The Abrupt Stop to Running

This winter I've been doing quite well without a car. Although the weather has been mild enough to bike, I've mostly stuck to walking. And although mild, it's still cold enough that I put on water shoes to go running most of the time (my absolute cutoff for running in bare feet is 35°F when it's wet out and 20°F when dry; usually I transition when it's warmer). And then it wasn't snowy enough to go cross-country skiing except once or twice. And then I got a dog and we'd run together in addition to one more time walking.

So 20 miles a week running in addition to probably 30 miles of walking started taking its toll. A few weeks ago I noticed my left Achilles tendon was a bit sore. I persevered as this kind of thing happened before and that seemed to be fine. But more recently, I just wasn't willing to push through it to run as the pain became too great. I've dropped to about a mile a week, and will cut back even more. I had heard how the body is typically able to repair damage from normal use as it happens, but if it starts falling behind, the result is a repetitive stress injury. I'm just going to assume that's the case — rest and gentle treatment cause the symptoms to nearly disappear, and aggressive use brings them back.

Fortunately I've found that bicycling doesn't aggravate it nearly as much so I'm switching back to that. In turn, that is motivating me to get the bike projects done that I have partially completed. Unfortunately, it looks like I'm going to sit out the Lilac 5K this year.

Nonetheless, I see the sexy young women out running these early-spring days and all I can think is, "gosh, I wish I could get back to running."

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Back to a bit of barefoot running

Just a brief update from the running file: I went out for a 15-minute run and did about half of it with water-shoes on then the other half barefoot. It was about 27°F outside and a light snow had made the ground damp. When I got home, the coldest part of my toes were still only around 50°F. It felt good to get back out there again after a wintry hiatus.

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Running Barefoot and Glass

Yesterday I went out for a run and mixed between water-shoes and bare feet depending on whether the pavement was snow-covered or not, respectively. Due to the minor thaw I was even able to get out onto the canal path. It was around 25°F outside. I decided to run barefoot through the snow-covered sidewalk on the last 100 yards down the street. Naturally my feet got extra cold but I'm trying to get increased circulation and I figure the way to do that is to train my feet that they need it — not so bad that I get frostbite, but enough that it's uncomfortable.

Anyway, this morning I got a sharp pain my toe. I figured I'd stepped on something yesterday, although it could have been around the house or any time since yesterday morning. It looked like a sliver of some kind so I dug around and cleaned it out. When I finally got it, I realized it was a tiny piece of glass. I was so excited: I finally got cut on glass! It's usually the first thing anybody says when I say I run barefoot on pavement, "aren't you afraid of glass?" Well usually I don't run through it — I pay attention to the ground when I run. But I guess in the winter I can't see it under the snow so I might get a cut now and then.

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Running, but not barefoot

I got out to go for a run this morning. I figured I'd try going barefoot in the snow that still covered the ground. Well, I barely made it three houses down the street like that. I had read on the Running Barefoot Yahoo! Group that you can use some very minor foot cover (like water shoes or special footwear for barefoot-like running) in such conditions successfully. Figuring I wouldn't be able to hack the snow I had brought along water shoes which helped a lot. I ended up running comfortably for 15 minutes or so (I took a short course to try things out) and found that my feet were a lot warmer than they have been.

I had thrown out the theory that, like the callousing from barefoot running in the first place which seems so counter to "conventional wisdom", that humans might be able to adapt to the cold weather as well. I know this kind of running — well, running in general — does improve foot circulation so it's not out-of-the-question to get to a point where I'm able to run in extremely cold conditions without danger or discomfort.

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