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Five Fingers for cold weather training

by Tyler Hurst » on Nov 29, 2010 5

Barefoot Ted might tell you that “a numb foot is a dumb foot,” but he’s being too nice. A numb foot means a dumb runner makes more sense and places the responsibility for our own well-being on, well, us.

You can't see me, but I'm in the back. Shirtless.

Minimalist runners have to be especially careful during the colder months as they are much more exposed to the ground. Last year, running in my Sprints in Seattle in December, my feet became numb after ten minutes of running. Form was compromised, my hips hurt later and my body felt like shit for the rest of my time home. While I only blame myself and not the shoes, but there has to be a better way to train in the colder months.

Or you can all just move to Arizona with me, where it was under 40 degrees this morning for the first, and probably last, time this year.

1. Think more Bikilas and less Sprints
The Sprints and Classics are the most minimal of the outdoor Five Fingers, which is great except for when it’s super cold or super hot outside and the ground is hovering around freezing. The Bikilas slightly thicker outsole saved me during summer runs and I can’t wait to try them in cold this December.

2. Injinji socks require Five Fingers to be 1-2 sizes larger.
Go in and try them on WITH the socks, just like you insisted on trying them on barefoot. Five Fingers’s fit is so precise that guessing ain’t a great idea. For me, the KSOs/Bikilas go up two sizes, the Classics and Sprints just one size. Lots of cold-weather options available at

If you have to dress like this, consider running inside.

3. Break up your run into smaller chunks

Instead of fighting the numbness in your feet and the cold in your lungs for a time long enough to feel fatigued, try running 1-2 miles from home, in a loop, with rest stops to thaw out. Great time to try some splits since you’re being forced to repeat the same distance, if not route.

4. Accept an elliptical or even a treadmill
It’s not always possible to nut up and head into the cold with minimalist shoes and no one should force that. Learn to love the treadmill again and use the time to work on quickening your foot strike. Fantastic opportunity to practice your form.

5. Think YMCA or health club
Running laps around basketball courts is far preferable to running in the snow, and running in pools is a great time to slow things down and practice on the movement of your entire body. For gym rats who won’t step in the pool, try suicides. They’ll get your heart going and force your body to move a little differently, which is great for training.

Do you have anything you do specifically for cold weather training? Any tips on what gear works best?

Submitted Comments

  1. Rob says:

    I’m good running on street and grass in the 30s in my flows and treks. Problem when in the 20s though. I’ve thought of “plasti-dip” coating a pair of injinji socks…trouble would be getting them into the shoes:) Idk, looks like i’ll have to workout at home this winter or join a gym! But, maaaaaaaan…when the weather breaks!!!!!! It’s on! I had: flat feet!!, knee/back pain…no more! People are always…Dude, wtf?!…i’ve been seeing those…!!! Wussup?! hahaha…

  2. Mike says:

    In New Hampshire we just run. It’s nothing special to see two or three people out running (while on my five mile drive to work) at 6:30 in the morning when it’s 10 degrees out. Ski socks (real ski socks) inside your running shoes is the way to go. If you were a redneck you’d run in your logging boots.

  3. Attila says:

    during the first snow of this winter, i ran to stop & shop (about 4 miles) in kso’s with the Nuwool injinji’s. feet didnt get cold until the snow built up on my pant legs melted and soaked my feet. i could have made it home unscathed, but got a ride on the run home.
    i was thinkin of trying to somehow not waterproof, but put some coating on the VFFs to let water bead off of possible. havent figured it out yet.

  4. Fergus M says:

    I run in mine with wool socks through all seasons – hot, dusty, rain, creeks, mud, ice, snow or whatever. Sometimes when it’s really cold they’re uncomfortable; no different than any other trail running shoes…

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