Aug 30

Barefoot Beginner Training Blog – August 2015

Sat 1st Aug 15

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

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

Sun 2nd Aug 15

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

Mon 3rd Aug 15

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

Tuesday 4th Aug 15

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

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

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

Wed 5th Aug

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

Thursday 6th Aug 15

A gentle barefoot mile. Feet fine after yesterday.

Friday 7th Aug 15

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

Sat 8th Aug 15

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

Sun 9th Aug 15

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

Mon 10th Aug 15

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

Tues 11th Aug 15

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

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

Wed 12th Aug 15

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

IMG_3233Thursday 13th Aug 15

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

Feet tender afterwards!

Friday 14th Aug 15

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

Sat 15th Aug 15

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

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

Sun 16th Aug 15

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

Mon 17th Aug 15

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

Tues 18th Aug 15

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

Wed 19th Aug 15

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

Thursday 20th Aug 15

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

Friday 21st Aug-Tues 25th Aug 15

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

Wed 26th Aug 15

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday 27th Aug 15

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

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

Friday 28th Aug 15

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

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

Sat 29th Aug 15

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

Sun 30th Aug 15

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

Mon 31st Aug 15

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

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

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

Aug 01

Barefoot Beginner Training Blog – July 2015

Wed 1st July 15

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

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

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

Thurs 2nd July 15

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

Friday 3rd July 15

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

Sat 4th July 15

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

Sun 5th July 15

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

Mon 6th July 15

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

Tuesday 7th July 15

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

Wed 8th July 15

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

Thurs 9th July 15

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

Friday 10th July 15

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

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

Saturday 11th July 15

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

Mon 13th July 15

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

Tues 14th July 15

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

Wed 15th July 15

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

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

Thursday 16th July – A barefoot mile

Friday 17th

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

Sat 18th July 15

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday 23rd July 15

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

Friday 24th July 15

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

Sat 25th July 15

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

Sun 26th July 15

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

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

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

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

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

Mon 27th July 15

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

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

Tuesday 28th July 15

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

Wed 29th July 15

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

Thurs 30th July 15

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

Fri 31st July 15

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

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

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






Jul 06

Playing with your barefoot running cadence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Jul 01

Barefoot Beginner Training Blog – June 2015

WednesdayMon 1st June

OK – May was a low mileage month. I ran barefoot everyday but my mileage dropped off. I speculated yesterday as to why and thought that I would give myself some easy to uindersatnd structure to get things back. I know that my normal morning 5 milers fit well and also combining that with a barefoot mile on inbetween days and a longer run at weekend seems to work.

104 miles across the month will see me hit 500 miles for the first 6 nof the year. That was the plan. If I don’t get there so be it but it would be good to give myself some easy to understand ways of getting there that wold help.

Two 5 milers a week plus long runs of 10,11,12&13 would do it with barefoot miles in between will get me there and see me increase my miles towards marathon OK.

A barefoot mile this morning. My soles felt it. I am also going to increase the challenge of my squats and also introduce the stretch to my quads for the month of June to see what happens.

Tues 2nd June 15

Interesting day yesterday. I felt at a very low ebb for pretty much the whole of the day. School holidays can do that to me. I miss the structure of normal life. I am often glad in September when we go back to school and get back into routine. My running suffers during the holidays and there is too much freedom. I wrote about it last year after noticing something similar. Constraints often fire our creativity and there is nothing worse for me than a day with nothing in it. It just stretches ahead of me and instead of doing loads of good stuff, I end up doing nothing and feeling down about it. I am wondering if the low mood is because I have not run much or if I have not run much because I am in a low mood.

I spend most of my time working at such a pace that when I slow down during the holidays, I can end up in a slump that it hard to shift. I then find that I start a new term at a low ebb and find it hard to get myself up and running. I then finish the term going great when everyone else is on their knees. I am going to try an experiment and give myself real structure this week with my running and also set myself 3 things to accomplish during the day. Let’ ssee if I can get myself back up and running in time for getting back to school next week.

5 barefoot miles this morning and it was tough. I didn’t want to run, felt tired, my soles were tender and I wanted it to be over. I am not normally like that. Lets’s see if I can pull out of it.

Wed 3rd June 15

Did squats this morning for the first time for a few days. Felt better for it and have made it more difficult by moving over a few more pages of the book I am using.

A barefoot mile this morning and I threw in some jumps at high cadence a la Vivobarefoot drills. It was strangely addictive and made me more upright. I then carried on running and it seemed to work well.

Good comment yesterday about not running if I don’t want to. That made me think. What never? What if I am a very low ebb and in danger of sinking further. Running always seems to make me feel better. Can running be an effective therapy for those suffering mild forms of depression? Food for thought.

Thursday 4th June 15

Ran a barefoot mile this morning and an eldely gentleman was walking along the top road on the edge of some very nice gardens. He was takingnhis time and admiring the flowers. He smiled and commented on how brave i was to be running barefoot. On my way back I passed him again and he stopped for a moment to let me pass. We had a brief chat about why I am barefooting. It was a nice to pass the time of day with someone who was so obviously enjoying being out in the sunshiine and admiring the view. He then told me that he was 95 years old and made his way off down the path, stopping to smell the flowers. He was immaculately dressed with shirt and tie. He must be doing something right. Not a pick of fat on him. I need to think about that.

Did squats. I have been neglecting them and my hip is feeling it.

Friday 5th June 15

5 barefoot miles this morning in the sunshine. The dry roads make such a difference. Did squats. Now at pg 150 of the book (Spanish Armada) and gradually reducing the height under my heel when squatting. (I will do a video at some point).

My mood is lifting and I am geartting up ready for work on Monday. I didn’t really fancy it this moring but not as bad and got out there. Just went very steady at start and did a few high cadence jumps. Moves me onto balls of feet as well as makes me more upright.

Did hamstring and ankle stretch today too. This is something I need to do every day.

Sat 6th June 15

A mile barefoot this morning and my right achilles is a bit sore. I think that I need to use the roller on the soles of my feet before running tomorrow just to stretch everything out and loosen things off. I did squats this morning. they felt good and could feel the stretch in my groin and hip. I also did quad and ankle stretch. I am managing to lean back further than before which is a good sign. Lots to do here though. The mile has vanished from my memory already and I was thinking about all sorts of things.

Went for a walk around Stonyhurst College in the Ribble Valley yesterday. What a beautiful part of the world. Tolkein wrote some of Lord of the Rings in the upper rooms and the family around the area were calles the Shireburns. When I read Lord of the Rings, this was the landscape I imagined and not the spectacular New Zealand. This area is not spectacular but is beautiful, green and rolling. Middle Earth come to life. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a pupil here as was his friend Moriarty. Nice to get out for a walk with my dad in the sunshine.

Sun 7th June 15

10.2 barefoot this morning. Up early this morning and had our Stout racked into a cask before 6.30am. It should be nice once bottled. Did squats and quad stretches and then rolled out the arches of my feet to get rid of any tight spots. My right achilles has been feeling it over the last few days.

Set off steady and ran a 10.2 miles. Was really in my stride gheading up the long hills. Felt a bit like all my suspension had gone in the last mile and a bit. it comes at the end of a couple of miles gradual downhill and there is not mudh to relieve the monotony of stride. Did quite a few stops to bounce at 180bpm to reinforce being upright. I seem to be lifting out of my slump and it will be interesting to see how I start the new half-term tomorrow. Right ankle and groin all a bit tight. i think it must be as I protect my achilles subconsciously. Lots of stretching needed as the day goes on to negate everything tightening up.

Mon 8th June 15

Found the squats and quad stretches a challenge this morning after the 10 miler yesterday. Also found that the first 400yds of my run was very slow as I eased into it. By the end, the stiffness had gone away which I think is the benefit of barefooting every day. A barefoot mile in the glorious sunshine.

Tuesday 9th June 15

5 barefoot miles and I set off slowly and sleepily. Running free and well by the end.

Wed 10th June 15

Barefoot mile in the sunshine and all is well with the world.

Thursday 11th June 15

5 miles this morning and feeling good. My right knee has started to crack when squatting. it has been coming on for a little while and I am not sure wehere it has come from. It is uncomfortable and cracks as I go down into the squat and is OK when i am in a deep squat. I am favouring my left leg now as I squat and losing an equal weight bearing stance. Need to think about that.

Friday 12th June 15

Felt stiff this morning. The barefoot mile eased things off a bit but I need to do my stretches every day.

Sat 13th June 15

11.13 miles barefoot this morning in the rain. Got up at 5.40am to fit it in before taking som to football. First time this year I have been aiming for big warm puddles and splashing through. Really enjoyed the long steady uphill. If anything I enjoy the gradual uphills more than the downhills when barefooting. Who would have thought. Did squats and rolled out arched before setting off and set off steady. The desire to get 500 miles barefoot before end of June got me out this morning. It looks like structure does me good. A month at a time seems like as much as I can put in any detail.

Sun 14th June 15

Quick bleary eyed mile this morning. No hangover from 11 miler yesterday. Caught a couple of sharp stones with left foot. Don’t usually do that. Enough to really have to concentrate on form for second half mile. Watched video on youtube yesterday of Finn running with a bushman. Bushman was taking big strides with no effort and short choppy cadence next to Finn who was bombing along trying to keep up. Need to find the link to it.

Mon 15th June 15

5 barefoot miles this morning. Nice and dry on the roads. I ended up thinking about mileage. For the last 20 years or perhaps even longer, I have used 20 miles a week as a goal. Amy more than that and I broke down injured. In fact, at 20 miles a week, I knew that it was only a matter of time before somethng (usually calf) went. I chose 20 miles because I could get pretty fit on that much running. I knew it would get ne down to 40 minutes for a 10k or 1hr 30mins for a half marathon. I just needed 4 months or so without a problem. Only happened a couple of times in all that time. Now I have just run 6 months and am averaging 20 miles a week and for the last few weeks am more like 25 miles. I have no concerns about injury. There is somethiing in this barefooting.

I also found myself plotting and planning myh marathon preparation this morning and that mostly included an increase in miles. I need to do this but I am not going to get too far ahead of myself and re-evaluate my plan every 3 or 4 weeks.

Tues 16th June 15

Spent the morning going through some of the old posts on Barefoot Beginner. There are over 500 and it was good to go back 3 years and see where I was at. I was experimenting with barefooting in between Chi Running in my old Pegasus. It learnt a lot quickly and when I look back, I just wasn’t ready to ditch the shoes completely. My biggest leap forward came when I did that but it wasn’t a decision that came easily. I now no longer run with the fear and spectre of long term injury hangingover every outing. I had run with for decades. It makes you want to shout it from the roof tops. I meet injured people who just can’t let go and make the leap. I understand. It is all about readiness. the more we can tell our stories, the more likely those injured runners are to get there.

A barefoot mile this morning. The day was already warm and it was very nice to be out.

Wed 17th June 15

A barefoot mile this morning. I has planned a 12 miler but didn’t get up in time.It will have to wait until Saturday. Bumped into a friend and neighbour who asked me about my website. Her daughter had taken her shoes off on a run the other day and found that she felt felt very grounded afterwards. We got into chatting about the spiritual side of barefooting and theories about earthing. Michael Sandler and his vitaimin G (ground) came up and I must admit that that sort of thing just doesn’t float my boat. I am more of a pragmatist and seek things that work and then investigate them and do that. I recall my beginning barefooting and how walking the dogs around the block barefoot became almost addictive. If I didn’t go barefoot, I felt like I hadn’t really been out. Barefooting just left me feeling better. I don’t think that i will ever be a Buddist but the idea of mindfullness appeals to me. Running affects my whole life and wellbeing and I am fascinated to find out why and how i can make tweaks to how I do it that will make things better still. Sounds like a life’s work but one worth doing. I plan to still be running in 40 years time so I might as well get on with it. I bet I am still blogging to. That is also strangely addicitve.

Thursday 18th June 15

5 barefoot miles and very tired this morning. I think I might be suffering for something coming up. Breathing a bit shallow in a way that I havve not had for quite some time. Form felt good. I was thnking about the whole form, distance and then speed pathway and I am definitely in the distance phase. When i tried to introduce some speed work a oittle while ago, my miles dropped off and I lost motivation. It seems that distance is the thing that matters the most to me at the moment after running every day to keep my form tight. Maybe next year when I have got a really good distance base under my belt, I will think more about running quickly. Perhaps I will do that with shoes. In fact, I am pretty sure that will be the case but I will also want to give it a go barefoot.

Friday 19th June 15

A barefoot mile before work.

Sat 20th June 15

The morning after the night before. I was meant to be running a 12 this morning but ended up not running at all. I was up late therefore ran in the evening. A quick barefoot  mile. I much prefer running in the morning.

Sun 21st June 15

On the road at 5am this morning for a barefoot 12 miler before heading off to Hoghtin tower for the farmers’ market. I was reading Ruby Wax’s book about the mind last night and set my watch to beep every 10 minutes. i then looked at where my mind had drifted and pulled it back to focus on apart of my body. I found the most effective part to focus on was my wrists and keeping them loose and then my mind would wander again. After watching it for a while, it was clear to see what was on mund and causing my anxiety and stress. Good to recognise it for what it is. I ran the 12 miles inexactly 110 minutes which is a shade over 9 minute miles. At no point did I focus on pace at all aprt from the last mile which i ran in just over 7 minutes. Feel pretty good. Now off to market to sell some beer.

Mon 22nd June 15

A tenderfoot this morning on a barefoot mile. It makes me wonder what the best way to prepare for a barefoot marathon is. I clearly need to help my soles get ready by running and not worrying too much about it. How much is enough is a good question and one that it is going to be interesting to experiment with over the coming months. i set off very slow and headed for puddles on a damp morning. Damp conditions are the worst. give me bone dry of really wet. It si the in between that seems to get to me most.

Tuesday 23rd June 15

Much better this morning and I think I could have made a 5 miler but I was up a bit late and just went out for an easy barefoot mile. I think that I will add shoes back into my running next year. Maybe I will run 1000 miles and do half in shoes and half barefoot and see what happens. It would be interesting to see how quick I can run in footwear and barefoot. Funny where your mind wanders. I will never have run as consistently across a year before and should be the fittest that I have ever been in my running life.

Wed 24th June 15

5 barefoot miles this morning. It is these 5 milers that are the base of my running. I ran this morning in just under 9 minute miles. Not very quick but pretty effortless and much quicker than when I started to barefoot. It is the routine and not having to think about it that helps but i do enjoy walking into work knowing that I have run a 5 miler before start of play. mY soles are feelig much better although I did get a holly leaf stuck in the arch of my left foot. Ouch!

Thurs 25th June 15

A barefoot mile this morning after reading a bit more about mindfullness last night. It does seem to be about training the mind to focus and become quiet whilst tackling that crazy ;onging to be ‘ding’ all the time that we get (or certainly I do). I stopped at the turn round point for a few minutes and just listened to the distant traffic but mostly the birds. I then concetrated on a stone under my left foot. All about keeping the mind on one thing. harder than it seems. My mind flits all over the place. Things that are worrying me, thiings that are coming up. Even when i try really hard, I find that my mind has drifted to other things. How do i live like that. No wonder I am exhausted most of the time.

Friday 26th June 15

Tired this morning and up a little late. Still got in a barefoot 5 miler and set off very slow. Picke dupp by the end and as usual feel better for it. My right hip does need squats every day, I thiink. My feet felt a little tender before setting off and I was worried because the road was damp but they just felt alive on the floor rather than tendet whilst runing and now I have no problem sitting typing my thoughts afterwards. I will have run a marathon distance across the week this week. Over 7 days isn’t an issue. Over 4 hours, I am not so sure. I stopped at aboout halfway and made myself stand still and quieten my mind. I focussed on birds and working out how far away they were and in which direction. Hard to keep my mind from pulling back to constant busy dialogue that i have going on all the time. i think that is why i like watching TV. It pulls mind away from the dialogue for a little while.

Saturday 27th June 15

A quick barefoot mile this morning. A chap was walking his dog and asked why barefoot. it is hard to sum up but i go for the pragmatic solution in my explanation of wanting to be bale to run and I can nno longer run in shoes without injury.

Sunday 28th June 15

13 barefoot miles this morning with no real trouble. The route was all on road with some of it rough and challenging. I felt a hot spot on the balls of my feet in the same pint of the run as last week. It was on a steep uphill after a very broken tarmac section. I think I must be gripping hard to get  traction on the slope. Ended by going pretty quickly and thinking about the marathon in October. I think that the marathon is a good overall thing to go for but I can only plan a month at a time because I don’t have much idea ahead of that what I might be capable of. I could end up sort changing myself or over reachig which is a danger. I am sucker for a training plan. June is working out well and my feet are in much better shape than they were at the end of the 12 miler last week.

I stopped of for a few chats this morning and ended up running for 2hrs 15 mins. I enjoyed chatting with a mountain biker and then he said goodbye and pulled away from me going uphill. I knew that I would catch him. I just pitter-pattered away and he couldn’t shake me off going uphill for a couple of long steady miles. I wasn’t breathing hard and at no point really went for it. I just kept ticking along. Of coourse, we came to a downhill eventually and he was away but it made me feel good to be able to catch and keep up with him for that stretch.

I need a few more miles over the next couple of days and that will be 500 miles for the first 6 months of the year.

Mon 29th June 15

An easy barefoot mile which was no problem after yesterday’s run. That is 499 miles so far.

Tuesday 30 th June 15

Another steady mile. I had planned to run 5 but a beer fermenter related problem meant that I spent an hour mopping and cleaning up.

It gave me 104 miles for the month of June which is a new high and exactly 500 miles for the first 6 months of the year. Bring on July!





Jun 13

Hardware and Software according to Lee Saxby

LeeSaxbyhardwaresoftwareI wish I could sum things up as succinctly as Lee does. In this post, he spilts things up into hardware and software and in my year of running everyday barefoot, I am trying to improve both things.

The software by running actually barefoot and  working on cadence and technique. The hardware by being patient and letting my body develop the structure it needs gradually over a long period of time. Running barefoot has limited my mileage and my increase has been gradual. It seems to be working.

I am not of course saying that my way is the only way to success but it does seem to be working out well for me.

Lee’s BTR website is well worth a look round and his posts are clever, succint and useful.

Jun 11

New study on running form – commentary by Pete Larson of Runblogger

Journal Article ShoesThose of you who have been reading Barefoot Beginner for a while will know my feelings on research projects. Dangerous things!

I think research is a fine annd noble thing and usually I have no issue with the researcher but the problem comes when their findings get out there into the public domain and start to be interpreted. Before you know it, we are being told how to run which was probably never the intention of the researcher.

In that respect, I have a lot of time for Pete Larson and his Runblogger site. I think that Pete is a pragmatist and searches for the things that work. I find that I trust his opinion because he doesn’t come to the table with an overt idealogical standpoint. He does a very good line in analysing and providing a commentary on the many studies that are out there.

I also love his posts about his lifestyle and the way he has turned his passion for running and blogging into a lifestyle business (and a very successful one at that).

This commentary from Pete is on a new study that looks at the differences in running form between barefooters, minimaI and standard shoe runners.

I was aware of the study and am glad that Pete has had his analytical eye on it. It is entitled:

‘Comparison of Minimalist Footwear Strategies for Simulating Barefoot Running: A Randomized Crossover Study

The full citation can be found by following the link to Runblogger here or by clicking on the image.

I tend to post this sort of interesting link over on our Barefoot Beginner facebook page. Have a look and like the page.





Jun 02

Improving my running form with Ben Le Vesconte

I am attempting to run barefoot every day of 2015 and cover 1000 miles in doing so. Things are going well but I thought it was time that someone had a good look at my form.

You can read my thoughts on how it is going and what I am learning each day on my Barefoot 365 facebook page and each month here on Barefoot Beginner. If you want to join in then we have a Barefoot Mile a Day facebook group here. You will be made very welcome.

A few weeks ago, I attended a running clinic by Ben Le Vesconte. I was curious to see what someone with Ben’s knowledge would make of my running form.

Ben gave us some background and then we were off to be filmed on a treadmill. We ran at 8kph and them 13 kph. I had not run in shoes for over 6 months so I slipped mine off and went for it whilst Ben filmed from the side.

You can click on each image to see the video footage. Just a few seconds on each case. (A new window will open and then you might get a white screen for a few seconds whilst video loads)

pic before 8kph

8kph felt slow but I settled into my usual pitter-patter and Ben asked if I had ever run with a metronome. I did start out with one a couple of years ago but have not run with one for a long time. I think that increasing my cadence to 180 bpm was one of two big contributors to changing my technique.

I don’t get any niggles when running barefoot but do in footwear so wanted Ben to have a look at how I went on in a pair of Vivobarefoot Evos. I have not worn any footwear whilst running for running for a long time and it felt strange and very, very loud.

pic before 8kph VB

Then quicker in shoes. The main issue I get in shoes is in my calves. It was the thing that caused my main injuries in my shod days in conventional shoes. It was much less in minimal shoes but eventually my calves would succumb. It simply doesn’t happen barefoot and my thinking is that if I run every day barefoot without issue for a year then maybe I will imprint this form and be able to replicate it in minimal shoes.

Pic before 13kph VB

We headed back for some analysis and I was pleased to say that Ben was pleased with my tecnique. He may have been over generous but when slowing the footage down, he could see where my point of contact was and put me into the category of a skilled runner. He then set about improving things further.

This was the part of the day that I was most interested in. I wanted to know what exercises I could do to fend off injury. Things were split into flexibilty and strength. I am pleased that my idea of reducing the heel raise on my squats by using a thick book and gradually turning over the pages went down OK. I was shocked at how little flexibilty I have in my quads and came away with drills to improve that.

The biggest thing to come out of the day for me was my lack of flexibility. It  needs some work. Nothing that diligence and patience can’t remedy and I think that in my quest to be a lifelong runner, it is going to be important.

We did quite a bit of jumping at 180bpm. Both stationary and then on the treadmill. I have been doing this whilst out running and it always leads to be getting back into my stride more upright. It is strangely addictive…and then we had another go at being filmed. This time we all went barefoot with a metronome set at 180bpm

Pic after 8kph

Then quicker. My form worked well at the slower pace but if I want to go quicker, I need to pull the heel up with my hamstring and pull it through and down quickly. At the moment, I don’t do that effectively and my cadence increases rather than my stride length. This needs some practice as well as being more upright and open through the shoulders and keeping my hips forward. Whenever I do that now, I find myself flying along.

Pic after 13kph

There were 12 of us in the group and it took all day to analyse the before and after for everyone. I learnt a lot from watching everyone else and listening to Ben answer their questions.

I came away feeling good about the experiment I am doing on myself. My form has changed completely and I am running pretty well (although there is clearly room for improvement).

The two main things that have done that are increasing my cadence to about 180bpm (or higher) and taking off my shoes and running barefoot regularly. Hopefully, the strength and flexibility drills, I learnt today will help me be robust enough to handle it.

You can see Ben’s ‘Running is A Skill’ facebook page here. and can email him at

A huge shout out to Anne Rosbottom for getting this day organised. We will hopefully be having some follow up with Anne sometime soon.

Jun 02

Problem Sitting? – Advice from Michelle Hall of Barefoot Scotland

I worry about the way I sit. I spend a large amount of time (including typing this) sitting at a desk or table and on a recent visit to a Hakomi body centred pyscotherapist, I found out that there is so much about my daily life that manifests itself in the way I hold and support my body whilst sitting.

stron and collapsed sitting

I came across this post from Michelle Hall on her Barefoot Running Scotland website.

I came to it through a desire to learn about sitting but it was the whole business about active and passive hanging that I found the most fascinating. Her blog is full of fascinating stuff that will be of interest to most barefoot runners. Take some time and have a look round.

Jun 02

Barefoot to Minimal defined – Video from Ady Benn

Ady is an ultra runner who competes barefoot, in sandals and in minmal shoes. He has just put this 4 minute video together showing the sliding scale from barefoot to more conventional shoes.

He mentions our very own Barefoot Ultra Fell running shoes in there and I liked it because he explained it well. On steep, muddy ground, it is easier to run with good form with something that is sure footed rather than something slick. I runn mostly barefoot and the most challenging surface for me are wet muddy slopes.
Nice for Ady to describe the Walsh is a shoe that he would take pretty much anywhere and it looks like he has knocked them about quite a bit.


Ady is listed on Lee Saxby’s new website as an accredited BTR(Born to Run) coach and he also runs his own business at Elemental Fitness. Check them out.

May 30

Barefoot Beginner Training Blog May 2015

Fri 1st May 2015

A planned mile barefoot to get May off to a start. It is interesting. I have just listened to a coach taking abiout motivation. he says that everyone has motivatioj but what they lack is structure. He believes in giving people structure. I think that seems right. I like to have things that you can tick off each day and then forget about.

Sat 2nd May 15 – Up early to start brewing and then got involved in family stuff so didn’t get the long run in that I planned so just a barefoot mile.

Sun 3rd May 15 – I was out last night and so just did a quick barefoot mile in the rain this morning. Feet feel good.

Mon 4th May 15

Another barefoot mile. I had grand plans to run a long way today but didn’t really get there. I have not had the urge to write and fiddle with websites for ages but this morning I couldn’t help myself and ended up just doing a mile instead of the 15 I had planned!

Blimey – What have I done. I have enterered the Chester marathon on October 4th. Should be a good course. Have a look.

Tues 5th May 15

A very wet 5 miler this morning with a marathon very much in my thoughts. I have no idea what sort of pace is right for me to do it barefoot. 10 minute miling seems sensible but I have 20 weeks or so to practice running a bit quicker so 9  minute miling seems reasonable. I will have to have a play with my pace and see what happens. I have no real concerns about the distance, that is just practice. I think.

Wed 6th May 15

Still got toe taped up and ran a barefoot mile with some stiffness in calves this morning. Gone by the time I got back. Achilles a bit tight too. Not sure where that has come from. I have not used the roller for a long time and have no plans to start on my legs but I do like it in the arches. it really stretches out my feet and seems to help with calf tightness.

Managing squats well and can now do a full squat without falling over backwards. that is quite something. The experiment with the book under heels has done its job. I am going to keep on with it. i want to be able to do it comfortably and siti in that position for extended periods. Hip has felt the benefit.

Thur 7th May 15

General election polling day and i started it with a 6 miler barefoot. i decided to head for a route around Stones Bank which has some rough tarmac on the roads. If i am going to do this marathon in October then I am going to have to get used to it underfoot. My feet were sensitive and i slowed right down. A little later, I was climbing a hill and a mountain bike was overtaking me. I raced him for a quarter of a mile or so uphill and was pleasantly surpised at how fast I could go. I then had a mile left and I kept a pretty high pace up. maybe i should do a few 800m reps so that I get to feel what different paces are like. It would be interesting.

Friday 8th May 15

A quick barefoot mile. I ended up running the first half pretty steadily and then enjoyed upping the pace on the return. Good fun but it shows that I am just not used to running quickly. Out of breath but grinning. I know that it will come. I am confident about that just not it a big rush. Had a few beers and then walked home in the evening. Very steep and lots of steps and I breezed up them. I am so much fitter than I have been for a while.

Saturday 9th May 15

The plan was to go out for a 5 miler this morning but the beers from the night before disagreed. We were trying out quite a lot ofnew beers that we are selling on Sunday. remember, I taste them so that you don’t have to.

Just a mile then.

Spent the day at a coaching clinic with Ben Le Vesconte. I will post more about at some point when I get hold of the videos of me running. I learny a lot. You get things when people ask questions and see others running so you get something different each time.

MY running technique initially was pretty good. I was pleased with that seeing as I don’t really think too much about technique and rely of the fact that I am running every day without footwear.

I have slight forward lean which is a hangover from Chirunning, i think. Ben recommended more of a lean at the hips which is more Ken Bob’s way. I have been trying to do this but it looks like I could do with practising.

I do stand up staright but could do with opening my shooulders out and relaxing them a bit more and just leaning back ever so slightly.

The biggest thing was to do with pulling through my hamstrings. I do it OK and that is probably becasue I don’t often run at speed. If I want to run more quickly and for longer, I would benefit from increasing the way I pull my heel through quickly and geting it higher (towards my glutes) and then down quickly. I was much better at it than I thought when i tried. I have struggled with it in the past.

My flexibility is a shocker. I am pleased with how I have done with squats and it looks like my idea of using a book isn’t a bad one. I need to keep going with it. I was shocked how easy some people found it whereas I struggle. The prgression to lifting your bodyweight seems a long way off but I do have every day for the rest of my life to get there.

My quads are tight and this limits lots of things. Good stretch for that. Again, I was shocked at my lack of flexibility compared to everyone else. Lots of things to do every day.

The toe exercises wheree also fascinating. can’t do those either although my big toe does engage with the floor when I run and feels strong. i will be engaging it when i squat from now on.

All in all, a really useful day. I confirmed to me that this experiment is working and that I am not doing something stupid and that I have lots of things to work on in my quest to be a lifelong runner. My feet and lower leg bones and structure  is building up gradually to be strong but my flexibiliy and sterength in other areas needs attention. It can be done.

Sunday 10th May 15

A barefoot mile before heading off to Rammy Farmers’ market. I think I get it. When I ncrease speed, my cadence goes up rather than pulling through and liftingnhigher with hamstring. I think that to help with that, I could run with a metronome for a while. I need to get a new one.

Monday 11th May 15

Life is busy and I am struggling to motivate myself intoo longer runs. Ticking along too easily. need to get back in groove (or is it a rut.) Quick mile this morning practising with hamstring pulling through.

Tues 12th May 15

5 barefoot miles this morning. I am pretty lethargic at the moment and fell asleep very early last night. One of those where I sat down but was too tired to even go to bed. I had done some kneeling to work my quads and found it a challenge. Looks like I now have a regime to follow that can help with flexibility.

I did squats this morning. I am turning over the pages of Heritage of Britain and thereby reducing the heel raise I am using to squat. Last month I was squatting over Magna Carta. This month I am over Henry V.

I set of slow and sluggish but by the last couple of miles was upright and thinking about my form. When i run fast, I either lean too much or increase my cadence. It would be good to set a mtronome and pratcie running at quicker speeds whilst maintaining cadence and minimising the lean. I need to push hips through and get that foot up and through a bit higher as my speed increases.

Feeling hip a little which i out down to not running any distance for a few days and a few days off squatting. It could also just be because I am trying one or two new stretches and things need to settle down. Good to get that run out of my system.

Wed 13th May 15

First run for a while without toe being taped up. I must have smacked it harder than I first thought. It is bruised and still a bit tender. I do keep catching the same one which is interesting in itself.

I ran the first half of my barefoot mile this morning nice and steady and then the return as quickly as I could. I started by concentrating on form and pulling through using hamstring. In the end, i just ran as fast as i could and only thought about the hamstring pull. Out of breath quickly which is good. It can only get better and it makes my mile runs a bit more fun.

Thursday 14th May 15

5 barefoot miles this morning without scraping my toe. Sitting here dripping with sweat because I ran the last mile as fast as I could. No idea how fast that is but I needed to concentrate hard to keep going. My natural style has a high cadence but I sort of lean forward slightly and almost reach out gently to touch the ground and then I pull myself through. I feels natural and quick. This morning I resisted that and kept myself upright and tried lead from my hips. Sort of like the chirunning prompt of imagining being pulled forward from the naval but I did it from my hips. Everytime I visualised that it seemed to click into place (My techinque – not my hip!). I then focussed on the lift and pull through using hamstring. I fatigued quickly and it was mostly my core that struggled. I think I might do that a bit more often. My soles threatened to get sore but in the end didn’t and I just get going. Bumped into friend and brewing partner Phil running the other way this morning.

Friday 15th May 15

A barefoot mile before work. Ran quickly and then sttod on something sharp coming round the last bend. amazing how quickly I can stop when I need to. No damage done.

Saturday 16th May 15

Up at 5.30am to fit in a 8.75 miler barefoot his morning. The road was damp and my feet were singing by the end of a couple of miles. It is rough uunderfoot. I can pretty much run on any surface now but my speed is affected. I let myself go down hill and concentrated on lifting heel rather than knees and pulling through quickly. On these longer runs, I think I just need to go with the flow and enjoy being out and let the form take care of itself. I am definitely improving though. The short runs with focus on tecnique are helping me to run more quickly.

Got thinking about targets. I think a good way to decide whether it is healthy is if a second makes a difference to how you feel about yourself.

Sun 17th May 15

A quick barefoot mile before heading off to the market today. Feet a bit tender but still manged to run pretty quickly. I speed up when I push my hips forward. Targets wise, Imaging running a 2:59 marathon or a 3:01 marathon. Would it make that much difference to you? If it would, the maybe the 2:59 target wasn’t a healthy one in the first place. Attaching so much importance to arbitrary figures seems crazy when you stand back and have a look at it. There moust be much mre worthwhile things to set yourself as overall goals than that.

Mon 18th May 15

A barefoot mile in the pouring rain after posting about how setting goals can bash your resilience and what to do about that.

Tues 19th May 15

A quick barefoot mile and I turned right instead of left. Immediately found myself on a steep, slick slope and footing was a bit harum scarum. Rough is one thing but slippy is quite another. Give me gravel any day of the week. Squats challenging today. I have been using a table to hold onto to bounce once I am in the squat and this is waking up places I didn’t even know I had places. My right knee is a bit crunchy on the way down which is a surprise. i also feel it when running. Last time I had this sort of thing was when I doing some lunge type exercises and I thnk I am stretching stuff around the knee. Not a worry but something to keep an eye on and back off from if needed.

Wed 20th May15

Felt pretty awful in the night and woke up with a pretty bad stomach ache. 5 barefoot miles sorted it out but to be honest I am still feeling a bit ropey. I am more convinced than ever that giving yourself structure helps with motivation. Things to tick off. If I had not had the structure then I would only have arun a mile this morning and in the end, a 5 miler was well within me and was no problem. I could do with doing the same thing for my blogging and also beer writing. It would help with a bit of focus and stop me drifting. Create an experiment with my time and see if it works. I am nothing if not a pragmatist.

Thursday 21st May 15

A quick mile barefoot everyone got upp on my wife’s birthday. I set off slowly within 5 minutes of getting out of bed and it took a few hundred yards to iron the creases out and then I felt good and was away. Iran quickly for the second half mile and kept my hips forward and chest and shoulders open. Running more quickly increases the friction on my soles and it is good practice because it sorts out your form. I might have slipped into bad habits now that my soles are more robust when running at slower speeds.

Friday 22nd May 15

Planned to run 5 this morning but was very tired and sluggish so ended up doing a barefoot mile. Ate too much yesterday and was up until well gone midnight with school work. Feel better having got it done and not too bothered about missing the 5 miler this morning.

Sat 23rd – Tuesday 26th May 15

I a bit of a slump but still manged to run a barefoot mile each day. I did come out of it a bit on Tuesday by running a different route with hills. I have been preoccupied by the artisan newtwork market we did on Monday. It was causing some stress and looking back it took its toll. It was new venture for us as we were running a bar as well as just our stall. It went well but worn out. Hip threatening to flare up because of lack of real miles.

Wed 27th May 15

6 barefoot miles this morning. Just took my time and I was full of running. A little tired in the last mile or so but feet felt good. I am learning to go with what my body needs and I think it needed me to back off for a few days and recover. I have slept a lot and feel better for it.

Thursday 28th May 15

A mile barefoot with my son this morning. The weather was sunny but blustery and as usual he set off at a cracking pace. I pitter-pattered along behind him and the first thing that I noticed was how good my soles felt. I think that laying off and reducing miles for a few days has done me some good. I caught him up pretty soon and the second thing that i noticed was how fit I feel. Running every day for over 7 months is going to do that to you but it creeps up and today I was flying alongside him with no problem at all without raising a sweat. Sometimes, we just need to go wiht the flow and back off.

Friday 29th May 15

Tipping down with rain and streams running down the centre of the road. Fantastic to run in although my toes did get cold to start with. Thinking about some of the Vivobarefoot training. The before and after vids don’t compare like with like. it would be more interesting if there were 3 videos. A before followed immediatley by a barefoot with 180bpm metronome and then one after coaching and drills. It would be interesting to see where the biggest change came. between video 1&2 or between 2&3. Just a thought that has been niggling away at the back of my mind and I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I can see how important the drills are and for me that was worth paying the session fee for.

Sat 30th May 15

A quick barefoot mile this morning. The weather was great but it was a heavy night out but it was a brewing day today and I needed to get out to the brew shop whilst mash was on rather than run.

Sun 31st May 15

Another mile this morning instead of the 10 planned. 2 thngs going on. My mileage has decreased significantly since entering the marathon. It might be that the pressure of geting in some bigger miles is meaning that I just don’t fancy it and I might be better forgetting the marathon and just putting in the 2 goals that are easy to understand. Run every day and 20 miles a week. I could do with changing the secons one to a simple to understand structure that I can just tick off. Too woolly at moment.

The second is to so with structure. I find it so much easier to run when my days are structured. i don’t seal well with a lack of structure. I carry around a feeling of guilt with me. Guilt for not running as far and also my food intake has not been as good. I find myself longing for a bit of structure and being back at work. Something to think about for the the long summer holidays.

I also have so many other things that I need to get done during the holidays that running gets put in the back burner. Shame!!




Older posts «