Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Winter Cross Training in Vibrams -- Part I -- The Preliminaries

A simple little tale of going out running the day after a giant blizzard ending up having to be told in three parts, it seems.  Part I will be the "The Preliminaries."  Part II will be "Running in Vibrams."  And Part III will be "The Barefoot Part."

A subtitle for the series could be, "Who says it has to be all or nothing?"

So, here we go with Part I -- The Preliminaries

This was going to be my first day out in my Vibrams.  Some of you may remember I mentioned that I started in Vibrams last spring, ran a few times, then decided to try barefoot to learn proper form.  My intention back then had been to go back to Vibrams once I had the barefoot form down correctly, but after experiencing barefoot running I never put them back on.

So, today was going to be the day I put them back on.  Had them all ready on the chair, along with a pair of Injinji toe socks.

When I checked the temperature, I saw that it was 35 degrees.  Well, that's pretty warm, I thought.  Maybe the streets are clear enough that I could do it barefoot after all.. Let me go see.

So, I headed outside to take a little walk around and scope the situation out -- in my bare feet of course.

Parts of the sidewalks seemed fine, very well-shoveled.

However there were sections like the one below which did not look like they were going to be good at all.

Well, I thought, it must be clear out on the Boulevard.  Maybe I can start out in the Vibrams and take them off when I'm on the runway, then put them back on again to come home. Yes, that's what I can do and what I shall do.

I went back in to put my Vibrams on.  This was the first time I was using the socks with them and it was really tough getting them on with the socks.  I thought to myself, "I don't know how I'll get these back on when it's time to come home.  This is really tough."  I thought about how my feet would be wet when it came time to put them back on.  I decided to bring a little towel with me.

Then I realized something!  I don't have to wear these socks!  It's 35 degrees out there.  I've run barefoot in 35 degrees so why would I need these socks?  I decided to ditch the socks.

Now it was time to step out the door:

Definitely did not feel good about having them on. :-(

Here is a video of my first steps down the snowy path in my Vibrams:

When I got to the corner, something completely unanticipated happened.  I looked across to the other side and saw that the way to my running path was blocked by snow:

How am I going to get up there?

I could clearly see there was a little path carved out up there, but couldn't see how to get to it.

 So, I went back across to the other side of the street and started jogging along.  Maybe I'll just have to run along these paths:

As I jogged along, I was beginning to think my plan to take off my Vibrams at some point was starting to fall through.  When I got to the corners, I was especially sure it would not be a good idea because I would encounter puddles of slush like this:

All the while I was on the lookout for a place across the street where I might cross over on to the path by the river.  Finally I found a spot that looked like it might work.  Daffodil and I stepped through it to get to the Boulevard path.

We took a look back to see where we had come from.

Now we were up on the path at last.
We scoped it out.   First we looked North:

And then we looked South:

And everything looked "good to go."

Notes to self after "The Preliminaries:
  • Scoping out the scene in bare feet before heading out by walking up and down a few blocks to see how it feels not only gives a good idea about whether to use shoes or not, but also gives the feet a little touch of cold weather conditioning.  Who says it has to be all or nothing?
  • Climbing through snow and slushing through slush in the kind of Vibrams I have is pretty wet, so it's not like Vibrams are going to keep my feet dry.
  • I don't need socks when it's 35 degrees.
  • No matter how hard I try to think things through and anticipate everything, there's always going to be something I didn't think of
  • Sometimes I have to just get out there and see what it's like to know how it's going to go.  Experience is the best teacher.
  • Don't like my Vibrams any more.  The first time I ran in them, back in the spring, I thought they were amazing.  But after running barefoot all summer, I don't like them any more.

I'll continue in Part II -- Running in Vibrams


Anonymous said...

I go back and forth on these Vibrams. I'm going to try the Bilikias for my marathon. They have taken care of the annoyances of the KSO's that many people have. That being said I will free my feet again in the spring as it seems no matter what I wear I'm bothered! UGH

Anonymous said...

Love the pix, step by step (literally!) of your outing. It's as if we (your readers) are there with you, looking up and down the path.

I feel pretty much the way you do about Vibrams. I got a pair in March, wore 'em once and got terrible blisters. Ran barefoot after that. (Loved that!) Didn't run in the Vibrams again until Thanksgiving, when it was too cold for barefootin' (But Vibrams are not a solution for me: my feet feel colder in them than they do, bare.)

Hope to find something that will feel "barefoot" but keep my feet dry and somewhat warm...

Avocational Singer said...

@Mama -- I cannot wait until spring!!! Nice weather = barefoot runner happiness.

@Ken -- It does sound like we have a similar experience going. I am sure that eventually we'll find just the right thing!