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Finnish runners ditch shoes, run sock-footed throughout winter

Barefoot runners in Finland say running in socks is a great and freeing option when there's snow and ice on the ground

Photo by: Instagram/ptparviainen

Barefoot running is quite popular around the world, but what are people who run without shoes supposed to do in the wintertime? Some might brave the snow, ice and cold and carry on barefoot 12 months of the year, others might reluctantly transition back to shoes from December to March, and according to a recent story from Reuters, some Finnish barefoot runners find a happy medium by running in socks. 

Reuters spoke with a group of Finnish sock-footed runners, including a man named Pekka Parviainen, who regularly runs barefoot in the spring and summer. Parviainen said running in socks gives him and his fellow runners a sense of freedom. 

RELATED: Norwegian runner sets world record for fastest barefoot half-marathon on snow

“This is traditional Finnish crazy stuff, I think we all agree,” he said. “And it’s really the happiness side. I mean it’s very good sport, strong exercise and everything, but it really is the happiness.” Finns are known for their love of the outdoors and for embracing winter sports, and several feet of snow won’t stop them from getting out for their daily runs. 

“You can do it quite light or you can do it really heavy in the deep snow as we did now,” Parviainen told Reuters after a run in a national park near Helsinki. “But the feeling afterwards is just great.” Parviainen said he feels as though he has had a “good foot massage” after his sock-footed runs, because his feet are kept warm and protected from the snow without being “packaged” in shoes.  

The Reuters report from Finland comes just a few weeks after Jonas Felde Sevaldrud, a runner and YouTuber from nearby Norway, set the world record for the fastest barefoot half-marathon on snow or ice. Sevaldrud ran 1:44:58, tearing his feet up on the snow and ice in the process. There might not be a world record for the fastest sock-footed half-marathon, but considering the damage ice can do to a runner’s feet, running in socks is definitely a great alternative to running all-natural throughout the winter. 

RELATED: British Adventurer Anna McNuff: Inspiring thousands by running 100 barefoot marathons