There are as many reasons for running as there are days in the year, years in my life. But mostly I run because I am an animal and a child, an artist and a saint. So, too, are you. Find your own play, your own self-renewing compulsion, and you will become the person you are meant to be.
- George Sheehan

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Winter Wonderland - or not

When I started barefoot running, I didn't exactly know how I was going to handle the winter weather.  Spending last winter down south and away from the constant snow and cold certainly hasn't helped.  But thankfully, runners (both shod and barefoot) in my area have been blessed with a pretty mild winter thus far, and I've managed to squeeze several BF runs in the middle of winter.

Back in January, we had a short deep freeze followed by some 30 degree weather.  I hate running on treadmills and inside on the track (in shoes), so I jumped at the mini-heat wave and left the shoes home.  It was AWESOME to get out there again!  Feet felt great, and unlike the track (in shoes), my run was effortless and I didn't have to focus on keeping my good form.  It was easy, it was natural, it was perfect.  It also emphasized that I really can't have anything between my foot and the ground, because I rely heavily on that feedback to maintain effective form. 

Later in the month it warmed up to a very unseasonable 50-something degrees on its way to 65.  I got to run a couple times that week, and it was so fun being out there in shorts, a t-shirt, and barefoot at the end of January!  Today it was mid-40's with some wind, but even with that, the ground was warm enough and the run felt great.  I found it interesting on my way back in that my hands were freezing (so I put my gloves back on), but my bare feet were happily floating along down there, nice and toasty.  The small wonders of barefoot running are what keep me interested on EVERY run.

People's reactions are always interesting.  I've had a lot of looks as usual, some nods of approval, some cyclists thinking that they're clever for yelling "BAREFOOT!" when they pass, and of course some positive and negative comments from other runners.  I also had a couple of ladies on different occasions stop and ask me about barefoot running and why I do it.  Very pleasant conversations.  That's always nice.

Don't your feet get cold?
Sure they do, but not for long.  The more I run in cold weather, the better tolerance I've had.  Anything below 55 used to be terrible.  Then it was 40's.  Now anything below 30 is rough for me.  Today with the air temp in the 40s (not including windchill), the ground felt cool when I was standing still, but warm as soon as I got moving.  When it's in the 30s, my feet get numb for a couple minutes at the beginning, then warm up and regain all their feeling (which is vital).  So really, the cold part only lasts a couple of minutes at most, then it's business as usual, amazingly enough.

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