Feb 01

Barefoot Beginner Training Blog February 2015

Sun 1st Feb 15

My overall health is mattering more to me than expected. I am going to make February – Flexible February – and do the exercises given to me 2.5 years ago my a physio with regard to my right hip. I am also squatting each day. Each day makes it easy to understand. During February, I am squatting with a book under my heels. ‘Readers Digest Heritage of Britain’ circa 1973ish. Next month, It might be the slightly thinner River Cottage ‘Family Cookbook’

I am 12st 8lbs which compares with 10st 3lbs when I last ran under 40 mins for 10K. That was 8 years ago and I keep harking back to it as though I am still that runner. I am getting better at letting go though and I need to accept the weight I am also how flexible (or not) I am today.

So rather than beat myself up about things, today I am celebrating.

Hurray – I am 12st 8oz and feel fitter then I have for ages. My legs feel strong and I certainly feel better then I did as an injured runner of well over 13 stone. I have just managed to go a week of not eating any refined sugar. I have not been zealous about it but just cut out all those unhealthy snack, drinks and desserts and replaced them with fruit. I have enjoyed the challenge and feel better for it again. Today I may have some chocolate. I have given myself Sunday to do that if I fancy. Like I said. I need it to be easy to understand.

My hip feels good today. I have been squatting and doing exercises for a week and that feels like it has made an impact.

I have just managed to run every day through a cold and frosty January.

Ok- I might not be that 10st 3 sub 40 runner but I am OK with who I am today. Bring it on!

Started February with a barefoot mile whilst toes recover from blisters. Road felt smooth and good under my feet. Dreaming of the summer.

Mon 2nd Feb 15

In survival mode. Not sure how I am going to get through the next couple of days and be in all the places with all the things that I am meant to be. Did a barefoot mile before getting off very early. Ground feels great. Feet are good. Glad about that. No need to rush though.

Tues 3rd Feb 15

5 barefoot miles at 6am this morning and it felt cold. It felt like stepping out of a cable car when you are about to go skiing. Just wrapped around me and for the first mile i was worried about my feet. the difference, though, is the condition underfoot. It was bone dry and that meant that it was OK. after a mile and a half, my feet felt fine although they were a little more sensitive to stones and bit of road debris. My groin is still tight but my hip has improved a lot over the past week. It will be interesting to see how it copes with this 5 miler.

The truth is that I wanted to finish after 3 but the challenge of 1000 miles across the year kept me going…and I am glad that it did. I finished strong and was ticking along nicely by the end thinking about entering a 10k. I need to have a look around to see what is coming up that I can do.

Wed 4th Feb 15

The moon this morning was amazing over Winter Hill. I stopped at the halfway point to drink it in and a couple of mountain bikers came through my dark bubble with their lamps on and asked me if I was OK. I was. Cold..but OK. It was cold enough to take my breath away as I stepped out of the house this morning and my feet felt it within the first 200yds.

My right achilles is tender this morning and it has been getting progressively so over the past 10 days. I have never had an achilles issue so this is a new one for me. I have been barefooting a long time and for it to suddenly appear seems strange. It does coincide with my beginning to squat and lunge. Maybe that is the cause. i will keep an eye on it. Running everyday doesn’t allow it to recover and you can’t hide or mask anything. I think that is a good thing. I don’t think we should be in a continual cycle of doing something that hurts us and then recovering before we do the same again. It would be much better to learn how to move in a way that doesn’t hurt us in the first place. of course, we all break down muscle and then it builds it up to make us stronger but as part as the structure of my feet and lowwer leg go, I would much rather run in a more sustainable way.

Thursday 5th Feb 15

Not as cold this morning and the clouds were hiding the moon. The roads are so dry that the millions of grains of rocksalt are just sitting there like a carpet of drawing pins. 5 miles barefoot this morning. No problem but I am tired at the moment. My legs are OK, it is just a general feeling. I am glad that the runstreak is getting me out otherwise I might slide into a lull.

Achilles not too bad. I have been playing with the exercises and think that the slow lunges might be the culprit. I am going to stop them for a few days and see what happens.

Friday 6th Feb 15

I was tired last night and tired this morning so gave myself an extra 45 mins in bed. Good to get out though. My peak flow reading was also down so it was an inhaler job. Suffering slightly for something. Nice to be out though, It was a crystal clear sky and was just coming light. Moon enormous again and I am pretyy sure that it is Jupiter that is hanging in the sky next to it. A barefoot mile.

I am becoming a human thermometer and good at estimating the temperature. Cold this morning. See – I am a natural. I can also tell when it is warm.

Sat 7th Feb 15

6 barefoot miles. The wet side of damp and the plus side of zero out there this morning. Just ticked along. Struggled to rouse myself out of bed this morning but was glad I had once I was a few miles in. Soles absolutely fine and hip OK. My groin is the things that is now protesting. No more than previously but it is the only thing at the moment so it stands out. My achilles was fine. It looks like it was the lunges that were the cause. Not worried now that i know. I will just keep an eye on it.

Good to be out in the daylight and on a different route. Two guys parked in van opened their dor to shout ‘Yeah mate..Barefoot Warrior’ at me. Not a big fan of that sort of thing. prefer to be out and have people leave me alone but I guess i have to put up with it.

Sun 8th Feb 15

Just about to set off and doing a few squats at 5.45am when my son appeared next to me (Age 11) dressed in running gear. I sorted him out a headtorch and then we were off for a quick mile in the dark. I would love to say that we had a lovely father/son chat as we ticked along but I could see his pool of light bobbing ahead as he sprinted off. He waited for me for all of 3 seconds at the turnaround point and then was off again.

He was sitting waiting for me on the bench outside our front door when I got back. It was colder than I expected this morning and there was a hard frost. I hope this is the first of many runs together. He has just joined Bolton harriers and it funny listening to the coach extolling the virtues of running tights to a bunch of 11 year old boys.

Big day today. Our first commercial beer ‘The Holy Well Imp’ is bottled and now has its labels on. We are off to Ramsbottom farmers’ Market today. It will be interestring to see how it goes down.

Mon 9th Feb 15

A quick mile and I was quicker this morning because I was running a little late. My heels felt some abrasion this morning which is new. It was a cold wind and the very cheap gilet from Aldi did a great job of keeping out the chill. No need for fancy gear.

Tues 10th Feb 15

5 barefoot miles this morning. It was chilly when I first went out but overall things are getting milder. Convinced myself that I would stop after 3 miles if i had had enough and thsat got me out of the front door. I had had enough but carried ojn and was glad i did. Ticking along nicely come the end. Foudn myself wondering at what mileage point humans become faster than horses. I wonder what the horse world record is for a marathon and I wonder the same for a 100 miles. We forget that humans are a part of the animal kingdom. This running barefoot is not superhuman, it is very human.

Al;so found myslef thinking about the motivation we have for running. We are not all running models straight out of the the pages of Runners World. I don’t apsire to be like that. I just want to run consistently into old age. I spent most of my run, pitching barefoot running to the panel of Dragons Den. Now, that would be fun.

Wed 11th Feb 15

Busy morning so just about got a barefoot mile in before breakfast. It felt very cold and my toes went a bit numb. When I checked later it wasn’t as cold as i had thought. Wonky digit thermometers.

Thurs 12th Feb 15

5 barefoot miles this morning. Felt good almost straight away this morning. My soles could tell that i had run 5 on tuesday but it wasn’t bad at all. My feet seem to be working out what I am doing and I am not worried about my soles stopping me from running every day of the year. My achilles pain has died down and my hip seems manageable. I am off to Carlisle next week to visit a Hellerwork practitioner for barefoot running Magazine. She has offered to have a look at my right side, hip, groin and glute issue.  am looking forward to it. Should be fun.

The runstreak thing then is all in my head. It is becoming more of a cerebral challenge rather than a physical one. The biggest tool in my armoury at the moment is that I do it everyday. It will an interesting thing to write about. I have always said that the hardest thing about running is getting out of the front.

Fri 13th Feb 15

Feet sensitive this morning but then I am suffering with a cold and that does seem to make a difference to my soles. A quick barefoot mile. My next poece of writing in the barefoot guide is about setting eanigful goals. I have been stuck for a couple of weeks becasue I don’t want to just trip out the usual dialogue about goal setting. we ahve all heard it all before. Setting goals is easy. Setting ones that we will keep is much more tricky. Goals are funny things. I wonder what the connection is with the goals I set and the ones I keep. I set myself all sorts of challenges but don’t stick with the vast majority but there are the odd one or two that I do manage to keep to. If I can work out the connection then I might well have something that I can use when setting my own goals again.

I do believe in setting goals. It does make a difference to me.

First thoughts are that goals work best for me when they are deeply connected with something I see as part of my identity. That are easy to understand and come round daily or weekly, that can be done and then forgot about until the next time and don’t require 24/7 willpower. Things that can’t easily be scuppered by other people and that don’t allow me wriggle room. Things that have an overall aim like writing a Barefoot 365 book about a year of barefooting.

Sat 14th Feb 15

8.75 barefoot miles on this wet and dreary Valentines Day morning. Nice to be running in the daylight though. My feet felt pretty robust fron the off. I think that it might all be in my head. I knew I was running quite a way and my feet responded accordingly. after 2 miles or so, I got a spasm in my left calf. It is my calf that i live in fear of the most. Pictured from behind, it would have been at the centre of ther 10 O’clock segment of my calf. Not too deep but it was also there when I bent down to feel it. over the next 7 miles or so, it spasmed a couple of more times but other than that was fine. It will be interesting to see what it feel like laster. I might get the roller out.

Stood on a bit of glass in the last 400m of the run. Very unusual place for there to be glass and wasn’t expecting it. it was in with a load of gravelly road debris and I didn’t spot it. I felt down with my fingers and just brushed it off and it is fine.

I did some squats before I set off. That is every day so far in February. There is a difference between a goal and a plan. I have overall goals but then I set myself a plan. It is easier to plan to do something than not do something. then you just do it and tick it off. Rather than eat less chocolate, i should try and eat more fruit. Perhaps one will lead to the other.

This runstreak is me experimenting to see what will happen and a challenge to see if it is possible for me to do it. Writing about it everyday helps.

Sun 15th Feb

This little runstreak is now comfortably over the 20 week mark. Not long until 150 days and then 6 months of running barefoot everyday.

My calf did react last night and does have a hot spot. Running this morning didn’t affect it at all though. It will be interesting to see how it goes on over the next week or so. It came on just after I had out in a quick burst to get past a junction where a car was waiting to let me past. I waved and sprinted almost.

The more I think about goal setting, the more I am convinced that most people’s idea of a goal is actually a plan and that we plan badly. If you say ‘I want to lose 2 stones in weight’, I would say that it looks like a target but I think that it more a plan than anything else. It is a means to an end.

I would ask ‘Why do you want to lose 2 stones in weight?’ to get down to the real goal.

‘So that I can look good in my clothes’…

‘OK..so why is that important to you?’

Keep going until you get to the real thing going on. The losing 2 stones is just a way of achieving your real goal.

I think that you then take that and work out the positive action you are going to take. The things that you can do every day and tick off and not worry about rather than the all consuming stuff you can end up setting yourself that occupies your mind 24/7 and ultimitley leads to failure and a repeating cycle.

Mon 16th Feb 15

I forgot that I should be worrying about my calf until a hundred yrds from home. Don’t know why i remembered but I am taking it as a good sign. I am full of a cold and feeling grotty. I could have run my planned 5 miler but I decided to give it a day and just clock up another barefoot mile today.

I was reading the excellent book ‘Sapiens’ this morning and reached a section on naturalistic religions such as Buddism. I am fascinated but pretty ignorant of Buddism but id the central tenet is that craving for things causes distress and unhappiness then that has an impact on goal setting which i have been thinking about a lot. Seems to tie in with the whole idea of ‘mindfulness’ and accepting where you are and living in the moment whatever you are feeling. I am certainly guilty of always craving the next thing and forgetting to enjoy now.

I am just the same with running as with everything else. Maybe I need to let go of the cravings that I have and embrace what i am doing today. It goes against all the prevailing discourse of goals and targets setting but maybe content is the way to go.

Tues 17th Feb 15

A barefoot mile on frozen ground this morning. Still full of a cold and I couldn’t shake a nasty headache yesterday. Still had it at 5.40am this morning but then woke up less than an hour later and it had subsided. I have fallen off the no sugar wagon. Not gone crazy but I am wondering if that has anything to do with it.

I am keeping with ‘Flexible February’ and last night realised that i hadn’t dome my squats. It was an easy thing to just get them done and forget about it. I am enjoy the experimentation. Pick something to see if it works and then work out how to make that manageable each day and then do it for a month to see what effect it has. It can become habit forming.

My hip is much better although my groin is still troublesome. Not as much though now that I am just doing squats. I used to lie in bed in fear of moving in a way that would make my hip spasm. last night, I was tempted to move it around all over the place to prove it wouldn’t.

The temptation is to make my squat more challenging and reduce the height of the book under my heels but I decided that I would do it with this book for a month and that also seesm important to me in this type of goal/plan setting. It means that i can stop worrying about pushing myself or feel like I should be. it is systematic and takes the pressure away. In the past, I have pushed on and made things difficuult too quickly, failed and felt like a failure. I want to get away from this boom/bust target and goal setting that i am so good at. I am a test myself to destruction type of person and need a way to regulate myself so i don’t do that.

I have been out runnin gin the past with a dodgy calf and tested it out. it has been fine but the experimenter in me has gone on to say ‘Well..would it be OK if I did this?’ ‘…and then this?’ until finally I hve found the break piint and damaged myself.

Seems stupid and unbelievable but I have really done that in the past..and not just once!

Wed 18th Feb 15

5 barefoot miles this morning after a vist up to see Jean Haines and experience Hellerwork Structural integration. jean was very generous with her time and I came away with few new insights into my relationship with my body and the way I move. Particularly the way I place my feet when sitting. I use pressure through my feet to create tension through my legs and pelvis to support my back. i also do this weird thing where I fold my toes under my feet and bend my whole foot inwards.

Jean thought that my posture was good and I got to thinking about the runstreak and my pitter-pattering along every day. When i run, i feel balanced. More balanced than I ever have. it would be interesting to look at the running styles of long time runstreakers to see if there are any similarities. runstreakers need to find a way to run that doesn’t damage the body so much that it requires rest days.

At my son’s running club last night. I heard a chap saying that the problem stems from his hip. That is where he was experiencing pain. However, having talked to Jean, the likelihood is that the problem stems from somewhere else and manifests itself in his hip. His solution was to take Co-codamol and nurse it through. I am not being judgmental here. I have been there, it is just that the discourse and common practice that exists in some settings needs to be challenged.

Most people are not read to hear the challenges because they have bought into things so much. It took me many years before I was ready to take the path I have taken and it was born out of necessity. I think that readiness is important in most things. I am guessing that he was getting ready for an event and no matter what anyone said, he was going to carry on. I have no problem with that. Soemtimes we should abandon common sense and go for it because something is so important to us.  I have not felt the need to do an event for some time. Not quite true. I feel the need but then it goes away again. I think that it will just get in the way of where my running is at the moment.

Thur 19th Feb 15

A wet barefoot mile after a heavy night out and sleeping on a thin yoga mat with a sleeping bag chucked over me. Just the job! I haven’t been counting the days of the streak and in my head i was convinced that I was upto about 150. In fact, I thought today was about 150 so I found a website that counts the days for you and found that it is only118! I must have been wishing my life away.

The thing is though, it just made me grin. I have found out that I am not really bothered about the numbers, it is the process of running everyday that I am most interested in. I can’t see me keeping count very much. I do seem to have become attached to the idea of running 1000 miles across 2015. That makes me log my miles and it is getting me out more than I would be otherwise. Soles are fine. I was very pitter-patter this morning, particularly up the hills. I felt very stable on my feet.

Fri 20th Feb 15

5 barefoot miles this morning in the daylight. Feet felt sensitve after 2.5 miles but I knew I would have no problen finishing. i am feeling more solid on my right leg than ever. I think the squats are doing a good job. My hip is OK although my groin gives me a bit of pain now and again. It is folowing Jean’s input on Tuesday so that may well have a lot do with it too.

I only had one sock on the inside of the door today and without thinking put it on my right foot so that i could hop through the house. My right leg must be feeling trustworthy.

This barefoot 365 thing is a marathon not a sprint. In fact somewhere just short of the 40 marathon point across the year. Funny where your mind wanders when ticking along.

Our first beers are just being sold and we are brewing on Sunday. My mind spent the run calculating volumes and weights and times etc.

Looks like I should be able to get the 20 miles in this week even though I had a bit of a calf ping last week. Not so much as a whisper in my calf now.

Sat 21st Feb 15

Ok – Which wiseguy ordered the snow. It was meant to have been and gone but it was back this morning. I looked out and there it was. Just a barefoot mile in what amounted to rocksalt infused slush. Quitye enjoyed it but the cold was a shock. It has been in the low figures above zero recently and the sudden drop was a jolt.

My hip feels better than it has for ages. I might take up latin american dancing to celebrate its nerw found freedom. From pitter-patter to Cha-cha-cha.

Sun 22nd Feb 15

Today was our nano-brewery’s brewing day number 3. I was up early and whilst the grain was mashing got in barefoot 6 miler. The ground felt a challenge this morning. Not a problem, it just slowed me down a bit. Good to get the 2 miles in for the week again. Not run this consistently for ages. Enjoying it. No issues in any part of my body to report. Gloriously boring.

Mon 23rd Feb 15

As I was setting off for a quick mile this morning, a voice came from above. My son shouting ‘Wait!’ from his bedroom window.

He came with me this morning and it was fun to chat and run. My feet feel almost like I have gone back to the beginning today. Tender from the outset and I could feel every stone. It is chilly and there was lots of rocksalt about but robust was not a word I recognised this morning.

So…Hellerwork is a somatic for of therapy. Somatics is putting everything physical and pyschological together.

Hellerwork is as much educational as it is therapeutic. With its focus on empowering clients, it is teaching a profound level of self-responsibility, where the expert is the person themself. That is exactly how i feel about barefoot running.

Tues 24th Feb 15

5 barefoot miles at 6am this morning. My feet are still tender and I didn’t know whether I could manage the 5 miles or not. Common sense says that you should listen to your soles and not run or at least not run far. I have a problem with common sense. we all seem to live our lives by it but really it just an other word for ideology and although it may make sense for a large group of people, it may not be sense for me. i need to make my own sense of things.

I did listen to my soles. At times, it was hard not to but I started to interpret their message differently. They pointed me through puddles and onto smooth bits of road. I want to experiment and see what a 20 mile week feels like when my soles are like this. Am I going to have weeks like this as part of a cycle or is it going to get progressivley worse? I don’t know. It will be interesting to find out.

Common practice is to mix up your running routes os they don’t get stale. I get that but I am finding that not having to think about my 5 mile morning route is a blessing. Also I can bale out after a mile or or 3 if I need to. That gets me outm of the door. the knowledge that I can just do a mile or 2 miles in need be. I haven’t baled out yet but the knowldge that I can gets me started.

Seeing the miles clock up on dailymile is satisfying as is writing about it every day. lots of things might disappear from my life but this running nhabit is here to stay.

Wed 25th Feb 15

A tender barefoot mile this morning. Not as tender as yesterday but still there. It will be interesting to see how tomorrow goes. The squatting has made a big difference to my groin too. I am feeling more stable on my feet and maybe this means that I am not using my groin to stabalise my right hip as much.

Mindfulness is everywere. Just reading about Hakomi and it turns out to be a branch of mindfulness.

Thur 26th Feb 15

5 barefoot miles in the drizzle. I enjoyed it. The wet road is much easier to run on than a damp one. My squats this morning felt easy and free. They have had a big impact. I have decided not to set goals but to create experiments. I wanted to see if squatting everyday made a difference to my hip and it has. During March, I am going to continue but lower the raise under my heel slightly (by the very technical method of choosing a thinner book). I also need to work on the hard mass of fascia in my lower lateral parts of my back. I think that is the next area for me to work on. I need an experiment for that.

Fri 27th Feb 15

Unexpectedly siff in the legs this morning. I did feel a bit of it in the sqauts but then for the first half mile of my barefoot mile this morning, my left calf and hamsgtring felt it. Fine by the end.

I think that my running has become nurturing rather than destructive. I am much more at peace with my running than at any point I can remember. I am relaxed about it. I cannot find a better term than being’at peace’ with it. It is feeling like a calming, nurturing part of me. I have always had running at tghe centre of my identity. Never more so than now. I am not striving desparately with my running. I am making progress but it feels gentle and built on solid ground. I feel like I can be a lifelong runner. I am not crfamming things in to get somewhere with the knowldge that I will break down eventually. What i am doing feels sustainable.

Sat 28th Feb 15

My flexible February is drawing to a close and my hip is so much better than at the start of the month. I have performed my squat exercises every day (except one where I forgot) and I am much more comfortable sleeping at night and I feel for stable on my feet. It is an example of an experiment that has worked. i wanted to try it out and see what happened and I will continue. i will lower the heel raise a fraction in March and see what happens. i also want to work on the sides of my lower back. They are very stiff. A month of running 20 miles a week. Very pleased.

My barefoot mile and a bit this morning was interesting. i am stiff around my lower legs in my left leg. I have had tender soles this week. Maybe they were trying to protect me from myself.

A mile and a half barefoot in the rain.




Jan 31

Barefoot Beginner Training Blog January 15

Thur Jan 1st 15

A barefoot mile to start of the year. My right heel seems fine after the glass of yesterday. My breathing was shallow and when i checked my peak flow reading it was down to 400 which is low for me. (650 usually). I have been having allergic reactions to things but can’r pinpoint what is causing the problem. My eyed in particular are watery and itchy and the skin around my eyes has become chapped. I have been sneezing and my throat and roof of my mouth has been itchy.

I have been thinking a lot about the power and danger of new year’s resolutions. Toying with the idea of 1000 miles in the year. Average 84 per month. Also to write one post a week for both Barefoot Beginner and Crafty-Ales. Publish on Tuesdays. it is all about forming habits.

Fri 2nd Jan 15 

5.4 miles barefoot this morning. Mostly off road on rough man made trails. really enjoyed it. Worst surface is slippy grass and mud. I found myself running on gravel instead just to get some grip. I used petroleum jelly on my soles before setting off this morning because I think that the rocksalt locally is drying out and cracking my feet. I have ordered some Mushers Secret but thought PJ would suffice until it arrives.

I need to run off road more often. I am opening up more options and routes. The far side of the Jumbles was pleasant to run on. Good fun.

Sat 3rd Jan 15

1.2 miles barefoot around the walls of York. Good fun and lovely flag stones to run on. Off to railway Museum and bit of shopping round the Shambles today.

Sun 4th Jan15

6.7 miles barefoot this morning. Set off whilst it was still dark and then fancied getting off the road and onto the trail to escape all the fresh rocksalt that was spread last night. My Mushers Secret has arrived but I used PJ again today. Put some on my face to prevent chapping. I have been struggling with that since a market a couple of weeks ago. The worst surface this morning was easily the half mile or so across frozen fields. My feet got very cold and the surface was sharp and uneven. Gravel was better. Feel fine after it. I think this may be the furthest I have barefoot run in a week. About 22 miles.

Mon 5th Jan 15

A barefoot mile this morning and to be honest the outsides of my soles feel a bit battered. It is the outside edge of my midsole that feels tender. A little red and I think the rocksalt has played havoc. I am definitely putting friction through that part of each foot.

It was my first morning using Mushers Secret. It was more solid in the pot than I thought but when I started to apply it, it went on very easily. I covered each sole and heel liberally. I did this by standing next to a chair and putting the top of my foot down on the seat so that my sole was facing upwards. I slid a sock on afterwards to prevent treading it through the house. Took socks off at front door and ran. I can tell when I have something on my sole like this as they feel more robust but the outside of each foot was tender. I took my time. The morning was so dark and foggy that my headtorch just fogged up my vision. I used it held in one hand and then on the return just switched it off and ran in the complete blackness for quarter of a mile. I felt the way with my feet. it was good fun.

I am now about to wash the Mushers off, I suppose. With a dog, you might wipe with a cloth but I don’t feel right doing that. It will be a thorough clean of my feet as usual and then reapply before I go to work.

Tues 6th Jan 15

5 barefoot miles at 6am this morning. My soles are feeling a bit worn so I set off thinking that I would run about 2-3 miles but then once I am out, I find it hard to cut a run short even if it is the sensible thing to do. Maybe I can shock by body into a reaction and it will work out what I am doing and make my soles more robust…or it will just give up. Interesting experiment. Don’t want to always live in life’s sensible lane.

I used the Mushers Secret before setting off. I stood by the front door and used my left hand to apply to my right sole. I then put this foot outside and stood on it whilst repeated with other hand and foot. Don’t want to get it on the floor inside. It drizzled the 50 mins or so I was out and when I got back, I could see my waxy footprints leading from the front door.

I found myself avoiding puddles rather than running through them to stop it washing off. My soles were much more dirty when I got back. The wax seemed to have concentrated in a couple of stripes on my sole and collected the dirt. It should wash off pretty easy though. I don’t know how useful it is. Time will tell.

I am conscious that in pushing my soles harder than they wanted to go, I have overidden my body’s defence mechanism and I might pick up an niggle somewhere else, probably in my lower leg or foot. I will keep an eye out for that. I am gone further than sensible but I am not stupid.

Wed 7th Jan 15

A barefoot mile this morning. I applied the Mushers Secret more thinly this morning as it picked up loads of dirt and was thick even after 5 miles yesterday. I applied to the outside of my midsoles and heels slightly more than other areas. the salt spreaders had been out in force overnight but the freeze hadn’t happened. Salt all over the roads. I stuck to pavement and then came to the traffic free unlit section of road that I run most mornings. I had forgotten my headtorch so ran it in the dark. I felt my way. I can see this becoming slightly addictive. Running in the dark is thrilling. I do know this section of road very well. My soles were more tender than I expected when I set off and I was glad to be just doing a mile this morning.

I am interested to see if anyone else uses something to protect their soles from rocksalt or other stuff so have just started a thread in our forum on the subject. have a look. http://www.barefootbeginner.com/forums/topic/rocksalt-and-mushers-secret/

Thurs 8th Jan 15

5 miles barefoot this morning. I woke up early after making myself go to bed early last night. I am getting towards the end of Breaking Bad and wanted to watch the next episode but I could also tell I needed some sleep. I had no doubt that I would do the 5 miles this morning. My soles felt more robust. maybe it is the Mushers or maybe it is just that I am going into a good phase. It doesn’t mean that I don’t feel it when I step on something though. I do. My ability to lift my foot and prevent damage is improving though. Now I have said it, I am bound to tread on something tomorrow!

I enjoy the routine and imagine that I am someone who walks to work each day. This is just my version.

After listening to Ady Benn on the Trail Running podcast last night, I got to thinking about speed. I seem to be running my 5 milers at about 9.5 – 10 min mile pace. I am running well within myself and never get to breathing heavily. It is just -tick,tick, tick sustainable running. I am happy with that at the moment. If I can build up a really solid base of injury free running for a long period then I know that I will start to look at speed. I need to get this phase built up though. I want to be running into my 80s. I don’t want to join the ‘graveyard’ of broken runners (Total Fitness) by pushing things too hard.

By the end of my run, I was splashing through puddles, enjoying myself. the wax from the Mushers has formed a dirty stripe on the edges of both the inside and outside of my sole. Interesting. Bending down to put it on, I am shocked by the lack of flexibility that I have in my right hip in particular.

Fri 9th Jan 15

A quick barefoot mile. No new rocksalt and a lot of heavy rain so I ran without applying the Mushers Secret this morning. I ran half of the mile in total darkness and didn’t switch my headtorch on. I knew that it would be slightly addictive. Enjoyed it. My soles are OK. A little tender on the outside of my midsoles on both feet but I ended up running quickly this morning.

I am just putting together the next section of our guide and thinking about the transition from conventional running shoes to minimal. The prevailing wisdom and discourse at the moment it to go from conventional shoes to minimal with coaching to support the change in technique that might be needed.

I can see how that works and we have runners in our group who have done it successfully. I think that my mindset is all wrong and I struggle with the kind of diligence needed. I don’t think that I am the only one. My guide is for people like me. We slip back into our old way of doing things when we are given the chance. We know what to do but doing it is something else.

An honest admission but I think that there are a large proportion of runners out there like that. It is like when we get physio programmes and think that in itself will sort things out. We don’t do them. We think that just speaking to the physio is enough.

The guide advocates a period of barefoot running. Barefooting doesn’t allow us to slip back into our old way of doing things. It makes us relearn things from the ground up.

I would love to hear your thoughts.

Sat 10th Jan 15

Just a barefoot mile tonoight as it was going dark. 3C and a bitter wind. My feet felt cold at no point though and the ground was dry. Today was the first run in this runstreak where it felt like a chore and not a pleasure. I think that it is because I left it until the evening and didn’t run this morning. I love my morning runs and the routine it gives me.

I need to check how many days I have now run. I think that it is 110 on the trot which I think might be close to the most I have managed. i got close to that last year but gave up pretty soon after 100. No danger of that this time.

Sun 11th Jan 15

6 barefoot miles this morning whilst our West Coast IPA was in the mash tun. I also brew beer and have been recently licensed to produce and sell commercially. Second brew day and it went much more smoothly than our first. Nice to get a run in in the middle of it all and be greeted with a bacon sandwich made by my son when i got back. My feet feel fine but I was a bit heavy in my stride today.I found it hard to shake off. I think I was feeling pressure to get back and was pushing quite hard. My left calf developed a little hot spot but it didn’t stop me running. Overall a positive day. 7 days run and 20 miles barefoot into the bank for the week.

Mon 12th Jan 15

Couldn’t get warm last night and was aching all over. For about 3 months now, we have had children and staff sick and I have managed to avoid everything. It has finally got me. Also running 6 miles and then the physical work of brewing all day yesterday was a challenge. It was a bit overwhelming to be honest and I am a bit on the edge. I fell like I may have bitten off more than I can chew. I was up 45 mins later than usual but still got my barefoot mile in. I am not even out of breath and didn’t need my inhaler. My nose is running and eyes watering. I haven’t put Mushers on my feet for a few days but did put a very small amount on my cheeks. They have been getting chapped. It works well but you can only use a tiny amount because it just doesn’t come off.

I have been watching Breaking Bad. 2 more episodes and then I get my life back. It is compelling stuff. To be honest though. It is 7am and all I can think about is having an early night tonight.

Tues 13th Jan 15

2 miles barefoot this morning. I have a head cold and a very sore throat. I had a bit of a disturbed night sleeping wise but was up as normal to run a 5 miler. I have always used the adage that I am fine to run with a cold as long as the symptoms are from the neck up and my chest is pretty clear. Once I stop coughing up green stuff, I tend to back off. Did a tiny bit of that before I set off but my chest felt pretty clear.

It was my soles that limited my run this morning. I set off thinking that I would run a mile and see how I felt. If I was OK, I would carry on with options to run 3,4 or 5 miles by cutting short my usual route. After a mile, my soles were screaming and I turned round and ran home. I feel like I have listened to my feet and made the sensible decision. We have often chatted in our group about how our soles protect us and become more sensitive when we are ill to limit our miles.

It might all be in my head but it felt like that this morning. Planning just a mile tomorrow and we will take it from there.

Wed 14th Jan 15

-2C this morning and I was running on frozen hail. Ouch! It was a bit slippy and my steps were very small at times. I tried not to grip on with my toes as this tightens things up in my groin which I have a bit of a problem with at the moment. I even did a few clam type exercises yesterday which shows that it has been affecting me. Stems from weak glutes, I think.

My left calf had a tight spot when i woke up. Not much but there. It first came on a few days ago. Not sure why it should suddenly reappear as I woke up. It is when I stand up with feet flat on the floor and lift my toes towards the ceiling. I used the roller on my arches for the first time in a while and it was good to get into some tightness. it hardly took any pressure at all to get into a spot in my calf. Towards the top outside area. i will do it again tonight but gently. I didn’t feel it all in my barefoot mile this morning.

My plan for tomorrow is probably a 2-3 miler rather than the usual 5. i am still full of a cold.

Thur 15th Jan 15

AIWSH1245 barefoot miles this morning under the sort of moon you see in picture books. A well defined crescent with a nose and smiling mouth. It may even have a had a nightcap on, my eyes are always a bit blurry first thing.

I had no plan to run 5 this morning. In fact, I set off thinking that 2 miles would be a bit far but I just ended up keeping going and pitter-pattering along. I put a thin layer of Mushers on nut I could still feel the rocksalt burn in places where the residents had been out on steep corners and spread salt yesterday.

I could feel that dull ache in my left calf immediately and then after a mile, it vanished. On 2.5 miles, i turned a sharp left corner and it twanged. Then it died down. At 3.5 miles, I turned another sharp left and it twanged again and stayed with me for half a mile. At 4.5 miles, it started to make its presence felt.

It is a difficult thing, this runstreaking. It isn’t stopping me running but it is there. Do I not run? That might be the sensible thing to do but for how long? Not an option for me at the moment. I will see how it goes. Do I roller it? or do I leave it alone?

All things to learn and experiment with.

Fri 16th Jan 15

My left calf is fine although my right one seems to have gone out in sympathy. It feels superficial but I was a little worried before I set out. Whilst running this morning, it was fine and I can now no longer feel it at all.

A barefoot mile this morning and my feet felt cold. I kept waiting for them to warm up and my right one did a bit but my left one stayed cold all the way. No frozen puddles but it felt cold. The outsides of both midsoles felt a touch tender after yesterday’s 5 miler.

Sat 17th Jan 15

I was planning a long one this morning but the snow came in and I am not experienced enough in it to be gung ho just yet. It was the first time this year that i have had the chance to run in freshly fallen snow that is soft. It was good fun and my feet didn’t feel too cold until I walked back across my garden and my feet sunk in completely. I wish that I had gone out much earlier when no-one was about. prefer it that way. as it was, I ended up just doing a barefoot mile. No calf problems in either leg.

 Sun 18th Jan 15

Got to say, it was pretty unpleasant this morning. Enjoyed yesterday running in the snow. Very cold and icy this morning and that made it unpleasant underfoot. My feet felt much more cold although towards the end, they were not too bad. Now 10 mins back inside and the pain is quite something in the toes on my left foot. I know that it will go away but for the moment it is quite something. Can’t get the car up the road so will have to give Hogthon Tower Framers’ Market a miss today.

Mon 19th Jan 15

It was -3C this morning and the roads were very icy. i can handle the cold but it is unpleasant and sharp underfoot so I decided to wait until this evening. It was 0C and I found a mile of road that was clear of ice and ran that. It was good to be out. My stomach is aching and I think that I have a bug of some sort. maybe the cold will kill it off. I think that I might be able to get out for a couple of miles in the morning. Don’t want to slip into just a mile a day. pavements are too icy but the main roads are OK. Would just need to be out very early to avoid traffic.

Tues 20th Jan 15

Still cold and icy so I just ran a mile this morning. Unpleasant to run on what was slush last night and now is frozen with sharp ridges. The clear bits of the road are easier but have been salted. Did ballet impressions a couple of times where i didn’t see black ice in the dark. Glad to keep the streak going and looking forward to spring.

Wed 21st Jan 15

-1C this morning with a new dusting of snow which meant that I slid all over the place getting out of the drive onto the road this morning. Not the -5C of yesterday morning but the new snow made my feet feel cold initially. I had a choice. Stay on the clear road or head onto the frwsh snow for half a mile. I stayed on the road because I didn’t know if the dark section had mostly a layer of ice under the snow and I didn’t want to end up all over place again. A barefoot mile.

Thur 22nd Jan 15

Roll on spring. A mile barefoot this morning and I stuck to the roads. The pavements are too tricky. Slippy, icy and hard on the feet. I did end up on the pavement a couple of times to avoid traffic and my soles felt on fire. tehn back on the road dodging the piles of rocksalt and they were fine. Right groin very tight during the night. I think i took the tiniest steps, I have ever run with this morning.

Fri 23rd Jan 15

A barefoot mile this morning. The air felt very cold and my son has pinched my running hat from near the door so it was a chilly start. The road was smooth for the first time in a week and nice to run on. Went off hard because it felt so cold and enjoyed it. Breezed up the steep hill and then pretty quick down the other side. Then the road became rough and I slowed down. My feet feel each stone when the temp is below zero and it was steady as she goes.Dreaming of fresh spring days and long runs.

Sat 24th Jan 15

A quick barefoot mile this morning before heading off to Glasgow to watch the athletics. Not a bit flashy meeting this and that is how we like it. A GB athlete in every race to cheer on. My stomach has not been right for ages and I didn’t have a cup of tea this morning because I couldn’t face it. I am eating porridge as I type and that is OK but something is not quite right. Lots of poorly people at work. Slightly breathless too. I think I feel a detox is needed. Not something I have ever done but feels like I need it. Itchy too. My chest and stomach have a slight rash. Must be a virus of some sort.

Sun 25th Jan 15

A barefoot mile from the premier Inn in Carlisle on the way back from yesterday’s athletics. First run without snow for a week and it was good. A boke with a big dog stopped me and asked why i had no shoes and then started to tell me i should run on the beach. I pointed out that his dos wasn’t wearing any shoes and he said ‘Yeh but she isn’t wearing any knickers either.’

I had no answer to that, laughed and carried on.

Mon 26th Jan 15

5 barefoot miles this morning and it feels good to be back to a bit of normailty after the snow. Running in the dark on a dreary morning feels like the norm. I love it when I am moving along and I almost feel still. It is like i am on a conveyer belt. my head is still and my breathing feels normal and unstrained. It is like I am detached from the bottom half of my body which is moving me along. I feel like I can keep going indefinitely.

Then I step on a rock and the magic is broken but I love it.

When i get in, I struggle to bend down and easily put my socks on. I am so inflexible around the hips and lower back. I need February to be a month where i address that in some way. To work with me, I need to do something simple and easy to understand. If it is too technical, i start to wondwer if i am doing it right and drop out of it. It needs to be every day and simple so that it becomes a habit.

My groin and hip feel tight on the right hand side.

Tues 27th Jan 15

Hip and groin made it difficult to sleep last night. I think that I lack stability in my right hip and I suspect my glutes are the issue. Then everything else works harder than they should to keep things stable and then tighten up in protest. Don’t blame them! It is pre barefooting issue that has returned. i first got it after an 11 miler in trail gloves a couple of years ago. Everything felt like it was giving way in the folowing weeks and I ended up at a physio with some exercises.

I am determined to do them again consistently during Feb and make Feb a Flexible February. I want to be 45 and flexible.

Yesterday, I also swapped my lunchtime piece of cake for an orange. I think that I need to lose weight and things will also be easier.

A barefoot mile in the rain this morning. Nice when the road is very wet. Feet feeling robust but a bit of tightness in my right achilles.

Wed 28th Jan 15

5 barefoot miles this morning in the dark and the drizzle. Love it. It is like having my own personal quiet space to run in. The morning closes in on me and i am completely alone and it gives me quality time to tick along and think.

Yesterday a colleague said how calm I am at work when everything is crazy and pressured. i out that down to running. I am able to cope with things much better when my running is consistent.

Also thought about the taboo of bowel movements and wondered how everybody else deals with it. i knew that i was going to get caught and sure enough my bowels started to gripe after a couple of miles and it takes the pleasure out of it and I am sure that it affects my form. I am pretty good at timing things but some morning I am just out of sync and it is a problem.

A regular route helps. I was tired this morning but determined to get out by 6am on the dot which leaves me not having to think about my run too much. I can do my regular 5 miler on autopilot and without the need to hurry or watch the clock. I haven’t taken a watch with me for as long as I can remember.

Although on auto pilot, i have a set of steps half way through my run where I force myself to stop and spend a few moments enjoying the morning. I heard owls hooting this morning and looked down at the street lights and found pleasure in being out when many people are still in bed.

I want to be flexible and this morning I struggles to bend down and put my shorts on. It was the lower sides of my back and torso that just protest when I bend down. I need to find a way to work on my flexibility during February. I have cut out sugar and sweet stuff and am substituting fruit and feel better for it.

Thurs 29th Jan 15

The snow arrived again and I just did a barefoot mile because I was pushed for time. Just a thin layer that was nice to run on. No problems with the cold. Good to be out in it. Pushed for time because I couldn’t find my car keys. 45 mins into the search, found them under the desk where I am sitting now. Must have got knocked off and kicked under last night. Stress levels were high but a run in driving snow sorted that out.

Fri 30th Jan 15

Slid barefoot down the road in ankle deep snow this morning. Out of control for a little bit but managed to stay on my feet. The windchill on the half mile out made it feel the coldest morning yet and I didn’t enjoy it. I found that running on the ice was warmer than in the freshly fallen snow. The run back was OK but now my feet are warming back up and the toes on my right foot are screaming out. The pain is quite something and I am reminded how imprtant it is the respect the cold. i have been out for 10 minutes or so and am now sitting in pain. Ouch.

Did exercises this morning. I then tried to just kneel down and realised that i find that a challenge and my quads are so tight. I have not been able to sit cross legged on the ground for years and i attempted that. It is a simple but challneging goal. to be able to sit up straight crossed legged on the ground for an extended period without falling over backwards

Sat 31st Jan 15

The last day of December saw me with glass in my heel and the last day of January sees me with snow induced blisters on the second toe of each foot. I new that yesterday’s run felt cold and my feet took a long time to warm back up. It has left two good sized blisters on the underside of the toes. The whole pad of the toe on my left foot and the pad and going inside on the right foot. Tender all yesterday and then when i went to bed and inspected properly, I could see them quite clearly.

they were still there this morning but I put a layer of mushers on each toe and set off. It was fine. the roads were mostly clear of snow and ice except for the odd patch hee and there. Lots of salt around but I am going to wash that off now. Just a mile to keep the streak going.

It would have been easy to not run today and let the blisters go down but the whole point of this challenge is to see if I can run everyday for a year. Turns out that this morning was fine. I thought about all those people on multi day events who set off with blisters from the day before. Granted, most of them are not barefoot but common sense also would be for them stop and they carry on and get there.

January: 31 Runs – 67 miles – Longest run 6.7 miles.

This is 1 mile further than my furthest ever barefoot mile total for a month which was November 14. I am pleased because things were cut short by the amount of snow and ice but I managed to keep the runstreak going.


Jan 16

Barefoot running and the ‘Paradoxical Theory of Change’

mirrorI know a runner who cannot face running in organised events anymore. He would love to but cannot get anywhere near the times he was running a few years ago. Nobody else cares but he is weighed down by the things he achieved in the past.
One of the biggest problems we face when we begin something new is that we come to it with a whole host of expectations and back history. Experience is useful but if we are not careful it can also be the thing that stops us making progress. It can become a barrier and to some extent we all suffer from it. We need to let go of that previous version of ourselves and accept where we are at today.

It is what a Gestalt therpist would term ‘The Parodixical theory of Change’. The paradox is that the best way to change is to first accept and be comfortable with where we are at the moment. It isn’t always an easy thing to do. We are much more comfortable shutting out eyes to our current selves and creating a shiny image of the person we want to be.

So…we can end up putting things off until we are either the same weight as we used to be, we are at the same mileage that we used to run or we can manage the same sort of speeds we used to achieve. It is easier to spot in other people than in ourselves.
As runners, most of us are prey to that ‘miles a week’ dialogue. It is one of the ways that runners classify other runners. Are we a 20 miles a week runner or a 40 mile a weeker? Those of us coming to barefoot running from a lifetime of running can find it hard to shake. The thought of dropping down to almost zero can be hard to accept.
Even more pervasive is speed. Again, runners class other runners by their pace. Are they a 40 or 60 minute 10K runner or a 3 or 4 hour marathon runner?
It has been hard. I was typically a 20 mile a week runner and could just about get under the 40 minute mark for a 10k. Going back to zero took some time to accept.
The fact is, I was always running on borrowed time. I was always going to break down eventually…and I did.
One of the biggest things that I have done whilst barefoot running is let go of my vision of the runner I was. I have accepted who I am now and what I am capable of at the moment. I look at myself in the mirror and accept where I am up to. I am grateful and count my blessings because there was a time where I was not sure if I would ever run again.
I look at myself and feel no shame about where I am up to. I embrace it. To be honest, I feel a sense of relief at not having to live up to that runner I used to be. I have let go and accepted that this is a different phase of my life.
I am in no rush. I have the rest of my life stretched out in front of me and want to be a lifelong runner. I am building from the ground up and rather than feel shame, I feel pride in the fact that I didn’t give up. I kept searching and experimenting until I found I way that worked for me.
We have nothing to prove to anyone. We need to accept where we are, embrace it and smile. Forget what we can’t do and celebrate the things we can achieve.
Give it a go. Look at yourself in the mirror, let go of the past and celebrate the things that you can do today. It doesn’t stop you dreaming and thinking big but you will be doing it from solid ground.

Embrace it and step into the person you are rather than cling onto that mirage from the past. Do it often and make it a habit. It is one of the most empowering things that you can do.

Jan 12

Transition to minimal shoes. Finding a way that works for you

7856933398_d8f3523225_mOn Barefoot beginner, I am advocating a period where we learn to run barefoot ( I think most people can get to about the 5k point in 12 weeks) before we even think about running in minimal shoes.
It may feel drastic but there is a good reason. As runners, we often know what we should be doing but then slip back into our old routines. Running barefoot doesn’t allow us to do that. It forces us to adapt and I believe that for many people it can be used an important step in the transition from conventional to minimal running shoes.
I believe that the whole concept of the transition into minimalist shoes is misunderstood. Or perhaps I should say that I believe that it is there is certainly more than one option and different things will suit different mindsets. We need to find a way that works just for us.
The transition from shoes to running barefoot is simple to understand. Just take of your shoes and run barefoot. Stop when your soles have had enough. Take the next day off and then go again. Your soles should prevent you from doing too much and you will gradually ease your way into becoming a barefoot runner. Simple.
It is when we start to throw different kinds of footwear into the mix that the problems arise.
However, running shoes are a reality. Most runners have no long term desire to be a barefooter. They are looking to find a safe way to transition from their built up conventional running shoes to something much more minimal. It is at this point, that I part company with much that is regarded as conventional wisdom out there and my concerns and approach comes from years of running and gaining some insight into the mindset of a fair proportion of runners. Certainly the ones like me.
Before I begin to explain my opinion on transition from conventional to minimal shoes let me just say that I know that there are people who have transitioned successfully using a variety of approaches. If you have found a way that works for you then more power to your elbow. I would love to hear your story. Success inspires success.
That being said, whilst I consider barefoot running to be inherently safe, I consider the minimalist road to be a dangerous one.
It is simply so much fun that it takes a runner of rare discipline to back off the miles and take the time to relearn their technique. It can be done but I am just not suited to that kind of diligence. It is an honest admission that I think needs to be declared. I am not alone.
Recently I heard ultra-running coach, Ady Benn, discussing runners who visit physiotherapists. They often receive a rehab programme, pretty much ignore it and go back to doing what they were doing before. It is though they think that just visiting the physiotherapist will do the trick by itself. It struck a chord with me and I know that I will not be the only one.
I believe that the same sort of thing happens with transition. We know what we should do but we just go back to doing what we were doing before. Just in minimal shoes – a dangerous road.
For that reason, I needed to find a way to transition that was simple and didn’t need much thinking about. I wanted to find a way that I could just get on and do without needing someone analysing whether I was doing it correctly or not.
I ran barefoot because it meant that I couldn’t just go back to what I was doing before. It was impossible. My soles wouldn’t let me. I had to change and rebuild my technique from the ground up. I had to build a whole new set of routines to slip into.
I have heard respected coaches saying that the transition from conventional to minimal running shoes should not be done without coaching on running technique. I agree with that wholeheartedly.
However, if you are switching from built up shoes to running barefoot, I don’t believe that it is necessary in most cases. I also think that it is possible for a barefoot runner with well embedded technique to then transition safely to minimalist shoes without too trouble.
Therefore my approach is to go from built up shoes to barefoot for a period and then into minimalist shoes.
How much barefoot is needed in the middle phase? My answer is that you need to be honest with yourself. This is grown up, life-long running. It is not meant to be a quick-fix flash in the pan.
Take your time and enjoy the barefoot phase.  I regard about 12 weeks as a minimum and in my view, you will get a lot of benefit from barefooting way beyond that.
When we eventually start to go from barefoot running to minimal shoes, we need a simple system to keep us safe.
My golden rule at this point is ‘Don’t run further in minimal shoes than you can manage barefoot’.
The shoes will protect your soles but it was never about that. Blisters were never the issue. Blisters might slow you down for a couple of days but it is damage to the structure of your feet and lower leg that is the killer. It is worth saying again.
‘Don’t run further in minimal shoes than you can manage barefoot’.
Let your soles continue to guide how far you can manage…and don’t cheat. Your transition will be slower but will happen just at a pace that will suit you.
If 40 seconds is your barefoot limit, 40 seconds is your minimalist limit too. If 3 miles is your barefoot limit then 3 miles is your minimalist limit too. Just not on the same day!
There is certainly more than one way to transition from built up conventional running shoes to minimal shoes and we need to find a way that works for us. I know an excellent runner who runs successfully in minimal footwear. She has flirted with barefooting but has the mindset needed to do the drills and implement the techniques given her by a very experienced and knowledgeable coach over a significant period of time. It has worked well for her.
However, I find that kind of thing difficult and I am not alone. I needed something much easier to understand and implement. Running barefoot meant that I couldn’t just slip into my old routines. It has meant that I have had to change.
I am advocating a transition that goes from conventional shoes to a period barefoot running and then the slow transition to minimal shoes. That is what Barefoot Beginner is all about. At some point you may feel the need for some coaching and there are some excellent people out there who can help. But the best thing you can do right now is to simply take off your shoes and run.

Jan 05

Barefoot365 – A Challenge that sort of just happened.

Barefoot 365The year 2014 had seen my life become increasingly hectic. I was close to burning out and needed a way to cope. I started a barefoot runstreak that just sort of happened. It evolved gently into a personal challenge to run barefoot every day for a year.  It then morphed to see if I could keep the runstreak going and run 1000 barefoot miles during 2015.

I had wanted to see how long I could run barefoot into the British winter and the runstreak  grew out of running each day to help my feet become accustomed to the gradually lower temperatures.

As for burning myself out, it is something I don’t like to admit. In addition to my full-time job as the headteacher of a primary school, I had been market trading at the weekends and set up a craft brewery. I had begun to train adults in safeguarding and also started a 5 year doctorate programme. There were a lot of firsts and my headspace was becoming increasingly taken up.

I was feeling run down and at a very low ebb. In short, I was exhausted.  I have always found that running helps me deal with the ups and downs of life and I needed a way to run consistently.

I had been running pretty consistently. Some in miminimal footwear but increasingly barefoot as it allowed me to run without problem. Each time, I broke down, I could track the problem back to a run in footwear of some sort.

I needed early nights and simplicity and that’s what I ended up doing. Running at least a barefoot mile every day seemed simple and easy to understand. So easy, in fact, that I didn’t realise that I was doing it until a couple of months in. It just sort of evolved.

In Oct 14, I just started to run 10 minutes at the start of each day. By the second day, it felt like something different was beginning but I didn’t think about it too much. I just did what felt right for me at the time.

I was feeling burnt out, run down and unfit. I had a tight hip and groin that was keeping me awake at night. I had spent an entire day the previous week putting a huge wardrobe together and was now struggling to even bend down and put my left sock on in the morning. I felt like an old man.

I had some experience of running a mile a day. In the summer of 2013, I had run over 100 consecutive barefoot days  and had surprised myself by running a respectable 1:40 something half marathon without really running very far at all in preparation.

By day 4 of daily running, my mood was improving and I was feeling more in control of life. I was a bit wheezy ( I have been an asthmatic since childhood but it had taken a turn for the worse recently) but I was able to bend down more comfortably and my groin and hip were less tight.

I was still not planning anything but felt that I was running to beat of my own drum and was happy to go wherever it took me.

New year’s Eve on Dec 31st 2014 marked 10 weeks of continuous barefooting and Barefoot365 had slowly evolved. I began to wonder if I could run barefoot every day for a year throughout the seasons in the UK. I have been a runner for over 30 years but have never been able to run consistently without injury. 1000 barefoot miles in 2015 became a personal challenge. It would mean running an average of about 20 miles a week across the year. That would be a first for me.

I plan to write regularly about how I am finding things as well as keep a daily barefooting blog. It would be great to see how many days I can run in 2015 and if I can manage 365 that would make me smile. If I can’t, then so be it. I am not about to let it spoil my year.

One thing is for sure. I will have found out a thing or two along the way. I would love it you would join me. We have a facebook group called Barefoot Mile a Day. Come and join in, you will be made very welcome.

I have also set up a Barefoot 365 facebook page. Have a look and like the page to keep up with things.


Jan 01

Training Blog December 14

Mon 1st Dec 14

December started with a blister on the outside sole of my right foot. I ran almost 7 miles barefoot yesterday and before setting off thought that I might get some distress from my sales but it was better then  thought. It was only later that I felt a big blood blister. It was like I had stepped on something and was painful to step on so I drained it a couple of times and then covered in spray plaster because I knew that I would be running this morning. I did a mile and was absolutely fine running on it this morning. It will be interesting to see how it is over the next few days.

Tue 2nd Dec 14

Day 41 – a mile barefoot in the dark. No real problem but I am not going to go far until this blister has settled down. The nice thing is that I feel under no pressure. I want to be a lifelong runner and I am not going to hurt myself for the sake of a schedule.

Wed 3rd Dec 14

What is it with the council? First they resurface the smoothest road in Bolton with broken bits of tarmac and then they go and send the gritters out at the first sight of frost. I have been waiting for this day. I have been seeing if I can run barefoot each day as it has become colder. It is around zero this morning and the cold isn’t a problem but the rock salt is. I ended up on the pavement and heading for a traffic free road with no grit this morning. I am enjoying the flexibility of my runstreak. Life is busy at the moment and I have a large assignment to get in. That means that I am burning the midnight oil. What is good , is that I can drop off some of the other things that I do for a little while in the knowledge that I can pick them up in a week or so. Other than my training blog, I have dropped off my usual barefoot and beer related writing and will come back to it and  I am just keeping the runstreak going with a mile a day for a little while. It keeps my sanity and things ticking over. I can see the light at the other end.

Thur 4th Dec 14

Day 43. I slept in this morning to catch up with a bit of sleep which I felt was more important than a longer run so just a mile. It was down at about zero again. Yesterday was more like -1C and the cold is not a problem as long as it is pretty dry. I have some real aching in my right hip and my groin is tensing up. I have not had that for a long time and it was one of the things that characterised my early minimalist running in trail gloves. I have exercises to do so had better get on with them.

Fri 5th Dec 14

A barefoot mile and it was cold and wet underfoot. I counted on the rain having washed away the rock salt and ran more on the roads than over the past day or two. My breath fogged up my vision in the beam of my headtorch. I got to thinking about how great my little torch has been. It has been with me on runs day after day and it never complains. It just gets on with the job and has even been through the washing machine and come out fine. It is a little Petzl Tikka. I am still burning the midnight oil and should be able to let up in a day or two. At least my soles have had a bit of a rest.

Sat 6th Dec 14

A barefoot mile this morning. It was cold and icy and the roads were slippy. Good fun really. First run in the daylight this week and that brought about the usual stares from folk walking their dogs. As far as I recall, none of the dogs were wearing footwear but no-one was staring at them. The injustice of it all.

Sun 7th Dec 14

Very wet and cold this morning. An early barefoot mile before setting off to do Great Harwood Chritmas market. Keeping warm and dry will be the order of the day, I think. Then off for an outdoor Carol Service with Em later. Shold be fun. My feet felt robust and I was pushing along even over the stony bits this morning. My hip feels much better. When I look at my mileage, I had taken a big step jump and it looks like my hip is the thing that goes off first. This week of barefoot miles seems to have recharged my batteries and kept things ticking over. My first EdD assignment is ready for handing in and I can get back to a bit of normality. Maybe!

Mon 8th Dec 14

There was a terrific hail shower just before I set off this morning which on top of very wet ground made it a mazy run of icy puddles this morning. I kept the barefoot mile going. My soles were burning pretty much straight away and then it eased off. Tricky going downhill and on a steep slope I switched to the pavement for more traction. It is certainly the coldest that my feet have been for some time. They are now warming up and that is OK. Not the pain I expected. At least not yet.

Tues 9th Dec 14

Dodging frozen puddles this morning which is better than the freezing slush of yeterday. kept the streak going but this was the first morning that getting out there was a struggle. Late night drive back from Robinwood last night. Day 48. Tommorow will make 7 weeks of continual barefooting.

Wed 10th Dec 14

The weather has taken a real turn for the worse and I didn’t run as planned this morning up in Northumberland. I ended up running when I got home. I just came in and got my stuff on and went. I really enjoyed it. I felt quick and robust even through the cold. A barefoot mile My feet were in icy puddles for quite a lot of the way but it wasn’t a problem. They gave me no issues warming back up afterwards. City vs Roma on TV tonight.

Thur 11th Dec 14

I was up late after a busy few days away with schoolchildren on Outwards Bounds. It was cold up there. This morning was cold again and my feet handled it well. I was running through cold puddles and it was fine. No ice around so can’t be too bad. My legs feel softer than a couple of weeks ago. the barefoot mile a day has kept me going during a busy and difficult perios where running may have stopped in the past but I also needto now break out of the routine and go further. Not easy to do barefoot in this weather. I may try an out and back couple of miles tomorrow although most likely Saturday in the light.

Fri 12th Dec 14

What is it with common sense? I got to thinking as my feet were slowly going numb during my barefoot mile this morning. Common sense is what is says. It is a generalisation. The thing is that we are individuals and we should challenge the things dictated by bloody common sense. Running every day barefoot throughout the winter flies in the face of common sense so why am I doing it. For fun, enjoyment and to see if I can. Knowing what the commion sense is can be quite useful but then ignore it if you choose. Don’t put anyone else in danger, that would be selfish but live life and don’t sit in that safe zone dictated by common sense all the time. It was cold this morning and there were some deep puddles to splash through. I was 100yds into the unlit section before I realised that I hadn’t put my headtorch on. I was feeling my way with my feet.

Sat 13th Dec 14

The coldest morning by far or so it felt. Icy inderfoot rather than wet in most places. Car said -1C but it felt colder. I ram 3.5 miles barefoot and my left foot was numb quickest. My right foot didn’t really get there. After 2 miles, the feeling went away and I felt fine and the cold was no longer an issue. Cold induced vasodilation in action. I think my body had worked out what I was doing. Again, I am not really bothered why it works as long as it does. It would be interesting to look at all the common sense assumptions to do with running and then investigate a way to test yourself against them to find a way of running that works for you. It is also interesting to think about running in a seasonal sense like strawberries. Sure, you can have strawberries all year round but is that really a good thing. Depends on your point of view, I suppose. Now that I am only running barefoot, my long runs seem lmited in the colder months. Maybe that is a good thing for someone looking for a way to make running a lifelong pursuit. This has been my only run of the week in the daylight.

Sun 14th Dec 14

A mile barefoot with a headache this morning. I am defintely under the weather and am up early ready to go to Ramsbottom farmers’ market. My breathing is laboured again and my inhaler is only just taking the edge of it. Visit to the doctors this week. My feet were not bothered by the cold this morning but they felt tender after yesterday morning’s run. I am turning into a completely unshod runner. I haven’t run in shoes for quite a long time now. Whilst running, I was thinking about James Cracknell in the desert. That has to be one of the most remarkable things that I have seen. Highest placed Brit ever in the Marathon de Sable.

Mon 15th Dec 14

5 fantastic barefoot miles this morning. I set off at 6am with the thought of doing about 2.5 miles but my soles immediately felt robust and I was running well. I had in in there so I made hay whilst the sun was shining (or not seeing as I hardly ever run in the daylight). Not as cold today and the rain has washed the rocksalt away. I have beenr eading Ruby Wax’s book on mindfulness and it is fascinating. I took a couple of points on my run to stop for a few seconds and feel what was going on around me. It is all too easy to get carried away with life. She also makes the point about us being comfortable with the pain of misery. It feels comfortable because it is what we are used to and getting out of it means change. We would rather put up with it than change. She makes a good point. I was stuck for years in a cycle of injury and rehab that I deep down knew wouldn’t help but made me feel comfortable. I was in a comfy rut. It would be nice to run a workshop for runners where we look at the givens of running and then test ourselves against them. Day 54 of this little run streak.

Tues 16th Dec 14

Day 55 and something weird happened on my barefoot mile this morning. I turned right instead of left for a change and this route has steep hills. I was running pretty quickly uphill and my soles felt incredibly robust. I was expecting to feel the barefoot burn but instead could feel my soles protesting as the skin bunched and shifted on them but no pain at all. Just sensation where I could feel the skin moving around. I kept waiting for the pain to arrive but it never did. I could still feel enough to be cautious and back of the pace slightly but it wasn’t pain that did it. Both brilliant and something to beware of, I think.

Wed 17th Dec14

8 weeks of daily barefooting and my soles felt no discomfort for the second day running. It feels significant and a change. 5 miles this morning. I went out thinking that the weather was awful and that my soles were tired and that I would do a mile but my soles felt fine. Again, I could feel the pulling and shifting of the skin but just as a sensation. I ended up keeping going and ran my usual 5 mile route. Giving myself that hour to run in the morning works well for me. It gives me space to run upto 6 without worrying or rushing. My stomach felt sore though. Lots of bugs going around at the moment and it was there all along. My stride felt heavy and I had trouble running light. My feet wouldn’t lift too high off the ground. When I came around the final bend onto a flat smooth section though, I speeded up and an image of Dr Mark Cuzzella came into my mind. Not as fast but my form felt similar. Maybe not to a passer by but at least in my head. Nice to get 2, 5 milers in so early in the week.

Thur 18th Dec 14

A barefoot mile with headtorch and no problem. Soles still feel robust even though I had the beginnings of a blister behind the big toe on my right foot yesterday. It has gome away and things are fine. I was challenged on my thinking yesterday about spending money. Not so much challenged but I had one of the pints I made expanded. I think that I have a mindset problem with coahing in a lot of ways where some people don’t. I find that it can be useful as long as I believe in the person doing the coaching. Mostly I don’t. That cynical ‘spend your money here and I will sort you out’ sort of thing that is all over the place. It would be interesting to go and see Tony Riddle. Perhaps I am just not willing to invest the time in drills when I think that i can do it myself by barefooting regularly. Interesting problem.

Fri 19th Dec 14

A barefoot mile and it has turned a bit colder again which meant my soles felt it. No real problem though. Just pitter-pattered along. The hills were easy and I felt good on them. The hills just come and go. I have noticed that since beginning to barefoot. I think it is the short strides being like a low gear. I enjoy the hills, it breaks things up. Downhil is more challenging than uphill because my feet want to slide and the friction is increased. Lifting going downhill takes practice and feels weird. Danny Dreyer had something in his book about keeping your trailing foot on the floor longer than normal when going down hill. it would then be about removing alltension from that leg to stop pushing off. Practice.

Sat 20th Dec 14

6.3 miles in the daylight on the trails this morning. I wonder which is worse – gravel or treed debris. At least gravel is consistent and not full of spikey thorns. I chose a route with the trails in the second half to let my feet get going and that seemed to work. Also worth remembering that if you have the choice of running rough trail up or downhill choose the uphill every time. Much easier.

I was really pleased to find that i had no trouble on the trails this morning and that opens up quite a few routes. Now that it is evening, I can feel my soles. They have definitely been out for a run but I wouldn’t describe then as sore. They are more in need of a break.

Bumped into an old running friend. he was walking alongside the Jumbles resevoir at quite a pace. He no longer runs because of his knees and we had a good chat about barefooting. It is runners like him that strike a chord with me. There may just be another way for them. Day 59 of this little barefoot runstreak.

Sun 21st Dec 14

A barefoot mile this morning to keep the runsteak going and make 20 barefoot miles for the week. My soles don’t feel pain in the same way as the did at the start and that needs thinking about. Yesterday, i ran 6 and a bit miles on the trails. At the end, I felt like I could easily have done a few more miles (say upto 10) but in the evening my soles felt a bit battered. nothing too bad that made me think I wouldn’t run today but tired. I didn’t feel this at the time. This must be because my soles are getting used to running but it also means that the way I listen to them has to change. It is no longer just pain that is going to keep me safe but also sensations and being sensible(ish).

The amazing Ron Hill completed his 50year runstreak yesterday. Just day 60 for me. Found the #runeveryday hashtag from Ron Hill’s T-shirt.

Mon 22nd Dec 14

Ran barefoot for 3 miles around Egerton with no real problem. Just keeping the miles going. Day 61

Tues 23rd Dec 14

Very wet today and running quickly. Feel feel pretty good with some tender spots on the outside of my midfoot on both sides. Be good to get a 10k in over Christmas

Wed 24th Dec 14

Glorious day and it would have been good to get out for a decent run today but ran out of time. My feet told me pretty quickly that I needed a short run today in any case. I did a barefoot mile and remembered why I run early morning when no one is about. I don’t like the fuss. I have avoided runs because of it. I ended up running quicker than I have for ages uphill. Good fun. Arms swinging on the uphills and flying. I am definitely getting fitter. A barefoot mile was my lot on day 63. 9 weeks of barefooting. New Years Eve will take me to 10 weeks.

Thursday Dec 25th 14

Just a barefoot mile this morning. My breathing was very laboured and I have been sneezing a bit this morning. Time to go back and get a preventer inhaler I think. Not had one for years but this is getting beyond a joke. Maybe it was something to do with the big chocolate Santa I ate before I set off though.

Fri 26th Dec 14

3 barefoot miles this morning was all my stomach could handle. Severe case of runners’ trots or IBS or one of the other terms for it. Whatever we call it, we don’t discuss it often enough. It can be debilitating and I once had to walk the second half a half marathon because of it. The number of times, I have been running home from work and had to stop. I have planned my entire race mornings around bowel movements. It can be quite difficult. Be good to discuss openly in the forum at some point.

My feet felt a bit tender this morning and 3 miles was probably enough in any case.

 Sat 27th Dec 14

A barefoot mile this morning in the first snow and ice of the year. It snowed a lot yesterday and then it froze overnight. My feet were very cold straight away and I headed for the car tracks on the road. They were very slippy. It turned out not to be the cold that was a problem but the sharpness of the ice. It made me turn back because the most i could do was hobble on it. I found a section of road that was easy to run on and did my mile there. My feet warmed up and it was pleasant to be out. A couple of people stopped me including a delivery van driver to ask but were all very happy and positive. ‘So…you are not crazy then’ said on guy. Not too sure about that. I am in the bloody minded phase. I am doing a mile no matter what. Not advocating it for anyone.

Also seem to have something stuck in my foot. I felt it go in and the irony was that i was in the hose wearing socks at the time. I jumped and felt a pain in my left arch. Tracy had a go at removing with tweezers last night but to no avail. Still sore.

Sun 28th Dec 14

4.83 miles barefoot this morning in the ice. No snow any more but the roads had a thin lacer of ice on them. My left foot in particular was very cold initially and my soles were protesting almost straight away. I set off thinking that maybe I would do a mile but ended up getting into the swing of things. The sun was shining and I got into a rhythm. After about 1.5 miles my feet felt fine. I am sure that they are a little numb because my left calf started to feel sore towards the end. I have not had that for a long time and I figure that my form must be affected by numb feet. I could have gone further but I think that would have been for the wrong reasons. 5 miles or so is fine for now. So easy to get caught up and run for the wrong reason and not for myself. Good to have an early night last night and be up early as usual.I like the routine.

Mon 29th Dec 14

Well below zero this morning for this barefoot mile and my soles were tender almost straight away. I think it is a combination of the cold and the rocksalt. Looks like the grtiiter had been up during the night. lots of fresh and melted rocksalt everywhere. It wasn’t there yesterday. Must be getting ready for Monday morning and getting folk to work. My right groin was tight which I think is to do with running on ice yesterday. You grip with your toes evern when you try not to.  had a long soak yesterday and that may have softened my feet up also. This thing stuck in my right foot is not working its way out yet. It is in there, no doubt. Tender to touch.

Tues 30th Dec 14

A barefoot mile to keep things going. About -2C and my left foot again went cold much quicker than my right. I prefer to get up early and run when there is no one about.

Wed 31st Dec 14

First piece of glass of the year and it waited until the last day of the year. Running past The Cross Guns Inn and I felt a sharp stab in my right heel. I carried on a step or two but it was pretty clear that something was wrong. I brushed a stone off and that didn’t help. My feet were pretty dirty and i couldn’t see anything. I brushed my fingers and felt something tiny and managed to get hold of a sliver of glass. About 5mm long. I pulled it out. Plenty of blood initially but I carried on running and it was fine for the next 4 miles home. I passed a group of cyclists near home. Mountain biking forty somethings on shiny bikes and lots of expensice gear. One shouted at me,’You’ve got no shoes mate’. I shouted back that he seemed to be sitting on top of a big piece of metal. Wonder if he had noticed? I wonder how much his getup and bike cost. Expensive to sit in a garage for weeks on end. Barefeet cost nothing and I am put every day in mine. It was all very good natured but I am not a fan of this sort of thing. I prefer to enjoy my run without having to justify myself and respond all the time. My barefoot running is not attention seeking behaviour. I just wanna run.

I spent a while wondering how many miles I can run in 2015. I have never done 1000miles in a year because of injury. 20 miles a week would do it. I found myself plotting and planing and scheming. I am still not immune to this sort of thinking. It is so seductive and dangerous but also helps get me out of the front door. The balance is so hard to find.

5 miles to complete 10 weeks of barefoot running every day.

Dec 16

Why you can’t spend your barefoot way to success

I have spent a small fortune on trying to cure my running injuries over the years. A couple of decades in, I realised that it just doesn’t work.

The Barefoot Beginner approach is different because it asks you to let go of your consumer values and go back to basics.

The big problem is that in modern life, whenever we have a problem, we look for a way to spend our way out of it. I did it for many years.

…and there was no shortage of people willing to sell me the solution!

Whatever problem we have, someone will be out there ready to take our money and sort it out for us.

Where there is no problem then someone will happily create one for us. They convince us that we are doing things wrong and then sell us the solution.

It is so common that we don’t see it anymore. In modern life, whenever we have a problem, all we need to do is throw money at it and it will go away.

Barefooting is not like that. Money is not going to help. It is a great leveler and you cannot spend your way to success. We are are so used to buying shortcuts that we think that looking for the cheat is the best way to do things. It isn’t. We can’t just hand our problems to other people.  We need to change our mindset and realise that this one is down to us.

Success will come with honesty, experimentation, diligence and patience. You are going to build a lasting solution that works for you from the ground up. Sure, you can buy some advice and coaching but check with yourself what you want to get out of it. Don’t attempt to hand the responsibility for your success over to someone else. Grab hold and take charge of it. Spend your money wisely.The cost isn’t anywhere near as important as the time. It is all about you and your willingness to be in the driving seat.

It has taken me decades to wake up to the fact that I have always been looking for someone else to sort my running injuries out for me. I couldn’t see that the problem lay with me.

I did the classic consumer thing. In my late teens, I was running well but was suckered in by the shiny ads for running shoes in the magazines. I bought into the dream they were selling me. I felt that if I wanted to be a ‘proper’ runner then I needed a ‘proper’ pair of running shoes. Up until that point, I had been running and competing for years in cheap flat shoes. I didn’t have a problem but the magazines convinced me that I did. I saved long and hard for my first pair.They were Reebok Royales and within a month, I was injured for the first time ever.

Crazy as it seems, I didn’t connect the shin splints to the new ‘proper’ shoes. I mean, the shoes were ‘proper’ so how could the problem be with them? The running magazines were so full of tales of injury that it was seen as normal and they had plenty of solutions to sell me.

My first injury related purchase were called ‘Runners Wedge’. They sat in the back of my shoes and raised my heel a little. I then developed a problem with my arches and after paying out for physio and advice, bought some arch supports. I then had half length and full length inserts and then eventually went for gait analysis. This led to motion control shoes. Then it was motion control with inserts that cost more than the shoes themselves. I had neoprene calf supports and eventually after 20 something years of tinkering, coaching and physio, I ended up running wearing a calf support whilst having wedges underneath my orthotics in the most expensive shoes I could afford… and I was still breaking down with injury after less than a mile. My calves felt like they must have been made up of mostly scar tissue.

In the end, I just threw them all away and started again but it took a while for my head to get out of that consumer mindset. It is as prevalent in barefoot/minimalist running as everywhere else. I know lots of barefooters who have more shoes now than ever before…and they are not cheap.

We can fall into the trap of thinking that a pair of Vibram Fivefingers or Vivobarefoot will sort the problem out for us. They won’t. It doesn’t matter if they cost well over £100, they do not have the answer. It took me a little while longer to realise that before I ended up putting them to one side as well.

It is all about you. If you are willing to be patient and catch yourself when you are trying to buy a shortcut then you will make progress.

The parallel is the diet industry. Billions are spent trying to take a shortcut to the new thinner you. It is so enticing. If you are overweight then just throw money at it and everything will be sorted out for you. We know that It just doesn’t work like that. Throw out the orthotics in the same way that you throw out the diet products and that stuff in the fridge pretending to be yoghurt.

Look back at your running career. What injury related products have you invested in? Did they creep up on you? Where are you at now? List them and count the cost. Not just the money but the time. For me it has run into decades. How about you?


Dec 14

In a world of barefoot generalisations, we are all exceptions to the rule!

I must admit that I have a bit of a bee in my bonnet at the moment about the way scientific studies are interpreted. I have no problem with the studies but it when the interpretation leads to us being be told how we should run, I get hot under the collar.

The thing with generalisations is that they are just that. One way or another they average things out. They are useful as a starting point but they should not become rules to live by. In a world of generalisations, we are all an exception to the rule.

I believe that we can find a way that works just for us. We should celebrate our individuality, not be slaves to what works for the masses.

My latest article for Barefoot Running Magazine tells you how to build your understanding of what works from the ground up. Click the image (or here) for a handy pdf of the article.

BFrunning mag


You can download the whole issue here. It is worth a look. Excellent as always.


Dec 01

Training Blog November 2014

Sat 1st Nov 14

4.2 miles barefoot this morning. I was up early and waiting for the light because I wanted to go off piste a little and run somewhere new. If I am going to run exclusively barefoot then I am going to develop a whole new set of routes to run that keep my interest up. I have decades worth of old familiar routes and then a pretty much all on rough man made trail. I can run them but it isn’t fun. There are still beautiful places to run but I need to dip in and out of those old routes and just run short section of man made trail for now.

I had a hot spot on the upper outside of my left ankle. Not muscle and so I don’t worry too much. The sections that I chose along field paths were very slippy this morning and that needs to be a consideration too. I ended up walking them more than the rough sections.

Sun 2nd Nov 14

A mile barefoot this morning to keep the streak going. Day 11 was one ot get rhough. We were out very late last night and full of curry and beer with all the parents from my son’s football team.

I was very wheezy and didn’t roll my arches before I set off. I could feel the difference in my calves as soon as I set off. Glad that I went out though. I must be more committed to the little runstreak than I thought.

Mon 3rd Nov 14

4.2 miles barefoot this morning. it was very dark setting off and the ground was damp. that always makes my soles burn more than usual and i found myself weaving around looking for puddles. I ended up thinking about repescting temperatures and weather in general. Hot tarmac can burn and the cold needs full respect and lots of experince before you tackle it. Felt good and ended up feeling like i was running quickly and on the edge of sustainable. A good way to start the week. it would be good to keep this barefoot mile a day going and keep logging my thoughts to form the basis of a year of barefoot running journal.

Spent last night putting together a HACCP plan ready fpr inspection for our food producers grade.


Tues 4th Nov 14

Day 13 of this little barefoot runstreak and I suffered this morning. Yesterday I scrubbed the skin off the end of the 4th toe of my left foot. I knew when I was running that I was pushing through some general discomfort from my soles but had no idea about the tip of my toe until well after I got back. I was also marvelling yesterday at how on very dark stretches my feet were finding their way and moulding round some quite sharp stones. One of them caused a nice bruise on the underside of my left foot. I decided on just a barefoot mile this morning and my soles were burning from the off. I concentrated on lifting my feet and kept my toes upturned. Yesterday I ran well and quick on the last 2 miles. I was enjoying the feeling of being on the edge and had to keep stopping myself getting tense and pushing off ever so slightly. It is almost not there. it is just a lack of emphasis on the lift and I ended up creating friction and scrubbing my toe. Live and learn. Tomorrow is another day.

Wed 5th Nov 14

My soles were protesting pretty soon into my run this morning. They have been telling me to take it easy for 3 days now. I ignored them on the first day and ended up with the skin scrubbed off one toe and a bruise on my left foot. I used spray plaster on the tip of my damaged toe last night to offera little protection this morning. i will continue to do so for a little while until it heals. My legs are feeling good and I fell better for the run but I will respect my soles and back off. Just a mile barefoot this morning. My runstreak is now 2 weeks old.

Thursday 6th Nov 14

A barefoot mile this morning. First headtorch run of the year. It was cold and dry underfoot having been at around zero ovrnight. The barefoot burn was there but not as much as yesterday. Running in the dark was fun but I caught a stone in the middle of my heel. Ouch! I then caught another in exactly the same spot on the way back. I am limiting my distance because of teh scrubbed skin on the end of my toe. Not becauswe of the toe, I have 2 layers of spray plaster on it but because I know that i protecting it when running and so my form is altered and i don’t want to pick up anything else. My legs feel realxed and good and I was concentrating on lifting. Using the spikey roller on my arches is enjoyable. There are some real hotspots in there and getting at them feels good. Day 15 of little runstreak.

Friday 7th Nov 14

Tip of my toe feeling much better so will be back out tomorrow as usual. Just a barefoot mile this morning to give it one more day to recover. Spray plaster worls well for me. It was 2C yesterday morning and although wetter, it feels about that today. The puddles were cold and my breath kept fogging my vision in the beam of my headtorch. I had not been n the trails for a while and think i had been avoiding them so i went along a very rough manmade trail this morning in the dark. i didn’t really get much beyond a walk and wouldn’t choose to do it but it shows that I can do it if i need to get to the other side for some good running. I need to put some into my barefoot routes to break them up a bit.

Sat 8th Nov 14

A barefoot mile. My soles and toe are feeling better but I was really pushed for time because I had been looking a headtorch reviews and thinking about cold induced vasodilation. It was cold underfoot this morning and that contributes to the burn a long wiht the damp conditions. Good to keep the streak going and being at day 17. I am really struggling to breath at the moment. i seem to be allergic to something in the air. My throat is very itchy and my breathing wheezy. i am atking antihistamines and inhaler and they help but I also have a nagging cough that i can’t shake off. Still running though and enjoying it.

Good to go through an exercise in finding out the reasons why I run. I will be posting it soon so everyone can have a go.

Sun 9th Nov 14

I really struggled with my barefoot mile this morning. My breathing was laboured and I nearly had to stop going uphill. I have been struggling with my breath for a while. i have gone from someone who never needs to take their inhaler from one year to the next to needing it just to get through the day. the back of my throat is itchy. Either i am having an allergic reaction to something in the air and then this is making my wheeze or I am wheezing, taking my inhaler an it is making the back of my throat itchy. Whatever, I need a checkup. Just got notification through that is time so I had better get in there this week. Day 18.

Mon 10th Nov 14

Checked peak flow reading after run yesterday. Down to 380. That is very low. 320 and I am in trouble. My normal reading is about 650. I was 510 this morning and 600 after inhaler. 2.8 barefoot in the dark this morning. Still wheezy but I am OK to run if I use inhaler. I think it is linked to the dust thrown up by the heating. Feet felt fine this morning. I could feel the tip of my toe but it is pretty well healed now. My left calf had a bit of a tight spot. Just a little but nothing to stop me running. I did not use the flat roller this morning, just the spiky one and I think that may have been the difference. Good to be out. Not too cold. Day 19

Tues 11th Nov 14

Day 20 was a barefoot mile in the wet before dawn. It was very dark and I ended up fiddling about with torch and putting it over my cap. Time for wooly hats if I am going to run with headtorch. I enjoy the splashiness of the wet much more than the damp. It is much more pleasant to run on. Toe tip was protesting early on so ended up curling my toes upwards. Lots of tension in my shoulders which i needed o keep dropping. I seemed to be in a hurry this morning. kept slowing myself down and relaxing and then when I came to, I was bombing along with tense shoulders again.

 Wed 12th Nov 14

3 miles barefoot this morning. I felt fine other than my legs feeling heavy during the day. it is a curious feeling that I recognise from my last run streak. it is like my legs are pulling me downwards into the ground. Not sore. Just heavy. 3 weeks so far.

Thursday 13th Nov 14

A mile barefoot. The ground was dry for the first time in ages and it felt wonderful and cool and smooth until I hit the damp roughr section half a mile in. Then the tip of the same toe began to protest. I was pushing along at this point and may have been gripping bu then i gues that is what toes are supposed to do. I concentrated on a different kind of focus which was lifting and form and tried to let the speed come. I do revert back to forcing myself along though. Chose that word carefully. I am not pushing off my I am developing traction top sort of pull myself through. Day 22

Fri 14th Nov 14

A mile barefoot. It just rained really hard for the 10 mins that I was out. I got soaked. My feet protested almost straight away and although I could have gone much further, I think that I needed to listen to them and stop. It will be interesting to see if this is a phase and I come out of it or whether my feet cannot cope with the mile a day. Day 23. I ended up engaging my core this morning and thinking abut Jae’s advice and Chirunning etc. I do feel better when I extend my spine but find that my natural as state is not as extended and I pull myself along.

Sat 15th Nov 14

Funny, broken nights sleep. I ended up getting up for a couple of hours and going back to bed at 5am. That interupted my plans for an early run because it was an early start anyway for football and normal Saturday morning stuff. Just a mile barefoot. I could feel tenderness straight away. I went onto a steep muddy slope at one point but it was much too slippy barefoot. I might need to get my barefoot mile in and then go out for a run later in the day shod. I will see how that goes.

Sunday 16th Nov 14

2.3 miles barefoot in inky blackness this morning. On a market today but wanted to get a run in that was longer than a mile so I was out very early. Day 25 was Ok. My soles are sensitive at the moment. I kept looking for puddles to run through. I would love a dry day to go at.

Monday 17th Nov 14

A mile this morning. I struggled to get up this morning. I rolled out of bed because i wanted to get my run in. If I hadn’t been running this morning, I would have stayed in bed for a while. I knew that if I went through the day then getting the run in this evening would have been difficult. All my little calf niggles have come running in the evening recently. My soles feel like they are wearing out. they don’t feel robust. the barefoot burn came on pretty quick this morning. I enjoy dropping into a relaxed pitter-patter of a rhythm that I feel I can sustain but I consistently find myslef pushing hard. I must have gone up the steep hill this morning with no problem because I can remeber nothing about it. I am wondering how robust my soles would feel with aftwer a few days off.

Tues 18th Nov 14

4.86 barefoot miles this morning. I stretched arches with roller and headed out into the damp darkness thinking that I would struggle to do a mile. The damp is the worst for me but after a mile I carried on fine. I am struggling to judge whether my soles have had enough or whether I am just going over a rough piece of road. I ran just short of 5 miles and felt great by the end. I could have gone further but time was a constraint. I think that time is a big factor in barefooting. you need to give yourself space to take your time. Rushing doesn’t work.

Wed 19th Nov 14

4 weeks of barefooting  and a barefoot mile this morning. I forgot to take my inhaler and so my breathing was very wheezy at the end. No problem with headtorch and I was jumping on and off kerbs with no concern as to what was under my feet.

Thursday 20th Nov 14

5 miles barefoot this morning. That is my second 5 miler of the week which is a turnaround on how I was feeling last week. i find myself plotting and planning and scheming on how to get to 20 miles a week barefoot and then I stop myself. I am feeling good today but it might be different next week. Who knows? I want to be a lifelong runner, I need to learn how to ride the waves and keep things ticking over gently in the dips between them.

I got to thinking about snow. My plan is to try and keep the barefoot mileing up as long as possible but if i can’t so be it. the snow won’t last forever and I am already looking forward to the spring.

I think that adding some gradients into your running is useful. It makes you think about friction in particular both going up and going down. Chris McDougal also trained by running fast uphills, I seem to remember.

Friday 21st Nov 14

A barefoot mile that started with the burn and carried on that way. I waore my headtorch and ended up experimneting. Jason Robillard uses a hand held torch or so I believe. I assume that is all to do with posture because you do tilt your head. I think that i would be doing that anyway to look at the ground but I wouldn’t mind giving a handheld a try. It would certainly help in the cold when my breath fogs up my vision in the beam.

My 3rd toes on left footwas catching again and I will need to watch that as it gets colder and my feet look their feeling. I have been using the spiky roller before running. it gets the blood flowing and I think it helps. my feet felt sensitive when i got up but the roller got rid of that although I couldn’t have gone far this morning. Day 30

Sat 22nd Nov 14

Just short of 3.5 miles barefoot this morning. The ground was wet and nice to run on. A few steep hills that were OK. Much easier barefoot. A good running week so far. I think that is a full calendar month of barefooting every day.

Sun 23rd Nov 14

1.4 miles barefoot in the daylight today. That is a novelty and I enjoyed it. My feet felt cold and tender afterwards but I have not got a single issue anywhere in my legs or feet at the moment. I spent around 10 hrs in the car yetserday but any stiffnedd or wrinkles where ironed out this morning. I don’t care why barefooting works. It just does for me and that is that. I could not run like this in shoes.

Mon 24th Nov 14

1 mile barefoot in zero degrees C. The first morning with ice on the windscreen. The baredfoot burn was there straight away and I grinned when it almost made me stop. It took me back to when I first started walking the dogs round the block barefoot and I got stuck and couldn’t go back wards or forwards because my feet were protesting so much.

Tuesday 25th Nov 14

5 miles barefoot this morning aqnd I knew from getting up that it would be OK. My feet feel fine. It was cold and I am not sure if there was some rocksalt on the busiest road. I ended up running pretty quick for me in places. Day 34 and i have just realised that I will need to be running when I am on the residential; with the children in a couple of weeks. Should be fun in the Pennines with my headtorch.

Wed 26th Nov 14

A mile barefoot. I could tell that my feet needed a bit of a break today but they held up better then I thought they would. It helped that it was wet. I seem intent on getting out of bed and continuing this run streak. I felt bouncy and alive yesterday which is one of the things that I get most out of being a runner. I also felt in better shape generally than I have for a while.

Thur 27th Nov 14

Day 36 was a barefoot mile. I could have gone further but my soles still feel a little tender from Tuesday morning and I decided to respect that and back off a little and wait until tomorrow until I go further. I got to thinking about friction and how we reduce it. I am not pushing off but I do pull myself through using the friction of the sole against the floor. it would be handy if we could do without friction but just like calories we need some and that is where the problem lies. I am grabbing the floor and pulling myself forward and then I lift. No sign of getting fed up with the runstreak. This morning run is becoming a habit. The spiky roller felt good this morning.

Fri 28th Nov 14

5 barefoot miles this morning. …and what did I learn? I learnt that I can switch the feedback off from my soles and do too much. I have been too preoccupied with my soles and have forgotten that they keep me from doing too much and hurting the underlying structure of my feet and lower legs. Towards the end of the run I got an ache in the inner heel of my right foot that I have not had before. It then worked slightly round towards my arch. I also have had a pain in my right knee cap. I found this yesterday when i went to sit down at a dining table with the children at school. I put my weight on my right leg as I bent down low and nearly fell over. It is top centre of my knee cap and I do not feel it all when running or walking. it just comes on when I bend my knee significantly. I don’t remember banging it on anything. It is sore and I will need to keep an eye on how much it is affecting my running technique. I had 2 big sneezing fits last night and my whole back of throat is itchy and sore too.

Sat 29th Nov 14

Running when I get up has meant that I have a good routine to follow and it is working for me at the moment. It is all about giving myself time and space to run and not beating myself up if I oversleep and run less than planned. My feet felt good after the 5 miler yesterday but as sonn as I set off, I could feel a couple of hot spots on my soles and expected to struggle. I got to my half way point and the barefoot burn just hadn’t arrived and I ran no problem today. Day 38. My knee is still sore and I don’t have an explanation at the moment. I may be keeping my right leg a little more straight than my left and I will need to watch that.

Sun 30th Nov 14

6.85 miles on bridleways and quiet roads. I slipped and went down hard on a muddy section. It was one of those that could break a wrist. I proceeded cautiously. I am in the middle of an EdD weekend and the run gave me space to consider things. I am learning more about the narrative approach that I can see myself using to learn about barefooting. I moved off the white lines in the middle of the road because they were slick andIi was worried about going down again. A big message is about time. Time to be patient but allowing time to run without the need to hurry. Runners tend to be people in a hurry.  Day 39 rounded off a week with over 20 miles of barefoot running. i have not run in footwear for a long time.

Nov 17

Digging deep – Why do you run?

This post is for those who want to dig deep and find out the underlying reasons why they run. Are we running for our own reasons or because we have a vague sense that we should?

If we understand why we run then we are much more likely to turn it into a life long habit.

It is where I went through the process in the post ‘Creating your own barefoot path and breaking the Ad man’s heart’

I took my time and went through each of the steps.

Step 1 & 2 – I listed all the possible reasons that I could think of that I run. Then I put it aside for a day and came back and added a thing or two. They were:

  • My clothes fit better
  • It keeps my weight in check
  • I am emotionally more level when running consistently
  • I can handle the rest of my life better when running consistently
  • I enjoy the tired feeling in my legs during the day (After an early morning run)
  • I enjoy the long run and the space that it gives me to think.
  • I like the hard, strong feeling that develops in my leg muscles. They feel strong.
  • I want to pass on my love of running to my children
  • I want my heart and lungs to be in good shape
  • I want to be fit enough to do other physical activities at the drop of a hat.
  • I want to remain active into old age
  • It gives me something to blog and write about.
  • I really don’t want to be bald and fat. It is such a cliche.
  • I like the bounce in my step when I am running well. I feel like I can spring into action if needed.
  • I can walk up a mountain no problem.
  • It opens up a world of other things to do such as playing football with my kids.

You can see it was a stream of thoughts and there are some repetitions. That is OK. Just get the ideas out of your head.

Step 3 - I stared at the list for a little while and let my mind wander. I then noted where in the list my eye was drawn and put a circle around the 3 that I thought meant most to me. They were:


  1. It keeps my weight in check
  2. I enjoy the long run and the space that it gives me to think.
  3. I like the hard, strong feeling that develops in my leg muscles. They feel strong.

It is easy to leave it at that but the value comes when we dig a little deeper and ask oursleves why this reason is important to us.I did this for each of the reason that I had chosen.


  1. Keeping my weight in check is important to me. I want to look good in my clothes and feel good about myself. I lost all my hair suddenly when I was 19 years old and old, bald and fat is not somewhere I want to go. I need to have some credibility as a writer about running and I feel that many people judge by appearance.
  2. The ideas dealing with space to think and dealing with modern life. I feel like I need some space to deal with my busy life. It is the quality time that helps to sort things out and burns off adrenaline.
  3. I like to feel that I can spring into action if needed. I like to bounce down the corridor. I like the thought that I could head out and walk up a mountain if I needed to.

Step 4: Here is where I went even deeper and asked myself the question.’…but really…why is that important to me?’ I took each in turn and when the butterflies in my stomach arrived, I knew that I was getting towards the truth. It is all to easy to shy away from things. Being honest with yourself will bring a much greater reward.


  1. I also judge myself by appearance. I don’t want my wife to be sleeping next to an bald, fat guy who snores like a pneumatic drill and can’t bend down to do up his laces. The feeling of fitting my clothes well and looking at least half decent in the mirror gives me a spring in my step. I want to take my kids swimming and feel OK walking out there in half decent shape. No one else cares but the truth is that I do. I am sucked in by the running magazines and operate in a world where we are bombarded by images of an idealized perfection. My idea of a running coach is of a lean, mean army corps type and I feel that if I am going to offer advice on running then I need to be the same. Nonsense but it is at the root of some of this.
  2. I like to be busy and keep a lot of plates spinning. I am much more able to do that when I am running than when I am in a period when I am not. The space it gives me is important because I believe that we are involved far to much in the process of things and often forget why we do things in the first place. Running is quality time where my brain ticks these things over and I plot and plan and scheme. Sometimes deep questions about where my life is gong next and sometimes mundane practical things but without that space I get caught up in the hurly burly of doing stuff and never stop to think about it. I don’t want to waste my life on things that don’t matter. Life is too short for that. I have sometimes been overwhelmed by my job but I am able to cope with everything it throws at me when I am running consistently. Whether it is to do with the space for strategic thinking or simply that it burns off the adrenaline caused by stressful situations, I am not sure but it certainly true. In short, I enjoy my job more during periods of running because I cope with it much better.
  3. I do really bounce down the corridors and jump up and touch the ceiling when I am feeling fit and strong. The honest answer is that it feels good and I love that feeling when I am walking somewhere and I break into a trot or run just for the fun of it. I want to be a dad who joins in with his kids and not one that is on the sidelines. I enjoy mountain walking. I enjoy it so much more when I am in a period of my life when I am running. Being fit and strong opens up so many more areas of life and I want that to remain as I am getting older. As I get older, i want to remain someone who participates in life not someone who gradually becomes a spectator and watches everyone else enjoying themselves.

That is what came out of the process described in the post ‘Creating your own barefoot path and breaking the Ad man’s heart’. I got serious butterlfies when I start to delve into my feelings about my appearance which i guess means that there is something in there. I think there are a few more layers to go there but it enough for now. It is a start.

My reasons are just for me. I am not advocating any of them for anyone else. I would love you to go through the process though and tell us what you find. My belief is that we are much more likely to be lifelong runners if we at least have some understanding of why we are doing it. Let’s break the ad man’s heart!

I have started a topic on the subject in the forum. Join in and contribute. It might just help.

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