What’s the most important thing to wear for winter running? Six months ago, at the age of 67, I began running daily for the first time in my life on the dirt roads that surround my rural Vermont home.
It was summer when I started, and the roads were easy to navigate. At my age, unathletic for most of my life, I’m naturally concerned about injuring myself. In winter here, there are days when our steep 600′ driveway is a patchwork of frozen ground, snow, and ice. Given these treacherous conditions, I assumed that I wouldn’t be running outdoors much of the time during winter.
Then I talked with my friend Lois Sparks. Ten years ago, she began running outdoors. Today, whatever the weather, she and a group of friends meet at 6 am and run five miles, six days a week. She runs marathons. She is kinda addicted to running.
Thanks to Lois, I learned how to dress and be safely equipped for running in the winter in Vermont. And the most important piece of equipment she told me to wear are these slip-on, instant traction Kahtoola NANOspikes.
Lois told me that she and her friends had tried everything, and these things were the best for running without slipping on icy treacherous ground. I was skeptical. She told me she and her friends had never slipped while wearing them, which was not the case with rival devices.
So I bought a pair for $50 and strapped them on.
The first day
I was incredibly cautious the first time I ventured down our steep driveway. It was covered with irregular patches of ice and snow and snow over ice. I’d normally exercise extreme vigilance walking it in my trusty winter boots. Surely those ten little studs couldn’t make much difference?
After a few yards, my hesitant sidle became a trot. It felt like I was jogging on bare ground. I slowly speeded up. Though my running sounded noisier than pre-NANOspike days, my workout remained sure-footed: each step solid without a hint of slipperiness.
I was psyched!
Three months later
After a hundred or so runs, I’ve found NANOspikes work incredibly well under a variety of conditions, which include dry and slippery pavement too. And they’ve never come off.
For some reason, the strap at the toe of my right foot shifts slightly off-center during my run. I don’t know why this happens, but the effect is barely noticeable. (I tried to wedge something in the strap, but was not able to prevent this from happening.)
Because the NANOspikes work well under all conditions, I simply leave them on my running shoes, rather than removing and replacing them. Lois says her set has lasted over four years so far (and she runs far further than me) though she cautions that if you regularly remove and replace them they may not last so long.
I’ll start with the usual disclaimer: I have no relationship with Kahtoola. I’m just a satisfied customer.
And while my experience with NANOspikes is limited to a few months use as a novice runner, I trust Lois and her friends’ experience over many years in recommending NANOspikes as the most important thing to wear for winter running.
Folks with a lot more experience than me may have different opinions about the best products for improving running traction on icy surfaces. Feel free to share them in the comments below!