I ran too many of the eight miles on dry pavement? Maybe it was too cold? Maybe my pair was defective?
I’m not sure what to do next. Purchase another pair of “Yaktrax?” Go back to using my sturdy “Get a Grip” pair? There is a third model of traction aid that is also popular with Red River Runners that I may try instead. What I am sure of, however, is that I need something for traction when I run outside in our North Dakota winters. I don’t want to fall down and go BOOM with my 47 year old body! That would simply ruin my day and make winter worse than it already is. I can’t let that happen!