Yaktrax, DueNorth traction devices for running in snow, ice aren’t foolproof

I've been running outside all winter for a couple of years. Traction devices help get me through.

I hate the treadmill with the white hot passion of a thousand suns. And before I was informed about running outside in the winter safely, I would slog along on the dreadmill for countless boring miles each winter.

Then I learned some stuff — mainly that running on the ice and snow often require traction devices. That little fact changed my life. I’ve been running outside year round since.

Today, though, while wearing my DueNorth traction aids, I fell for the first time.

This bruise is about 3 inches wide. And it's sticking up above my leg.

And holy cow — ow! My knee hit the ice so hard I thought for sure I had to have chipped a bone. (Turns out it was just a huge, painful, swollen bruise.)

To my longtime readers, it’s no secret that I like to learn things the hard way. So let’s turn my boo-boo into a lesson.

Here’s what I learned:

1. The DueNorth traction aids slip on and cling to the bottom of my shoe. Without a strap over my foot, they can pop off (that’s what happened today, which caused me to lose my footing and catapult myself forward into the ground).

See how the snow and ice collect around this DueNorth product? They're best for ice only.

2. There’s a difference between Yaktrax and DueNorth. DueNorth utilize little metal spikes, which are OK for icy conditions only. They don’t do well in a lot of snow, because they collect snow in the rubber shoe fitting and become pretty slippery anyway. Yaktrax make use of coils (and they have products that strap over your foot to keep them in place) so they do better in deeper snow and slush.

3. There’s nothing I can say or do to keep myself from getting hurt. Fortunately, this is just a little painful and shouldn’t keep me from doing the F^3 Lake Half Marathon next weekend. (Sure, I could’ve done my 8-mile run tomorrow, when it’s supposed to be warmer… but we’ve had such a mild winter I wanted practice running in the snow and ice. Hmpf.)

And in case you’re curious, I’ve never had such a hard run. It was extra slippery and unpleasant today. And I ran all the time last winter, which was pretty intense. I actually had to get off the lakefront path and run home along the street.

How do you prefer to stay upright when running in the snow and ice? I’m curious to hear what others do to avoid slipping.


Filed under F*cking Freezing Frozen Lake Half Marathon, Injuries, Knees, running, Shoes, Tips & Tricks

8 responses to “Yaktrax, DueNorth traction devices for running in snow, ice aren’t foolproof

  1. Yes, we do! And yes, I am doing F^3! Due to my nutso work schedule I’ve been terrible about my mid-week training and feel like I’m getting slower rather than faster (how does that happen??), so if there is a sag wagon I may be on it… but I will be there nonetheless!

  2. I fell yesterday on my 13.5 miler and I was wearing my Yaktrax. While they are better, they aren’t great on a sheet of ice.

  3. Agh. I feel your pain… Today was not even a little fun. Well, ok it might have been a little fun for a minute… But mostly it sucked. I’ve never tried DueNorth, but I have tried Yaktrax. They’re ok, but honestly I do better without them. For me, a short, quick stride and a solid focus on the ground in front of me keeps me upright. I think part of the deal is simply knowing I don’t have a device to rely on so I need to be extra vigilant, and I am… because like you, I am accident and injury prone. Hope your boo-boo gets better soon. :)

    • Cheryl Miller

      Both DueNorth and Yaktrax have coils (I think). The golf spikes are more useful when headed into a grocery store while the coils are better suited for the out of doors. We keep both kinds in the house for winter use. I bought your dad a pair of YT that have a strap that goes over the top of his boots so that he could shovel snow off the roof of our house and not loose his traction devices. He was over joyed to get a pair with straps, because he too was slipping while working. He has fallen twice in the last week because he thinks HE CAN WALK ON ICE without issue.

      • Silly Dad. Clearly I get my accident-prone-ness from him. And you both gave me stubbornness. So thanks for that. That’s a recipe for disaster, as you can see from the whole theme of this here blog!

    • Yeah, Andrea, today was just ridiculous footing-wise. (The only worse run I’ve had, I think, was my 10-miler last year when I ran to the boys’ tailgating for the Bears-Packers playoff game. That wind HURT). I’ve tried just the shoes, too, but I always end up slipping — at least a little — and doing some funky arms flailing move to keep myself upright… only to end up with a tweaked back. Getting old is the pits. We need to run together again soon. You doing F^3 next weekend???