Starting out Barefoot in the Cold

Blog entry posted by Barefoot Ken Bob, Oct 27, 2010.

What am I, Barefoot Ken Bob, 30-year resident of beautiful sunny southern California, doing writing about how to start out barefoot in cold weather?

Well, first of all, it occasionally drops well below 60 degrees Fahrenheit here! So I do know a little bit about cold weather.

But seriously, I did live in northern Michigan for bit more than 24 years. And, yes I was running barefoot back then, just not year-round, at least not outside.

Unless you live in a moderate, or tropical climate, the best time to begin running barefoot would seem to be spring. But those long cold northern (or southern for those down under) winters actually have a nice moderating effect, helping to keep us from going out and succumbing to the dreadful Running Barefoot Exuberance Syndrome (RBES), where you feel so great running barefoot, you over-do it and injure yourself (same problem with Vibram Five-Fingers, and anything else that limits your sole's stimulation)....

So cold weather is actually a great time to start barefooting ... inside, just to get your feet used to being naked, and feeling the hard floors, carpets, etc.. Focus on trying to figure out what your feet are telling you. If it hurts, it's because you're doing something your feet don't like, not necessarily standing, walking, or running barefoot, but the WAY you're standing, walking, or running!

In the meantime, get your bare feet outside, occasionally, at least for a few minutes (especially on warmer days), so they can start feeling... just feeling things outside of footwear, and smooth floors and soft carpet. Don't stay out so long that your feet become numb. On the other hand, realize that for the first few seconds, your feet will feel colder, as your body works to keep your core warm. Once your core is taken care of, your body will send more heat down to your feet - and walking or running will also help warm the feet.

Remember, if you're just beginning to go barefoot (running or walking) your feet have NOT really been exercising with you - they were imprisoned in shoes. Walking and Running Barefoot will be a completely NEW activity for your feet (or if you haven't gone barefoot since you were a child, a rebirth of your feet), and many other muscles that you might not have used while running in shoes. Let your feet start out very short, slow, and build very gradually as you learn to listen and respond to them. Think of this like an infant taking their first steps. Sure, an infant will walk/run until they collapse, but that's only a few steps at a time!

By spring, your feet will be happy, eager, and hungry for the stimulation of even the roughest pavement and gravel!
Barefoot Ken Bob

About the Author

Webmaster and founder of the Original Running Barefoot website (1997) - BarefootRunning.com, President Los Angeles Chapter of The Barefoot Runners Society (2010), Co-author; Barefoot Running Step by Step (2011), Barefoot Running Guru (1997-present), completed more than 400 races barefoot (as of 2012), including 79 marathons (26.2 miles each), and one ultra-marathon (50 kilometers+)