Hot on the barefoot running heels of Lisa from kindazennish comes this post from Paul Beales describing his first barefoot run. Run Forest Run!

Paul is  in the process of organising a 10K Barefoot Walk/Run/Hike global charity event to take place next year. ‘Watch this space for further details’

Over to Paul:

I started doing long walks in a pair of New Balance Minimus Trails that I asked my parents to buy me for my 54th birthday in November 2012. I used to walk in a great clunky pair of Karrimor hiking books that I always did hate – but that was just what you wore when you hike.

I was persuaded to try ‘minimalist running shoes’ by a fellow heart patient friend that I met on Twitter, who was trying to get me to run instead of walk, and what’s more to get me to do it barefooted! Barefooted I thought, whoever heard of such a thing?! Anyway, he won, I started walking in my Minimus and he was right. I absolutely loved it!

As I think most barefooters do, I then went through all the phases of trying different brands, Freets, VFFs (three different types), home-made huararches, Sockwa etc. It was during this phase that one day, whilst walking the last half mile of a walk around Wentwood Forest in Monmouthshire, South Wales, down a lovely warm, quiet, smooth tarmac B road that I kicked off my shoes and I ran! Wow, I could do it! It felt great! Like kicking off 40 years! I must have looked like Forrest Gump when he kicked off his leg braces.


From then on, it was hard to get me to keep my shoes on. I was walking and running barefoot in forests, hills, parks, running tracks, roads. (Still haven’t managed to run around my home town in bare feet. I am still very wary of debris in town streets and much prefer kicking my shoes off in the ‘dirty’ forests and fields.) I was even wearing Sockwa to work and kicking them off under the desk every day by now.

My target was always a half-marathon in September this year, that I really wanted to do in bare feet. I didn’t care how long it took , as long as I did it in bare feet. After being kicked off one hike in Yorkshire when they found out I was planning to do it in bare feet, I managed to find the very amenable Multi-Terrain Camelot Challenge Walk/Run in Dorset and rocked up at the start line fully-expecting to have to put my Sockwa at some stage of the route, but I am very happy and proud to say that my Sockwa never left the back of my running shorts for any of the 13.1 miles, and I became a barefoot legend in Dorset overnight! 🙂

I have also done a couple of 100% barefoot 5K parkruns this year. My target for next year is a barefoot 10K run. I am still a 50/50 walk/run runner at the moment, but will be working (slowly) on getting the running portion up next year.

I never was a runner, so I never had any major problems transitioning to barefoot running. I did have a few problems and worries last year during the training for my half-marathon, but they have all gone away now since I stopped pushing myself so hard. (It was you Chris that taught me to let my feet tell me when I am doing too much. I used to PFFFT! at this at the time but I now know from experience that you were absolutely right.) I do a 5K in my Sockwa or VFFs at least once a week now and suffer no aches and pains at all.

I can’t wait for better weather next year so that I can get ’em off and get ’em out more often. (I am a fair-weather runner and I HATE running the streets!)

PS – I love the barefoot ‘feel’ so much that I wear nothing or Sockwa all the time now, with an occasional run in VFFs when the ground conditions dictate. Next year I will be trying out the Unshoes that I won on the BRS forum.

I would love to hear about your first barefoot runs. Here is quick guide to sharing your story on Barefoot Beginner. Get posting.

Paul’s post is one of our barefoot posts of the day on our facebook page.


One thought on “I kicked off my shoes and I ran – Like kicking off 40 years! – Paul Beales”

  1. Well done!
    I remember my first BF run like it was yesterday…well, I remember how my feet tingled afterwards, and how I never had any urge to do it any other way in the 4.5 years since. I, too, had no bad (running) habits to break, as I came from the “couch.” There are a few advantages to a lethargic lifestyle, at least in retrospect.
    Carry on!

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