Winter Training

Better than Leather--Vibram!

Better than Leather--Vibram!

OK, I admit it, winter’s a lazy time for me.  I do the same things a bear would do in hibernation if allowed, rousing myself on sunny days to go for a long walk or riding the exercycle now and then out of boredom.  We do some exercise routines and some martial yoga and I watch Alice do her hatha yoga and feel happy I don’t have to suffer that much.  I keep in shape but I’m no extremist, in the winter.  Born in the South, raised in the South, lived a long time in the South, and I’m not one for winter sports.

In the winter, it’s an occasional run on the treadmill for me, and this time–now that I know how much better I feel running barefoot–I’ve been running in cotton socks, and blisters.  Seems like no matter what I do, two or three miles on the mill puts a blister under the ball of each of my feet.  It’s no big deal, but it’s the same routine every time–run, get blisters, heal up, run again, get more blisters.  Just over two miles and that treadmill belt gets hot.  I don’t think it really is hot, but it feels hot.  So, long runs on the mill have been off the schedule this season and I’m feeling pretty happy with that.  Hibernation is pretty cool, too.

Now that there’s better weather coming on, we’ve started running the old course again, with fits and starts because the last couple of years there have been health issues to consider for both of us.  We’re optimistic that we’re getting over all that, but it’s still discouraging to know we’ve lost ground.

It’s good to know that at least I haven’t started from the bottom with the huaraches.  That part feels fine and I’m sure the running will quickly catch up–but there’s still that four and a half miles of rough dirt road ahead.  My immediate goal is to toughen up enough to actually run it in huaraches.  It isn’t the best course for barefoot running.  The gravel is new and sharp and sits on hard packed clay that’s about as tough as the asphalt, without the spring.  I’m not sure I’ll be able to do it, but there have been surprises already and I’m hoping for more.

If the sandals don’t work out, I have other choices.  We ran our outdoor course on good days this winter, and I wore thin sole moccasin style shoes.  The only padding in them was in the heels, enough gel to noticeably lift that part of my feet and cause my old hip pains to come back.  Amazing how a little bit of padding on the heels totally changes the way I run, but it’s true.

I’d love to be able to do this barefoot, but the huaraches seem like the least that’s practical.  I’ve noticed already that I’m not dealing with natural surfaces.  The surfaces I run upon today didn’t exist a thousand years ago.  Natural gravel is rounded and smooth.  A lot of what we get is straight from the quarry, courtesy of the highway department.

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