Colder Weather Tolerance Tips for Barefooters

For those who are serious about running outside barefoot – even in sub zero temps – read on. For those who pretend interest, sign off now.

In most of Canada, the northern USA, Europe, Russia and northern Asia, the winter months have basically been written off as ‘non-outdoor barefoot running’ months. Over the past number of years, I have realized that this simply does not need to be so. If you start from the premise that our bodies adapt to virtually any condition, you are more than 50% on the way to winter outdoor barefoot running (or WOBR!).

The other 50% consists of doing what makes the most practical sense – running barefoot on every run as the temps gradually drop. Of course, this does NOT include those sudden 10 to 15 degree C drops that do happen in our current winter seasons. My rule of thumb is put something on your feet if the temp drops below -10C with icy slush under foot. In conditions like this, I resort to the Vibram FFs Bikilas with the Barefoot-Science 3/4 inserts (much to my chagrin!).

Otherwise, I do a series of barefoot drills indoors pre-outdoor run to get the blood flowing to my extremities. I then start running immediately – no standing around chit-chatting (if you run with a group) – on any number of routes depending on my location.

You will find that asphalt holds heat better that any other surface you normally encounter when WOBR. Next comes dirt & gravel or stone trails followed closely by concrete, wet leaves & grass on trails or fields, light snow and, finally, cold, slushy-covered surfaces of any kind. If you mentally focus on ‘warmth throughout, blood flow throughout, stay light & quick with foot cadence’, you will be amazed at how your body adapts to WOBR.

It actually gets easier with each passing run…but, remember, DO NOT stop and contemplate life during a WOBR! Believe me, you will pay a significant price for doing this over any extended time.

Take the proverbial plunge if you are serious about running injury-free in true barefoot manner.

coach Jeff


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