September 2012 archive

Sep 28

Pick of the Posts no.11 -The best 5 barefoot posts to see you through the weekend are…

Calves, foam rollers, lifting and proper recovery all feature in my picks for this week. I read alot of posts during the week and often I read very general posts that simply give a bit of background. It is good to hear from experienced barefooters and this week’s posts come from bloggers with a bit of history behind them

1. Post of the week goes to Trisha Reeves of Barefoot Monologues.

Secretly, Barefoot Monologues is my favourite barefoot site and I aspire to write as well as Trisha. Her post about ice baths and using foam rollers also came at just the right time for me. I had spent the previous night rolling out my calves to find them more sore in the morning. I have come to the conclusion that a short barefoot run works better. It is 25 years since I shared a house with a student doctor. He was a superb runner and training partner of Liz McColgan who at that time was tearing up the world as a distance runner on the track. He used to head out into the twilight  for a quick sub 50 minute 10 miler and then jump in an ice bath in our tiny student house. It was compelling and I tried it a couple of times and have felt guilty about not keeping it up ever since. Not any more. It is well worth a read.

 2.  Post 2 is Helen Hall’s advice on Barefoot Audio.

Having said that, I am not ready to throw away my roller just yet though. I kind of enjoy the crunch and it at least gives me a sense of purpose if I can’t get out there. I was lucky enough to see Helen a couple of weeks ago and watch her demonstrate her techniques for massaging calves. I had been chatting with her earlier and was plucked out of the crowd whilst she found the areas of weakness in my lower legs. She gently pushed and probed and then suddenly hit the spot. I didn’t quite hit the ceiling but there was a lot of recognition in the laughter from the audience. Helen came across as someone who is very knowledgeable and experienced. Her video is worth a watch.

3. When I pick my favourite posts of the week, I often list those from Jason Robillard.

I have said before that they are sometimes provocative, sometimes educational and always grounded in experience. This post is about lifting. Jason has recently stopped routinely teaching lifting and he explains some of the reasons why.

I started out by studying Chirunning form and when Helen Hall looked at my form she asked me why I was lifting my heels towards my backside so much as I was obviously wasting energy. I ran with a barefooter recently who lifts his knees forward in a way that reminded me of Stephen Sachen from Xero shoes. He said that it just felt right for him.

I recently did a barefoot event where I ended up running as fast as possible. The fact that I had nothing on my feet was incidental. I have a feeling that I stopped lifting in a pronounced way but still managed to run lightly enough to manage the flagstones and cobbles of the Edinburgh streets. Fascinating.

4. During the week I read lots of posts from the podiatry and health and fitness sector.

Often they are just pieces cobbled together and very general in content. Some, however rise above the rest and this is one of them. I liked the title. ‘The professional’s guide to training south of the ankles.’

It goes through the early motions of providing background information for the uninitiated but then goes into specific exercises for the feet and toes.  Opinion will no doubt split about whether we should exercise our feet or let them get stronger by running naturally. Decide for yourself.

5. Post 5 is an interview with Leif Rustvold, a Portland, Oregon barefooter and ultra-runner.

It may not be brand new but it was not one that I had seen before. It is about 10 minutes long and I always enjoy hearing about how people ended up becoming barefooters in the first place.

‘An experiment in applied anthropology’. l like that!

Click here for more Pick of the Posts

To get Chris’s pick of the posts direct sign up in the sidebar and they will be there waiting for you, ready for the weekend.

Sep 27

Barefoot Britain have arrived – Xeros available in the UK


Bought from Tracy earlier in the year

Earlier in the year, I was searching the forums trying to find some advice on a pair of lightweight shoes to carry with me on barefoot runs.

As a newbie, I was a bit tentative in online discussions but Tracy Davenport jumped right in and we had a bit of a chat about the pros and cons of tucking shoes down the back of our shorts when we didn’t need them on our feet.

She told me that she was talking to Invisible shoes (now Xero) about importing some and I hung on a while so that I could save on shipping.

A little while later, I contacted Tracy just before she went on holiday and two days later my first pair of Xeros arrived.

She was a pleasure to deal with and I applaud her new site, it is so slick.

My daughter is keen on a new pair in a fancy colour.

Click on the picture below to visit.

Sep 26

Barefoot Beginner – My soles are my natural safety valve

IMAG0458Following the Edinburgh barefoot run I have been struggling a bit. I was fine for a day or two, I had stiff legs from the exertion of running faster than I have for ages but nothing out of the ordinary.

When I had my first proper run out, I cut it short when I felt a tug in the outside of my left calf. The following day was fine and I used a foam roller to massage the area. It felt knotty and a bit crunchy. Following Helen Hall’s (Vibram coach) advice, I was fairly gentle but it still left me sore. I could feel it most when I pointed my toes towards the ceiling. I read an excellent post on Barefoot Monologues this week about the pros and cons of trying to cut down the body’s natural need for rest and recovery. It will be one of my posts of the week on Friday alongside Helen Hall’s Youtube clip on using rollers on calves.

In these situations, I instinctively want to run barefoot rather than in shoes and I went out for a very short run to see how it was. I had no problem with my calf but the soles of my feet had not recovered enough from Edinburgh to let me go too far. The weather over the past week has been constantly rainy and there have been lots of flood warnings in our area. It has also turned colder so my feet were getting cold straight way and they may need more time to become accustomed to it.

IMAG0439After a few hundred yards my soles had reached their limit for the day and I slipped my Luna sandals on. They are very light but I felt my other calf slightly almost straight away as I set off home. This shows that I must alter my style slightly even though I was determined not to.

I slipped them off again just before home and ran the last section barefoot and the sensation in my calf went away.

I have done pretty well at not over training by letting the soles of my feet be my guide. It may be that after an event, I need to let them guide me still further.

If I had done that, I wouldn’t have run too far last Friday and I wouldn’t have a calf problem. I know that my soles can handle at least 6 miles but following Edinburgh a few hundred yards is all they can manage.

It is probably the same for the rest of my lower leg but putting on minimalist shoes cut my natural safety valve out of the equation.

New rule: Following an event, I will spend some time building my distance back up and not run further in shoes than I can manage barefoot.


Sep 25

Free tickets for the Running Show – Sandown 24th/25th November 2012

Anna Tombs posted recently on Facebook that she will be attending ‘The Running Show’ with her partner David.

Anna and David are BarefootUK and will be having a stand and are also part of the Seminar Programme.

I have never attended the show and have just booked my free place for this year. Payment on the door is £12 but is free if you register beforehand.

The Running show will be at Sandown park, Surrey on the 24th and 25th of November.

I will post further details as they become available.

In the meantime, click on the image to register your free place.

Sep 24

Taking longer than expected to recover from Scottish Barefoot Run

IMAG0438I have had a mixed experience since the Edinburgh Barefoot run last weekend. My first trip out 2 days later led to me putting on my Luna Sandals as I wasn’t as recovered as I first thought. Another couple of days later I went out again and ran a couple of gentle miles. Still tired but no problem.

By Friday, my feet were feeling a little more recovered so I decided to head out for about a 5 miler in my Vivo Evos on the roads near home.

Although I was not stiff, I felt like all my internal suspension had gone. Tigger had lost his bounce. I really had to concentrate on form. After about 4 miles I got a tug in my left calf. It had been there all along but I thought that it would go with a change in form. It persisted and I cut my run short and walked the last section. I felt fine afterwards and I had no problem with my calf the following morning. I think the lesson is that I ran hard last weekend and it is taking longer to recover than I thought it would. I am glad I respected my body and lived to barefoot another day.

The following morning (Saturday), I decided to have a go at my calf with a roller. I had watched Helen Hall (Vibram coach) at the Scottish Barefoot conference. She recommended just resting the calf on the roller and then resting the other leg on top of that. She then used her top leg to move back and forth in small movements. I managed this and I had more of a crunchy knot than I first thought. I then used a rolling pin to gently get to the area. It was more tender than I expected and on Sunday morning it was sore. I think that I had made it sore my massage so I decided not to run.

I am not sure whether I have a small tear or if it is just really tensed up. I am going to be gentle over the next few days and give it some time.

Sep 23

Inov8 Trailroc series – A test run

The Inov8 Trailroc series are available in the Barefoot Beginner Store. Click here and select Inov8 on the right.

The Inaugural Scottish Barefoot run and conference gave me the chance to try out the new Inov8 Trailroc.

I have been wearing Inov8 fell shoes for a while and regularly walk the fells in them. I have often said that they are the most comfortable things that I have ever put on my feet. I have completed a couple of Yorkshire 3 peaks challenges in them and their build quality has never been in question.

I now run barefoot some of the time and spend some time in minimalist shoes. I have been looking for a pair of zero drop shoes with some cushioning for a while.