Oct 03

5 favourite barefoot posts of the week – Number 40

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It is a while since I have listed my favourite 5 barefoot posts of the week and I have missed it. Blogging has become part of my life but the biggest part of blogging is reading the writing of others. It helps to keep things connected.

This week, I have chosen 5 posts that caught my attention and made me want to read on.

1 1. The first post is a news report about Jake Brown who is running barefoot across the US.

2700 miles into his run, he stopped off at a school for a chat. There seems to be a few of these types of journey going on and it caught my attention after reading a few posts from Alek’s Kashefi who had just run the length of the UK. https://www.whiznews.com/content/news/local/2015/09/29/barefoot-runner-makes-a-stop-in-zanesville

22. Post two is a post from Visual News on the new VFF Furoshiki.

Well from Vibram anyway as it does not have 5 fingers. At first I thought it might be an April Fool and I checked the date on the post twice. It wraps your foot in the she like a Japanese Kimono. Beautiful or horrible? Can’t quite decide.




Find out how to run barefoot from Steven Sashen of Xeros here


33. Interesting article about shoes and injury from the South China Morning Post.

It cites a study that says that expensive shoes cause the most injury  and that comfortable shoes fare better. I have a theory here. I reckon that the only reason you would spend crazy amounts on running shoes is if you are injured or have been injured. The more injuries you have had, the more likely you are to get injured again and the more desperate you get and the more you spend. It is a vicious  circle. http://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/health-beauty/article/1862050/expensive-running-shoes-dont-prevent-injuries-comfortable

44. Five lies you may have been told about running from cheatsheet.com.

This grabbed me because one of my biggest areas of interest is uncovering the things we all take for granted as runners. The set of ‘norms’ that pen us in. Running (and barefoot running) is full of them. They seem like common sense but sometimes they are not. The more we can question them the better. Number 4 is ‘Barefoot is best’ and I found myself nodding after my initial bristling response. http://www.cheatsheet.com/health-fitness/5-lies-you-may-have-been-told-about-running.html/?a=viewall


55. Final post of the week is from the Southern Daily Echo about Andy McGhee who has just run 7 marathons in 7 days.

Andy ran in Xeros to raise some money for the paediatric unit that helped his son after a severe asthma attack. It caught my attention as I a worried about running my first barefoot marathon this week and it was on my mind. Andy’s comment “You can’t run normally…You have to run flat-footed and that can really start to take its toll after a while.” will no doubt interest a few of you. Fantastic achievement.  Well done Andy. http://www.dailyecho.co.uk/news/13789478.Hampshire_man_takes_on_seven_marathons_in_seven_days___barefoot/

We have a facebook group where you find out more barefoot and minimalist news and opinions. We are a friendly group and you will be made very welcome.

Sep 30

Barefoot beginner Training Blog – September 2015


Tues 1st September 2015

A quick barefoot mile before heading off to the airport to see family in France.

Wed 2nd Sept 15

6 barefoot miles through the French and Swiss countryside to find Pere Jacob’s brewery. French roads rough and Swiss roads amazing and smooth. Nice way to start the day.

IMG_3326Thursday 3rd September 15

A barefoot mile this morning befoe heading toi Chamonix and the Augille de Midi cable car. 3500ft straight down from the viewing platform. Guy next to us climbed over the rail wearing wing suit and parachute.

Friday 4th Sept 15

Another barefoot mile. Got up late and so missed the chance to run firther before heading to airport.

Sat 5th Sept 15

Very gentle barefoot mile after late night in the DunscarBbridge Brewhouse.

Sun 6th Sept 15

IMG_333315 barefoot miles this morning. up nice and early. Feet cold for first mile or so. Top of foot felt discomfort when running uphill, downhill or on rough ground so that wass pretty much the entire route. the route was challenging climb wise. I am running at about 10 minute mile pace over this rough ground and the hills slow me down. It is because, I am also slow going down as well as up. No real problem though and foot is OK. Giving myself the best chance of doing this marathon. Plan for a longer one next weekend and then we will see what things are like with 3 weeks to go.

Mon 7th Sept 15

First day of school year and so out at 6am. It was darker than I expected and the last couple of days have been a little chilly. I like it. Still stopped halfway and looked out over the valley to the cars driving in the distance on the other side. MMy foot is a little tender after the 15 miler yesterday but nothing bad. Yesterday when I stretched out, I felt a lack of confidence because I was worried about scraping my toe again. It affected my pace. I curl my toes upwards when on rough ground and this makes the tendons on the top of my foot work which is why they are a little sore this morniing.

Tues 8th Sept 15

5 barefoot miles in a perfectly still and slightly chilly morning. Running from being under streetlamps to daylight. I love it. My left foot tendons were tender when I got out of bed and it was most noticeable when running down steep hills. My form completely affected. No problem or discomfort on the flat. I am not worried. Going to put in the miles posssibel and give myself best chance of the marathon in3 and a half weeks. If I don’t get there, it will not be the end of the world.

Wed 9th Sept 15

Wow – What a difference a day makes. It was pretty dark at 6am this morning and I almost went and got my headtorch. Not long until I will need it. I enjoy running in my own dark bubble but it is here sooner than I thought. Still burning the candle at both ends. Another night workking until midnight on assignment. Finally got it to thee pint where it is OK. Needss a few extra bits over next couple of days and then I will get a few consecutive good night’s sleep. Foot OK but set off at a bit of a shuffle until things had warmed up. Not lifting my feet far off the ground at all which has always been my style as a barefooter but it seems more pronounced.

Thursday 10th Sept 15

5 barefoot miles this morning and feeling a bit more normal. My foot was OK except on steep downhills annd I am back into a routine where I am out there at 6am enjoying the morning air. Good to stop in the middle and pause for a minute or so to ground myself and stop my mind whirring aboout the things that I have going on. I go calm when I do that. I try and remind myself that the day is for enjoying and not getting to hung up about.

Friday 11th Sept 15

A mile barefoot this morning and I changed route to take in the newly refurbished park in Egerton where I live. I wanted to have a go on the monkey bars. On holiday, I was shocked at how my upper body strength has deteriorated. I grew up in a very small house which just happened to have 3 big trees in the back garden. I had a rope swing and climbed just about everything that was climbable. i prided myself on it. In Geneva, I couldn’t get up the climbing wall that comes out of the lake and kept falling back into the water. So…monkey bars for me! I tried a couple of pul ups. (Ahem…least said the better). I think that I will make it a regular stop off in my morning runs.

The pain in the top of my foot was noticeable by its absence. The body truly is an amazing thing. Been planning a 20 miler for Sunday morning. Looking forward to it. Lots of little route alterations to keep thinngs interesting.

Sat 12th Sept 15

A mile barefoot and another trip to the monkey bars. Pathetic attempt at pullups. Things can only get better. No discomfort at all. Feeling good.

Sun 13th Sept 15

IMG_336320 miles barefoot this morning and it felt like a breakthrough run. I gained in confidence and was full of running. I managed tor un quicker on rough ground by relaxing and was running on the edge but I felt in control of this run rather than it just being a beast.

Took 3.5 hrs and my foot was fine. The top of foot pain went away when I tried to engage my big toes and the rest of them followed. It was glorious up in the West Pennine Moors and I set off at just gone 6am. New route and that made it interesting. I spoke to a woman with 4 enormous dogs and we came to the conclusion that the only person wearing anything on their feet was her and she was the only one with a limp. Go figure!

IMG_3347Lots of time to think about the people who I have read about, met and learnt from over the past couple of years. Danny Dreyer, Tracy Davenport, Anna and David, Gray Caws, Ben le Vesconte, Ted, Ken Bob, guys at Evolve, Jean Haines, Jon Woodward, Colin, Aleks Kashefi, Ron Hill and all the real barefooters interviewed.

I think I stand a chance of making the marathon in 3 weeks time even thoguh it is brutal underfoot.

Mon 14th Sept 15

Dark this morning so dug out headtorch for morning run. In the end I forgot to switch it on. A barefoot mile and my feet are OK after the long run yesterday. My legs were heavy but not badly so. My left foot has a little discomfort on the top but only onn rough ground annd I iginred it pretty much and kept my toes to the floor. Soem amazing things going on. Georg and his coast to coat and Tracy and her hardcore lined half marathon. Jyst shows what can be done. I will get there. Day by day, step by pitter-pattering step.

Tues 15th Sept 15

5 barefoot miles setting off in the dark this morning. Almost straight away my soles felt tender after Sunday’s run. Half a mile in and I was wonndering whether I was going to manage but I now have enough experience to know that my soles can go from tender to no problem depending on the surface and the point in my run. I gave myself the option of bailing out after 2 miles and 3 miles but ended up being OK. It is just as satisfying running a 5 miler 2 days after running 20 miles. I feel more like a runner somehow. The 20 miles hasn’t knocked me out for a week annd I am just back into the groove.

A word on being sensible. It is not always the best option. What does being sensible mean? Usually it means doing the thing that is common sense at the time. So..what is common sense? It is made up what everyone seems think and assumes to be right. The problem is that when there are a load of assumptions made, they are often wrong. Just because a load of people think something is true doesn’t make it so. Plus it might be true for them but not for you. We are not all the same. Much better to experiment and work out for yourself what is good for you. The common sense assumptions are a good place to start and to test yourself against but the number of times I have been told that what i doing is not sensible yet i have gone from a broken down runner to someone who is running pretty much injury free every day. Not being sensible is not the same as being stupid, however. Try to avoid that.

Wed 16th Sept 15

Soles tender this morning and developing a crack in my right heel which is a new thing for me. I need to look back at Ady’s YouTube clip on heels. A few more pathetic attempts at pull-ups on the monkey bars. No worse than last time…and no better either.

Thursday 17th Sept 15

5 barefoot miles this morning and much better. My soles are a little tender but nothing toobad. Getting to the time of year when the ground is damp whatever and I must admit I enjoy running on dry ground. A pleasant run overall. Met a woman wlaking her dogs who stopped me and said that she had been wondering for ages why she kept seeing me out barefoot. I stopped for a walk alongside her and explained that I often meet people with dogs and a limp. They are usually the only one of us wearing shoes. She nodded. Most people are just curious and when you explain they understand.

Friday 18th Sept 15

Feeling tired at the moment. Managed to get oout of bed first thhing and put on headtorch. Didn’t need it in the end. The run was OK but no real spring in my step. I think I will be better when I know that I am heading out for a 10  miler in the morning. I tried to remove one of my new finger plasters from my toe afterwards. Really difficult to get off which is a good sign. Skin on top of toe is a thin as wet tissue paper.

Sat 19th Sept 15

10 barefoot miles this morning and feeling good. Just warming up after 10 and running strongly up steep hills near finish. I felt like I wasn’t ‘barefoot’ running this morning. i was just running. The barefoot bit was incidental. I went into that free flowing state that runners get sometimes and the miles slipped by. There is a very steep, long hill at about mile 7 which I had been thinking about early in my run. I was waiting for it to come. It was only when I was a good half mile past it that I realised that I had run it. I have no recollection of being on the hill at all. It just glided past. There is a distinct change in my running and it has happened over the past couple of weeks. I am realising that running quickly is a confidence thing and I am getting used to the idea and just accepting what the ground gives me.

43 barefoot running miles in the last 7 days. Who would have thought that was possible after that first 40 second run.

Sun 20th Sept 15

Day  number 332 of this little barefoot runstreak and on track to hit 1000 miles by October 22nd. This morning was just a mile in the dark after yesterday’s 10 miler. Feet feel OK if a little tired. It is mazing how quickly they recover.

Mon 21st Sept 15

A barefoot mile after sleeping like a log. A very long day selling beer at Sefton Palm House yesterday. Wet and dark this morning. I am confident that after another 2 weeks my soles will be fresh and I will be full of running. Reading blog this morning about barefooting being more difficult for older runners. Doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile though. I was one of the runners described. You end up finding a way.

Tues 22nd Sept 15

An unpleasant barefoot mile this morning in the dark. Unpleasant because I felt heavy and lethargic and wheezy. A lot to do with the fact that I ate blindly yesterday and I feel yuk. A lesson learnt. Probably not. Need to do something about it though.

Wed 23rd Sept 15

Still wheezy this morning and not feeling quite at it. 5 barefoot miles and improving all the way round. Feeet feeling OK

Thursday 24th Sept 15

Feet feel robust and glad to have eased off a little. Looking forward to seeing how they are after another 10 days with nothing crazy in there. Marathon pack arrived. Getting closer. A barefoot mile in the dark this morning. Cold underfoot and headtorch out now we are past the Autumn Equinox.

Friday 25th Sept

11 months of running barefoot every day. Motivation is not a problem because I believe that I have found out whyI run and have a structure that is easy to follow and understand. 5 barefoot miles this morning. Ground damp and then the heavens opened. I am hoping for dry ground next week on marathon. If not dry then very wet. Damp is not my favourite and can be a challenge.

Sat 26th Sept 15

A barefoot mile. Feet feel OK. The mornings are getting colder. Thought there might be a bit of frost but not yet.

Sun 27th Sept 15

6 barefoot miles this morning. It is a week before the Chester marathon and feeling OK about it. Worried about conditions underfoot but I will take it as I find it. If I need to slow right down then so be it.

Felt pretty dreadful this morning. Stomach not good last night ot this morning and I feel wheezy and lethargic. My joints have been aching for a couple of days. Not just my legs but all over. Always feel better for a run though. I took my time for 5 miles thenn picked Dan up. He bombed off ahead and I tried to keep up. At the halfmile turn round point, he was way ahead and I worked really hard at catching him. He ran very well and fought me off on the last flat section to beat me home by a 10 yards or do. Good fun. Not sensible to be going flat out at this point but it was what I needed to lift me out of a bit of a rut.

Mon 28th Sept 15

A wheezy barefoot mile this morning. Still feel lethargic. Soles are good though. I have a slight felling in my left calf but I think that it is the beginning of ‘maranoia’ with less than a week to go until Chester.

Read a post about minimal shoes this morning. Funny but I don’t have a problem with the term barefoot shoe but with minimal, I do gave an issue if they are nnot. It was the Altra which has a good amount of cushioning thhat caused the problem for me. They are zero drop with a wide toe box and I would like a go in a pair but they are not minimal. We need a term for zero drop with a wide toe box that doesn’t hijack minimal.

IMG_3390 IMG_3390 IMG_3387Tuesday 29th Sept 15

Good to chat with Greg Dimelow yesterday and hand over a pair of Walshes. Maranoia is weaving its spell this morning. I cut my 5 miler short and ended up with less than 3 because of a sharp felling in my right heel. Must be something in there. I need to have a dig around and get it out. No real fear to be honest but a pain in more than one way.

We were chatting about the 10% mileage increase rule and then I got thinking about the term recovery run. I think that is what my runs mostly are. They sya that there is no such thing but I disagree. Only if you run wrong.

Wed 30th Sept 15

Yesterday was last 5 miler before Sunday’s marathon and I ended up hobbling home after 2 miles and performing open heel surgery to remove a bit of glass. Usually causes no problem and I can sort of flick glass or thorns etc out whilst out running. On 3 occasions during the past year, however, it has needed more digging to get things out.

This morning, I did a barefoot mile to check it out and no issues at all. I was whizzing along feeling more full of running than I have for ages. Pics to follow!

September closed with a hole in my heel and having run 107 miles which was one short of my monthly barefoot record.





Sep 30

Crikey – I seem to have entered the Oldham Way Ultra

Walsh 600x100 bannerMy fingers just seemed to move themselves and before I knew it, I had clicked send, paid my money and there I was on the start list of the Red Rose Ultra. (previously known as the Oldham Way Ultra)

I am blaming Greg Dimelow. I met him a couple of days ago to swap a pair of Walsh zero drop ultras for a VW beer cooler (don’t ask) and we got chatting. We put the world to rights as usual with the main thrust being that there is far to much sensibleness in the world. I think that we both feel that there is this prevailing discourse in running that means that you have to do things in a certain way. Increase your mileage by no more than 10% a week. Don’t run every day, rest days are important plus a myriad of other things. We just all take these things for granted as being true. Greg doesn’t and following our chat he posted in our group about his plans to run the OWA. I was sitting outside my daughter’s brass band practise when I read his entry and within 10 minutes was on the start list.

Sometimes it is best to just not think about things too much. The OWA is 40 miles and my furthest run to date is 22.5 miles and all of that was on the roads. Roads that took me up and over the West Pennines but nothing I could sink into upto my waist. That was also barefoot and I cannot see me running the OWA barefoot.

This means that I am am going to have to get used to having something on my feet. Having not run in shoes for over 11 months that is the thing causing me a moment or two’s thought.


Nice video on the race reports section

I had always planned to gradually transition back to shoes and the whole point of running a year completely barefoot was to improve my form. It will be interesting to see whether I can handle it.

It is interesting to note where my points of concern are and are not:

  1. Although I have not run that far, I am not worried about the distance. I will use the winter months to enjoy myself and get used to spending time on my feet. The terrain doesn’t worry me too much. Looks fun.
  2. Kit – I ran a lot of long fell races in my youth but before the days of mandatory kit. I have a cavernous Low Alpine bum bag from the last time I did the Mary Townley Loop relays but things have moved on and I reckon I will be wearing one of these new fangled Ultra Vests. Need to practise.
  3. Blisters – I am going to be putting shoes back on. I have had no blisters barefoot. It is shoes that cause blisters and not the ground. I need to get comfortable in a my shoes.
  4. Navigation – The moors are big out there and it is just far enough away to mean that recce runs are going to be few and far between. I will be practising then getting in with a group of locals and sticking to them like glue.
  5. My weight. I am running a marathon on Sunday and am at least 2 stones overweight. I need to do something about that if I am going to lug myself 40 miles over hill and dale.
  6. I am worried that I am worrying too much and have too much time to prepare and think about things. If it was this weekend. I would pack my bumbag, put on my Walshes, use the maps that they provide for each section and just get out there with friends and enjoy myself. I would get round.

OWA Kit list is below. 

  1. •Waterproof jacket – not a log flume poncho or super market fashion jacket, it has to have a waterproof membrane with taped seams
  2. •Waterproof trousers see point 1
  3.  • Long sleeve top
  4. •Hat and gloves
  5. •Torch and spare batteries + a back light or Glowstick (if you are out after dark)
  6. •Foil blanket
  7. •Mobile phone, add our number now or don’t complain on the day if you don’t have it; 01484 599123
  8. •Whistle
  9. Map, Compass and the knowledge how to use them. We will supply you with A4 map extracts on the day.

I have also begun to read Phil Maffetone’s blog. Full of good stuff. I reckon it might be interesting to use some of his ideas in preparation.

I will keep you posted and see how we go. Quite exciting!


Sep 28

Minimal shoes from startup companies


Xero Shoes












I enjoyed reading this post from Amy Hatch on Gear Junkie.

She goes through her selection of startup companies that have entered the minimal shoe market. Pleased to see Xeros in there. It is the comments that follow the post that make me smile. Terminology is so precious to some people and they just can’t let things go. We always get the same reaction when someone uses the term ‘barefoot shoe’. It causes so many people to get steamed up. Personally I have no problem with the term. It isn’t misleading. If they had meant to mislead us, I am guessing that they would have missed out the word ‘shoe’. Nobody owns the word ‘barefoot’ although sometimes you get the sense that some people think that they do.

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The word ‘minimal’ is an interesting one though. It seems to have become adopted as a shoe that is an alternative to the cushioned running shoe that is typified by the Nike Pegasus and myriad others. However, some of the shoes in this list are not minimal at all. That seems to have caused a little bit of disturbance. The Altra is cushioned but has a big wide toe box and is zero drop and was one of the first so called ‘minimal’ brands on the scene. Since its arrival, lots of more minimal shoes have arrived that make the Altra look positively built up.

Perhaps we need a term for the shoes with wide toe boxes and zero drop that doesn’t hijack the term minimal.

I haven’t run in shoes for over 11 months now and I fancy a pair of Altras. My goal is to run injury free and I have yet to try zero drop and cushioned. I might splash out on a pair and see how they go.

You can read Amy’s post here


Sep 23

Barefoot Runner Gladson Johnson

Running-kXfG--621x414@LiveMintEnjoyed this article about barefooter Gladson Johnson. on livemint.com.

What resonated with me most was the fact thhat he does all his exercise before anyone else in his family gets out of bed in the morning. A man after my own heart.

I enjoy stories like these. It makes what I thought was impossible seem possible.

Sep 23

Some nice feedback

I have just had a lovely email in from one of our readers.

Hello Chris,
Thank you very much for the download. I look forward to reading the info. I have gone through your website already and enjoyed reading the various articles.
As far as stories are concerned, I could easily fit in the graveyard of damaged feet as you mentioned. I have spent many years dancing, fast pace walking/short runs followed by walking, or hiking for long hours. I find myself today taking it easy because no matter the shoes for dancing or the sneakers that I buy I end up discarding them because my feet are sore. I now walk slow and only for an hour. I have not danced for a couple of years, although I look forward to being on the dance floor again one of these days with new high heels :)
I read your post about the shoes/sandals you mentioned. I have not looked into them yet.
Once again, thank you for your courtesy. Much appreciated!
Thanks Chiara, it makes it all worthwhile.

Sep 22

Barefooting harder for older runners? Maybe but so what?


Daniel Lieberman runs barefoot across the Weeks Bridge n Cambride, Mass.Credit Bryce Vickmark for The New York Times

This article on the NY times blog caught my attention. It cites research that claims that barefoot running is harder to transition to when you are older. Older seems to mean over 30 and the hypothesis is that this is because older runners have years of bad running to unlearn.

This seems obvious but that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t or can’t be done. I am one of those older runners with 25 years of cushioned shod running in my history. I was broken and at the end of the line and now I have gradually taught myself to run with good form by barefoot running (with the help of a little handheld metronome in the very early days).

I am now running every day and pretty much without injury. Harder? Possibly, but so what?

In my eyes it is all about readiness. I hit a point in my life where I was ready to do whatever it took to find a way to run in a sustainable way into my old age. It can be done!


Aug 30

Barefoot Beginner Training Blog – August 2015

Sat 1st Aug 15

A 6 miler this morning to start off August. I tried to go over the really rough parts of the road because I drove around the Chester Marathon route the other day and the surface is going to be unrelenting. No respite even for a mile at any point. We will see how we go!

I am planning my long runs now for August and think that I will get two in but firther apart than before. I am looking at a 20 and either another 20 or even a 22 miler. 2 annd half weeks apart. I enjoy the long runs.

Sun 2nd Aug 15

A barefoot mile. Soles don’t feel tender exactly. I have a couple of little cuts that are just surface level in mmy left arch that need keeping an eye on. I think they happened when I aimed for the rough road intentionally. I need to keep an eye on that too. Getting ready for this marathon is a balance between getting enough time on my feet and not putting too much stress on my soles. i am hoping that when I taper (yes I did just use that word) my soles will recover and become robust enough to manage the marathon.

Mon 3rd Aug 15

Felt fine but those little cuts are niggling. A barefoot 5 miler. I think that I am better getting out early and running than workking first and then getting round to it. Groin tight at night.

Tuesday 4th Aug 15

A barefoot mile this morning after getting up at 6am to work on next EdD assignment. I enjoy it when I can get a bit of headspace to get into it.

It is now 9 days since my last long run (18 iles or so) and I am still feeling the effects. My soles have been a bit tender and my left calf is still knotty. I have rolled it out and it is tender and I have rolled my arches before running. It isn’t in a spot that is sore when running. It happened in the space of one stride length at about mile 17 when I was going up a steep section and is surface level but still there. It is playing on my mind in a way that is not the norm for me anymore. I used to run with fear of injury as a constant companion but no longer do. I think that the surface for the Chester marathon route is at the bottom of my anxiety. I am doubting whether the 26 miles on such broken roads is possible for me and it has been niggling away at the back of my mind.

The truth is that i have really enjoyed the long training runs and the marathon itself is incidental. If I can’t do it then so be it. I found myself measuring some alternatives like running to Blackpool Tower (32 miles) that i could do instead or even at some point after. I need to let go of the the amount of importance I have attached to this marathon. If it happens then great but if it doesn’t then no problem. The world will still turn and I will still be running.

Wed 5th Aug

11.3 barefoot miles this morning just to see how I would go. I wanted to see how my left calf was after tweaking it on a long run 10 days ago. It is still there and still surface level. I just observed it during the run and focussed on relaxing when my form dipped. It was fine althoug I can feel myself protecting it and getting aches in unusual places. I ran on some very rough surfaces and just slowed down whilst getting over it. Curving my fingers up when looking behind me is becoming a habit and means that my toes follow and don’t scrape on the floor.

Thursday 6th Aug 15

A gentle barefoot mile. Feet fine after yesterday.

Friday 7th Aug 15

A 5 miler early thhis morning. Bumped into my dad for a chat. Off on a Bushcraft weekend today with my son. Should be fun. Worried about how to keep the streak going whilst I am there.

Sat 8th Aug 15

Had great time sleeping out in the forest last night. I had a quick chat with the guys runnning the course and they were all really interested in barefooting. Got into a chat about Born to Run. I slipped away and ran a forest track for what was well over a mile. Over some very spiky ground. Got something stuck in underside of right big toe. It was a hot spot for rest of day. i slipped away again and did some first aid on myself. Whilst everyone else was carving spoons, I was carving my way towards something stuck deep in there. Took a fair bit of perseverence to get it out but got there in the end. Then my toe just felt likeI had been poking around in it with something sharp. I had more antiseptic things with me than I usually have at home! It was fine after that.

Sun 9th Aug 15

The best bits of the weekend were sitting in down time with our back against a tree whiitling bits of wood or just sitting and doing nothing at all. Nice to have some very quiet time together. Ran a barefoot mile when I got home. I enjoy new surfaces when barefooting but forest trails are the ones that I find most challeging. they disrupt things because I end up with scratches and things on the underside of my foot that can become worse. For this run streak, I am going to keep them to a minimum.

Mon 10th Aug 15

A pleasant barefoot mile in the drizzle this morning. I quite enjoy running in fine rain. Feet are fine. Pulling my foot underneath myself to get object out of my big toe on Saturday was a challenge. I could still feel it in my hip this morning.

Tues 11th Aug 15

A topsy turvy night which meant that I was up later than usual and just ran a mile barefoot. My feet feel great and I set off very quickly. A little girl was fascinated by my lack of shoes. It was completely alien to her.

The bushcraft weekend was thought provoking. I have no desire to sleep on a forest floor again but it did show that we can if we need to. Connecting meat with the anilmals they come from annd preparing them was also a good thing to do. The best thing though was just slowing down. It took a while but eventually life became very slow and it was great. I shouldn’t have to drive 2 hours and sit in a forest to do that though. I need to work out how to do that in a better way.

Wed 12th Aug 15

A barefoot mile after a very heavy night out in Manchester. It was nice to be in the fresh air.

IMG_3233Thursday 13th Aug 15

22.3 barefoot miles this morning. Set off at 6am. Glorious weather. In the background, you can just make out Round Loaf which is an ancient burial mound and the landscape that supposedly propmpted Tolkein’s ‘Fog on the Barrow Downs’. One of my favourite bits and always left out of Lord of the Rings. I was up a Stonyhurst recently which is where Tolkein wrote some of LOTR whilst visiting his son. The West Pennines are such a beautful place.

Feet tender afterwards!

Friday 14th Aug 15

Slept OK which is what I worry about after such a long run. I had a couple of times last night where nausea swept over me but it didn’t last long. Managed full squats this morning and a gentle mile without any difficulty. i am now stiffening up a bit.

Sat 15th Aug 15

Planned a 5 miler this morning bbut all the power went off overnight and the alarm didn’t sound so it was just a gentle barefoot mile. Felt very lethargic for the first half mile but then warmed into it. Feet feel fine. left calf, which was fine all the way round thhe long run, was niggling. It pinged whilst I was driving last night. Working the clutch. I Altered the angle of my foot and it went away.

Did a lot of Maffetone reading yesterday. Fascinating. I definitely have the symptoms associated with carb intolerance. I am more concerned about being addicted to sugar than anything. I am pretty sure that I am and that it is the reason that I carry too much weight. Once the summer hols are over, I will do the 14 day experiment to see how I feel. Might help with this mild asthma and hay fever too.

Sun 16th Aug 15

A barefoot 5 miles this morning very early before heading off to sell our beer at Hoghton Tower Farmers’ market. Lovely day. I slept for 3 hrs yesterday afternoon and had an early night last night. Legs feeling it. Right groin is main area of tightness. Nothing to stop me running but a bit sore. The run this morning was steady. I set off slow and worked my way into it. Now trying to plan miles this week. I think that i will go with the flow and probably do a 10 miler on about Thursday.

Mon 17th Aug 15

A gentle barefoot mile this morning whilst contemplating how to fit in some longer runs for the rest of this month. At the mileage I am doing at the moment, I could well have reached my 1000 mile target by the 23rd October. This is when I started my runstreak least year and would mean a 1000 miles across a year whilst running every day. That is way beyond what i thought I could manage and would change things a bit. I may well them try and introduce some footwear at intervals to see how I cope. A bit like Maffetone’s experiment to see if you are carb intolerant by laying off them for a week and then adding them in gradually as a test. I will have laid of shoes for a year and then will experiment to see if I am footwear intolerant. It will be interesting.

Tues 18th Aug 15

IMG_3247I have some top of foot pain this morning and it altered my form as I did a barefoot 5 miler. After the long run last week, this part of my foot and ankle ached. I thought it was more to do with ankle flexibility and yesterday did some stretches to ease that off. I did put a lot of pressure on it on a cold, hard floor but to be honest I have had this now for a few days. It comes and goes and is most troubling on shallow downhills. I am thinking about stress fractures. I have no sharp pian but it is uncomfortable. My owen advice would be to lay off or at least drop my miles right back but with a marathon in 6 weeks, I am finding that difficult. I am hoping that it is just a hangover from doing too much last week and that it will gradually ease off over the coming week. We will see.

Wed 19th Aug 15

I got some good advice from members of our group on facebook last night. I can hop around on it which makes me think that no stress fracture. It feels tendony and a simple case of overuse. As w ith an achilles tendon issue, keeping completely still can cause an issue whereas pulling back the miles a lot but not completely seems like a good way to go. I ran a gente barefoot mile this mornign and it protested a bit at the start and eased slightly. Not as much as I hoped though. i will keep at this barefoot mile a day level and see how we are in afew days.

Thursday 20th Aug 15

Foot sore when I press in to it in a certain spot between bones. Feels tendony and not as serious as yesterday. I am going to run a gentle week and then see where I am upto. I am running with fear as a companion for the first time in a long time and I don’t like it. I think that it is linked to the marathon. If I let go and realise that there are lots of other races I coulld do at a later date then the feeling goes away. Seems like a no brainer…so why does it feel so difficult? A barefoot mile this morning.

Friday 21st Aug-Tues 25th Aug 15

Been away to Center Parc and been pretty active. Lots of cycling and swimming and I have run short distances each day of just over a mile. That has given me a week low mileage and my foot is still tender. I think that it is tendon because I have been attempting to protect my toe from scraping. I have been curling the toes on my left foot upwards when I run a la Ken Bob’s advice. I need to go back and have a look because he does mention something about being careful and pain. Marathon is looking unlikely. I am going to retuern to a pretty normal week and keep my toes flat where possible. We will see what happens.

Wed 26th Aug 15

5 barefoot miles this morning and I am feeling good. I have had a week of backing off and yesterday my left foot suddenly felt much better. I could hop around on it in a way that couldn’t do very easily a week ago. I had a run bursting out of me and really wanted to get out and stretch out a bit. I feel much better for it.

My running this year has been a revelation and I eventually came to the conclusion that if I was in pain, it must have been the way that I was running that caused it. What was I doing differently.

I had put it down to running over 20 miles and jjust overdoing it. That makes sense but why would it hurt on the top of my foot ratheer than somehwere else. I came to the conclusion that I was on the way to a stress fracture. I backed off and then came to the conclusion that it was a tendon issue. My long run had overworked the tendons that I use to point my toes upwards. How come? It seems obvious now. I was protecting my toe and running for mile after mile with my toes pointing upwards. When I replicate that action…it hurts!

This morning, I ran with the conscious effort not to do that and felt better. I scrpaed my toe once but it is taped up and I need to learn to run and not scrape it without bending my toes up in an unnatural way.

My foot did protest a little at first especially on downhills but it feels more like an overuse injury that is manageable. It On a scale of 1-10 my level of discomfort ranged from 0 to about a 4 with it mostly at about a 2. I want to give myself a chance to complete this marathon but am just going to run an ordinary week this week and see how that goes.

On a different note, I am feeling a craving to run in shoes. I just fancy putting on my VFF and getting out there on the trails. I am resisting the urge at the moment but it may be that towards the end of October, I have completed a year on only running barefoot every day and also covering 1000 miles which is what I set out to do.

Thursday 27th Aug 15

A barefoot mile this morning before I head off for a health check at my GP’s. It is at 8am which is a test in itself. It will be interesting to see how things come back. My diet is poor and I am a sugar junkie which is something I plan to address when I get back into routine in just over a week. I plan to go for 2 weeks and do a Maffetone test to see how I react to carbs when I add them back into my diet.

My foot still felt a little sore but again only about a 2 (maybe slightly more at times) on a scale of 1-10 of discomfort. I kept my toes flat against the ground and didn’t curl them upwards. Buring the candle at both ends at the moment as I work on my next EdD assignment. It is getting there but it does take up a lot of headspace and more time than I really have. Difficult to get into it when people are around so working mostly afrer they have gone to bed and before they get up which is only sustainable for a short period of time.

Friday 28th Aug 15

5 barefoot miles nice and early this morning and I stopped halfway to just contemplate annd enjoy. I was up early getting my head into some academic work which I really enjoy, followed by a nice run a bit of blogging. I will return to the academic stuff for a while before spending time with my daughter on some maths stuff. She is steaming ahead with long division. I am then going to sit down for an hour or two with the family and watch the athletic World Champs before having a pint or two whilst bottling our own commercial beer. Finally off out this evenig to watch Bolton play Blackburn in the pub. What a great way to spend the day.

My foot felt great before setting off and I had no discomfort all until about a mile and a half in. It came on a long gentle downhill. Running my normal wee seems to be allowing it to settle down and sort itself out. It looks like if I run properly then I get no real problems. It is only when I run stupidly that I hurt myself. The marathon is feeling less important. Just getting out and being able to run is far more valuable. The fear has gone away again. To be honest, I felt a bit sluggish and wheezy but the 5 miles pitter-paterd gently past.

Sat 29th Aug 15

A barefoot mile this morning with no pain at all. My foot felt completely normal. In the last 100 yards or so, I became aware of it (probably 1/10 on a discomfort scale) but up until then it was fine. It is getting better whislt running a normal 20 mile barefoot week. It looks like it isn’t running that does me dmage but running badly which is what i was doing whilst curling up my toes to protect my damaged toe. Probaly running too far had a part to play too. Good to out there without the fear as a companion.

Sun 30th Aug 15

11 barefoot miles this morning to see how my foot is. It went from 0/10 to 6/10 on the discomfort scale. Interestingly it was 0/10 on the last fast mile and 6/10 on a very rough section of road where I was running slowly. It is linked to to how relaxed my foot is when running. On the rough stuff, I was agitated and tense and must have been curling my toes up to protect them from scraping. I have come out the run optimistic. I will see if there is a reaction to the run latger in the day and tomorrow.

Mon 31st Aug 15

A mile to finish off August. 104 miles this month which is pretty good seeing as I have managed some top of foot pain brought about by running badly.

I stopped off to chat with an elderly chap walking his dog. he asked about the barefeet and said that he has seen my footprints in the snow last winter. He had a fall recently and has just been prescribed orthotics. he ssays that he finds tjhat is balance is all over the place. I talked to him abouut my view on orthotics. Good in an acute case for a short time and of course a few people may need them permanently but mostly they are something that once you start, you cannot stop with. I think that he felt the same.

I ran the second half mile faster than I have run for a while as I tried to catch up a runner in the distance. Nearly got there too. My foot was felling the effects fo yesterday’s run but nothing serious. I have also been doing lots of toes and ankle type stretches. i think, they may be they way to go. I still find Toega almosy impossible. Stll day by day the impossible can become possible.

Aug 01

Barefoot Beginner Training Blog – July 2015

Wed 1st July 15

July started with 5 barefoot miles after some deep squats. I turned over another 50 pages of the book I have been using as a heel raise (Readers Digest Heritage of Britain) and the lower raise was a challenge but I managed. I was a bit lethargic. A very warm morning after a stupidly hot day yesterday but I think that it to do with the fact that my diet is poor at the moment. Granola seems like such a good idea and I could eat it all day but I always feel bloated and horrlble later. Will I ever learn? Maybe.

My plan for July is to keep the miles at about 100 overall but extend my longest run to 15 and then 17 miles. I plan to do these in week 2 and week 4 as it fits in with the rest of the things I have going on. That seems a challenging but realistic thing to go for this month. Planning just 4 weeks at a time does seem to work for me and keep me moving along.

I am really pleased to have run every day barefoot for the first 6 months of the year and covered 500 miles. I am running more than I have ever done and more sustainably. I don’t feel like I am on the edge and that sooner or later I will break. I have always felt like that before.

Thurs 2nd July 15

A quick barefoot mile before work. Lots of things going on and a bit preoccupied.

Friday 3rd July 15

Dedication this morning. really felt lethargic and tired after a very late night following a busy day. I was up and did a barefoot miler. always fell better for it afterwards. It was the the thought of not getting in 20 miles this week that got me out of the door.

Sat 4th July 15

A quick barefoot mile before heading off to the National Wildflower Centre in Liverpool for their Scarecrow Festival. we are running our Lancashire ale stall and pop up bar which should be fun. Achilles and hip a bit tight this morning. Both right leg and a little wheezy. Nothing bad but certainly noticeable.

Sun 5th July 15

Ouch! – I have taken the skin off thhe top of the same toe again…doing the same thing. I moved to one side of the road to letr a passing car go by and then turned to look behind to check if anything else was coming. The action of running whilst looking behind me leads to me dragging the top of the toes on my left foot on the road and taking the skin off. Hurt like stink and will need taping up for a few days. 6 barefoot miles and they felt very easy and it was good to look back at what a challenge I used to find this route. it felt like a short run this morning rather than a long one. Although sore…I would rather be wounded than injured any day of the week. it won’t stop me running tomorrow like an injury would.

Mon 6th July 15

Double ouch! – I componded the toe skin removal by falling off a wall yesterday. One minute stood on top of it and the next monent I was on my back on the pavement below. Only about 4 feet but it rattled through my body and took more skin off. This time off my wrist. I have my toe taped up and went for a barefoot mile this morning. My calves felt tight and I just relaxed and the tension vanished. Starting off slow and gentle is a good thing to do. Let the body ease into the run. My hip was giving me some discomfort during the night. I might have been the fall but is more likely the slightly deeper squats I have been doing complete with a bit of a bounce when I am down there. I seem to recall something similar last time I made the squats deeper. I will persevere and hopefully become adjusted to it. If it gets too sore, i will back off a bit.

Tuesday 7th July 15

Sore throat yesterday and wheezy this morning which always makes my soles more sensitive. Just a mile rather than the planned 5 miler this morning. I also backed off the squats and did them with full heel raise. This seems to loosen my hip off without causing discomfort. i will persevere with a day with full raise and then a day with more challenge to see if I can ease the process a little. Got to wondering aboout the drills I do that have stuck. Squats, jumping whilst running. Using a watch to check form especially lifting and also having pints on run that I stop and smell the roses (I don’t actually smell roses but I do try and take it all in and slow my brain down a bit). Midfulness is an interesting idea.

Wed 8th July 15

5 wet and rainy barefoot miles this morning. I have a bit of a sore throat and was wheezy when I got up. First time in ages that I have checked peak flow and it was under 500 which is low for me. Took inhaler for first time in a long time too. Took me a while to find it. No issues when running though. Mind was busy and even when I stopped to just pause for a moment or two at half way, my mind was racing and jumping all over the place.  It has been abusy few days with a lot going on at work and it churns when I am running and I jus let my mind go where it wants to. Toe was OK and I need to change the strapping after the wet road this morning.

Thurs 9th July 15

Interesting morning. I ran the slowest mile that I have for ages. I just took my time and ran light and gentle. I have a sore throat and my toe is very sore. I also ate cereal late last nnight which is never a good idea and felt lethargic. My soles do not feel sore, they just feel weary. More of an ache that a sensitive skin type of thing. I think that i will get the roller on them and really stretch everything out. Didn’t stop me planning my runs into Aug and Sept. Much too far ahead but it is easy to see how you can fall into that trap. I think that I will probably be back to normal tomorrow.

Friday 10th July 15

Triple Ouch! – Took the plaster and scab off my toe by scraping it as I walked onto my drive at the end of a 5 miler this morning. Hurt like stink. I need more secure taping. using micropore but need fabric webbing, i think. My hip is niggling and I need to get back into squatting every day. It is the insertion point at top of glutes that is nagging. This is a pre barefooting niggle that comes back periodically. squatting helps along with the clam stretch.

Be good to put my months together with things like my 33 reasons not to barefoot in between. Also 2016 would be a good year to explore barefoot and beyond and look more closely at minimalsit running.

Saturday 11th July 15

15.2 barefoot miles this morning which is my logest so far. No real problem. I had my toe taped up and lost the plaster with a mile and a half to go so ran pretty carefully. About. 2hrs 30 mins which was what I planned. i didn’t rush at any point and had a beeper on my watch go off every ten minutes. When it went off, I put my hands up over my head in a victory salute and grinned and tried to focus on my form. It is important to remember that it is good to be out and that I didn’t have to be there if I didn’t want to be. After 3 miles, I had tightness in right groin and after and hur my right hip flexor was protesting. Both went away eventually. I felt like 15 miles was aboout right for a long run today. Could have gone further but all going to plan. Soles feel fine. The road was very rough in places and i just slowed down a bit. lovely and smooth in other spots and I sped up a bit. It would be interesting to jump on the spot and get into a good sustainable rhythm and then see what that was using metronome. Could do it with a friend or by filming yourself and then seeing afterwards. Interesting to see what your personal cadence sweet spot is. Funny where your mind drifts when running for 2.5 hrs.

Mon 13th July 15

Feet are fine but hip ad groin are tight. Squats and quad stretches are needed. A barefoot mile. A bit stiff but eased up as I went. stopped half way to enjoy the rain. Not too hard and the world is so green and lush at the moment. Soemthing very Lancashire about enjoying a run in the rain. I am still pinching myself about the marathon coming up. It seems possible which is amazing. The impossible has become possible by little forward steps.

Tues 14th July 15

5 barefoot miles this morning. I took my time and did squats and quad stretches beforehand. I tightened up last night but my hip feels not too bad. I think that it is the routine of these midweek early 5 milers that are the key to my running. I feel better about doing this morning’s run than about the 15 miler on Sunday. It would be so easy to bail out and not do it but I am buidling a really solid base of miles. Not big distances but certainly more than I have ever done before inn all my years running. It was good to stop half way and ponder for a minute or so.

Wed 15th July 15

A barefoot mile this morning and I took the time to just stop at the halfway point and think about where i was and what I was doing.Life is so hectic that we can forget the marvel in it all. I stood and felt my feet on the ground and tried for a minute or two to lose myself in the birdsong and work out where each and every bird was. I also started to think about where everyone else was and what they were doing whilst i was stood in the early morning sunshine listening to the birds. I ended up not wanting to leave the spot where I was stood but once I did I enjoys the pitter-patter back home.

Also thinking about how much having a journal keeps me going. I clock up the miles and it feels satisfying. Not usre it should but it does. i am a pragmatist and I find what works and do it.

Thursday 16th July – A barefoot mile

Friday 17th

A barefoot 5 miler today follwoing yesterdays single mile. I just couldn’t get out of bed yesterday and so am a day behind. I did the victory salute thing at the halfway point and broke into an involuntary smile. i find that I look forward to the brief stop the listen to the bird moments. I did deep squats and quad stretches this morning as my legs felt tired. i contemplated on the impact of running every day for the first time for a while. i don’t usually think about it but this morning the idea of having a day or two off and then running refreshed crossed my mind. Only for a moment though. My legs feel the strongest they have felt for a long time. i also thought about putting in speed work in footwear next year and seeing how fast i can runa 10k. Couuld I beat my pb. It feels possible aqnd even to be contemplating it is amazing after spending so long as a broken down runner at the end of the road.

Sat 18th July 15

A really pleasant barefoot mile this morning. I stopped half way and raised my hands in a victory salute. It would feel weird if there was anyone else around. I can disguide it as stretching if need be! It works. I find myself smiling when I do it and my mood changes and I remember why I am out there.
I felt a niggle in my left arch and have just attempted to dig out a thorn. I think i have got it all. i think it has been in there a day or two.

Sun 19th July 15 – meant to be a 6 miler but just ran a jile before market.

Mon 20th July 15 – 6 miler. they have put chippings all the way up A666. Nightmare

Tues 21st July 15 – Quick barefoot mile. Water supply affected. everyone is boiling water today.

Wed 22nd July 15 – A barefoot 5 miler this morning. Deep squats were a challenge this morning. I am still protecting the top of the middle toe on my left foot. I tend to drag the skin off it when I look round for traffic or if I head left or right to avoid traffic. I now consciously curl my fingers upwards when i do either of those things. Just on left hand with palms down. I find that this helps me curl my toes at the same time. Seems to work and I am hoping that it one of those things that i end up doing without thinking about it. Planne dmy 17 miler for Sunday lst night. interesting route but will need to be up early to avoid traffic.

Thursday 23rd July 15

A lazy barefoot mile this morning. Stopped half way and listened to the birds. I need to find out what each of them is. Hand on a minute. Is that a good thing? Am I interested in nature or can I not even enjoy the birdsong without turning it into some sort of learning curve opportunity. Instead of listening and just relishing being out there, I was thinking how I could find out what each of the calls were. I am a lost cause. Ok.. Just checked. Not a blackbird amongst them.

Friday 24th July 15

Up very early because I needed to get into work before everyone else this morning. Did a no nonsense 5 miler barefoot. Still had time to stop half way but my mind was dragged into work things rather than just enjoying being out.

Sat 25th July 15

A barefoot mile this morning. My hip and groin are protesting a bit this week. Fine whilst running. I commented on Les Ashton’s post today. he had missed a couple of runs and was feeling guilty and trying to gain the miles back. I recognise this and try not to do it anymore. My running goes in cycles and I wonder if gazelles and wolves beat themselves up over a missed run if they have more pressing things going on.

Sun 26th July 15

A quick 18 miler barefoot before breakfast this morning. Nice way to start a lazy Sunday. OK…it was 17.75 miles but that doesn’t quite trip of the tongue as easliy. I am trying to be cool about it but…Whooooh!

Felt fine. The last mile and a bit was steep uphill and I wasn’t exactly motoring but I wasn’t struggling either. Every 10 minutes my watch beeped and I stopped and raised my hands in a victory salute and then bounced on the spot at about 180bpm before focussing on my form for as long as I could remember to. Every time I do the arms up business, I end up grinning and I try and remember that I am doing this out of choice. Nobody is making me do this. The whole thing shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

Having said that,I woke up with a dehydration headache yesterday and so had my watch beep every hour. When it went off I had a drink of water. I didn’t want to head out there this morning lacking fluid. Now that I am back I am doing the same thing. I am also doing some deep squats to stop my hip and groin seizing up.

It reminded me of a discussion I had with one or two barefooters a while back. They had just completed an ultra I had been reading about the various scales that brewers use to judge the colour of their beer. It can all get very technical and nowadays the big breweries use spectrometers to get things exact.

We reckon that we can devise our own scale devised from the number of miles you need to run before your urine is the colour of a your favourite brew. Bad luck to all those who favour a dark stout!

Mon 27th July 15

Yesterday’s run took it out of my legs much more than the 15 miler a fortnight ago. I woke up a couple of times during the night with the feeling like I need to run the lactic or stiffness out of them this morning. I forgot to mention that in the last mile yesterday, I got a sudden tug on my right calf. Very surface level and not something that i am worried about but it is there this morning. My soles felt OK yesterday. This morning, they feel a little tender on the outside edge, particularly on my left foot up toards my little toe. I have checked for blisgters but there are none. It was 37 barefoot miles for the week which is the most i have run in 7 days by quite a way so I guess I should expect some reaction.

A barefoot mile and my legs feel fine. No tiredness at all but my left foot is tender. Icaught a sharp one in the same spot a couple of times yesterday and that may be the cause. I am considering making the long marathon training run once every 3 weeks instead of 2 and adding a 10 miler or so in the middle somewhere. We will se how things go for the rest of July and then make a decision for August.

Tuesday 28th July 15

A barefoot 5 miler this morning. A bit later than usual because I am on holiday and I didn’t drag myself out of bed at an ungodly hour. I must admit though, I love running when everyone else in still asleep. It makes it feel like the whole neighbourhood is my own private training ground. It is hard having to share it with the people who actually live here. I feel like my feet are fine but I did find myself weaving around more than usual subconciously looking for good bits of tarmac to run on. My left calf was niggling before i set off but I didn’t feel it at any point. I did have a bit of discomfort for a few strides but it more in the structure of my lower leg than in the muscle. I gues that could be compensatory. I am finding myself plotting and planning next months runs. I will see how I feel in a couple off days time. One thing I have noticed is that I am running from my door. I cannot remember the last time that I drove somewhere to run.

Wed 29th July 15

A barefoot mile whilst brewing this morning. Nice to get up early and get the water boiling. Grain in mash tun and then out for a run. I enjoy brew days. Got a batch of the ‘Imp’ on the go. Feet feel pretty good this morning. had a weirs twinge in my right arch but it went as soon as it arrived.

Thurs 30th July 15

Just a gentle mile this morning after a day brewing yesterday and a dash to Liverpool to renew daughter’s passport. Left calf pinged a couple of times but soles feel robust. Just took it easy.

Fri 31st July 15

I just ran a mile today. I am taking my own advice and not trying to catch up miles if I miss them and I feel better for it. Altogether, July has been a good month. I have run further and done a longer run than before. Planning a month at a time seems to work OK. Tomorrow, I will work out what is good for August and take it from there.

Ran 108 barefoot in all with a 37 mile week at one point. My long run was 17.75 miles and things are going OK.

Reading Chris McDougall’s ‘Natural Born Heroes at the moment. There is hope for me yet.”






Jul 06

Playing with your barefoot running cadence

metronomeWithout a doubt, the biggest thing that I have done to improve my running technique other than removing my shoes was to play with and increase my cadence. I did it using a cheap hand held metronome after reading Danny Dreyer’s Chirunning book.

I adjusted my little metronome to 180 beats per minute and set off. At first, I got into a rhythm where my feet hit the ground on every beep but I ended up hitting the ground very hard and defeating the object of the exercise. I remember one race where I was running at exactly 180bpm and my feet were hitting the ground so hard that my calf gave in and ended up walking the last 3 miles. The idea is to run lightly so I began to time the beep with lifting off the ground and found that much better. A breakthrough came when I started to use the mteronome beep to time the swing of my hands. When I got my arm rhythm in time with the metrnome my feet just followed.

Removing my shoes and increasing my cadence transformed my technique. There were certainly things still to work on but it set me on my way and helped me run in a way that wasn’t hurting myself.

180bpm isn’t defintive for everyone but it does seem a good place to start. It is a  cadence to play with and find out more about yourself. It may be that for you, the sweet spot is slightly higher or lower but it probably won’t be far off 180bpm.

The theory behind this can be made as complex as you wish but boil it down and we get to the fact that the body is an amazing structure with lots of elasticity and is designed to store and return energy on every stride. Firstly we need to run with good form but we also need to get the speed of the rhythm right too. We instinctively know this when we skip using a rope. Too slow and it is exhausting and ponderous. Every jump is a big effort and we tire very quickly. Get the speed of the rope just right and when we land a good part of the energy is stored in the elasticity of our feet and lower leg and then returned as we bounce back up again. The effort is nowhere near as much. If the rope is too slow, we even put an extra bounce in to keep the rhythm going and make life easy for ourselves. Running is just the same.

On one of my early metronome runs, I passed a couple of women who were out for a run. Their cadence was slow and every step looked like it was taking a lot of effort. They looked exhausted and there certainly wasn’t much fun in what they were doing. I went pitter-pattering past with my little strides and they shouted out and asked if I had any tips. It was hard to convince them that moving their legs quicker would make things easier. To them it seems counter-intuitive but it is true all the same. Find your cadence sweet spot and your running will never feel the same again.

It doesn’t really matter what tool you use to find and maintain 180bpm. There are plenty of phone apps out there to choose from. I use a simple hand held metronome and a musician friend of mine talks about ‘triplets’ and sings to himself to manage his cadence. It won’t be forever. I went from using it on every run, to holding it in my hand and switching it on now and again (especially on hills) to check how I was doing. Eventually, my little metronome succumbed to the rain and the sweat but by the time it died (It actually went a bit crazy one morning and I had to put it out of its misery with a brick) my new cadence had become embedded. If anything, I now just search for that sweet spot instinctively and for the most part run slightly higher than 180bpm.

I recently attended a workshop with Ben Le Vescone of Runningisaskill.com. Ben had us jumping at 180bpm on a treadmill and then breaking back into a run. It helped get the rhythm going and for me made me run more upright. I now sometimes do the same thing when I am out running on the road. I go from running to jumping (still maintaining forward motion) and back to running. A good exercise.

For years and for more miles than I care to imagine, I ran alongside my dad. I was so proud of my loping stride eating up the ground next to his little pitter-patter strides. What I couldn’t understand was why I had so many injuries whilst he had virtually none at all. It was only when I ran with a metronome that I realised that he runs at spot on 180bpm. I had a human metronome beside me for decades and never realised. Whether we were running slow or fast, his cadence remained the same, it was just his stride length that changed.

Taking off my shoes and increasing my cadence has changed my running fortunes completely. I have gone from an up and down, dressage pony to a smooth pitter-patter runner. It took a while to develop a new set of muscles, particularly in my core but I will never go back. I urge you to give it a go.

My metronome was a little Seiko with a decent build quality. It did give in eventually as the rain and sweat got to it but it served me well.



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