5 Minimalist Winter Running Tips

3. Keep your core warm.

You may notice that as you start running, your feet feel cold. Then after about ten minutes, they warm up. Half an hour later, they might feel cold again but a few minutes after that, they warm back up.

This is known as Cold-Induced Vascodilation (CIV). It is a phenomenon whereby your body tries to heat your core before it heats your extremities in an effort to conserve energy.

While your body is trying to heat your core, it's not sending much blood to your feet. As a result, they get cold. However, if your core is warm enough, your body sends more blood to your feet and warms them up.

CIV is the reason some are able to go barefoot well into winter. CIV generally occurs after about eight to 10 minutes, but there are a few things you can do to speed up the process:

  • Teach your feet to adapt to the cold, so CIV occurs sooner.
  • Dress more warmly than you think you have to, especially around your core. The warmer you dress around your core, the faster CIV happens.

4. Warm your feet ahead of time.

It helps to warm up before you expose your feet to the cold. Some of that heat stays with you and ties you over until CIV kicks in. There are several ways to do this, but here are a few options:

  • Stand in front of your heater for a few minutes before leaving your house.
  • Jog around your house for a few minutes and work up a sweat before your run.
  • Leave your house with more clothes than you intend to wear, and take them off after 10 minutes.
  • If you're going barefoot, run the first 10 minutes in shoes.

5. Be more careful.

Remember this saying: "Numb feet are dumb feet."

Your ability to run barefoot or minimal successfully depends in large part on your ability to feel the ground and react to it. Even with CIV, your feet may start to numb as the temperature drops.

The level of numbness varies by person. For most people, once it gets below 50 degrees, the feet start to lose some sensation. When temperatures are in the low 30s, your feet are probably useless blocks of flesh.

This is dangerous because as your feet get numb, you're no longer able to feel whether your form is slipping. You're more susceptible to blisters, abrasions, and puncture wounds.

Since your feet aren't as sensitive to their surroundings, you need to use your other senses more optimally. Pay attention to where you are running. Stop frequently to inspect your feet for blisters and cuts. You need to be extra alert as to what the other parts of your body are experiencing.

Don't be afraid of the colder weather, but always be cautious. Winter can be a great time for minimalist runners, so don't forget to have fun.

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Christian Peterson will be running outdoors this winter in Minnesota, both barefoot and in minimalist shoes.

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