Ian was one of the very first barefoot runners I came into contact with when I started Barefoot Beginner. When I was looking for one or two real barefooters to share their experiences each month, it only seemed right that Ian should be one of them. We bumped into each other at the running show last year and I intend to get down a for a run with the Wiltshire Barefooters some time very soon.
Chris has very kindly and bravely asked me to write a post once a month for his excellent web site. So I do hope my ramblings don’t damage his viewing figures!
Listening to other barefoot runners over the past couple of years, my path into barefoot running was different to the majority of barefooters. Whilst shopping for a pair of trainers at my local running shop I saw a display of VFFs. As soon as I saw them I knew they were for me. I soon got myself a pair and started down the path of barefoot/minimal running not realizing what I was letting myself in for! I ran for over a year in my VFFs and absolutely loved it. Having learned much more about barefoot/minimal running, I wanted to move onto barefoot but just kept procrastinating. One day, on one of my usually runs over a year ago, I just took off my VFFs and carried them for the rest of my run. Why on earth had I not done this before? I felt so alive and free! I sprinted the last 300m. Ah yes – I learnt my first lesson in barefoot running – DON’T do too much too soon! I had two large blood blisters to show for my first barefoot efforts. I hobbled around work that day. My work colleagues just thought I was completely bonkers. But I knew I was onto something very special! Probably the biggest surprise for me was the reaction of my wife. I really thought she would think I was mad, but she started to tell her friends how proud she was of me. With my wife’s approval there was no stopping me.
A couple of months later I met Simon Bridges from Barefoot Running UK facebook group. I had great delight telling my family and friends I was meeting a complete stranger that I found on facebook for a barefoot run! And so started “Wiltshire Barefoot Runners”, our own little running group. We’ve had a few laughs over the past year, which includes Simon slipping in the mud and grabbing a wire fence not realizing it was electrified – which he soon was! Ah, we were also running barefoot in a snow blizzard at the time! I myself have had my share of incidents. One being when I tried to run through a stream with algae covered rocks! – well yes probably not best idea I’ve had. My first step sent me flying backwards and landing heavily on a twisted foot breaking it in two places! But the worse bit was not being able to run for six weeks! Well cabin fever soon set in and I drove my wife nuts!
A few weeks ago, Simon and I completed our first half marathon, this being my foolish idea. Looking back with hind sight, this was probably not the best half marathon to choose for first time barefoot racing! The first eleven miles was gravel with stones which I’m sure in places were the size of apples! The next few miles was worn out tarmac, which looked like it had been laid in the 1940s! The last few hundred metres was grass, a very welcome relief for tired feet! The feeling of achievement was fantastic and thinking to myself I have finally arrived as a barefoot runner. The cold beer was also worth the wait!
Two other members of Wiltshire Barefoot Runners completed the marathon that day. Steve Bailey and Stephen Richards both wearing minimal shoes. I take my hat off to them, this course was very tough going and there is no way I could of done the whole marathon!
Unfortunately there was blood, my blood, but not from my feet. Before the race had even started, I looked at this very long queue for two very sorry looking port-a-loos. A lot of the guys were jumping over this fence (which happened to be a barbed wire fence) to make use of a couple of trees! So I thought no harm could come of this, just hop over the fence like the young spritely guy I am! Well, things did not go exactly to plan! I got my left leg over – okay so far, but stung my foot on stinging nettles, lost my balance and impaled my leg on the wire, stumbled and dragged my right leg over bringing the barbed wire with it! So, I’m standing at the start line barefoot on a gravel track with blood dripping down my leg. I will leave it to your imagination to picture the looks I was getting!
Yes the looks. Well, when I first started barefoot running I was very conscious of the looks. This was probably the biggest hurdle I had to overcome. I remember once diving behind a garden wall when somebody was walking towards me. But now, thankfully I actually enjoy seeing their faces, it really makes me smile! Barefoot running has help to give me confidence as I’m not one for leaving my comfort zone.
Anyway, have fun running my friends, barefoot or minimal. I hope Chris invites me back next month.
Thanks Ian!. You will be very welcome. Hope to get down and see you for a run sometime soon.
Ian is an active member of our Barefoot Beginner facebook group. Come and join in with the chat, you will be made very welcome.