Friday, December 10, 2010

Day 344 - Five Fingers and Snow

I mentioned a while ago that I run in Vibram Five Fingers (VFFs), those funny looking shoes with toes. I made the change, cold turkey, about 15 months ago after running out of ideas on how to keep my body running. They work really well for me. Except in the winter.

The problem is that the shoes are called "minimalist" for a reason. There's almost nothing to them. That means that there isn't much between my little piggies and the freeziness that's all over the ground.

I'm not gonna sugar coat it. My toes get cold. They don't get dangerously cold, at least they haven't yet. Still, too often, when I get home, my toes will sting for a bit. Sometimes they're just plain numb.

Typical DR365 Reader: So why the hell don't you put on some normal damn shoes, freak?

Me: Excellent question. You're not only above average looking, but also insightful.

Typical DR365 Reader: Thanks, I think.

Running in minimalist shoes has changed my gait and my foot strike to the point that running in conventional shoes just doesn't work. In less than a mile, everything's wrong, everything hurts. If I were to try regular running shoes, it would be like someone who's used to running in running shoes trying to run in high-heels. I can't even walk in running shoes anymore.

All of these runs, in all kinds of conditions, and the shoes have performed really well. And, I've learned a lot about running in VFFs when it's cold out. Don't believe me? Here, I'll show you...
  1. Since one generally doesn't wear socks with VFFs, it's a really, really good idea to keep your feet dry when it's cold out. Avoid puddles, wet grass, falling through ice.
  2. It's also a good idea to avoid snow because snow will suck the heat out of your feet. Stay on pavement, or sidewalk, or leaves, when you can.
  3. Rule #1 trumps rule #2. Given a choice, snow is better than a wet street. The colder it is, the truer this gets.
  4. Most of the people who act like they're interested in your shoes, aren't. They just want to find out want kind of nut job would wear something so ridiculous out in public. It's the same reason we look in to see what kind of idiot could drive so slow when we pass them.
  5. The wrap-your-feet-in-neoprene Flow model of VFFs is touted as being good for cold weather running on the Vibram website. They aren't. I have a pair, and I see no difference, except that they are hard as hell to get on.
  6. VFFs are mostly flat bottomed. That means zippo traction on slippery surfaces. Ice is dangerous. Wet ice is the worst. Even mud is bad. Especially when you happen to trod upon a layer of mud that has been warmed by the sun and is sitting on top of a still frozen layer. That's what we call "fall bait".
See that slide mark there?
That's where I relearned rule #6.
Stupid mud. 

See, that's 6 things, right off the top of my head.

I'll admit, there are days when a I could really use the protection of a pair of socks. I even have a pair of less-unusual shoes to try once the streak is over, ones that will keep my toes warm, or at least warmer. I'm not generally superstitious, but still... I don't want to change anything, perhaps not even my underwear, until I hit 365. So those will stay in the box a few more weeks.

Fear of change and the benefits of running in minimal shoes are enough to keep me running in VFFs, despite the cold toes. And as a bonus, VFFs leave pretty cool foot prints.

Good running,

Numbers: 3.4 miles on snowy trails, and only one minor fall.