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Coming from Thailand and Wondering what to do with Midwest Winters

Hey all. First I'll give a real quick background on my barefooting story but if you want to, you can skip straight down to my current predicament. I was one of those kids who had to be constantly forced to wear shoes growing up in California, but for the most part did not. Then when I started going to school around 7 years old and wearing tennis shoes all the time, I began having all foot pain and even problems with joints in my feet getting out of place or even totally dislocated at random. My parents and I thought for a long time that I would just be a person who had to wear orthotics for the rest of my life, and it was a constant pain.

Then when I was 14 we moved to tropical Thailand, where being barefoot and wearing minimalist footwear is deeply ingrained into the culture. I decided that enough was enough with my orthotics and that it was too inconvenient to be bound to them while having to take off my shoes and deal with flooded streets all the time. By degrees, my foot troubles went away, but amidst all the busyness of adjusting to a new way of life, I didn't even notice.

That is until I was in a serious car accident and returned six months later to the United States at 17.

When I got here, three things happened. Firstly it was still very "cold" for this un-acclimated Thai girl, so I bought my first pair of sneakers in 3 years. Secondly, I decided I was healed up enough to start getting back in shape, so I began running, but I discovered that I had pain I had never felt in Thailand. It wouldn't be so bad while I was actually running, but the moment I stopped to walk I felt pain in my heels going all the way up my shins. I took it slow with the running, but even normally I loathed being on my feet, because after 15 minutes in sneakers my ankles would begin to ache. The third thing that happened was the TOMS day with no shoes. I was actually not a fan of TOMS (and I'm still not) or their thinly veiled marketing campaign. But a bunch of my friends were doing it, and so I got online to find out if they would be breaking any laws by walking into restaurants and such. It was then I discovered "the barefooting alternative", and it made incredible sense in light of all my past experiences. Traveling down the same internet trail, I found VFFs, which seemed like a good compromise between all my "strange" new ideas on footwear and my dad's concern about pieces of broken glass. Straight away I tore out all the inserts from my tennis shoes until I could get my hands on a pair, and I felt a marked difference.

My first run with the VFFs left me pain free and reunited with my old friend from Thailand, the wonderful feeling of a good workout in my legs.

For the past year, I've worn only flip flops or my VFF Sprints, and thanks to Cody from the show "Dual Survival" (a survival expert who is %100 barefoot except for snow) have convinced my dad I won't slice open an artery if I transition to going completely barefoot, which doesn't give me any trouble at all in California. Even during my visits to Washington state, it took a wind chill of 11 degrees and four inches of snow to rend me only temporarily from my flip flops.

Which brings me to my present problem. I'm moving to the Midwest for school, and while I've never lived there, I know they get snow and can have harsh winters. I'm wondering what some of you have done both for daily life and for running in the snow. I'd like to find something that is inexpensive enough for a starving college student, or will last me a long time for the price, and that is at the very least mostly waterproof.


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