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Embracing the Cold: Attitude is (almost) Everything!

Monday, February 24, 2014

I made the switch to Vibram Five Fingers shoes a little over year ago. One the most frequent questions I get is, "Aren't your feet cold?" The answer is often, "Yes, but it doesn't bother me anymore." A few people have rejected the idea of the shoes outright because of the cold. The people I know better, whom I know are willing to listen to me talk about why the cold doesn't bother me anymore, get the rest of the story.

I do not like cold feet. I have CPT - Congenital Popsicle Toes. I was born with cold feet. In the winter, the heat vents in my car are almost always pointed at my feet. I can live with cold air on the rest of my body, but my feet want warmth.

The VFF can be worn with socks, and when it's below 40F, I'll wear the socks. Because water goes right through the shoes, I don't wear them when the ground is wet. (The socks are not enough to keep my toes warm when the shoes get wet.)

The bigger deal is that I came to a place of comfort with the cold. I don't enjoy it, but I learned it won't harm me in most circumstances. In most cases, it is merely uncomfortable. Discomfort is not pain. I am not so frail that mere discomfort will keep me in the house, away from the elements.

There are limits to this, but in most cases, I just get out there and do my workout. Today, I ran while it was windy and hailing. Yes, my hands were cold. My face was pretty cold, too. But I was in no danger of frostbite, and I was only outside for about a half-hour.

If the cold causes me pain, it is no longer a mere discomfort. When it is extremely cold, I stay within several blocks of the house or my office so that I can get back to warmth and safety quickly. I'm not nuts. I frequently find that while I am quite cold, it doesn't bother me.

I know this doesn't work for everyone. I do not have a neurological condition that makes working out in the cold impossible or even unwise. I am careful to keep parts that need to stay warm warm: I wear compression shorts if I'm running in cold weather, and I always have some sort of wind barrier on while riding in cold weather. I know how dangerous hypothermia is, and I have no intention of risking getting it. But for me, it works.

Now if I could convince my hot-house-flower of a husband that cold won't kill him...
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • v HILLSLUG98239
    Ice would be a deal-breaker for me, too. When I lived in Spokane, I would run in the snow. but not if there was a layer of ice under the snow - too risky for my ligaments!

    I live in a really dry climate - we average 8" of precipitation a year. We get black ice on the road, and we get freezing rains, but the ice doesn't stick around very long. We also average 300 days of sunshine a year, and even in the winter the sun will melt ice off the pavement.
    914 days ago
  • v MISSG180
    I am not averse to cold so much as I am terrified of slipping on the ice. Once it gets above freezing here long enough to get rid of the ice, I will be out there running!
    914 days ago
    I've been dreaming about running outside - which I take to mean that I'm hitting my limit on the treadmill. And I mean literally, dreaming - I've been running in my dreams. I do not, as far as I know, wiggle my feet and whimper like the dogs when they chase dream bunnies. But it it still too cold for me to run outside, so I haven't managed to embrace the cold yet. Maybe in a couple of weeks...I hope!

    I have VFFs, too - they never caused me blister problems, but the dude at the running store fit me pretty carefully, to be sure they didn't pinch or rub. It turned out I wear the mens' model instead of the women's, which made a difference for me. I've since switched to Merrell's barefoot line for running, and use the VFFs for when I'm doing my other workouts (usually kettlebells and weights). I feel like they give me a firmer footing than other sneakers.
    914 days ago
    I love the CPT thing, funny!
    915 days ago
    I don't mind the cold. It's often below zero here at night during the winter's the heat and humidity I can't tolerate!! If I'm not barefoot (or foot-naked as my Lebanese neighbors call it!!) I am in VFF's. People have always thought I was a weirdo so I don't even bother to explain!
    916 days ago
  • v HILLSLUG98239
    I had zero problems with my VFFs. Have you tried a product like Body Glide in the area where you got blisters?

    When people are curious, I always recommend they buy their first pair at a place like REI. If you don't like them, REI will take them back. These shoes aren't for everyone, and it's kind of nice having the freedom to return them.

    Because of the way water gets into them, I switched to a very-low-drop (if not zero) Asics shoe, I'm really happy with them. But they cannot replicate the joy of running through the grass in VFFs - it's just like being barefoot, but with the freedom of not thinking about what I might have stepped in.

    Thanks for the cheers. I always figure people think I'm unstable and dangerous, and they're just smiling for fear I'll "go off" at the slightest provocation.
    916 days ago
  • v LYNSEY723
    I too have the Vibram shoes, but I wore them once and they started to cause blisters on my heel and then I gave up. I need to pull them out of the closet again but I have yet to find a good time to see if I can break those things in! Did you have any issues like that?

    Also, way to go with working out in the cold! I silently cheer people on when they are exercising in conditions that I won't... not that it takes much for me to stay at home on the treadmill....

    916 days ago
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