Sandals and Cold Weather - Xero Shoes

It’s time to answer a question I get at least once a week (even in the middle of Summer people ask me this). And the question is:

What do you do in the Winter when you want to wear Xero Shoes?

There are a few options. But let me preface them by saying that the only times I’ve worn anything other than my huaraches since September 2009 are:

  1. In the Winter of 2009 when I wore my running shoes (to shovel snow… but see below!)
  2. Twice when I had to be in court (I put on my custom-designed, all black Nike Free… my knees were killing me after a couple of hours)
  3. When I’m on the track (I’m a sprinter) going faster than 80% of my full speed (you need spikes for that)

That said, here are the answers to coping with the cold

First answer: You’ll adapt.

I’m not superhuman, or missing nerve endings. I’ve adapted. And I’m NOTHING compared to my friend from Runbare.com, Michael Sandler. Check out THIS:

Think about it, our ancestors lived in some mighty cold places without shoes for quite a while. You can, too. Now, granted, they grew up that way and adapted, but you’ll be amazed at how much your body will adapt if you give it time.

My first Winter after I started wearing huaraches was a cold one. And I didn’t wear my Xero Shoes the whole time. But by the 2nd Winter, it never occurred to me to wear anything else, unless I knew I’d be spending a LOT of time outside, mostly standing on frozen ground.

I figured I’d put on shoes if I felt the need… and the next thing I knew it was Spring.

Here’s the video I just shot, after we got 18″+ of snow in Boulder in 2011. It’s about 15 degrees out.

What I did is this:

  • Outside for about 10 minutes
  • Inside to dry off my feet and warm them for 5
  • Outside for another 10
  • Inside to dry and warm for about 3
  • Outside for 30+ minutes… by this time my body temp had gone way up. I was sweating quite a bit. And my feet felt totally warm. Not numb. Warm. When I got inside after finishing the shoveling, they didn’t have to thaw or warm up or anything.

Lena wants me point out that you should check the Wiki about frostbite so you don’t do something stupid and get hurt ;-)

Okay, the second answer: Get some oversized wool socks (think “socks + flip flops”)

You’ll need to loosen your lacing to get the socks on, but that’ll help.

The third answer: Try a pair of toe socks. More specifically, try ToeSox.

The fourth answer: Change the way you run.

In other words, if you feet can’t adapt, your brain can… don’t go out for a 10 mile run if your feet get cold after 1 mile.

Try something like what I did in my shoveling video:

  • Warm up inside.
  • Go out for a 1 mile loop (or less)
  • Come back inside and run up and down your stairs to let your feet get warm.
  • Repeat.

Oh, there is a fifth answer… but I can’t tell you what it is yet. Stay tuned ;-)

  • http://www.xeroshoes.com/ Steven Sashen

    Oh, I’m not suggesting anyone DO this. As I said, I was just curious how long it would take until I felt the need to wear more than sandals (which provide the protection you describe)… and the next thing I knew it was Spring.

    This is just to suggest that what’s POSSIBLE may be more than you think is possible.

    • AlexM

      Sorry, misunderstood the purpose of the thread. But I admit I am curious in trying…though I think I will focus on the running style as such for now and use my Goretexed Merrel alt waterproofed Vibrams until the spring arrives :D

  • http://www.facebook.com/devriesheidi Heidi de Vries

    Can’t wait for the fifth answer to be told!

  • GaryP

    Steve, You still working on the 5th answer?

    • http://www.xeroshoes.com/ Steven Sashen

      We are… and we’re introducing it at the Outdoor Retailer trade show in 2 days… so I’ll post something about it soon thereafter.

      • Terry Gilmore

        Still eagerly waiting on the 5th answer.

        • http://www.xeroshoes.com/ Steven Sashen

          You and me both! (we’re still working on it)

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