The Truth About Running Barefoot In Winter

Written by Barefoot Dawsy

If you’re at all like me, you probably follow a few other barefooters on Twitter or read a couple barefoot blogs. If this is the case then you’ve likely come across the articles that describe the joy of running barefoot through snowy winter conditions.

Typically they run something along the lines of “I don’t even feel the cold” or “the blood flow increases to your feet so they stay nice and toasty!”.

Well  I’d like to officially add my 2 cents…it’s damn cold and I couldn’t feel my feet! Wow…talk about your chilly runs!

I went out the other night for my first winter run. I am at a little bit of a disadvantage, I must admit, as I’ve only recently turned up in Vancouver after enjoying a lovely Australian summer down in Sydney. Let’s just say that the 30 degree drop in temperature may have been a bit much.

Anyhoo, not to miss out on an opportunity, I jotted down a couple of notes for any of you who want to make a similar attempt.

1. Don’t stray to far from your home

At first when you get outside, it seems cold, but bearable. You may find it relatively easy to get a few kilometres from home before the real cold sinks in. When it does, you’ll thank yourself for being close to some place warm.

2. Be extra careful when your feet go numb

Anyone who’s ever had their ears pierced by a friend knows the numbing qualities of ice. Well the same principle holds when bare feet meet cold ground. It won’t take long for your feet to numb up and you will feel nothing but cold until you get home.

These are prime conditions for injuries, so don’t get complacent and forget to scan for debris or let your form slip

3. Last, go out and buy yourself a nice pair of minimal shoes

I just bought a pair of Vibram Seeyas (watch this space for an upcoming review) as a result of running in the cold. Wearing them out in contrast is like having a blazing fire lit beneath my toes.

There’s no shame in using the right tool for the job, and running in winter is definitely one of those situations that merit a little extra something between your feet and the ground.

All that being said, go out and experiment on your own and call me a whinger if you like, but just stay safe!

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Barefoot Basics #3: Cadence

Written by Barefoot Dawsy

If you want to adjust one element of your running form in order to gain the most benefit, then it’s pretty hard to go past cadence. Most of us, especially when shod, tend to settle into a loping, low cadence run. The exception to this is trained athletes and runners who never or seldom wear shoes.

Part of the reason why low cadence is so common is because in shoes it can be more comfortable and seem easier than the alternative. What this ends up doing however, is increase the amount of time your foot spends on the ground.

When you run with a high ~3 steps per second cadence, you remain airborne slightly longer than you would otherwise. Over short distances the difference can be negligible but for longer runs, such as half and full marathons, the reduced friction can take minutes off your time with no extra effort.

There are other benefits of high cadence as well, as it naturally discourages over striding. Over striding is commonly viewed as one of the biggest no-nos in running as it can cause injury and degrade performance. In order to run with a high cadence, you will need to take shorter strides, which will keep your feet directly beneath your centre of gravity, where they should be.

So the next time you go out for a run, focus on spinning those feet and once you get used to it, you’ll never look back!

 

Barefoot Basics #2: Bend Your Knees

Written by Barefoot Dawsy

When you first take off your conventional shoes and try running barefoot, the first thing you will probably notice is that the ground is really hard! It might sound silly and obvious, but the truth is that it’s easy to forget this simple fact when running with a big wedge of padding beneath your soles.

To compensate for this hard ground, your legs come with built in shock absorbers. And because you’re now running without the squishy comfort of foam underfoot, you need to make absolutely sure that you’re using them to your best advantage.

The easiest way to do this is to bend your knees. And when I say bend them, I mean really bend them. At first you’ll feel a bit funny, like you’re running in a crouch, but this is what you want. The more you bend your knees, the more they will absorb the shock that your legs and feet experience during running.

When you bend your knees, you’re not only engaging your knees, but also your ankles, Achilles tendons, and even your feet. All this extra absorption not only makes for a more comfortable run, it also will allow you to store and reuse a lot more energy which you can use to run further and faster.

Beginning Barefoot in Canada

Written By Barefoot Dawsy

We finally made it! After 2 weeks, 20,000km and who knows how many tantrums, the Barefoot Dawsies are all safe and sound in Vancouver.

Making the change from summer to winter is going to take a bit of getting used to, especially with regards to running around without shoes, but I can’t wait to get started! I haven’t gone for a run yet, or met up with any other barefooters, but all this is on the cards, just as soon as it stops raining (should be within the next few months they tell me!)

I just wanted to say a big thanks to all my subscribing readers and the truckload of new readers that have been viewing the site while we’ve been in transit. BeginningBarefoot.com had its biggest day ever yesterday, despite no new articles for over a week!

It’ll be business as usual from this week onwards, so keep your eyes peeled for new posts. I’ll be continuing the Barefoot Basics series, and hopefully should have some great new articles and reviews in the near future for you.

Happy Barefooting!

Barefoot Dawsy

Too hard

So apparently it’s actually very hard to move a family of four to a different continent, work a day job and maintain a blog…who knew? I’ve decided to just take the time off and return once we’re all set up in Canada. I apologise for the lack of articles over the next fortnight, but will make it up asap.

We’ll be back in about a week, so stay tuned!

Barefoot Dawsy

Barefoot Basics #1: Relax

Written by Barefoot Dawsy

There are literally dozens of tips, tricks, and techniques that I can (and will) show you about barefoot running, but there is one simple tip that rules them all: Relax!

When you’re relaxed, running becomes a wonderul, enjoyable experience. Without tension in your body, you use less energy just flexing unnecessary muscles. You will run farther, and may even find yourself smiling like an idiot at the passersby.

You may have heard this tip before, and wondered how to implement it. It can take a bit of practice, but once you get the hang of it, it quickly becomes second nature.

To begin with, get yourselff relaxed before you even take your first step. Stand in place, and, starting from the top of your head, allow each and every muscle between there and your toes relax, one by one. As you do this, breathe in slowly through your nose, hold for a moment, then exhale out your mouth.

Once you’re fully relaxed, lean your hips forward and let your bodystart to run. Keep breathing at a nice, even pace. As you run, you will notice tension begin to slowly creep in to your neck, shoulders, legs, etc. Try to spot these pressure points early on and focus on relaxing them again.

Be careful not to let yourself get too relaxed. You don’t want your feet to flop about and your legs to turn into jelly. The art is to learn to relax yourself just enough.

Keep practising, and you’ll start to notice a big difference in your enjoyment and mastery of running.

And we’re off! (to Canada)

So the time has finally arrived. The BarefootDawsies are upping stumps and heading to the Great White North. The process should take around 2 weeks from start to finish, and unfortunately during that time I’ll probably only have intermittent internet access.

Don’t worry though, I have a plan! I’m going to be auto-posting a series of articles that will run you through the basic parts of barefoot running. By the time I’m back online properly, I expect you all to be experts!

I hope you enjoy the series, and if you’re in Vancouver, send me a tweet and maybe we can go for a run!

Barefoot Dawsy