Viewer discretion advised: Frostbite_updated_24_04_13 - Frostbite

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This winter (2012-2013) gave some of the most challenging and rewarding training opportunities I ever experienced. After a very suppressed December (meaning: not cold), that allowed to warm up and get ready for a period of freshness that now stretches from one third into Januari till half way into March. With snow, ice, cold winds, freezing temperatures and some beautiful sunny days also. Clothing/protection/food: I did not bring anything -- except some water and occasionally some dried fruits. I wore gloves, an extra sweater. But my pants are the same as in summer, as are the feet: barefoot. Getting out 10K into the distance meant having to go 10K back. There is no quitting option: you have to keep on moving to return otherwise you freeze. As we all know: before the start you got to win the game in the mind first, then you set out unfolding it. As pictured below (warning: some viewers may find exposed blisters offensive) frostbite turned out to be unavoidable: The blisters may become hard and blackened, but usually appear worse than they are.

What is frostbite?

At or below 0 °C (32 °F), blood vessels close to the skin start to constrict, and blood is shunted away from the extremities via the action of glomus bodies. The same response may also be a result of exposure to high winds.This constriction helps to preserve core body temperature. In extreme cold, or when the body is exposed to cold for long periods, this protective strategy can reduce blood flow in some areas of the body to dangerously low levels. This lack of blood leads to the eventual freezing and death of skin tissue in the affected areas. There are four degrees of frostbite. Each of these degrees has varying degrees of pain.

Above: Haarlem, 17 Maart 2013. Feet after salt-bath: cleaning the blisters

Why run barefoot?

It allows severe injury-free-smooth-running. It is amazing to experience the natural capacity of feet and legs, the whole body, to deal with given circumstances, such as the landscape, the weather, distance and duration. If training could be summoned in a premise, it could be: feel what you are doing, breath life into that, go the distance and return to enjoy a good meal and the company of people.

But what about the ugly looking blisters as pictured above?

Minor damage, natural effect. Imagine so many hours going unprotected into snow and frost. All toes, feet, legs are still alive! On top of that: it doesn't prevent from training (as nasty shoe-related injuries do!) and it cures over time -- no need for treatment, new shoes or orthopedic extensions, with all due respect. As someone said: "It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change."

Above: Haarlem, 24 Maart 2013. One week later.

 Above: Haarlem 26 en 27 Maart 2013, morning before 20+K training (26 Maart, image top-left), day after training (27 Maart 2013, with dusting powder).

While training continued: besides fat toe on the left with its Alien-look-alike-appearance, sensitive but almost painless, clean, steadily diminishing hole in the toe 'sole':


Above: While 20K trainings continued -- on the 30th, the 1st and the 3th of April, and many after that -- the shot above was taken short after April 24th training, approx. 1 month after first image above. As stated above: win the game in the mind first, then do it. Medicine and doctor carry the same name: Keep on Training.

CUT back to beginning of April: weather is changing. Dry, clear winter weather has dissolved into wet, still fresh, Dull Spring atmosphere. Changing the sand on some of the paths in the Dune area into mud. Anticipating that (the mud affecting/infecting frostbite-wounds), today was an experiment in using some protection around the healing-toe and using the training to test this 'product'.
Balloon was incorporated into normal training¹.


Above: Haarlem, April 10th, before 20+K Dune-Beach Run. A balloon goes over the toe.

Above: Air chamber from the balloon is cut off, short above the toe.

Above: Balloon is folded over the toe, sealing it.


Above: Directly after Dune, beach, sand, water training: balloon still working.

Above: Removing the balloon, revealing the toe.

Above: Four negro-toes and their Albino brother, after the balloon flight.