Make Your Own Screw Shoes
If you run up north where it snows, you can either choose to run on a treadmill or learn
to adapt to winter running.
One big adaption you need to make is to learn to run on snow and ice. Running on snow or ice
brings with it the obvious risk of slipping and falling, but there is also an increased
risk of repetitive motion injuries. Because runners alter their stride when running on
slippery surfaces, they stress their body in new ways and this can lead injuries.
You can mostly solve this problem with Screw Shoes. Although you can buy various solutions, most
of these purchased solutions are little better than Screw Shoes and cost a lot more
Making Screw Shoes is easy. All you need is a pair of old running shoes (not too old); a
package of sheet metal screws (size 8 x 1/2" is best); and your choice of an electric
drill with a 1/4 inch socket, a socket wrench, or a 1/4 inch socket driver like the
one pictured below.
I find the socket driver to be the perfect tool. You can use a regular old flat-head
screw driver, but I don't recommend it.
Make sure you use sheet metal screws.
These have a little lip around the edge. It is
this lip that provides the traction on ice. When the lip is worn, you loose much of your traction.
You can use any old running shoe, but some work better than others. If you stay away
from shoes that have gel or air bladders you can put the screws almost anywhere.
If you do use shoes with a gel or air bladder you are limited to placing your
screws around the edges of the sole.
Thin racing flats are also not a good idea because you need to use shorter screws and
they will fall out more frequently. The Loco shoes pictured above are perfect
for Screw Shoes: they don't have a bladder of any kind, and the thick, solid sole grips
the screws nicely. I also use Mizuno shoes, but you may need to pre-drill your holes to
get through the plastic "wave"
Here is an old pair of Mizuno Wave Riders, with shoe screws. I've retired these shoes.
I took this picture in the Fall, after they had been sitting in the basement all summer.
Notice that a few screws look pretty new; I must have replaced these near the end of the
season. You will also notice that one screw is missing: in the heel, near the bottom. The
softer foam there didn't hold screws well.
To create Screw Shoes from your old pair of running shoes, simply start to screw the
sheet metal screws into the soles. Put them where you see the most wear on your soles,
assuming there isn't a bladder underneath. Unless you are using Mizunos, you shouldn't
need to pre-drill the holes and the screws are more likely to stay put if you don't pre-drill.
It isn't hard to screw in the sheet metal screws, provided you use a hand
socket driver like the one pictured in the first photo.
After you put in the screws, pull out the shoe insert and make sure the tips of the
screws aren't coming through. If they are, back the screw out and use a shorter screw,
place the screw in a thicker part of the shoe, or find a different pair of shoes to use.
Here is my current pair of Screw Shoes:
I could have put in more screws, but the 11 I have in there now seems sufficient.
Before each run, check for missing screws and replace worn ones. I rarely loose a
screw in the Locos and never lost one from the Mizunos once I stopped trying to put
them in the soft foam. They do wear down, however. The screws in the high wear areas
will last 20-30 miles, but are easy to replace and inexpensive.
You can use Screw Shoes on almost any surface. You won't notice them on pavement, except
for the clicking noise. They work pretty well on ice, as long as you are using new
screws and the ice isn't too hard or thin. They are best on hard-packed snow, but only
moderately helpful in deep, slushy snow.
Using Screw Shoes isn't a license to run recklessly. Ice is still slippery and you
need to take that and other conditions into consideration when heading out the door.
Remember to watch out for cars. Your traction may be improved with Screw Shoes, but
that doesn't mean drivers will see you or can avoid you.