Walking & Running on Ice

Since I live year round on Mackinac Island, I find that walking in the winter is a challenge.  Because we use snowmobiles for transportation from November 15 until March 15, the roads are not plowed down to the surface.  This leaves a few inches of hard snow and ice on all roads.  They do that so that the skis on our sleds will have something to grip. (Have you ever tried to turn a corner on a snowmobile with no snow under the skis?  Trust me, it is not fun.)   BUT that makes it very difficult to walk or run safely, especially in the spring when there is more ice than snow.  I used to avoid walking when there was a lot of ice and instead called the police to transport me.  We are very lucky that the city provides that service from November until late March, or until walking is safe again, for all seniors on the island. (Yes, we do have a police car, 3 fire trucks and an ambulance year round on the island.) 

A few years back I discovered a device to attach to the bottom of my shoes or boots called Yaktraxs.  They are metal coils in an X pattern that you can easily attach to your shoes in just seconds.  I feel so much safer with them on.  I now walk the 3 miles to town and the 3 miles back every day in order to get my mail, to go to the library or even to shop at the grocery store.  Because I rotate the walking shoes I use each week, this device is very handy. It fits on any shoe and even on my snow boots.  The only drawback I have found is that I sometimes forget that I have them on when I step inside.  They don’t do well on tile or wood surfaces. So DON’T USE THEM INSIDE! I learned that the hard way…I ended up flat on my back several times. So now I remember to pull them off before going inside.  That is a very quick and easy task.  And they fold up so I can stick them in my backpack, ready to quickly reattach when I step back outside.

One of my fellow walkers tried another idea that worked well for her, but it’s one I have never tried.  She put short screws in the soles of her walking shoes. They gripped very well but that idea has several draw backs:  1) they ruined those shoes for summer use  2) she would have to take her shoes off when she went inside so she would be walking around the post office or grocery store in her socks, which was really cold!  3) she was unable to rotate the pair of shoes she wore unless she did the same to another pair of shoes. 

If you want to try this idea, what she did was take the insole out of her shoe, drilled small holes in the bottom, then inserted very short screws that only protruded about 1/4 inch out of the sole of her shoe.  She then replaced the insole plus added another insole such as Dr. Scholl's so that she couldn’t feel the screw head on the bottoms of her feet as she walked.  

I hope this gives you an idea which you can use to keep you walking or running outside on days when you thought you shouldn’t because of the ice and snow. It sure works for me. Here’s to more happy walking/running in our beautiful Michigan outdoors.

Written by Joan Barch, 2016 Fitness Ambassdor