Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cold Toes and running woes....

So first running woe... Let me shake my first and curse, "back to school colds". My son started Kindergarten this year and within a month the dreaded lurgi hit. Admittedly a cold would just hit and maybe derail you for say a few days. Not this bugger! A month, YES A MONTH, later and I think I have just about managed to get rid of the coughing part of the cold. So I have had a month of reduced running; just because I couldn't seem to go further than about a mile before I had to walk, cough like a 70 year old man and regurgitate something that would be classified top secret and placed in AREA51. I mean what have they been giving viruses these days? It's almost as if they have been drugged up, placed in an intensive training program and then given huge gunk guns for good measure!

Yep, it's also THAT time of year. The clocks have moved back and any hope of a warm, sunny day has pretty much left the building. It is also this time of year where most minimalist or barefoot runners (anywhere North of the tropics) start the whole dilemma.. "how I am going to keep running?"

I have been running with little or nothing on my feet for about 18 months now, and somehow I have managed to avoid this whole situation. Last year we had the freakiest warm winter weather. It broke records! There is a logical explanation as to why this happened. Why didn't we get the usually sleet/cold rain/frost? Forget about "Global warming", the explanation is a lot more sinister.... Our little corner of Canada was hosting the Winter Olympics. I mean come on. There is a whole sky full of deities and they have to have a laugh too. What a laugh; what a joke! Seeing the little humans ship in snow on trucks and trailers, so they could ski down a mountain on little sticks. If I had eternity to live in, then I would want to play the odd practical joke too.

So last year, I was running in Mid-February and there was cherry blossom on the trees. Not really a "frozen toe" crisis.

This year, the situation is completely different. In an effort to get the most of the practical joke, (It was a good one), they are prediciting the worst winter in 55 years for the North-west Pacific region. i.e. my little part of Canada! So what the heck am I going to do!!

I have poor circulation in my feet and already I am suffering from the cold-toes situation due to my funky toes. My toes already host one of those freaky horror side-shows that you get at the circus. "Roll up, Roll up... come and see them. Kate's toes. See how they stick out at odd angles, see how they seem to look at you regardless of where you are in the room. If you are pregnant, have a weak heart or you are under the age of 10, we advise you stay away!"

We aren't even at the end of Novemeber. The lack of sensitivity in my feet has meant that running trails is proving interesting. I am landing heavier because I can't "feel" my landing as well. Normally wouldn't be much of an issue on the roads as you can use the sound of the landing to help determine how you are landing. On trails, you can be landing like a 10 tonne Elephant and would still scare the squirrels. The trails here are ALL gravel... So there have been a few moments when I have had sworn enough to earn an Adult rating if I had passed by any local film classification employees!

What happens when the snows hit? I know, road running. I can hear you say it. Let me introduce you to the Vancouver city authorities. We had bad snow a couple of years back and that's when we found out how few snow-ploughs and salt-trucks there were. Only a few roads were cleared and then they were fairly slippy. As for the sidewalks? Where did you think all of the snow went? At one point I remember going to the local store in snow-shoes and pulling D in a sledge. I am not in the rural outskirts... we are talking mid-city here!

So I need another plan? I have already "informally" asked the local recreation center about running on their indoor track and I have been told that for "safety" reasons, everyone needs to wear "proper" athletic shoes. Yep, let's not even go there! I am going to challenge them on that point, but that may take a while. I have even considered asking the local indoor shopping malls, if I can run there before the stores open in the morning? Here the stores open at 10AM, so I could run about 40 mins before the mall get's busy. Anyone else have any other ideas?

Of course there is my trusted elliptical machine, the local aquafit classes and perhaps even some aerobic classes. Not quite the same as bearing my freaky toes, but....

Hey, I am wondering, do you think if I look up in the sky and tell the multitude of deities that I PROMISE to dress as a chicken whilst running, they will get a big enough laugh from that and give up on the whole winter snow idea?


  1. Have Vancouver host another high publicity winter event to assure warm weather.
    Have you considered any minimalist shoes at all? I myself have not really looked into that but I hear many barefoot people do.

  2. I actually run a fair bit in VFF's (just because I usually do run gravel trails). Unfortunately VFF's don't keep the feet warm because of the "separated toes" :( They are really the only minimalist shoes that are easily available here.

    I have a pair of old Converse trainers, and I am actually considering running in those for a while. I will be able to wear wool socks, they have no heel/toe height discrepancy... a little extra insulation on the sole for the gravel. Not the best because... shock.. they are shoes, but if it keeps me running whilst maintaining most of minimal form then I think I may have to give it a go.

  3. Hi Katie,out here in Winnipeg we have definately had the 'cold toes' issues. It is currently getting cooler in our neck of the woods as well, so I know where you are in the weather stuff. (even though we are experiencing record highs during the mid-days right now, it won't last past this afternoon.) I am trying the ZEM shoes for the start of winter the ones with the round toes as I will be able to add thermal socks to them as the weather dips. They are not water proof but I think they will help with the wind. After -10 to -20 and colder I plan to pull out the mukluks. They are the closest thing I can think of for keeping my feet close to the ground and warm at the same time. I admit that I am a huge suck when it comes to being cold, I will usually over dress and end up wearing my jacket around my waist for the last half of most runs, but I'm okay with that.... as long as I get to stay warm! Good luck with your 'cold toes', I hope you find a solution that works well for you.

  4. I have the same problem and have no good solution yet. I'm looking into other shoe alternatives so I'm hoping with that I can wear heavier wool socks. Plus, my feet feel so beat up with VFF's on trails. It would be nice to have less of that.

  5. I use a different shoes similar to VFF. It's called Kigo Shel. So far so great. The design looks like an aqua shoes, which you can really use in the water. I love the feeling, it's very light and comfortable to wear. I have never had any problems at all and I hope it will stay this way. Well, I include a sample image of how the shoes look like here.

  6. Hi Guys,
    I have tried bundling up as much as I can and it's not helping. I have literally be sweating and yet my feet are still frozen. When I ran a quick trail run in my converses (which will not work out as I found out on my long run today), my feet were fantastic, but then I realised that my hands have the same issue. I had never noticed it before because my feet had been so painful with the cold. I am wondering if it's just something in my biology, which means that the sooner I find a work around the better, because I don't think this problem is going to go away.

    I think the main issue I have is with the separated toes in the VFF's. When my long trail run was a fail because of the converses, I just took them off and ran on the road in wool socks (admittedly my feet were warm to start). It was about 45deg here but my feet managed to stay warm for about another 10K, before I started to loose sensation. Shelly, I can understand the situation with battered feet. The last couple of weeks I have been landing so hard on the trails that it's been destroying my love of the trails. I HATE feeling so bruised at the end, but when I can't feel my landing it was inevitable.

    The Kigo shoes look like something I would be interested in. I am also considering the Merrells and the Luna Sandals. I like the Terra Plana's, but it's the price that's the killer. I need something that I can put a decent pair of wool socks on underneath.

    I am also a little bit anal in that I want to try the shoes on. I have bizarre feet and I don't feel comfortable ordering off the internet and hoping they work. I am hoping to go Stateside but it won't be till May Next Year, so I just have to figure out something till then.

    Keep the suggestions coming. I will gladly take any advice.

  7. I'm having similar issues trying to find a fitness club where I can use a treadmill indoors and run in bare feet. Check out my latest post on this. I should hear back from another club sometime this week. Keep your fingers crossed.

    In Ontario we get LOTS of snow where I live. I have Vivo Barefoot shoes for this winter. If they're not warm enough, I'm going with moccasins.

  8. Katie, have you tried these? http://www.instructables.com/id/Viking-shoes/

    that's what I've been walking/running in, and you can easily put wool socks under them.