Our next Real Barefooter is Shaun Daws (far right) probably better known to some of you as ‘Barefoot Dawsy’ of www.beginningbarefoot.com
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 (http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2009/11/04/barefoot-running-the-great-debate/). 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.
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 beginningbarefoot.com/barechat
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 facebook.com/beginningbarefoot, and of course beginningbarefoot.com. Also, I’m always happy to take questions at email@example.com 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)
Read More ‘Real Barefooters’ here