June 2013 archive

Jun 30

My 5 favourite barefoot posts of the week – number 39

Follow and like my Barefoot Beginner facebook page here.

Our Barefoot Beginner facebook group had almost 300 members and is a friendly place to hang out and chat about all things barefoot and minimalist. You will be made very welcome.

If twitter is your thing, you can follow Barefoot Beginner here.
Xero Shoes - Lots of Feet - 728 x 90

I know that has been a good week when I am agonising over which posts to include. When that happens, I list the ones that I want to read myself the most. Here they are:

jurek1. The first is a quick article on the worldvoiceforwomen site.

It includes comments from two friends of Barefoot Beginner. David Robinson is well known to most of us as one half of Barefoot Running UK. Having listened to David speak, I know that he practices what he preaches and his comments in line with the advice I would give to anyone starting out. It was also great to see input from Gabby Deare of Tri-running. When I first started Barefoot Beginner, Gabby and I worked together on our first competition and I wrote a guest post on her blog. Have a look.

natural2. An awesome post linked to Dr. Mark Cucuzzella’s talk at this years Barefoot Connection’s Conference.

In his article he explains the things he has learned by running barefoot. Many of you will have seen the video of mark running fast barefoot. It is excellent. I like the way this article starts with a description of the patients telling Mark that they cannot run. I also hear that all the time and feel frustrated. He lists the main things he has discovered barefoot running so far and is well worth a look.

T-shirts3. A posts about the backlash against technical t-shirts from Jason Robillard

I remember reading an article a few years ago (15 or so?) where the author was on a mission to get everyone out of their cotton t-shirts and into technical ones. I still have my original technical t-shirts, they last so long but I must admit, I wear them less than I used to. I am not sure why. Last night I bought a pile of long sleeve cotton t-shirts that were on offer with the intention of running in them. An interesting debate that Jason has been talking about for quite some time now. Here is his view.

4. I am currently on day 70 something of my attempt to run barefoot everyday. This article lists 5 benefits of running everyeverydayday.

OK, it is light hearted but there are some messages in there. I am not personally recommending that anyone runs barefoot every day. It is just something I felt compelled to try for some reason. There are a few people joining in at our little Barefoot Mile a Day facebook group. Have a look at this article and see what you think.

Ted5. Last but not least is a great Barefoot Ted interview from Runners World.

I heard Ted speak last week and really enjoyed it. In this interview, the bit that catches my attention is the common sense coming out of it. I find myself agreeing particularly with the section on transition advice. Asking yourself why you want to do this is very important. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it seems like good advice to me. I needed to barefoot in order to run with better form. Some people just don’t need to do that.

You can comment in our Barefoot Beginner facebook group. We are a friendly bunch, you will be made very welcome.

Jun 29

Venado (a.k.a the Original Luna)


You may have read a post recently where I explained that I am working with a number of stores to provide a UK outlet for minimlaist shoes/sandals.

James Anelay at BornBarefoot in Greater Manchester is one of those stores. I provide my honest opinion on the footewear available and help spread the word. In return, I recieve a small comission.

If you are looking for a pair of shoes or sandals, it would be great if you would consider clicking through and buying in this way. It will certainly help keep Barefoot Beginner in the black. Thankyou.

Venado (a.k.a the Original Luna)


Be the first to review the Venado (a.k.a the Original Luna)


The Venado (Deer en Español) with the super secure ATS laces is the recommended street sandal from Luna Sandals.

The Venado (previously named the Original Luna) is handmade in Seattle. It uses a 6mm Vibram neoprene sole (7mm with footbed) that is lightweight, comfortable, and has excellent ground feel. This sandal is great for running or continue reading

Jun 28

The Eddie’s Revenge Fell Race – A barefoot running review from Greg Dimelow

Greg Dimelow is a member of our Northwest Barefooters running group and active member of the Barefoot Beginner facebook group. Come and join in the chat, you will be made very welcome.

I am not a barefoot runner, I’m a minimalist ……oooops I can’t really claim that anymore as my shoes keep falling off ! Ok so I am a barefoot and minimalist runner these days. I am comfortable with that …..


So as the path I have chosen to travel has taken me firmly away from shoes and into less and less foot covering, my horizons have spread and the nature of my running has changed also. Gone are the days of being bothered by times, speeds, pace and placement in the race order. To be honest my desire to race is almost non existent these days. That’s not to say I don’t want to enter races just that the competitive part of me is diminished and I want to share the experience with others.

As I have been looking around for my next personal challenge. My eyes have been drawn upwards and off the beaten tracks of road running. I have been fascinated by ultra running for a while now and would love to tackle one. The simple matter of fact is that the majority of ultras spend a lot of time going up ! They talk about vertical gain like road runners talk about pace per mile. This causes me an issue. As a short, big lad who runs I’m not really built to go up hills. So looking around I live in a hilly area of the world and there are lots of dark and mysterious places i want to explore. All of which are in these high places known as fells.

Just the word fells invokes an emotional response in me. Fell running…..that invokes fear ! Fell runners are tall, beard sporting,muscular old blokes who have been running since Noah was a lad. A great quote is


  But fell runners are a breed apart. They run up mountains, and down them, and then do it again, and again, and again: it is not just endurance that drives them, but danger. The tougher the challenge, it would seem, the keener they are to take it on. – Andrew Baker. The Telegraph.


As far as challenges fell running has it all ! And it should set me up for being able to complete an ultra……..

So I started talking to my friends who are in running clubs and started asking questions about trail and fell running. Gathering information and getting more and more scared as each conversation finished. I should have known then ! The more I felt fear the more intrigued I became. Then I got an invite to a local race, Eddies revenge fell race. They also said ” You cant run it in your vibrams , its in an old quarry and full of rocks “. No no no I said ……..

On race day I got out of work on time and travelled home to get changed. Petrified I set off up to Shaw in Oldham and signed up (what did you expect !). Then walked up to the start line hoping to see somebody I knew for a bit of support. As I had posted on Facebook prior to the race, I was expecting to be last and was planning on running it in my vff’s with the joke that I would go barefoot if the terrain let me. Some people saw the vff’s and had a chat with me and I started to feel better…..still wary but feeling like I was back in my natural element.  We all lined up and I stood around at the back, listened to the race briefing and before I knew it we were off !

Up the hill we went and I immediately started struggling. What had I done ? Everybody was chatting and laughing and I couldn’t breathe …….then off the road and the real hill started ! I nearly died……having to power hike less than a kilometre into a race felt alien to me and I started to feel like a failure. Others around me started walking too so I felt better.

As I got to the top of the hill I looked around and felt a surge of confidence and that now common uncontrollable urge to take my vff’s off. The ground looked manageable so off they came ! I set off across the fell like a man possessed. The joy, the feelings, the sensations underfoot……I felt so alive ! Then I hit the downhill section…….the speed and freedom of racing down hill barefoot was liberating ! Halfway down a marshall shouted out ” whats happened to your shoes? are you OK ?”. Laughing manically at this point i replied ” i just wanted to take them off !”. At the bottom of the hill the was a right turn and we climbed back up. This climb wasn’t as bad but it went on for longer. This was interesting barefoot as I had to leap from rock to rock to avoid the smashed gravel path. As the climb ever went on upwards the highest point was in view. I passed the same marshall again who this time asked ” do you want me to take your shoes back for you? ” this was a shocker……acceptance of barefooting ! The marshals and encouragement continued like this all the way around with varied comments from a very jovial ” your mad ! ” to a gauged response after looking at me running up the path and looking at the next bit

Of sharp rocky gravel path ” the next bit will hurt lad ! ” I couldn’t stop laughing or smiling all the way around. Anyway back to the run.

This highest bit was evil…..a short sharp climb up to the summit. On sharp pointy gravel ! Ouch ouch ouch ! At the top I bumped into a Marshall who offered a drink. I gladly thanked him and took a sip….then I made the mistake of looking around……stunning, does not cover it. I could see for miles and miles around. I stood there for a min before remembering I was in a race, setting off down the path again.

The next part nearly did me in. I soon realised that I don’t know enough about barefoot running to run on smashed quarry rock paths. At this point I also realised that I was very very near the back ….who cares ! This was liberating, being in a race and enjoying the experience of running without needing to win. I ran on and on following the yellow paint marks on the floor every now and then. Then there was a change of direction and a change underfoot as we started to descend again. More rocks and peat but this time with mud ! The floor squished underfoot and we had a small stream to leap across halfway down the hill. Racing down the hill, arms spread out to stabilise myself just laughing out loud like a child ! Caused concern to the sweeper who raced up to have a chat and check I was OK. He was great and really supportive. He also advised that we where nearly at the finish.

At the next Marshall I was advised…..it gets a bit steep soon……..talk about understatement !  It was nearly vertical ! The path was very eroded and just quarry rocks underfoot. At one point I was trying to decide if it would be faster to slide down on my backside. The Marshall at the bottom was bemused by my lack of shoes and initially concerned that something was amiss until I spoke and explained I was going barefoot by choice.

Across the smashed sharp gravel pathway and down another hill crossing the car park near the finish line. Then onto the final loop back along a rocky path and back up the initial hill again. I didn’t like this hill the first time ….why why did I have to go up again. I put my vff’s back on to go up the hill but very quickly took them off again at the top whilst chatting to the marshals……they thought I was being friendly……I was just in bits lol. Then off again for the final flourish around the top of the car park with everybody shouting encouragement to the final few of us to finish. A final decent feeling like a hero because of all the support and shouting from other runners was just amazing ! At the bottom of the hill a short run to the finish and as I turned the corner……I saw the floor….. And just knew I couldn’t run on it ! Sharp smashed quarry rocks abut the size of golf balls……I joked that I didn’t want to finish and was happy to DNF and a few people shouted and pushed me on to the finish shouting and clapping encouragement.

I finished and came last with the biggest grin on my face. It didnt matter, I had done it and most of it barefoot. That’s what mattered to me right there and then.

Aft the event most of the runners returned to the hall/ registration point to have some cake and a brew whilst waiting for the results and presentation. One of the major things I noticed was how everybody was clapped and supported from the first the the last ( me ). Everybody who took part was made to feel as valued as the winners and that was fat to be part of. Lots of warm and enthusiastic support and questions about why I had done it barefoot. Joking to one of the organisers I asked if I was the fastest barefooter to complete the race and he said ” you will see!” At the end of the real presentations for proper winners I was very amused to get a mention and a prize for now holding the fastest course record for barefoot ! The support from everybody was amazing and I really think I have found a new aspect of running I always thought was out of my reach.

A huge thank you to all of the organisers and volunteers. You all made my first fell race a very very enjoyable and pleasurable experience. Other races will have to work hard to match it.

As far as a barefoot rating I think that a rating of BBB (difficult) feels about right. But with an eye towards BBBB (severe). This comes with the caveat that it was dry, wet I wouldn’t even attempt it. I would advise some foot covering that can very quickly be put on and taken off as the rocks underfoot dictated. I struggled at times on the really rough stuff but it was a great race that I will return to next year.

You can see barefoot reviews of other events and an explanation of our barefoot grading system on our review page.

We also have a facebook page for you to visit and like. You can also follow Barefoot Beginner on twitter.

Jun 27

The Vibram Fivefingers EL-X in the UK

Buy the new Vibram Fivefingers EL-X in the UK here.

One of the greatest pleasures I have had in the last year of blogging is meeting and working with lots of other like minded people.

I have a great working relationship with Tracy at Barefoot Britain. If you order a pair of Sockwas from my store then the likelihood is that Tracy fulfils that order. It works well for both of us. I don’t need to carry lots of stock and Tracy gets a few extra sales. I gain a little bit of commission that helps fund my blog. Without it, I would struggle to make ends meet.

I have the same relationship with Anna and David at Barefoot Britain and Gray Caws for his Chirunning sessions.

Building up a relationship with Walsh Footwear is also exciting and we have just moved things on a little. The first batch of zero drop Walshes have gone out and I have ordered a few more pairs which will be with me in September.

Of course, it is all about integrity. I intend to be around for years to come and will only recommend things that I believe in and will be incredibly honest in my reviews.

One relationship I am also excited about is with James Anelay at BornBarefootUK. James recently hosted the evening with Barefoot Ted in Hyde near Manchester and is stocking Vibrams Fivefingers. You can also buy Xeros from James.

I am helping spread the word about his store and in return  I receive a small commission on sales generated through Barefoot Beginner. Again, it helps bring in a little to help with running costs.

James had just received the new Vibram Fivefingers EL-X in to his store and has sent me a pair to try out.

I believe EL-X stand for Entry Level Cross trainer. I am looking forward to the parcel arriving in the post.

The Vibram FiveFingers EL-X are Vibram’s most minimal outdoor FiveFingers to date, built to be simple, comfortable and easy to put on, the ELX is the perfect introduction to FiveFingers. With a max sole thickness of 2.7mm and insole of 2mm EVA they offer incredible ground feel. The upper of Polyester Mesh and thin rubber bands also give a snug fit. 

Vibram Fivefingers EL-X


Jun 23

Barefoot Runner Ian Hicks – A busy barefoot month

At the beginning of the month I went to Richmond Park in London for the Barefoot Running UK group run. Unfortunately Anna was side-lined with an injury to her ankle, so it was just David and I. We did about 7 miles around the park. It is a superb location for a barefoot run. It has a real mix of terrain, grass, gravel and woodland and a bit of tarmac thrown in for good measure. While David and I were enjoying a drink and a chat in the park cafe, after the run, David had many genuinely interested people come up and talk to him about barefoot running. It was great to see such interest, many saying they will join the group run. I do hope more runners join these group runs, as they are really worth the effort. David and Anna are good company and are very generous with tips and information about barefoot running.

Since March I have been having a great deal of fun reviewing the PaleoBarefoots® PRONATIV – chain mail shoes for the Barefoot Running UK magazine. This will be out in their summer edition issue no. 9, so look out for it, I’m sure you will find the review interesting!

chainmail shoesWiltshire Barefoot Runners are currently producing a T-shirt. We have had a lot of discussion about the logo and have decided to go with a similar design to the International Barefoot Running Day Brighton T-shirt logo – but using my footprint!

I have been playing around with speed work during the past month. I have decided to teach myself barefoot sprinting. It is something I have tried when I first started barefoot running but only ended up with blisters! I’m talking about real sprinting, full on power. The problem as I see it at the moment is do I lean forward more; increase the length of my stride; increase cadence or a combination of all three? Sprinting involves “pushing off” does it not? which in turn would cause blisters! So I posted this on facebook and got a great response from the likes of Danny Dreyer and Gray Caws. Tracy from Barefoot Britain put me on to Steven Sashen – he is a speed king and knows a great deal about barefoot running and sprinting. The response from him was long and full of very useful tips with speed. This is a really interesting subject for me. I feel I have got to the barefoot distance that I’m happy with. So now it’s time for me to start barefoot sprinting! I’m looking forward to putting these tips into use and see if I can build my speed up. I will let you know how I get on.

A week ago I went to see Barefoot Ted at a running shop in Bristol – what a very interesting guy. He spoke continuously for an hour, barely pausing for breath! My attention span is very short, but I was totally captivated by his stories. I could of sat there all night listening to him. I would of enjoyed a run after the talk but there wasn’t one arranged. Unfortunately in my haste to leave the house I left my phone, do I was unable to take any photos. I also forgot my “Born to Run” book – another blow because he was book signing with his footprint!

I had an interesting talk to a neighbour of mine about barefoot running. She is a runner and wanted to know why I run barefoot. I went into great detail telling her all the merits of running with bare feet. When I finished she ended by saying she was interested in this and felt that it was important to run with a barefoot style. Her husband had been interested in barefoot running for a while. My eyes light up and was about to suggest we get together for a run and a chat, when she said “yes, he runs six months heel striking and then six months forefoot striking, so he can make his trainers last twice as long”! – I’m afraid I was just speechless!

Happy running. Catch up next month.

Jun 20

Think big! Increase your speed by focusing on the core muscles

This month’s post is inspired by Ian Hicks who raised a question on the Barefoot Beginner Facebook forum about the correlation between cadence, stride-length and speed. Optimal cadence (number of foot strikes per minutes) reduces impact with the ground and, along with correct alignment, relaxation and balance of the body, takes excessive loading off the ankle, knee and hip joints. It encourages a mid-foot landing close to the body’s centre of mass,.

Chi Running recommends an optimal cadence of between 170-180bpm (85-90 strikes per foot) for efficient running. Research by Heierscheit et al. (2011) backs this up.

So to increase speed when running you simply increase your cadence? – Wrong! Our body loves rhythm and works more efficiently when this rhythm is maintained – think heart beat, breathing, eating and sleeping patterns. So cadence remains constant. Increased stride-length, not cadence, creates speed.

It’s time to start thinking big! Focus on the core muscles not the legs. Shift the workload to your ‘energy centre’ (dantien). In Chi Running the dantien is a reference point for the body’s center of mass located three finger widths down from the belly button and approximately two inches in towards the spine. By engaging this point you activate the big core muscles to stabilise the pelvis, keep a neutral spine and allow a balanced leg swing.

To increase stride-length increase the forward lean of your aligned posture. As you lean more relax the hips and legs more and your stride-length will open up behind, not in front, of the body. Create a ‘wheel’ underneath the body with your leg swing. Think of each inch of increase in lean as changing up a gear – the lower the gear, the smaller the wheel (slow speed/pace). As you go up a gear relax the lower body and allow the natural momentum of the leg swing to make a larger wheel increasing the stride-length and you’ll speed up.

If your cadence is much higher than 180bpm and you are not ‘sprinting’ this can indicate that the hip flexor muscles are tight and gluteus maximus (large bum muscles) are switched off, creating short choppy strides and overusing the leg muscle. This is a common muscular imbalance due to too much sitting.

When increasing the lean, it is important to make sure that the pelvis stays level (neutral) and that the hip and not the back extends when the leg swings reward. You should feel a slight pelvic rotation around a vertical axis, not a tipping back and forth. Pelvic instability when running can create hyper-extension (over-arching) of the lower back leading to tension and again those poor leg muscles get to take the brunt of the work.

Sprinters and distance runners use different energy systems and biomechanics. Sprinters’ races are usually 400m maximum. Distance runners shouldn’t try to emulate sprinters and should aim to keep cadence close to 180bpm. Cadence may rise  slightly when interval training but if this is the case there should be a clear correlation with increased speed.

Speed is not something that is created by reaching forward or drastically increasing cadence but rather by relaxing more into a balanced forward lean allowing a natural stride-length to open up rearward. It’s not about ‘pushing’ with the leg muscles but rather visualise working from the core, take a focal point ahead and being drawn towards feeling the ground pull away from underneath.

Gray Caws

Certified Chi Running Instructor and Personal Trainer


PS: This weekend I’m heading to the Barefoot Connections Conference 2013 to present and workshop the Chi Running method. For more information check out www.n8pt.com/?ID=109
My next post will no doubt be a review of the day and I’m sure I’m going to meet lots of you there!

Jun 20

Barefoot Ted – Riffing on life

Well done to James from BornbarefootUK for hosting the evening with Barefoot Ted. He is currently taking pre-orders on the new VFF L-EX. Have a look.

Having just spent a couple of hours in the company of Barefoot Ted, I am left with the impression that he isn’t crazy or even hyper. He is just clearly very happy and has created the space in his life to find out about and follow those things that capture his interest.

Sure, he talks ten to the dozen but in a positive way. I had my 10 year old son with me and I no point was I worried that Ted was going to slip into profanity or give a message that I wouldn’t have wanted him to hear.

Ted is one of the characters in Chris McDougal’s ‘Born to Run’ and when I heard that he was talking close to home, there was no doubt that I was going to shift things around so that I could attend.

My son has been running with me sometimes and in preparation had been slipping off his Vivobarefoots to barefoot alongside me.

In haven’t encouraged him to do that, it is just something he has decided to do himself. He has always been a bit of a barefoot kid and it seems natural to him.

After Ted’s talk, we all went for a bit of a run. Ted rode his Solowheel which looks like alot of fun. My son slipped off his shoes again and barefooted alongside and I pattered along behind with a big grin on my face.

For someone who is supposed to be so radicle, Ted speaks a lot of common sense. He told us about his reasons for begining to barefoot run and a little about the development of the Luna Sandal. I have watched Ted online a few times but it was fresh and there was plenty of new stuff to hear.

When asked about running, Ted talks about being in that persistance hunting mode. He wanted to see how long he could stay in the zone where it feels like you can keep going forever. When to push and when to back off. Since beginning to barefoot, I feel like that sometimes. I am no longer powering through but ticking along in a sustainable way. Get that right and the speed will come. Finding that space to exist ends up being the goal.

For me, Ted’s biggest message is about finding that space. He talks about it in running but I get the feeling that it is also his attitude to life. Ken Bob talks alot about ‘playing’ and Ted talked more than once about ‘riffing’. It is about taking an idea or an interest and seeing where it goes. Like running, if you push it too hard or go to slow, it doesn’t work. If you hit the sweet spot, it is sustainable and is quite a ride.

Ted’s life seems to be like that. He is riffing, not pushing too hard but maintaining forward momentum and following lines of interest. He seems to be in that zone and has worked out a way of sustaining it. It is good to be in the company of someone like that.

I am trying to take that message on board myself and find the right balance and find the right space to be in. My life is so much more exciting than it was a year ago when I started to blog. I am doing a bit of riffing of my own but I need to learn when to push and when to back off so that I stay in the space and don’t push too hard or let it fizzle. I need to feel like I am persistence hunting and can keep it up indefinitely.

So…it was a great evening and thanks to James from BornBarefootUK for hosting the event.

My son rang his mum from the car and shouted: ‘I just shook Barefoot Ted’s hand’. He was so full of life explaining that he had also been barefooting with him. It was worth the trip for that alone.


Role models are important and you hope your children choose ones that have a positive impact on their lives. I am delighted that at the moment, my son is choosing Ted and Ken Bob. Long may it continue.

Don’t forget, I have a facebook page for you to visit and like.

We also have a Barefoot Beginner facebook group which is a great place to find out about all thing barefoot.

My twitter feed is another good way to keep in touch.

Jun 18

Barefoot Running Review of the Cross Bay half marathon

Visit and like our facebook page and comment at our Barefoot Beginner facebook group.

The Cross Bay Challenge is a fantastic event. Morecambe Bay is one of the biggest tidal bays anywhere and walking across it was one of those things that I just had to do. Now I had the chance to run across it. It was too good a chance to miss.

The Queen has an official guide to the sands (Cedric Robinson). I listened to a radio interview with him a few weeks ago. He has been the guide for 50 years now and walked many thousands across the bay.

It is notorious due to the changing nature of the sands, the tide that comes in faster than a galloping horse and tragic stories, the most recent being the Chinese cockle pickers who were drowned a few years a go.

I walked with a guide out to their Landrover a couple of years ago. There was also a Memorial Cross that had been erected nearby. Both were buried almost to the top in the changing sands. It was eerie and when we turned round to look for the shore, it was clear that you would have no chance at all if you got the tide wrong.

I have had an entry to the Cross Bay Challenge for the past 4 years but my calves have always given in during training. This is the first year that I have made it to the start line. There must be something in this barefoot running.

There were around 500 people gathered around the start at Hest Bank. Mostly, we had left our cars over at Cark airfield and caught a coach over to the start. the start was delayed due to flooding in one of the channels and it gave us chance to have a chat with one or two other barefoot runners. We met a runner called Mike who had his shoes clipped to his waist. Eventually Mike passed me around half way and I chased him in vain for the rest of the race.

The whole thing was well organised. We were able to hand over kit bags for transportation to the finish. This meant that I could keep warm until the start.

The mood was good as we walked out onto the sands and then we were off. The sand was pleasant to run on although it did have a little give in it for long stretches. this takes it out of you. The first of the channels was only shin high and didn’t slow anyone down and before long, the pack began to lengthen out. I was running with Georg Schirmer at this point and it was good to chat about all things barefoot as we went. I felt good and pretty soon I was pattering past little groups of runners, my cadence naturally high.

I settled into a persistance hunting sort of rythym. I have not run 13 miles for a few years and so played safe and ran well within myself. It is worth saying that even though there were mile markers none of the barefoot runners had a watch between them. I felt strong and my feet were fine.

Then…a bit of a disaster. At about 7 miles, we ran through deep water. It was thigh high and in the end we all had to walk. Mike, the barefooter, came past me and started to run as the channel became shallower. I set of after him, pushing hard. When I got out of the channel, my left calf seized up. It had been fine when I went into the water, I have no trouble with it in training but there it was. I slowed down to almost walking pace.

Mike Royce

I couldn’t quite catch Mike as he came up the foreshore

In the past, I would have needed to stop but I modified my style to minimise the pain and was able to carry on. I ran like Michael Sandler but it hurt. i ran like Ken Bob but that hurt. In the end, I went back to running like me and the pain eventually began to subside. I decided to nurse it through to 11 miles and see how I felt. Then I had that strange runners thing go on. It is like that trance like state that happens some times and the next 4 miles just melted away and before I knew it, I was on the final run in. I tried to catch Mike but he stayed about 100yds ahead of me as we ran up the foreshore to the finish.

My bag was there waiting and I wrapped up warm and went to sit on the headland and take a few pics of runners coming in.

I got the roller out as soon as I got home and the knots in my calf are easing.

I would recommend the Cross Bay half-marathon for barefoot running and give it a B (Easy) rating. That is with the understanding that a half marathon is within your capabilities.

You can see what barefooters think of other races on our list.

To keep up with barefoot related things we have a facebook page for you to visit and like.

To comment or join in with the chat visit our Barefoot Beginner facebook group. It is a growing community and a great place to catch up with barefoot related news and chat. At the last count, we were 280 strong. The chat is warm and friendly. you will be made very welcome.

Vibram FiveFingers EL-X Pre-Order

Jun 17

Tim Hines – I am a barefoot runner and I’m proud.

There is something I have felt I should be honest about for a long time and finally I feel that I am able to admit it publicly.  My wife has known for ages and it has taken her a long time to come to terms with it but she has been supportive and understanding, despite the way other people might react to my “preferences”. I have known deep down for some months but I have been too embarrassed to be loud and proud about it.

I’m not going to hide in the shadows and fear the shame any more, I am a barefoot runner and I’m proud.

Let me explain, before you take any offence at that remark. In the past I have really struggled with telling people that I’m into barefoot, I think that it is because my total barefoot mileage was actually pretty low and, despite being a dedicated natural runner and keen to do more barefoot, I didn’t really feel like a proper barefoot runner. I could have said a minimalist runner, but I think that most people think that you mean you keep your running to a minimum.  I could have said natural runner, but I think that most people think naturist runner and start imagining me naked, if they weren’t already. So I’ve tended to end up saying some garbled passage along the lines of “I run barefoot, well I’m a natural runner, barefoot style, in minimalist shoes or sandals,” by which point they are bored, confused and think I’m nuts.  Now though I feel I’ve reached a point where I am a barefoot runner.  I’ve run a lot of things barefoot. I’ve completed a 10k on the road, barefoot. I’ve done a parkrun barefoot. I’ve run every day for a month, barefoot.  Now I can say, “I’m a barefoot runner” to people without blurting gibberish at them by way of explanation.  My life has again become simpler, as is the barefoot way.

Has it really been a month? Apparently so.  I’m very pleased to be able to say that I have somehow managed to keep up the barefoot streak. I’m very pleased with myself.  There were a couple of days when I thought I might not manage to get out, but I did.  Well done me.  Admittedly my mileage has been LOW.  Most days I’ve only done a mile or two, with the occasional 3 miler.  I have managed a couple of slightly longer runs too though and when I have the difference has been really noticeable. My feet are definitely getting tougher.  Since most of the miles have been on the street, I now declare myself street tough.

I’ve struggled with timing a lot this month, well really with time.  My only real way of fitting in a run a day is to go out first thing with the dog.  I love running first thing but I am not entirely sure that barefoot is best in the early hours.  My feet seem so much more tender at that time of day and it has meant that I am often avoiding taking the more scenic routes as I know that they’ll hurt, whereas the road is perfectly runnable. I do think though, that these early runs are toughening me up.  Tonight I managed to maintain a pretty decent pace running straight across a patch of nasty jagged gravel.  In runs of the past I would have walked it, today I barely slowed. So something is definitely working and making this whole barefoot caper easier.


A few weeks ago I ran the Great Manchester Run.  I carried my sandals around with me but kept them off. The road was rough and I was tempted to sandal up but the support from the crowd and the runners around me kept me going, well maybe a little bit of stubbornness was in there too. I have never had so much support on a run. The atmosphere is always great at that event, but this year I had people patting me on the back as they passed me, saying all sorts of encouraging things and supportive things and also pointing out that I was nuts. The nuts bit was expected, the support, particularly from the runners, was a really pleasant surprise.

A barefoot run in front of thousands of people was bound to attract some comments.  I was supported/heckled by countless people, including one who was holding a megaphone and standing by a double decker bus full of supporters, asking where my shoes were.  I heard a ridiculous number of people saying “that man had no shoes” as I ran past.  A friend of ours heard the person next to her say, “well I cannot believe what I’ve just seen.  That man had no shoes on.”  This prompted our friend to contact my wife and ask if I’d run the race barefoot.  I don’t know why she immediately assumed it was me, surely there were lots of us out there barefoot?  My wife was very excited when I got home and was asking if I’d spoken to the BBC.  She’d been on Facebook trying to find out who had told them that “Tim Hines is running in homemade shoes!” A notice that had appeared right at the start of the TV coverage at the bottom of the screen. She was slightly disappointed to discover that I’d put it on my application form in the “is there anything interesting about your entry” bit.  Of course, it wasn’t even true, I ran carrying my homemade shoes and just wore them on the tram.

What does the next month have in store? Well, there’s the daily run and there must be other stuff too.  I remember now, I’m off to an evening with Barefoot Ted.  That should be good. I’m also due to be going to Poland with work for a couple of days, which will make the mile-a-day challenge even more challenging!  If I manage it though I may well have some Polish shouting that I need to have translated when I get back.  What is the Polish for “Why are you running in flip flops?”

Jun 14

My 5 favourite barefoot posts of the week – Number 38

It is good to be back in the habit and listing my favourite 5 barefoot posts of the week. There is so much good barefoot related writing out there.

I now have a facebook page for you to visit and like. Our Barefoot Beginner facebook group is growing daily and has become a really supportive community. Drop in and have a look.


butterfly1. Post of the week is ‘now a butterfly’ form Barefoot Alliance

When I started out barefoot running and reading blogs, I noticed that many had the primal barefoot stamp. Barefoot Alliance has been reborn and is a movement for all those who want barefoot to be part of their lives. It will be interesting to see how things develop. I am sure that it will be a great resource. This post explains it all and is well worth a read.

feet2. Feet are fascinating and for years I worked with the ‘Runners’ Repair Manual’

When I started to barefoot, I quickly realised that the book I had been using was all about support and strapping and putting wedges in your shoes. In the end it caused me no end of trouble. I got more success by going back to the beginning and taking off my shoes. This book was recommended to me but I have no knowledge other than to say it may be the starting point for a discussion. What do we think of it?

Xero Shoes Barefoot Running Sandals

achilles3. Is my achilles soreness due to barefoot running? A question in Runners World.

My interest was caught by this question. The answer seems obvious to me. The runner doesn’t do any barefoot running but runs in minimalist shoes. I would think that they achilles trouble is due to running in minimalist shoes and that a healthy dose of barefoot running instead may well be the answer. In my opinion, the minimalist route is a dangerous one. I don’t run any further in minimalist shoes than I can manage barefoot.

Lunas4. A great review of the Luna Sandals Mono from Barefoot Monologues

I couldn’t resist this post, this week. Firstly, Trisha is one of my favourite barefoot bloggers. I enjoy her writing and aspire to be as good. I always feel clunky in comparison. Secondly, I am off with my son to see Barefoot Ted on Monday. I will be getting out the Lunas this weekend. I haven’t got the lacing quite right and could do with a bit of advice.

Caity5. Another great podcast interview with Caity on Run Barefoot Girl

This one includes a book reading. A chapter from Lisa Tamati’s book ‘Running Hot’ which is about her journey across the Libyan desert. A great book read by Caity, what more could you ask for! Don’t forget to add a review on itunes if you listen that way. Every little helps.

You can comment or join in the chat at our Barefoot Beginner facebook group.