Observations About Cold Weather Running
I went out yesterday for a 12 mile run. It was 39 degrees when I started, not bad, my feet warmed up naturally and felt nice, even while I was running through some soggy, swampy wet grass in a park at about mile 6. Then on the way back I could feel the temperature dropped quickly, and about mile 9 it started to snow/sleet and the street got covered with slush. That's when my feet started getting numb. I thought No Problem! I'll just keep running with good form and my feel will just take care of themselves! Right?
After my run I noticed that each of my big toes had blood blisters on them, my left one is also very sore to the touch. Why would they be sore? The rest of my feet were in pretty good condition, even though I was a little worried about possibly having too much skin wear on the balls of my feet. But only my big toes seemed to have any problems.
The Role of Toes in Running
I believe that our toes help act as proprioreceptors, helping us feel the lay of the land, etc. When our feet are warm enough, the toes aren't needed as much and we can just pull them up out of the way. When our feet become numb from the cold then we instinctively start using our toes to help feel for the ground, for balance, etc. because the feet aren't feeling enough feedback. That's my theory, anyway. When the feet cannot feel the ground, the toes kick in to try to help out.
I noticed that evening and today that my feet (as well as the rest of my body) are very warm and comfortable. This supports my old theory that the feet act as thermostats for the body and help it to regulate the over-all body temperature.