Winter Running Tip: Shoes

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Since we’re pretty much smack in the middle of winter I’ve decided to write a blog dealing with the subject what kind of shoes to wear when running under the adverse conditions some of us die-hard outdoor runners come up against during this time of year. For those of you who live in the warmer climates… I guess you’re just going to have to vacation in the North somewhere this winter to try these out.

After spending most of my life in Boulder, Colorado I came up against probably every possible combination of winter running I can imagine. So, here’s the first installment in what I hope to someday publish as the ChiRunning cold weather running guide. For other running articles I suggest you visit the Library of articles on our website which cover many other aspects of ChiRunning and ChiWalking.

Winter running shoes. Where are they, and why haven’t the shoe companies done more to support running in snowy, cold, and wet conditions? The best thing I’ve found are Gore-tex trail shoes. These work much better than most running shoes, for a few reasons. First of all they’re wind-proof, which is a huge advantage over those mesh-toed, well-vented running shoes we wear most of the year. Secondly, they’re pretty much water-proof, unless you go into a frozen puddle that’s deeper than you think. These first two points make them warmer than your basic running shoes. I have two pairs that I use. One pair (my favorite) is made by Asics and my other pair are New Balance.

Both of these shoes work well, but they both have the same downside characteristics. Because they’re designed to be “trail” shoes, they’re stiffer and heavier than most regular running shoes. Since I wear thick wool socks for winter running, I usually buy these shoes a half size larger to make room for the bulky socks and this makes them even heavier still. I haven’t been able to do anything about the weight of the shoes, but I have altered the soles of the shoes to make them more flexible in the forefoot (which is crucial to avoiding plantar fasciitis). I take a sharp knife and cut flex grooves across the forefoot section of the sole of the shoe. Even with molded-in flex grooves, I find most trail shoes to be too thick in the forefoot to allow for enough flex. I cut the grooves deep enough to make a noticeable change in the flexibility. Everyone likes different amounts of flex, so if you do this to your shoes, start with cutting shallow grooves and work your way deeper if you need to.

For those of you who, for whatever reason, decide that Gore-tex shoes aren’t your cup of tea, I’ll write a subsequent blog dealing with how to adapt regular running shoes to winter running.

Bundle up and I’ll see you out there!


Posted in Inside Chi, Technique

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