Monthly Archive: August 2013

Aug 30

Download the free Barefoot Beginner’s guide

After many hours tweaking, the Barefoot Beginner Guide is now up and running. I wanted to speak out the many broken runners who have reached the end of the line and tell them a positive tale. It can be done. No promises but it might just work.

 

 

Here is an extract from the introduction:

Introduction:

Who is this guide for?

A few years ago, I was so injured that I joined a gym. It was like a graveyard of broken runners. It was full of many of the runners that I had competed against over the years. Their bodies had just given up. My goal is to show that there is light at the end of the tunnel. There may be another way and it might just begin with something as simple as taking off your shoes.

I have aimed this guide at those runners facing the same issues I experienced after a lifetime of running.  I was broken down and no amount of orthotics or physio seemed to be helping. For me, barefoot running was the last throw of the dice and now I am running consistently again. My soles are singing but they are happy songs.

I want to share my experiences with those who feel like they are at the end of the line. Those forced to give up running and tell them a positive tale. It can be done.

This guide is not purely about barefoot running but I do sometimes run without anything on my feet. After a few false starts with minimalist shoes, I am convinced that barefoot running is an excellent tool and it now forms the foundation of my training. I layer shod running over the top but barefoot running is what keeps me fresh and loose.

The past year has taught me a few lessons as I attempt to become an injury free runner. I am definitely no expert but I do have a story to tell.

This is what I have learned by barefoot running and blogging over the past 12 months:

Aug 28

Barefoot reviews of the Dartford and Cantbury half marathons – Ricardo D’Ash

Many thanks to Ricardo D’Ash (Maidstone Barefoot Dashers) for these barefoot reviews.

Okay here goes my first attempt at grading (using the grading offered on Barefoot Beginner) the two half marathons I have run recently.

Dartford Half (Julio 13) BBB (Red), starts off kind and then soon develops into rough surfaces but with large tarmac stones in the mix. There is a really rough section around (from memory) mile 8 to 10 where you run alongside a main road with lots of small chippings on the path.

Having gone under the underpass, an area that is prone to broken glass but luckily this year wasn’t too bad and getting near the last 3 miles many pavements with large flag stones before finally crossing a road to re-enter the park and eventually complete the circuit around the running track (see video clip below). Several steep hills but great crowds in many places egging you on!

Canterbury half (Augusto 13). Most certainly BBB (Red), Google maps personal perspective lies – well at least doesn’t really reflect the magnitude of the climbs and drops like many photos. What is called a lollipop course, i.e. you complete along the same route you started out with a big loop in the middle.

Along the primary area of the route (which is run again on the return), a couple of mile stretch that is both steep and very small chippings in tarmac that is very sharp for totally barefeet. There is a real steep drop around mile 3 and by 3.75 miles you break off into the wider loop. You ascend several hundreds of feet only to get to the top before Church Lane which is down hill from there. Much of the path here is smooth which is a welcome relief to a barefoot runner.

You then come to Duckpit Lane (or something like that ). This appears fairly flat on the map but believe you me very stony and sharp on barefeet that have run 8 miles plus by this point. You eventually return off the wider loop to the area where you know the route already and just how sharp the surface is and on top of that how steep the hill is! ‘Oh look he is running in his shoes now’ said some pra** as I run past the cameras explaining I literally had only just put my zero shoes on around the bend (after 10 miles barefoot) as I knew that the hill with sharp surface was coming up.

3 miles to go and bless them the few families in the small villages were still out cheering us to the finish (well in parts anyways and some punters even offered the runners jelly babies – that was kind although one resident told me I could wear them on my barefeet. I just smiled and told him he should consider some new flip flops!). 27 degrees centigrade the same as Dartford half which I completed totally barefoot. Disappointed that I couldn’t do the same for the Canterbury half but eh, the day after I have no blisters or cuts so very sensible to finish in zero shoes.

The Canterbury half does not include trail running but is slightly more difficult than the Dartford Half if I am honest. Same time ironically for both Half Marathons.

Many thanks Ricardo – Ricardo first posted these reviews in our Barefoot Beginner Facebook group. The chat is warm and friendly. You will be made very welcome.

You can see our growing list of barefoot race reviews here. If you barefoot an event we would love to hear from you.

Aug 27

Sneak preview of the Barefoot Beginner Guide – or – How one runner taught his soles to sing happy songs again.

I mentioned a little while ago that I was writing a Barefoot Running guide and posted my choice of a front cover for comments. I let it sit quietly whilst my ideas settled and then picked it up a fortnight ago, pulled it apart and out it back together again. It is almost ready for posting.

Barefoot Beginner's guide 300

So why did I feel the need to add to the literature already out there?

I am still a beginner. I wanted to write something that will help prospective barefooters before I forget what it is like to take those first steps. I am also not specifically a running technique coach. I wanted to write something that was written from the perspective of an ordinary runner trying to find their way.

In my professional life however, I use coaching regularly and when done well find it the most powerful tool when helping those who want to work more to their true potential.

I see broken runners and want to scream out that there may just be a solution and that it might just start with something as simple as taking off their shoes.

I also want to convey that barefoot running is not complicated, it is actually very simple. We can learn a huge amount as we go, but on a basic level, it is just a matter of taking off the shoes and running.

We can talk and debate for many hours on technique and footstrike. It is fascinating but we can learn most by trying it out ourselves. I spent time with my nephew yesterday. He is a few months old and was experimenting with bearing weight. He was just getting on and doing it. He hasn’t read an article, had any lessons or seen a dvd or Youtube clip.

We will encourage, cajole and celebrate his successes but ultimately, he is going to learn how to walk on his own. His secret is that he will do it one step at a time. He won’t complicate things by entering a half marathon 12 weeks after his first step or following a training plan. He will learn at his own pace with a huge amount of determination. He will gradually become stronger,  his first steps will be followed by a few more and sooner or later he will be running around all day. He will experience huge amounts of positive praise but no real advice that he can comprehend. Yet he will do it. He will learn from the ground up.

My guide is aimed at those runners who have reached the end of the line and are looking for a way forward. It will deal with the 2 biggest issues that I feel are a barrier to barefoot running success:

  • Procrastination- We don’t get started. Unlike my nephew, we feel like we need to read one more article or watch one more clip and don’t get round to taking action. I can help with that.
  • Once we do get started, we do too much. It is difficult to know how much to do.   Unlike my nephew, we can already run so need a way of slowing ourselves down and learning from the ground up. I can help with that too.

Here is an extract from the introduction

Introduction:

Who is this guide for?

A few years ago, I was so injured that I joined a gym. It was like a graveyard of broken runners. It was full of many of the runners that I had competed against over the years. Their bodies had just given up. My goal is to show that there is light at the end of the tunnel. There may be another way and it might just begin with something as simple as taking off your shoes.

I have aimed this guide at those runners facing the same issues I experienced after a lifetime of running.  I was broken down and no amount of orthotics or physio seemed to be helping. For me, barefoot running was the last throw of the dice and now I am running consistently again. My soles are singing but they are happy songs.

I want to share my experiences with those who feel like they are at the end of the line. Those forced to give up running and tell them a positive tale. It can be done.

This guide is not purely about barefoot running but I do sometimes run without anything on my feet. After a few false starts with minimalist shoes, I am convinced that barefoot running is an excellent tool and it now forms the foundation of my training. I layer shod running over the top but barefoot running is what keeps me fresh and loose.

The past year has taught me a few lessons as I attempt to become an injury free runner. I am definitely no expert but I do have a story to tell.

This is what I have learned by barefoot running and blogging over the past 12 months:

The whole guide is only about 13 pages long and will be available as a free download at the end of the week. Visit and like the Barefoot Beginner Facebook page to keep in touch.

Aug 13

So…Who are the Northwest Barefooters? – Join us for a run

So…who are the Northwest Barefooters?

There are many more barefoot and minimalist runners around than you may think. However, we are spread out a little thinly and sometimes barefooting can feel like a lonely pursuit.

One of the aims of starting Barefoot Beginner was to bring like minded people together and following a bit of prompting the Northwest Barefooters was formed last December.

I created a facebook event and planned a route but I was worried that no-one would come. I need not have feared. 3 other hardy souls braved the cold, west pennine weather for our first group run at Rivington.

Rivington Barefoot Run 9th December 2012

We decided to run at a different northwest location every month to give more people the opportunity to join in. Slowly the group began to grow. We have got together around half a dozen times and are forming firm friendships. We have done a parkrun and raced a couple of team events.  It has been one of the best things I have been involved with since starting Barefoot Beginner.

You can view our page here and read about some of our group runs.

We have a few core members who take part in every run, others who join in when they can and a few who simply join in on the the online chat. It is camaraderie at its best.

There are no cliques, we are simply not like that. We would welcome anyone who fancied coming along for a run or who wanted to join in with the chat. We have members who run totally barefoot and some who run in conventional shoes and are just starting to find out about the whole barefoot/minimalist thing.

We keep in touch with one or two other groups from around the UK (find them here). It would be great to go and visit and have a run.

We are just planning our next run at www.firtreeshopandcafe.co.uk.

Keep in touch by joining our Northwest Barefooters facebook group and visiting our page on Barefoot Beginner.

A few of our adventures so far:

The Northwest Barefooters - Formby
The weather cleared and we had a beautifully sunny day for barefoot running today. The Northwest Barefooters met on the lancashire coast near Formby. (You can see all the pics of our run here) E... Read more
6 reasons why our barefoot group runs work so well
Each month the Northwest Barefooters meet for a run in a different part of the northwest of England. So...what makes this diverse bunch of barefoot runners drive miles for a group run each month? ... Read more
Northwest Barefooters - The highest point in Merseyside
Last week saw the intrepid northwest barefoot running group brave the slopes of Billinge Lump to reach the highest point in Mersyside. I nearly got a nosebleed. 500 ft of pure gentle, grassy slope was... Read more
So...Who are the Northwest Barefooters? - Join us for a run
So...who are the Northwest Barefooters? There are many more barefoot and minimalist runners around than you may think. However, we are spread out a little thinly and sometimes barefooting can feel ... Read more
Barefoot running review of the We Love Manchester 10k 2013 - Greg Dimelow
Greg Dimelow is a member of the Northwest Barefooters running group and an active contributor to our Barefoot Beginner Facebook group. The group is a great place to keep up to dat with all things bare... Read more
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 b... Read more
The Northwest Barefooters have a hoot at Hooton
Just got back from a great run with the Northwest Barefooters group. We meet on the 2nd Sunday of the month at a different location in the northwest of England each time. This is to give as many peopl... Read more
Northwest Barefooters - Alsager group run 10th Feb13.
The Northwest Barefooters had another great group run on Feb 10th. We all headed down to Alsager to see Georg. He had planned a route of just over 7 miles that took in the countryside and a stop off a... Read more
The Northwest Barefooters - Our second group run - Sale
I have had many good days since starting to blog my barefoot running journey but today has to be one of the best. Running is a social activity and this morning's group run was exactly that. Bloggin... Read more
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 10a... Read more

 

Aug 12

Dancing in the rain – I could do with a bit of that?

I  have not posted for about 5 weeks. What an earth is going on?

My brain has felt scrambled and I couldn’t get a coherent thought together.

Barefoot running is the cause. It has slowed me down and made me question the other aspects of my life that move at 100 mph. It is not as simple as ditching everything and starting over. It was be so much easier if that was all it meant. Blogging has opened my eyes to so many possibilities and there are choices to be made. I feel like I have been travelling pell mell through the woods with no real idea where I was heading. It was time to stop and sit in a clearing for a while and consider which path to take next.

My financial situation drives many of my decisions and many of those decisions are driven by fear. It is fair to say that I fell headlong into the consumer trap. I learned my lesson and have been trying so hard to make amends that I may have lost site of living in the present. I have focussed so hard on a utopian, debt free point in the future that I am in danger of wasting today. I need to learn how to enjoy the here and now.

That old cliche about learning how to dance in the rain could not be more true. I need to live a little.

So..I haven’t posted but what have I been doing.

Although I have not been writing blog posts, I have not been idle. I have:

  • Run barefoot for 109 consecutive days
  • Realised that runstreak may not be for me and gone back to running about 4 days per week. This has allowed me to up my mileage.
  • Set up a market stall selling interesting beer.(www.originalbeerdeli.com). I will be taking my exam for a personal alcohol license next week.
  • Had my running technique analysed by James Anelay from Born Barefoot.
  • Written an article for Barefoot Running Magazine

My brain was scrambled but it is now doing its best to seek order from the maelstrom. I am back to making notes and scribbling plans. I have mind maps all over the place and the world looks fresh and full of opportunity again

GH0012

Living the dream

So…what next?

I am still sitting in the clearing but I am getting restless and I am ready to go. There are paths heading off in many directions. In reality, every moment of our lives are like that and some of the biggest changes in my life have come from split second decisions. There will be more of those to come but for the moment here we go:

  • I have accepted that attaching my happiness to a utopian, debt free point in the future is misguided. I still need to work towards that point but need to be sensible and learn how to live a little.
  • I am going to acknowledge that the only thing I hate about my job is the fear of losing it. I am going to allow myself to enjoy it and see how far I can take it.
  • My favourite part of blogging is people. I am going to follow that line of thought and make both of my blogs more about people.
  • I am going to keep up regular runs with barefooters across the northwest.
  • I am going to learn more about beer and the art of tasting. I have always wanted to run a market stall and I am living the dream. Who knows where it will lead.

I needed to get this post out of my system. It has been clogging up the pipeline. I had no idea that when I started barefoot blogging that it would have such an impact on my life. I thought that I was seeking an alternative to my current job. If only life was that simple. I have learned that I love my work but that I have been wishing my life away.

OK- the rucksack is on and I’m ready to go – Let’s see where we end up.

If you would like to contribute a post to Barefoot Beginner, you can contact me using the contact form. I would love to hear from you.

If you would like to join the Barefoot Beginner Facebook group or like my page, you would be most welcome.