December 2012 archive

Dec 22

Real Barefooters Number 8 – Shaun Daws aka Barefoot Dawsy

Our next Real Barefooter is Shaun Daws (far right) probably better known to some of you as ‘Barefoot Dawsy’ of

Hi Shaun, thanks for joining in and agreeing to be one of our ‘Real Barefooters’.

You have been blogging for just over a year, were you barefooting for a
long time before that?

I guess that all depends on what you mean by barefooting. I started running in minimalist shoes (Vibram Five Finger KSOs) back in April 2010. From there I dabbled a little with pure barefooting. It wasn’t until about July 2011 that I finally took the plunge and started doing the majority of my training and racing in bare feet.

I love barefoot running and I can’t quite explain why. Why do you
barefoot? What was the initial thing that got you started and what is it
that keeps you doing it?

Barefoot running sort of snuck up on me. I never really intended to do it. Most of my life I hated running! But when my first son was born, I realised that I was overweight and getting older, and if I wanted to keep up with my kids I would need to make some changes.

I started looking online for ways to run without getting injured, as I had heard all sorts of horror stories and didn’t want to end up worse off than when I started. I came across an article on Nerd Fitness about the injury-reducing properties of barefoot running ( Within a week, I was running my first 5k (ever) in VFFs and loving it!

As to what keeps me going, I have to be honest and say that I’m addicted. When I can’t run for awhile, I don’t feel like myself. I get depressed and can’t focus. As soon as I run though, everything feels like it’s falling in place again. This feeling is only amplified with barefoot running. I’m finding that the more that I run barefoot, the less I ever want to wear shoes at all.

You are clearly a family man. What do they think of your barefoot running and blogging?

Living in Australia, going barefoot isn’t really seen as something unusual. I think they find it a bit funny just how much I’ve been bitten by the barefoot bug, especially since I grew up in Canada, where my feet were lucky to ever see the light of day. My kids love going barefoot, and I encourage them to do it as much as possible.


As for the blogging, I think they see it as an unusual and interesting passtime. I do get the odd comment when I receive some crazy pair of minimalist shoes in the mail though!


I have been following your blog and facebook for quite a while, Great mud run picture. Who are the guys and what is a typical running week for you?

The guys are my workmates. I’m very lucky to work for a small software company that’s very encougaging when it comes to fitness. The year I started running, 4 of us took on the 100km Oxfam Trailwalker in Sydney, and we’ve since competed with and against each other in several races here in Australia. In 2013, we’re doing Trailwalker Melbourne for the first time, and I think we’re even going to try running it this time around!

In the UK, we have a chap who calls himself the Barefoot Podiatrist. He
runs barefoot and slacklines. I reckon they go together, what do you
reckon. Tell us about your slacklining so far.

Well I’m certainly no pro slackliner, in fact I’ve only tried it out a couple of times. I’m actually in the middle of writing an article about a recent outing with the guys from Slackline Australia. It seems like a great sport, and a fun way to cross-train for barefoot running. It looks simple, but without strong core and leg muscles, it can be very challenging.


The combination of barefoot running and blogging is having a
transformative effect on my life. Is it the same with you?

Oh definitely! I define myself now as a barefoot runner, and see myself as a blogger as well. It took me a while to get to this point, but it’s a good feeling to think that I actually have something to offer as a blogger, and that there are people who benefit from some of the experiences I share.

I recently posted a picture of myself running with two friends. If we were
in Lord of the Rings, I am Gimil the dwarf. You seem to be a bit of a Star
Wars fan. So, who would you be?

It’s that obvious, huh? As much as I’d love to say that I’m a Han Solo, the reality is I’m more of an R2D2. I’m loyal, a bit cheeky, love being where the action is, and most of the time, nobody has any idea what I’m saying (except a few close people maybe!).

How did #barechat come about. How can we get involved?

#BareChat is something I’ve wanted to do since I started using Twitter. It’s just such a novel way of meeting new people with a shared interest. The great thing about it is that it’s open to anyone with a Twitter account, and it’s as easy as searching for the #BareChat hastag and/or using it in your tweets. I’ve been really lucky to have met some great people in the community, and have had a lot of support from vendors. This has meant that we’ve given away some great stuff for free – from shoes to DVDs and even a Sport Kilt!

It’s held every second Wednesday at 7pm US Mountain Time. The latest giveaway details, times, and instructions can always be found at

I have seen you in Leadvilles and Luongos. What do you typically choose to put on your feet?

Unless I’m running in really rough conditions, I prefer to run completely barefoot. For a while I had lapsed back into using minimal footwear all the time and received a stress fracture for my trouble. Since then I’ve really focused on improving my form and running bare, and this has made a huge difference.

On the rough stuff, I currently have 2 go-to shoes: Luna Sandals Leadvilles, which are incredible on rough trails, and Vibram SeeYas, which are just lovely in every way. Of course, I do wear shoes at other times, for formal occasions, work, and socialising…some of my favourites for day-to-day wear are my Vivobarefoot Gobi’s and Skora Forms.

Ok, tell me about Hardrock.

Well, there’s not much to tell yet, but it’s definitely on my long-term radar. Just have a look at some of the pictures from it and you’ll see why. I suppose the only caveat is that it’s one of the hardest races in the world!

I’ve actually recently found one that I want to do even more though. It’s called Laugavegur in Iceland, and looks incredible!



I have a friend who I call the barefoot procratinator. He just needs to do
it. What advice would you give him about his first barefoot outing?

Take off your shoes, and start slowly. When I was rehabing from my stress fracture, I started using a technique I like to call Micro Runs. Basically these are runs of 100-200m that I would do whenever I had 10 minutes to spare. They’re short enough that you don’t need to put on running gear…just ditch the shoes, run around the block, and you’re done. Doing one or 2 of these each day helps train your body to be used to running barefoot, and eases you into it gradually. Also, keeping your civvies on reduces the likelihood of going for too long.

Thanks Shaun, if people want to keep up with all things Barefoot Dawsy where should they look?

I’m a bit of a social media junkie, so I’m pretty easy to find. I’m on Twitter at @BarefootDawsy, Facebook at, and of course Also, I’m always happy to take questions at too! For bonus points, come out and see me at #BareChat, or even flag me down on the streets of Sydney!

Shaun Daws (aka Barefoot Dawsy)


Twitter: @BarefootDawsy

Read More ‘Real Barefooters’ here

Dec 17

So…why do I run barefoot?

I have found myself socialising with friends and colleagues a lot over the past few days. They know about my barefooting and are curious. They tend to wonder whether it hurts and I do get frustrated when they say that they could never do it.

It leads in to the most tricky question of all — Why do you do it?

So…Why do I run barefoot? – A deceptively simple question and I find myself giving simple answers. The best and yet also the most unsatisfactory answer that I give is:

….because I just love it!

It is true and it is reason enough. I do love it. When I started out on this barefoot/minimalist journey I did not really have any intention of running barefoot very much at all. I just did a bit to try and imprint a good technique that I could take into my minimalist running.

I just found that I looked forward to the barefoot runs more than any other. I have always been a runner and I have to admit that motivation has been an issue for me at times. Getting out of the front door has been the most difficult part of a run for me (and not becuse I am getting wider). Once out, I enjoyed it but some days I just didn’t bother. If I know that I am barefooting, I am out of bed and looking at the weather before dawn. So that leads me onto my next simple yet unsatisfactory answer.

….because I look forward to each barefoot run!

I will be barefooting in the morning and know that I will wake before the alarm. I will stand up and look out of the window at the weather. Not to see whether I am running, just to decide on what top to wear. I am perplexed, delighted but perplexed. What is it about barefooting that I enjoy so much that it has caused such a change.

I work in education, I am the headteacher of a primary school. We use the work of Spencer Kagan to engage our pupils. Spencer Kagan is the biggest independent provider of professional education training in the US. His work on getting children involved is transforming our school. One of his principles is that the brain thrives on novelty. This leads to the answer:

….because barefoot running is new to me and novel. I love learning new things.

I don’t like this answer but I suspect that there is something in it. I don’t like it because barefooting cannot be novel to me for ever. There will come a point when the learning curve is not as steep.

Last week Jason Robillard (Author of the Barefoot Running book) described himself as a selfish learner. I think that I am very similar. He used the term borderline pathalogocal curiosity. It was a lightbulb moment for me. I am a learner, I need to learn new things. I watch my friends and colleagues bemusement as I become enthusiastic about something and them move on to the next thing. I am addicted to the learning curve. Not all of the curve, just the steep bit. Once the curve flattens out I lose interest and move on.

I have been through so many different areas of interest but my saving grace is that running is my only constant. I describe myself as a runner. Even when out for long periods. That leads me to another of the reasons that I barefoot.

…..because I want to run into old age and be injury free.

This was my reason for starting in the first place. I was a broken forty something runner. I couldn’t make it a mile without my calves giving up. I was distraught. I then bought a pair of Vivobarefoot Evos and started from scratch. it has not been easy. It is not as simple as changing shoes and all the injuries vanish. It has been one barefoot step forward and two back at times but I am running and that is a blessing.

The more I delve, the more I find. I run barefoot :

…..because it harks back to a simpler time.


…because I enjoy being different and like to surprise people.


….because I need to manage my weight.


….because I love blogging and need a subject to blog about.


…because emotionally it keeps me level.


…because it makes my feet tingle.


…because it has slowed me down. It makes me look at the rest of my life and question the path I am taking.

Such a simple question and such a multi-faceted answer. I am a little closer in my understanding but I still cannot pin it down. It just feels right. It is bringing about changes in my life that are a welcome and unexpected surprise. I just love it.


Dec 15

A Journey – Run UK – Back to ‘Barefoot’ 2013 with Nadine Horn

I am pleased to say that we have a guest post from Nadine Horn this morning. Nadine and I started to chat last week after I read her post about her plan for a round UK barefoot run.

Like many people, I am as interested in the planning that goes behind such a venture as the run itself.

Nadine is going to keep us up to date with how things are going and this is the first post in a mini series. I hope you enjoy it. Thanks Nads.

I am one of those people with a rare allergy to walls and comfortable bed. My passion: traveling, exploring, learning and meeting people from all walks of life. My career: extreme endurance athlete / adventurer / author / barefoot coach.

Last year I cycled 4000 km around whole Spain learning fluent Spanish on the way. It took me 29 days from the idea to the moment sitting on the air-plane off to Spain to start the quest. This year I have just finished my 1140 km solo-triathlon across 3 countries: cycling across Switzerland, swimming the Danube for over 200 km and traversing Austria.

 Why am I doing it?

 There are many good reasons including living my passion, but one in particular:

 Living up to the potential we have been given by being human, challenging ideas of what we can do and what not and that there is no failure but simply room for improvement. Getting rid-off bad habits that are of no use.

Exactly for this reason I have transitioned to becoming a barefoot-runner. The last leg of my Three Border Triathlon Adventure involved running across Austria. The aim was to run 320 km. After 260 km my mind was prepared to keep going but my Achilles tendons were ready to give up. I felt them closer to tearing with every step I took. Both of my heels were swollen. I tried to carry on but realized that hopping from bench to bench, wouldn’t get me very far. I was intrigued by what went wrong…

Shortly after, while giving a talk at the Outdoor Expo in Germany, I came across a simple answer: Barefoot running. It turns out the modern shoes most runners rely on nowadays create a number of false signals which confuse our brain, they mask the natural feedback that contact with the ground gives us. Hence we create shapes and habits that are not natural plus in my case the shoes were just restricting my movement and rubbing into the back of my heel.

So what now? I have turned the learning curve and weakness of my last adventure into my next challenge: Running across the UK ‘Barefoot’. Thanks to Chris I am sharing the journey from the idea to having my feet prepared for the challenge to the actual execution in spring here on his blog. So stay tuned. You can also find me on twitter adventure_nads and read about my last adventures and other projects on: Feel free to sign up to my newsletter.

Dec 13

Marathons, tendonitis and the coolest shoes I have seen this year – Pick of the Barefoot Posts 22

Loads of shoe posts this week. So many that I have started a new blog at just to cope with all the shoe news that is flying around. Only one pair of shoes got into the pick this week though. The coolest I have seen all year.

1. Number one this week is not a post but a website and a pair of shoes to die for.

Ruth Emily Davey makes handmade shoes that are designed to last. I was pointed towards them by Stephen Troake on the newly formed Barefoot Beginner facebook group. You have got to check them out.


2. Joris Goose describes himself as long time lurker and his post on his first barefoot marathon is number two this week.

Some interesting stuff in here about finding your natural spring. those of you reading about Dr. Mark Cuzzella’s approach might be interested to see how someone went on in action. Joris ends his post with a list of 5 lessons learned. Good advice.

3. Nationally recognised running coach answers questions about natural running.

Post number three is an interview with Newton certified coach Ryan Smith. I am interested in Newton shoes and may end up testing a pair pretty soon. Ryan answers questions on form and  the post includes links to transition programmes for those of you who are interested.

I was running with a barefooter who changed to Newtons and back and had few problems. I know that both Jason Robillard and Pete Larson tested the newton with interesting results. I would really like to give them a go.


4. I have just read Jason Robillard’s post and it is number four this week.

We are used to Jason’s advice and comments about barefoot running and have followed his family’s recent expedition. He has been looking inwards a little more  and this post struck a chord with me. I have long been aware that I need to learn new things. Blogging fulfills a purpose in my life and I was just becoming aware of that too. It seems I am not alone.

5. Nic Brisbourne’s achilles were shot. Then he did something about it.

Post number five starts with Nic telling us about the impact his damaged achilles were having on his life. The surprise for me was that it was brought about by switching to Vibrams. Nic had just gone at it too hard. He describes the realisation and the steady patient process he went through to get himself healthy and back on the trail. A happy ending




Join in the chat on the new Barefoot Beginner Facebook group

The Pick of the Barefoot Posts archive pages

Dec 13

Lonely Feet Barefoot Roamers – Our first outing up Rivington Pike

A couple of weeks ago, I was chatting on facebook and there was a suggestion that a few of us in the Greater Manchester area should get together and barefoot.

I suggested Sunday 9th December at 10am and someone suggested Rivington Pike.

And so it was that the first meeting of the Lonely Feet Barefooters took place.

I had done a recce of the route the previous Sunday and knew it was challenging but runnable.

There were four of us.

Sharon travelled over form Southport. She usually runs barefoot on the beach so in Vivobarefoot shoes up Rivington Pike was a big difference.

Georg travelled up from Alsager in the Vibrams. Georg was one of our Real Barefooters a little while ago.

Tim comes from Sale. He is an experienced barefooter wearing his crazy homemade conveyor belt huaraches. They are so good.

I travelled from just over the hill and decided to wear a combination of the Swiss Socks I am testing and my Lunas.

We set off and I ditched the Lunas almost immediately after we hit the mud. The Swiss Socks seemed to be handling the ground well even though they were wet through straight away.

After a mile or so we started the climb up through the Chinese gardens to the summit. Sharon took a left half way and made her way through the lovely grounds of the Great Barn to meet us at the finish.

Georg and I commented on how light Tim is on his feet. He moved across all types of ground with a short smooth stride. It was reminiscent of an elf from Lord of the Rings. Running next to Georg, I felt like one of the dwarves. In the book of Lord of the Rings there is a scene where Aragorn, Legolas and Gimili run for hours on end trying to hunt down a pack of orcs. I reckon that is exactly what we looked like as we made our way from the pigeon tower to the summit.

As I chased Tim up the steps to the tower, I could hear my name being shouted in good natured abuse. Phil, fellow runner and companion on last week’s recce was waiting at the summit and joined us on the descent.

The drop off the summit is steep and we witnessed a mountain bike wipeout as someone bit of more than they could chew. Smiles all round fortunately. Georg spent most of the descent sliding on his backside, i slipped a couple of times and Tim just pattered gently ahead in his homemade huaraches without a care in the world.

We all took off our footwear to run barefoot for the last section. You can see the grins on our faces. The Swiss Socks were really good. I will be out again in them soon.

Back at the Great Barn, we met up with Sharon and Tim and Georg’s families. We had cups of tea out of the back of Tim’s new campervan. It just finished off the morning.

We want a few more people for next month’s run. we are going for the 2nd Sunday of the month.

Keep and eye of the Barefoot Beginner Facebook group for details.


Dec 11

Vibram Fivefingers Seeya

Reviews from the Barefoot Community

We read many reviews at Barefoot Beginner and ask readers to pass on the reviews that they trust.

  • Matt Wallden from Primal Lifestyle is the sole distributor of Fivefingers in the UK. During a recent question and answer session on the Barefoot Beginner Facebook group, Matt said ,

 The SeeYa, is an uber-lightweight version of the bikila – similar 4mm sole… many say the most comfortable VFF ever.


  • Jon Mackintosh from Pixel Scotland is a regular contributor to discussions on Barefoot beginner and pointed us to this review of the Seeya from Birthday Shoes. 
  • Karen Neves– I ran in Bikilas for a long time. Switched to SeeYas in Sept. Love them. Difference for me = much less tight strap across top.



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From ultra-streamlined SeeYa is the newest performance option for serious minimalist runners. Designed to bring you even closer to the barefoot sensation, it’s radically reduced overall weight and material with a more breathable mesh upper to deliver true, performance-driven footwear. Minimum rubber thickness in the outsole maximizes foot feel and flexibility, while a soft TPU midsole further reduces thickness and weight for natural movement. A stitched-in polyurethane insole protects skin and foot tissue during longer runs. For a snug fit, the lightweight, single-layer, stretch mesh upper has an adjustable hook-and-loop closure.Specifications: Shoe Category Barefoot/Minimalist Ideal Use Barefoot Running Weight 9.6 oz Glossary: TPU MidsoleReduces thickness and weight to provide more flexibility of movement Upper – Polyester Stretch meshFor comfort and breathability SoleVibram TC-1 Rubber – one of the most durable soles out there 3m Reflective For night running Machine Washable

Dec 11

Vibram Fivefingers explained – Matt Wallden from Primal Lifestyle answers your questions

Over on the Barefoot Beginner facebook group we were discussing Vibram 5 fingers.

Nancy Mulhogan fancied a pair but wanted a bit of advice before she splashed the cash.

We invited Matt Wallden from Primal Lifestyle to visit the group and give us the benefit of his experience. Matt is the sole distributor of Vibrams in the UK and knows his stuff.

Hi Matt – The main questions seem to be about choosing the right kind and right size of Vibrams for the task in hand. The original question was about stockists with a good selection to try on.

Hi All, this is Matt (hidden behind my nom de plume of Vibram Fivefingers). Re stockists, you can find a list on our site here:

Picking the right VFF’s.  They have really evolved since the original model “The Classic” came out in 2006; so each iteration has a new benefit. A quick (and not fully exhaustive) run down goes something like this:

Classic: the original – and some think the best as it’s most like being barefoot. 3mm “slick” sole, so best for on-road or trails in summer. Requires greatest level of skill to wear, in terms of lack of protection / grip; which some people relish, others… not so much. Not ideal for those whose feet fall “between sizes” … and can get pulled off your foot by the suction of deep mud etc

Sprint / KSO: the next iteration of the classic – same 3mm sole, but now the upper has strapping (and material covering in the case of the KSO. Better for people requiring a more secure fit. (ALL VFF’s ARE MACHINE-WASHABLE, BTW … useful if running trails at this time of year!!!)

Bikila / Speed: both have the same sole unit which is 2mm throughout, with a further 2mm of rubber plating in key impact areas; the idea being to prevent stone bruising, but without losing flexibility & feel. Slightly better on wet / muddy ground, but not as good as the…

TrekSport / KSO Trek: These have a 6mm sole with deeper grip grooves – designed for greater traction on wet ground and greater protection if running on rocky terrain. I used these to run the Classic Quarter round the cornish coastal path… absolutely perfect!!

Finally, this year’s iterations, the SeeYa, is an uber-lightweight version of the bikila – similar 4mm sole… many say the most comfortable VFF ever. The Spyridon is this year’s trail shoe which is 6mm in the sole, but it also incorporates a thin mesh designed to disperse sharp impact forces (from stones or roots) laterally; and they’re great for that. Also the grip on the spyridon is designed to function equally well whether going up or down hill. Decrease impact by around 30% and, I have to say, since using them (for most of this year) I haven’t had one incident of stone bruising… Could be I’m getting better at minimalist running… or could be luck! But I have a feeling the shoes also have something to do with it.

Hi Matt, thanks for dropping in. I don’t have a pair of fivefingers and I reckon it is because I have heard that they may rub a little and I am worried about getting the sizing right. What do you look for when you help people trying them on.

They should feel “snug” but not like they’re compressing the toes. We actually rarely find people get blisters, as the shoes tend to move “with the foot” rather than the foot moving inside the shoe. However, it can and does happen, so a simple solution is toe socks, or alternatively Compeed works wonders. Wear Compeed in the blistered area for a run or two and the shoe will conform to the skin there and the rubbing will stop (at least that’s our experience to date). But, like I say, blisters are not usually a big issue with the VFF’s. Narrower footed users should probably go with a strapped version, while a wider footed user should probably go with a laced version, but this is not a strict rule; most people can use both, but I guess those on the extreme ends should follow the advice I’ve offered here.

Thanks for being so generous with your time, Matt. I hope that you have answered some of the questions that have been lurking in the back of a few minds before we splash the cash. Christmas is coming and I am feeling the need.

You can follow Matt on Twitter at

Dec 10

Barefoot Briefs Edition 5 – Available to download

Edition 5 of Barefoot Briefs is now available to download.

It has been a busy couple of weeks at Barefoot Beginner. We have had a couple of giveaways, formed the Barefoot beginner Facebook group and had our first group run.

The idea behind Barefoot Briefs is to provide lots of links to the best bits from around the barefoot world in one place.

I have read so many shoe review posts and lists in the past 2 weeks that I think that I am going to make a shoes news page a regular feature just to keep everyone up to date with what is going on out there. That will feature next time round.

Click on the image below for the full Edition 5.

Don’t forget to sign up for Barefoot Briefs by email then you don’t miss anything


Dec 09

‘What should I put on my feet to go run ?’ by John McClung – Barefoot Beginner – Giveaway

The winner of the ‘What should I put on my feet to go run ?’ giveaway is………

Taminator Harrison.

I have contacted Taminator (very good name) and a copy of John’sbook will be winging its way to her very soon.

If you are desparate for a copy then I am sure John would be very happy if you bought one for someone you love this Christmas.


You can buy John’s book in the UK here and in the US here.


Over on the Barefoot Beginner facebook group we interviewed John about his experiences writing a children’s book.

As you can see, we have John McClung amongst us. Nice to see you here John. If you would like to ask him a question about his barefoot book for children, now would be a good time. I’ll start if that is OK, John, the illustrations are suberb – Who is responsible for those and how do you go about getting them right?

John : The illustrator is Laura Hollingsworth, a very talented art student and creator of The Silver Eye Comic. Laura created a lot of concept art and rough sketches which really helped me figure out what the book should look like.

When I wrote the text I had no idea how many pictures there should be or what they should portray exactly. Figuring that out was actually pretty tricky.

I read alot of children’s books at work. I reckon that your book has some lovely gruffalo like qualities. Did you have anything in mind when you started to write it?

John : I haven’t read the gruffalo. To be honest, I really didn’t have anything in mind at the time. My wife and I were talking and I  Read the full interview here

Dec 08

Interview with John McClung – Author of ‘What should I put on my feet to go run?’

I recently invited John McCLung over to the Barefoot Beginner Facebook Group for a chat about his new book.

As you can see, we have John McClung amongst us. Nice to see you here John. If you would like to ask him a question about his barefoot book for children, now would be a good time. I’ll start if that is OK, John, the illustrations are suberb – Who is responsible for those and how do you go about getting them right?

John : The illustrator is Laura Hollingsworth, a very talented art student and creator of The Silver Eye Comic. Laura created a lot of concept art and rough sketches which really helped me figure out what the book should look like.

When I wrote the text I had no idea how many pictures there should be or what they should portray exactly. Figuring that out was actually pretty tricky.

I read alot of children’s books at work. I reckon that your book has some lovely gruffalo like qualities. Did you have anything in mind when you started to write it?

John : I haven’t read the gruffalo. To be honest, I really didn’t have anything in mind at the time. My wife and I were talking and I said something along the lines of “a bear’s foot should be barefoot” and she said that sounded like a line from a children’s book and that I should write one. I thought about it for a few minutes and came up with “a bear’s foot should be barefoot, that’s the best way for a bear to run around on a honey-sunny day.” It was only at that point that I decided to write a book.

Most of the book was written that first day. I started with that line and built a story around it. Most of the work that remained was coming up with different kinds of shoes

I read your blog all the time. Now a children’s book. Have you written other things as well?

John : Not really, though I wrote a lot of goofy poetry in my 2d year of college, mostly Elizabethan-style sonnets about random subjects. I once turned in some music theory homework as 14 lines of iambic pentameter. I’m not sure my prof knew what to make of it…