May 2012 archive

May 31

Less haste, more speed you fool!!!


I said last night that I was really looking forward to having a blast around my local resevoir just to see how things were going. Well, I have learned that I am stupid and don’t learn from my mistakes.

Mistake 1 – All my runs have been very steady at the start and then sped up as I have been able to. I set off fast from the outset this morning.

Mistake 2 – I took my watch.  I looked at it near the end and tried to get under 17 minutes. This meant that I pushed it far too hard at the finish and lost good form completely.

Mistake 3 – I knew that I had lost form but was going for the time and didn’t ease off.

3 strides to go and I felt a big twinge in the belly of my right calf.

I stopped and the damage isn’t serious, but what a fool!

Things have been going so well that I have started to take it for granted. I wasn’t running tomorrow and I will go out and run barefoot a little on Saturday to assess how it is.

New rules:

  • Set off slow, then run steadily before getting up to speed.
  • Stop looking at my watch, concentrate on form, the speed will come.
  • Start being grateful that I am running again and stop taking it for granted.

It will be interesting to see if running properly means that my calf doesn’t affect how I go on Saturday.


Click here for next key post – Is barefoot running helping with calf rehab?


May 30



The job this morning was to try and run 20 minutes barefoot. This would be my furthest to date. My achilles was fine before setting off although it tugged a little after a minute or so.

I am still tensing my legs when going slightly uphill. I didn’t think that I would do this barefoot but I do. I ran for 10 minutes and 50 seconds and then turned round and ran home.

Just before I turned, I passed a guy running in the opposite direction. I am used to funny looks as I run past barefoot with a shoe in each hand.

He looked at me as though I was mad but to be fair it was him wearing the knee length compression socks.

I got the feeling that he was thinking that I was just another sucker jumping on the barefoot bandwaggon.

Now that poses a question. Who is the biggest sucker. The one running injury free and barefoot or the one in heavy duty, expensive shoes and compression socks? Discuss.

I caught up a man walking his dog. I enjoyed trying to be as quiet as I could and that made me concetrate on landing light and easy. When I passed him, he was wearing headphones anyway but you get the point. I will try this more often.

I need a long handled scrubbing brush to get the grime off my feet in the shower. I ran back much quicker than I ran out. Twenty minutes in all, job done.

Every now and again, I run round a resevoir near home as fast as I can just to see how things are going. Looking forward to that in the morning.



May 29

Get the technique right and the speed will come.


I felt in the mood for my run this morning. Before I left, I thought about leaving my watch at home but I kept it on and I don’t know whether that was a good idea. I concentrated on my form and forgot about speed. My uphills were a little quicker than usual and I concentrated on letting my legs relax completely.

My left achilles is still a little tender but it eases off whilst running except when I go uphill. I know that I am stretching it more when I relax and it needs time to adjust.

I came through a gate about halfway round and spotted a runner in the distance. Hunting mode kicked in and I was gaining on him step by step. Our styles contrasted completely. His cadence was much slower than mine and his up and down movement was huge. It made me concentrate even harder on keeping my head level and my cadence at 180bpm. He turned off just before I caught him up.

I had a couple of moments when my form clicked and I felt like I was flying along without much effort.

Back when my style was that of a power runner, I could run this route in 56 minutes. I was worried that having my watch on was making a bit competitive and that I was going to try too hard and hurt myself. These cushioned runs are the ones where I most have to concentrate on barefoot technique.

Since running with barefoot technique my times have been coming down from about 66 minutes to 62. This morning was about 57 minutes and I felt nice and easy at the end. They all say that if you get the form correct, the speed will come. I am only at the start of this journey but it was a good run today. 7 miles further down the road and still injury free.

I am looking forward to seeing if I can run 20 minutes barefoot on the tarmac tomorrow.

May 28

Sticks and stones….


My first off-road barefoot run today.

Up until now, I have been running on tarmac. I turned left instead of right this morning and headed towards a trail that I often run in shoes.

I made it about 5 metres before I realised that I was going to need to rethink.

I had chosen a man made trail of hardcore and gravel. I was curious about how it would feel and now I know. I picked my way gingerly back to the road and made for a different dirt trail. It is usually very muddy but the dry weather had made it firm and uneven. I had a blast. I stood on a few twigs and needed to be careful but I will be heading back there soon. I stubbed my toe on the way back.

I felt like a real barefoot runner this morning.

My achilles was tender as I set off and then loosened off after a minute or two. I just need to respect its right to lengthen gradually.

Looking forward to a decent 6 miler in the morning, feeling good.

Click here for next key post – Less haste, more speed – you fool!

May 28

Barefoot training blog

This is a year long experiment to see if this 40 something runner with busted legs can run inury free by using barefoot technique.

My training blog posts are summarised below or click on the Training Log category on the right.

To find out why click ‘I also run in shoes…..’

This is my training log and contains my experiences so far. I would love to hear from you.

May 27

The thin end of the runners’ wedge


The job this morning was to have a good long run. Now for me at the moment that is 10 miles. I am running between 20 and 25 miles a week at the moment. Time was when I might run that before breakfast. It is all relative. For a while my long run was 2 miles and in my darkest times, I thought that I would never be able to run a 10 miler again.

My achilles was a little sore this morning. It was stiff yesterday and tender at times during the run.

… what is it trying to tell me?

I think that it is saying – Whoa there!…take it easy, I will stretch the amount you want but not straight away, just give me a bit of time.

All my other aches and niggles can be put right out on the trail with a change in tecnique but this is different. My achilles is sore because I am running with good technique.


Heel raise

Now in the past my remedy would have been to put a runners wedge under my heel – but not any more. That is the thin edge of the wedge, if you will excuse the pun.

My achilles is being asked to stretch further than usual but no further than it was designed for. Reversing 20 something years of shortening it with orthotics is going to take time but I have the rest of my life so what is the hurry.

I think that the unecessary haste has been caused by how much fun it is to run in minamalist shoes. I am going to be guided by the soles of my feet and continue to run barefoot as far as I can. I will limit my minamalist runs to that distance.

No problems with my calf and not even a twinge in my back so I must be doing something right. Another 10 miles down the road and still injury free, job done.

It has been a day or two since a barefoot run, I am looking forward to getting out there tomorrow.

May 26

A well-oiled machine? Ha Ha


No run planned for today. It was my mother-in-law who spotted that I was limping. Now let’s be honest, I don’t consider my runner’s walk to be limping. We all know how it feels to be a little stiff and so I don’t even think about it anymore. It is my left achilles that is causing my unusual gait.
As a young runner, half a lifetime ago, I went on my first run with a club. I sat nervously with my dad and watched these old guys limp in to the changing rooms with all manner of peculiar, rolling gaits.
As we set off, they hobbled out of the door and groaned through the first mile.

It was only after about 3 miles that I noticed that all their stiffness had gone and they were cruising along like well oiled machines.

After the run, they got changed and hobbled out. I am now one of them, I am never at my smoothest until well into a run.
I did walk the dogs barefoot this evening.
I am looking forward to a nice long Sunday run tomorrow.

May 25

Riding life downhill


I was meant to be running a 10k this evening but I couldn’t make it there in time. I think that my new barefoot attitude is spreading through my life.

I am going with the flow and riding life downhill.

I went for a run anyway and really enjoyed it. It was about a 7 miler in my Pegasus. I usually run in the morning so I watched what I ate during the day so as not to give myself any excuse to sit down and watch TV instead.

The weather over the past few days has been really hot. Near the end of my run I passed 3 men walking dogs. They looked flushed and one of them laughed and said that he hoped I had enough water. I had been running for just under an hour and hadn’t really thought about a drink.

I am enjoying running at that sustainable pace that has been described as a hunting pace which for me is running at a speed and cadence knowing that I can run as far as is needed.

I think my favourite activity at the moment is to follow another person on the trail and hunt them down.

My pace is sustainable and relentless and in my head, I am convinced that I am going to catch them. I don’t always but it is fun and eats up the miles.

I find it most fun with people on mountain bikes. They stretch away and I pitter-patter along knowing that when they come to a hill they are going to slow down much more than I am.

A twinge in my lower back, a hangover from my hip problem, kept reminding me to concentrate on my technique. The forward lean should from the ankle not from the waist.

I am still running with too much tension in my legs and seem to be pulling them up and forward rather than running from my core.

When I notice and relax, running becomes joyous again. I think it is going to be a long journey but I am another 7 miles down the road and injury free, job done.





May 24

Loose hips



I didn’t run at all yesterday and my hip felt like it had seized up overnight. I think that on days when I don’t run, I need to do the excercises given to me by the physio earlier in the year when I finally got some treatment for hip pain. The pain has now gone but my hip and groin tighten if I don’t loosen it up each day with a short run.

The weather is still fantastic and I headed out of the door barefoot with thoughts of running further than I have before. I ran comfortably for about seven and a half minutes and turned round and ran home.

I could feel the small stones underfoot and they gave me no problem. I am enjoying the feel of different parts of the road. I have noticed that I feel the burn going downhill and am keeping these sections modest at the moment.

The inside of my left achilles is a little tender very low down. I have spent a fair bit of time on my feet over the past few days and I have been aware of it occasionally. I am confident that it is not a problem and that it will pass as my feet get used to things. I think that it is caused more by minamalist rather than barefoot running. If I cut anything down it will be that.

I kept checking in with my technique and found each time that my legs were tense. I relaxed and tried to run easy. It felt good to be out. 15 minutes and 5 seconds barefoot, my furthest yet. Job done.

I am running a 10k tomorrow. Looking forward to stretching out a bit.

May 23

Running with a metronome

This is the model I use. Click to see a few more.

I ran past a couple of women last year and they shouted after me for a few tips. My overiding impression as we passed each other was that their style of running seemed really hard work

There certainly wasn’t any joy in their faces about being out for a run on such a lovely evening. Their stride length was long, their up and down movement was huge and their steps were ponderous and slow.

I was running with a metronome set at 180 bpm in my hand  and  had passed them easily with little pitter-patter steps.

I am no running guru, far from it, I have a lot to learn and my biggest change has been to increase my cadence to 180bpm and significantly shorten my stride length.

The best way of doing this is using a hand held metronome. My first one went crazy one morning and I couldn’t shut it up until I hit it with a brick. My second has a vibrate mode which is really useful when running early morning, it is amazing how far the sound can carry when there is nobody about.

I set mine at 180 bpm and concentrate on geting my arms moving at that speeed. whatever my arms do, my legs will follow.

I know that if I run at this cadence with short strides, I have taken a significant step on the path to barefoot technique.

After a while I took my metronome out for a run with my dad. He is 68 years old and has been running many years. It was amazing, he runs at exactly 180 bpm with little short strides and always has, I have just never noticed.

In fact that isn’t true. I have always been proud of my power running, loping stride compared to my dad’s choppy pitter-patter. I have spent much more time out injured than he has over the years. I now watch people running all the time and often see people who already have the secret and have been living amongst us all along. I want to run like them and stay injury free into old age.

Click here for next key post – Sticks and stones