For too many winter runs I’ve had Simon & Garfunkle’s “Slip Slidin’ Away” as my mental soundtrack. I’ll be jogging along, my breath leaving puffs of vapor-like exhaust in the frosty air, when I hit a patch of ice. As I fight for footing my arms windmill, my stomach clenches and my feet mimic Wile e Coyote. Sometimes, I regain my balance and heave a sigh of relief. Other times, I fall and sprawl like a toddler learning to walk, but with less grace.
That’s changing this winter. Now, I plan to run through the silence of the snow-softened landscape while staying upright – on my feet. That’s because my Yaktrax Pro arrived in the mail on Friday. As if indulging me, mother nature graciously provided freezing rain and snow that night, leaving the Saturday morning roads a snow-on-ice mess ideal for ice capades or indoor activities.
The Yaktrax are designed to provide extra traction, similar to the chains you’d put on your tires to get over a mountain pass. On the bottom they have coil-covered rubber and they slip snuggly over your shoes, with a strap across the top to ensure they stay in place.
After fitting the Yaktrax onto our running shoes, my husband, Curtis, and I headed into a gentle snowstorm – the kind with big, fluffy flakes that stick to your eyebrows and eyelashes. We ran a 7-mile loop that goes through flat and hilly neighborhoods filled with ponderosa pines. Because the trees provide shade year round, these neighborhoods tend to be the iciest and most treacherous – the neighborhoods I usually avoid all winter.
Though we watched a 4×4 truck spin a 360 after taking a turn too fast, we didn’t slip once the entire run. In fact, the Yaktrax made me wish we had more snow on the plowed arterials. Every time I hit a patch of pavement with just a dusting of white, I could feel the skid-resistant coils through my shoes. Perhaps that’s why I developed a hot spot on the ball of my right foot. Otherwise, the Yaktrax were wonderful to run with and I wish I’d bought them years ago.
Pro: I wasn’t afraid of falling. After a few blocks they’d performed so well I knew I would stay on my feet the entire run.
Con: I almost fell walking across the concrete floor in my laundry room, where I keep my running gear. Now I know to only wear them where there’s a layer of ice or snow.
Pro: No slipping and sliding.
Con: No slipping and sliding. When it isn’t a bone-breaking surprise, sliding on the ice makes you feel like a kid again. I may still go out a few times without the Yaktrax just to get the core-strengthening, heart-pumping exhilaration that happens when you hit a patch of ice on purpose. Or, maybe I’ll just enjoy watching other people slip slidin’ away.