Nope, that isn’t white spray paint on the ground in the photo…it’s frost! Yep, Portland does apparently get that cold in the winter and Thursday morning I woke up to a light dusting of the cold stuff everywhere. I bundled up a little more for my three-mile jog. I threw on an extra layer on top and a hat, plus gloves. My dog – who has become my regular running partner – could not have cared less about the temperature outside (her only concern in life is squirrels and how to get them) and began tugging as soon as I stepped on the porch. In my bare feet.
Yep, I still run in those crazy toe shoes from Vibram. I switched to them about three years ago after reading this book and for me, they’ve solved a ton of hip/knee/joint problems. Although they certainly don’t earn you any style points, they have improved my aches and pains enough that I exclusively run in this type of shoe and have even done half marathons in them. The thing, is, I’ve never had to wear them through a winter in the Pacific Northwest until now. And it’s getting a little (ok A LOT) cold ’round here.
Stepping on the porch Thursday morning, I felt like my toes froze the second the door closed behind me. I could barely pull on my shoes because my feet were so cold that it was difficult to make each toe go in it’s little pocket. About five minutes into the run, I realized my toes actually did feel totally numb, and it was making me run a little wonky. Not good. Although these shoes have helped my joints, they are way less protective than a traditional shoe. Here in Oregon, there’s all sorts of leaves, pinecones, wayward berries and other stuff that falls off the trees making my running paths a wee bit treacherous. More than once I’ve landed on something odd-shaped and spikey and been uncomfortable for a few steps. I can’t be running around not being able to feel pain in my feet because if I did some real damage but was too cold to feel it, the results could be disastrous.
Trouble is, there’s nothing out there that provides a full barefoot running experience without the toe pockets. I’ve tried the Nike Free, the New Balance Minumus, and a random Fila style but nothing allows you to run with a ball of your foot strike like the Vibrams. This wasn’t a problem in my San Diego days, but I’m not sure I can keep up only wearing these here in Oregon. Maybe I can throw them in the dryer for five minutes before I put them on? Any other “barefoot” runners out there have good winter solutions for cold feet? Cuz I’m cold!