Footwear is a critical part of your running gear, especially when you head out to run in the cold. Good winter running shoes provides adequate grip, blocks out water and supports your foot. This is a quick introduction to three general types of running shoes for winter:
1. Traction Aid
Traction aids are usually the most affordable option; commonly below $20. They are slipped onto your runners which means you can keep on rocking your favorite pair of running shoes. Traction aids implement various types of grips. For example, they have spikes or steel coils that bite into the snow and ice for a better stability. Traction aids are ideal for those runners that cannot leave their running bug home even when are traveling to a winter destination. What makes them ideal is that they do not take up much space and can be easily carried so that you can put them on your favorite pair of runners anytime. Keep in mind that your traction aids can get muddy and dirty after a run so make prior provisions. For example keep a plastic bag handy to store them after your run. Traction aids can go on your boots as well should you decide to go for a casual walk on a trail. Traction aids have an elastics rig that goes over your runners or boots. Under tension, this elastic rig holds on to your shoes and that’s why it is important that the traction aids are of the right size. If you are in doubt, go with the smaller size.
2. Low Top Runners
Winter low top runners have modified treads and spikes for better stability and insoles for higher water resistance. These running shoes are at a mid-range price point, usually about $150 and below. However, these runners offer better grip compared to traction aids. While running on snow and ice, winter runners feel more comfortable and natural than traction aids. Most runners run in residential areas and that means they will go through a combination of cleared pavement and ice. Winter runners typically have spikes on the bottom of the shoe to stabilize your feet in icy conditions. If you have never used these types of runners before, then the running experience might be something to get used to as the spikes provide uneven support throughout your foot. Try to find a pair of winter runners that have the same feeling no matter what terrain you are running on. Water resistance is another aspect of winter runners. A multitude of features is being used by different manufacturers to waterproof their shoes. For example, some shoes have special gaiters that keep the water out, while others implement water-resistive material.
3. High Top Runners
High top runners are very similar to low top runners with the main difference being that they have a high top support that grabs onto your ankle. While providing greater water resistance by covering up your ankle, high top runners also provide strong support for your ankle to prevent unwanted twisting and turning while running in icy conditions. Just like the low top runners, if you have never run with them before, the experience might need some getting used to. The ankle support can restrict your movement while running and it’s something you don’t find in regular running footwear. There is an extended discussion about the benefits of high top vs. low top that is out of the scope of this article. The price point is usually on the higher side, about $200.
There are three types of running shoes that suits conditions in winter. They vary in price and the level of stability and support that they provide. If you are unsure, try traction aids first. However, if you are committed, get a pair of runners with proper grip. Let us know below your experience with winter running and its footwear.