Thursday, December 9, 2010

Day 3 -- Running Barefoot in 31 Degrees

This is Part III of my first explorations into colder (sub-40-degree) weather.  The first day out it was 35 degrees.  The second day out, it was 37 degrees.  And now it was time to run again and here it was 31 degrees.

I now have added a pair of running pants over my HIND tights, and a great big sweatshirt over my compression turtleneck and long-sleeved T-shirt over that.

I am plenty warm on top.

Daffodil now gets a sweater.  I don't know if dogs need sweaters but Havanese dogs are Cuban, and have a kind of double-layer fur that keeps them cool in the summer.  So, I was kind of thinking Daffodil might need a little something.

Although I was dreading taking my first steps outside, they really were not bad at all.  I remember when I was conditioning my feet to run on asphalt, how it would hurt so much one day and my feet would feel a little sore afterwards, but by the next time I went out, they would have already adapted some during the time off and there was steady improvement from run to run as long as I did not do too much.

Well, it was my impression that the cold conditioning was working the same way.  My feet began to adapt much sooner than I would think.

I was very very comfortable for my 2.75 mile run.  I even ran the full length of asphalt this time.  It was tricky and I had to be really careful.  But it was amazingly better.

(That big pile of the last fallen leaves of November that I had showed you on day one had now been swept away.)

Why am I doing this barefoot running in the cold when I don't have to?

Well, I've already written about how I want to make sure I'm not put off just because it was uncomfortable in the beginning.  I wanted to make sure that the difficulty of the first time out didn't make me draw the conclusion that it was not for me.  I wanted to give it a chance.

But there is another reason I really don't want to stop going barefoot yet.  I am signed up to run the Disney 5K in January.  I think it would be fun to run it barefoot.  I really would like to run it barefoot.  But if I stop running barefoot now, I might not be able to do it by January.  (If you do click on the Disney link you will find that the race is full.  Last year at Thanksgiving time, when I finally sadly realized I would not be able to run in the half marathon because of my plantar fasciitis, I tried to get into the 5K but it was full.  I had thought I could have run that 5K with my injury.  This year I signed up early so I would definitely be able to do it.)

I have no experience with this, so I have no idea how long it takes a conditioned sole of a foot to get all soft again, but I feel that the longer I can go before I have to put shoes on the better off I'll be.

As far as why I'm running on asphalt, well I remember when I walked this same 5K a few years ago that it started way far out in the Epcot parking lot.  Now this is Disney, folks, so maybe the asphalt out there is smooth, but just in case, I don't want to be too much of a tenderfoot.  I think that inside the park it is a smoother surface, but it is hard to remember because I had been wearing shoes at the time.

But most of all I just feel so sentimental about my barefoot running experience this summer, writing the blog and all that, that I just don't want it to be all over yet.  Not just yet.

I know that there will be a new season -- that it will all begin again next spring.  But I am just hanging in there for the last dregs here.  I feel that my running season officially ends with my Disney race in January.  So, I just want to finish up.

Well, by the end of that 31 degree run, I felt so good that I was sure the temperature had gone up to at least forty. The wind blowing through my toes felt like a cool spring breeze.  It actually felt good.  It's not that my feet weren't slightly numb.  The balls of my feet were where I felt some numbness.  It's just that they felt comfortable.  It was nothing like the first time out when it was numb and painful.  I really truly think that my feet adapted.  But what was surprising is they responded really quickly.

Anyway, when I checked the temperature it had gone up, just as I suspected -- to 32!

The same thing happened a second time when I went out for another run at 31 degrees after that.

I have drawn some conclusions about it. This is stuff really experienced barefoot runners already know, but I am finding out about it now.  Here are my "notes to self" about barefoot running in the cold:

First of all, stay as warm as possible up on top.

Second, start with only a little bit, like when you first started barefoot running, and gradually increased.  Have as much patience as you did when you first started to run barefoot.

Third, go out a little later in the day when the sun has been shining and warming up the ground a tiny bit.  When I went out that first morning and had to go too early, there was no sunshine on the ground.  For these latest runs, I was able to wait until there was more sunshine on the path and that made a difference.

I have read a post by a guy named Smelph over on the Barefoot Runner's Society site where he warns about going out when it is cold and WET.  I have only gone on beautiful cold days when it is dry.  I think that's a good idea for a beginner.

Fourth, don't just walk around all day with your feet all warm and cozy.  Take them out and let the get used to being in cooler temperatures so that it's not so shocking when you go to run.

Fifth, give your feet recovery time.  Take a full day off in-between so your feet can figure out what happened to them, adjust and do whatever they do to make the cold feel better next time.

That's all for today, folks.


Ewa said...

Glad to hear you are making progress in the cold. Yesterday for the first time in ages I ran in VFFs just because it was wet. I think it was a good decision but since more rains are coming I will be working on adapting my soles to wet and cold runs too.
You have a very cute dog.

Anonymous said...

I'm impressed!! My feet seem to freeze and I put on my shoes right away! I'm a whimp.

Avocational Singer said...

Ewa -- I can't even think of wet and cold. I shall wear my Vibrams too when I have to face that. I've been lucky to have good weather to try this in

Mama -- The feet DO freeze. That's why the conditioning process is necessary -- "necessary" IF one is interested in running barefoot in the cold, that is (and I truly question why on earth anyone, myself included, would need to even do it). It's not necessary if one has no reason to want to find out how the feet adapt to the cold. The adaptation period is uncomfortable. I just find it very interesting that the feet do adapt. It would have been horrible if there had been no change In that case I definitely wouldn't have continued.

barefootjosh said...

Great advice, especially the take a day off part.

I used to hate the idea and practice of putting clothes on a dog. But I didn't realize how much they would like it. That makes it ok, I guess. And it is cute, dammit.