February 2014 archive

Feb 27

5 best posts from around the barefoot blogosphere

Once again, I have been reading many barefoot posts from around the blogosphere. Here are the ones that really caught my attention during February 2014. Something for everyone. 

india1. Post of the month for February is a video from the India Running Summit 2014

Barefoot Beginner has quite a few readers and group members from India and this was a video of a talk given by barefoot runner Miland Soman on his transition. He was running the Mumbai marathon barefoot the following day. Amongst his inspiration, he talks about Pete Larson’s Tread Lightly which he said makes sense to him. I enjoyed his talk and thought that there was a great deal of common sense in there.

thorn2. Post 2 is from the Barefoot Running in the UK blog and is on the thorny subject of things that stick in your feet.

Those of you that join in with the chat in our facebook group may remember a question that came in recently from Fizz Fry about removing foreign bodies from our feet. This post deals with that. We tend to think that glass is the problem but as I found out this morning it is often the natural stuff that can get embedded. Can be hard to remove especially when it is tiny. Have a look.

dartmoor3. Post 3 is from the Wildernessguide and is promoting the virtues of running wild and free.

Specifically, barefooting on the beautiful Dartmoor. I seem to remember one of our group members Aranya Gardens talking about Dartmoor being a great place to run. This is a well written account and contains links to Wild Running who offer guided runs and weekend retreats in that area. Sounds idyllic.

Barefoot-Babe-225x3004. Lynne Albutt’s 45 mile barefoot across Wales is getting closer. Here she tells us how she is getting on.

For those who don’t know, Lynne is a member of our group and has been in training since the 1st December which will give her exactly 6 months to get ready for her run. The 45 mile route will take in tarmac, mountains, forests, gravel roads, streams and other delights. Here you can have a look at her latest post but I would urge you to have a look around her blog which is so well put together. Following on from her run, there will be workshops where folk can learn all about the benefits of a barefoot lifestyle. Most excellent.

Asics-Barefoot-Foot-Strike_thumb5. Post 5 is from Pete Larson (His 2nd mention in this month’s picks) and he provides a commentary on the way running shoes affect our gait.

Research related posts don’t usually catch my interest. I am usually too busy running to read about someone who is telling me that what I am doing doesn’t work. Pete’s commentaries are always well written and pitched just right for me. They don’t get bogged down but have more than enough detail to rise well above the masses of posts out there that just scratch the surface. This is a video which is well worth a watch.

As always, I am in awe of some of the writing out there and putting my monthly picks together is one of my favourite things to do. It makes me read. Barefoot bloggers, I salute you!

I have mentioned our group a few times in this post. We are a friendly, family oriented group. We don’t do profanity or negativity. We run, we chat and we smile. Come and join us, you will be made very welcome.


Feb 25

Training Log – wb 24th February 2014

Tues 25th Feb 14

2.5 miles in Paleobarefoot Paws and my first flirtation with speed training for a long time. I feel slow and want to improve my ability to run quicker. I think it was Emile Zatopek who commented that he already knew how to run slow and so added killer speed reps into his training.

Well, it can certainly be said that I know how to run slow. I practice it all the time and have become pretty good at it. I tried to up the pace during the Pandemonium race on Sunday and although I could a little, I was shocked that my legs would not go any faster.

The last time I ran sub 40mins for a 10k and sub 1.30 for a half was about 7 years ago before I picked up the succession of injuries that led to me barefooting.

During that period, I had a favourite speed session in my training. It consisted of a half mile warmup followed by 4x800m reps on a road near home. 3 minutes rest between reps. I decided to do the same thing this morning.

I put on my Paws and pitter-pattered a half mile gently to the start. It was very dark and I adjusted my watch by lampost light. The 800m rises over the crest of a hill and then descends gently down the other side. 7 years ago, I measured it out with trundle wheel to be exact.

I clicked my watch and was off. The biggest difference was that I was no longer powering up the hill by pushing of with big, strong strides. I concetrated on high cadence and lifting my feet rather than pushing off. I crested the hill and ran into total darkness for about 100m then out the other side and the gentle descent to the finish. I was hanging on by the end. I clicked my watch.

3 mins 40 secs. Exactly one minute slower than the same rep 7 years ago. Blimey that is 2 minutes a mile slower! I couldn’t have gone much faster.

3..2..1..click. off for the second rep. This felt slightly more comfortable now that my heart rate was up to speed. The descent on the other side is steeper this way round and I let gravity take me whilst concentrating on lifting and running lightly. Click.. 3mins 37secs.

My next rep was 3 mins 35 secs and my right calf started to protest. I think that it was to do with my ability to hold good form throughout. I decided that discretion was the better part of valour and missed the last rep.

I feel alive. I will see how we go for the rest of the week and then have another go. It would be good if I could get one rep under 3 mins 30 secs and then take it from there.

Thursday 27th Feb 14

6.33 miles in Paleobarefoot Paws with the last mile being barefoot. I took it nice and steady this morning following my last 2 hard runs. I had an ache in the top outside of my right calf from the moment I set off. I suspected that would be the case and was the reason that I chose the paleos to run in . They give me good ground feel and my form seems to be good in them. I focussed on relaxing and was hoping that the run would ease it off as actual barefooting seems to do.

When my concentration drifted the pain went away but that seemed to be because I was tensing and protecting it rather than melting the tighness away. This is a recipe for further injuries elsewhere and I needed to keep my concentration high.

I stood on something very sharp that went through the chainmail. It was from tree debris asd hit me hard in the middle of my right heel. It hurt but then went away straight away. I will have a look at it in a minute when I have dried out.

I went barefoot for the last mile and the tighness in my calf started to respond almost straight away. It may just be by imagination but barefooting does seem to help.

I think that the roller will be out tonight.

Feb 24

Lucy’s barefoot walking question – Wisdom of the group.

The wisdom of our barefoot group is a wonderful thing. I had this question in from Lucy about walking barefoot. Here are your replies:

I’m a keen walker and having met a friend who has taken to barefoot running it strikes me that barefoot walking is the way forward for me. Having searched the internet, I can find very little information about barefoot walking. I know there area couple of dedicate barefoot trails but again I can’t find out much about them. I was wondering if you could point me in the right direction? Many thanks and great site!

Paul Beales: There is The Coventry Barefoot Hiking Chapter. Stephen Bloor at http://naturalfeet.co.uk/ does a lot of barefoot walks in Cornwall. You could also look for an Amis Sans Shoes 10K event in your area this Summer Lucy – www.facebook.com/amissansshoes

Stewart Bint:  The Coventry Chapter’s the one I belong to….if Lucy’s close by we’d love to see her at a meet-up

Just walk barefoot everywhere, Lucy. You don’t need devoted trails. Parks, city streets…they’re all perfect for bare feet. There are numerous barefoot hiking and walking groups on both sides of the pond and many people go barefoot all the time as a matter if course. It’s only when the UK weather gets too cold that stops me….never the terrain.

Ken Skier: I’m a barefoot runner…and am barefoot almost all the time at home, in my car, and walking in my yard. But I don’t walk barefoot out in the world. And I am not at all sure that it would be a good practice. I think that running barefoot is much safer than walking barefoot. Walking involves landing on the heel…and if you land on something sharp, there isn’t anything you can do to mitigate that. But if you run barefoot and you land on something sharp, your foot can adapt as it lands, to transfer your weight away from the point of contact. (The foot can twist easily to transfer weight to a different part of the forefoot..but it cannot twist to transfer weight to a different part of the heel.)I don’t want to pour cold water on your idea…but I thought I’d weigh in here with a perspective that barefoot walking might be a bit hazardous.(But just to be clear: I am not trying to spark a debate here. Just sharing one point of view.)

Sepeedeh Saleh: I bumbled around barefoot a lot in the summer (bit of a wimp with the cold) and will happily run barefoot. I see what you mean Ken Skier, but, yes there are barefoot walking societies about- might be worth speaking to. Also, the society for barefoot living (mainly a yahoo group but also have a website) are really into everything barefoot. Good luck! Perhaps it is just the terrain in England that discourages me from barefoot walking. Lots of small sharp rocks and sticks. Or maybe I am just a wimp!

I’m nr Manchester (UK) if u wanna join me for a bumble.

Steve Bailey: Just remove shoes and walk.

John Lupton: Getting over self consciousness is the hardest bit. I used to quickly bung a pair of flipflops on if I saw anyone, but now I don’t. In fact the surprise element is more fun! Fields and woods are good for a start and offer a range of sensations. Still working up to gravel.

Fizz Fry: Hi Lucy, I’m in the UK, and as I am not a ‘cross over bf runner’ but have started to run because of barefoot running, my fitness level sometimes precludes me running. also I am getting used to different types of terrain in bare feet and I always walk new terrain types first – one of my lives pleasures is taking the time to squelch through mud in bare feet!

You do not have to heel strike when walking barefoot, you can land on your mid foot comfortably with a little practice, which I read is good for building up the muscles in my feet. ( Barefoot Walking: Free Your Feet to Minimize Impact, Maximize Efficiency, and Discover the Pleasure of Getting in Touch with the Earth – Michael Sandler and Jessica Lee) one of many great barefoot books I have soaked up!

I would suggest building up your feet by walking barefoot at home for a few weeks and doing those exercises suggested for new barefoot runners, and then gently venture out. I always take some shoes with me, usually my sock was because I can tuck them into my shorts, and just take your time to feel different surfaces. Most of all, enjoy it, it is the most amazing feeling!

I’m in Somerset if you fancy walking in mud!

Kent Wadenpfuhl: I agree with Stewart Bint, just start going barefoot. I do recommend reading “Barefoot Walking” by Michael Sandler and the “The Barefoot Book” by Daniel Howell.

Jay Goodwin: I agree with Fizz. When barefoot, I have been told I walk ‘flat footed’ or like an NA ‘Indian’. Mid-foot strike is good when walking barefoot. I feel a little like I am reaching out with my foot instead of pounding my heel down.

Steve Bailey: But when walking you don’t “pound” your heel down as you are walking not running.

Paul Beales: Guys. If this turns into one of those long-winded debates on the differences between foot strikes when walking and running, Lucy will put her shoes back on and run away!

Tracy Mercaldo Davenport: Agreed Paul Beales! Just take your shoes off and walk, but be sensible, take shoes with you if you need some and be cautious and aware of your surroundings. Enjoy!

Christopher Cielo: Correct. Just remove your shoe then walk and walk and walk. Barefoot walking is the best practice to be a good barefoot runner.

Chris: My own barefooting started with barefoot walks around the block with my dogs. I remember getting halfway once with my soles burning up wondering how on earth I wasa going to make it the rest of the way. I did and survived and was back the next day for more. I found that I looked forward to those walks. In the crazy hectic modern cycle of life, those walks felt slow, calm and rebelious. I can’t quite explain why they felt so good but they did. I don’t walk much barefoot at the moment because I run but I think that I will go back and give it a go.

Thankyou to everyone taking part in our group discussions. You make the barefoot world go round. You can join in the chat at our facebook group. We are a warm and friendly, family group. You will be made very welcome.

Feb 19

Training Log – wb 17th February 2014

Wednesday 19th Feb 14

2.3 miles on very rough tracks in Paleobarefoots with no liners of any kind. I knew that i needed to get out this morning and ran in daylight again. Well.. sort of daylight. It was a sort of half-light drizzle and mist up in the West pennines. It felt good though.

I have been nursing a sore right calf which I think is brought on by a lack of barefooting. I can run in footwear for a while but sooner or later my calves tighten up. they get knots and then eventually they turn into pulled muscles which rule me out for a long time.

I chose a rough track with plenty of savage stones this morning. I also chose my paleobarefoots. I can feel most things through them but they allow me to run in places that would otherwise be difficult. I have run this route totally barefoot but it was not a pleasant experience.

I wanted the stomes and choice of footwear to slow me down and break up my stride. It forces me to relax and accept what the ground has to give me. It was still a challenge but I enjoyed it. It is always good to be out.

I got to wondering whether the barefoot thing worls because it slows me down. I guess the answer would be to run a series of barefoot runs fast. I’ll let you know when I get there.

The knots in my calf have melted away and I am running free of them again after only 2.3 miles. A few more runs like that will do me the power of good.

Friday 21st Feb 14

2.5 miles in the sunshine this morning. Wore Paleobarefoots with no liner. The payoff for the sunshine was the zero temperature. Numb feet for a while. Felt every stone for the first mile. I ran the last 400m very quickly. I kept my form good and lifted rather than pushed off. I was at my limit after 400m and need to do moe of it. I think that i will put it in once a week for a while. 4x800m in paleos. I should see some improvement pretty quickly. it will be maintaining form that will be the challenge.

Sun 23rd Feb 14

Ran the 12K Pandemonium obstace race in Paleobarefoot Paws this morning. I ended up swimming across the lake twice. I was very cold. I had been worried about the race but the Paws handled it well. I felt unfit and like I was dragging myself around the course at time but then I was soaked from head to toe. I had no issues anywhere and not so much as a niggle in my calves even though I was pushing hard throughout. I will be writing about it for Barefoot Running magazine’s next issue.

Feb 17

New Chi Running instructor for West Yorkshire – Jon Burdon

meinacircleAs well as a Certified Chi Running Instructor, Jon is qualified teacher and Mountain Leader. He has been sharing the outdoors with others for over 20 years and now brings his expertise to teaching Chi Running technique. Jon has a holistic philosophy and very mind believes that developing running as a lifelong mindful practice can bring deeper peace and calm to your whole life. Based in West Yorkshire, also teaching in Derbyshire, Wales, Cumbria.


Freedom To Run - Ease, Efficiency, Speed

Feb 12

Slaughterford 9 Race Report – Review by barefooter Ian Hicks

Many thanks to Ian for his review of the Slaughterford 9 race. He gave it a barefooters Severe (BBBB) rating. You can read more about our barefoot ratings here and check out other events to see how they suit barefooting here.

If you barefoot a race, we would love to hear from you. Our aim is to build up a community resource. Use the contact form at the top of the page to get touch.

Over to Ian:

It is billed as a multi-terrain race over 9 miles of steeply undulating countryside, carrying a “sting in its tail”. Whilst tackling 900 feet of ascent/descent in the Slaughterford valley runners will encounter tarmac, stony paths, fields, tracks and green lanes.

I had been looking forward to this race for some time, as a cross-country, multi-terrain course is something my feet love. My only conundrum was whether I should race barefoot, wear Paleos, my homemade sandals or Sensori Venture!

I had ruled out bare feet on this occasion because parts of the course are rock laden tracks, having the added delight of steep ascents! I was unsure whether sandals would be suitable for such muddy terrain – although looking back with hindsight, sandals would have been fine. I had just received a pair of Paleos with “Paws” – see my January blog – from GoSt Barefoots in Germany so the Paleos it had to be.

Slaughterford 9

My good friend and barefoot runner Stephen Richards and I arrived at the Slaughterford 9 registration point, on a rather cold and wet morning at the end of January. 350 runners turned up for what was going to be a very wet and muddy run. The start was on a narrow country lane which led down into Slaughterford valley, following mostly gravel and rock laden tracks we made it to the bottom.

After running along the valley, we were sent up a very steep, wet and muddy farmer’s field, walking was the name of game here! Along the top of the ridge – with good views to be had, if you are not blinded by the rain!

Back down into the valley and then a small section where we ran along the river, which was up to our knees! – good fun though. Then came the final push back up to the top. Again the majority of runners, including myself walked up. Half way up a marshal was kindly shouting encouragement by saying “it’s all up hill from here”! A short section of tarmac, around the corner and the finish line was in sight, a very welcome sight indeed!

At the finish we were given a very welcome Mars bar and a bottle of water. No medal for this race but a t-shirt that said “I made it to the top”! Stephen had been waiting at the finish for sometime – Stephen is a far faster runner than myself!

The marshalling was excellent, with marshals on virtually every corner. Two drink stations were set up at about 3 and 6 miles with the 6 mile station offering orange segments. This race is “cracking” good value for money, £10 for un-affiliated and £8 for affiliated. The organisers, Chippenham Harriers laid on a very good event, my thanks to them

I have to give this a BBBB – barefoot server rating! Mainly because of the rocky paths and the steep gradients but also because of the mud on the steep ascent/descent, it would be virtually impossible to get any traction barefoot!

If you have a race review to submit, we would love to hear from you. Check out other reviews and submit a review here.

p.s. I would be grateful if you would head over and like our facebook page here.

p.p.s We also have a very friendly discussion group. Come and join in the chat, you will be made very welcome. We are a family group (my kids read over my shoulder). We don’t do profanity and we don’t do negativity. We run, we chat and we smile.

Feb 11

Training Log wb 10th Feb 2014

Tueday 11th Feb 14

3 miles in Paleobarefoot Paws with neoprene sock underneath. It was very early, dark, cold and drizzly. I felt the need to be warm. I wore my fleece leggings for the first time in a  while.

Legs tired this morning and struggled to get out of bed. Did a few minutes squatting. I can’t get onto a flat foot yet and am using a progressively lower set of books under my heels. I can feel the stretch in my hip and groin which is what I am after.

The whole run was hard work. My legs felt heavy and my breathing was laboured. Nose running a little too much. I must be coming down with something. Not good, less than a fortnight before my first obstacle race into freezing lakes etc.

Thursday 13th Feb 14

3 miles in Freets early this morning. I was looking for my Sockwas and came upon them and it was very cold outside so thought they would do the trick. They were very comfortable. I can tell that i have not been barefooting as much as usual. I can feel it in my calves. I need to get back to basic or I am going to end up with an injury. I am OK running in shoes but need to layer it on top of barefoot running. Because of the cold, I have been in footwear more thn usual.

I felt much better this morning than on Tuesday. Not flying along but was in the mood to push it.

Saturday 15th Feb 14

7 miles in Walsh Zero drop fell shoes. I was up on the moors today and it was steep, muddy and very slippy in places. I wanted to try them out in serious conditions and they didn’t let me down. I waited and waited for the rain to stop but it didn’t. I headede out at around lunchtime and made use of the daylight (I mostly run in the dark at theis time of year) to get up high. I am feeling like a runner and once the initila shock of the freezing rain and hail wore off, it was great fun to be out.

My right calf is suffering because of a lack of barefooting. It ended up massaging it like crazy when I got back. I am going to have a steady week with a couple of runs before I head off to warwickshire for the pandemonium obstacle race next weekend.



Feb 06

How do barefoot runners care for their feet? Wisdom of the group

How barefoot runners care for their feet is a common question and this came in from Lois in our facebook group.

Don’t get me wrong I am by no means vain, but what sort of foot care is appropriate. I don’t want to ruin any progress with foot gels and such. I am a girl and often wear sandals work and I dont want to scare my workmates or any small children with scary feet. Your advice would be very welcome. —-Thanks Lois

You can follow the original thread here.

I have edited and condensed all your repsonses to make the thread easier to follow. Here are some of the things you said:

Fizz Fry As a fellow girl, I have to be totally honest and say that since bare footing…….. my feet have never looked better. my toes are straightening, my soles have lost that hard gnarly skin that used to require pumicing, and my toe nails are starting to grow straighter. I wash my feet more, dry well, and don’t seem to need any creams, perhaps because of the improved blood flow? the only thing I’ve put on my foot is a cream designed for dogs paws called mushers secret, which is essentially a wax, I put it on at night when I had a hot spot or 2. hope that helps! (ps children seem to love bare feet, you won’t scare them at all, and they’ll be trying to rip off their shoes / socks to join you!

I also carry a small micro fibre towel for drying off feet and paws

mushers secret

Tracy Mercaldo Davenport Ha ha! This is the question I get asked most above all from women. Like you Fizz Fry, my feet always look fresh and healthy, no hard skin and good nails. I think it does them good to be open to the fresh air, which also prevents fungal growth. The sunlight helps and mud packs aren’t just for your face! Don’t use additional moisturizers or creams though as this may make the skin too soft to cope with ground. Simply wash them daily and get the mud out from under your toenails. I have a great wooden nail brush I use on my feet when I wash them which has short harder bristles for the nails and longer softer bristles for the rest of your feet.

Rowena Eakins Ha ha I use an old toothbrush to get the mud out/off. Potential for comic mishap I admit. 

Bob Allsopp I’ve found petroleum jelly (Vaseline) is great for repairing soles without softening the skin at all. It’s my overnight miracle cure for rocksalt and / or one too many miles!

Yvonne Johnson I won’t use petroleum jelly…not eco-friendly, possibly harmful. Much safer and healthier natural alternatives. My miracle is Musher’s Secret – Protects my bare feet from road salt/other chemicals and helps prevent and heal dry skin/cracks etc. Other skin remedies are shea butter, olive oil, beeswax, etc.

I had some on hand for my dog…I was concerned about road salt on my own feet and thought if it works for my dog, why not me? Tried it and haven’t looked back!

Fizz Fry Same for me Yvonne, its the only thing I’ve put on my feet.

Jonno Add Might not be good idea to use something designed for dogs on people. Hopefully not as bad as choclate for dogs!

Fizz Fry A fair point Jonno, I generally don’t use human stuff for my dog or vica versa. Humans and dogs have different ph levels as normal for each, so it’s not a great idea to use species specific products without investigating further. in this case I used it only for hot spots, not for broken skin, and checked the ingredients – we are not told what type of wax it is made of, just that it is 100% human grade and I therefore felt comfortable applying it externally on occasion. It is the theobromine in chocolate which can poison dogs, very distressing.

Jonno Add Another was Beeseal. That one seemed all natural . In a 250 gram 1/2 lb tin instead of human stuff in tiny bottle. BeeSeal even smelled enough like honey to eat!

John Lupton O’Keeffes Working Hands cream is pretty good. It heals the cracks without spoiling your barefooting. (Chris – They also do O’Keeffes Healthy Feet)

Chris – On a personal note, my feet are in the best shape that they have ever been. I have never used any sort of cream, lotion or balm on my feet because I have never felt the need. After over 100 days of consecutive barefooting last year, my feet were exfoliated beyond belief. I did get a cut on my left arch running through woodland at one point and used spray plaster. I just applied layer after layer and it saw me through my runs. I then peeled it off and applied it again. It also had the antiseptic benefit that I felt I needed. Stung like flip each time I applied it.

Thankyou for all you responses. I hope you don’t mind me condensing your posts to make them more flow more easily. Facebook threads by their very nature go off course at times. I am sure that Lois got some excellent advice. View the original thread here.

p.s. I would be grateful if you would head over and like our facebook page here.

p.p.s We also have a very friendly discussion group. Come and join in the chat, you will be made very welcome. We are a family group (my kids read over my shoulder). We don’t do profanity and we don’t do negativity. We run, we chat and we smile.







Feb 04

Training Log – wb 3rd February 14

Tueday 4th Feb 14

Whoaaaahhh!! Easy tiger. 3 miles this morning before dawn. I was sprinting hills and maintaining form to the top. When I woke up, I didn’t want to get out of bed and set off quite slow. The enthusiasm just seemed to build through the run. I had no plans to put in any speed today but found that I just couldn’t help it.

I was in Vivobarefoot Evos for no reason other than i found them last night whilst looking for something else. Felt starnge to have a full shoe on my feet. I started to avid puddles. Something I don’t do barefoot or when in chainmail Paleos.

Up nice and early and whilst waiting for computer to come on, I attempted some of the toe drills that Tony Riddle posted in his sequences on squats. I couldn’t even do the first one. I ended up just giving all my toes a good flex. hopefully over time, I will be able to manipulate them in isolation. I them attempted a squat. No chance. I can’t get down there. I then did a squat with two cook books under my heels. No problem. Then with two thinner books. No chance again. With the cook books, my weight was on my heels and I struggled to get the weight forwards. that is what Tony uses the broom handles for.

I am feeling the need to squat. I think that eventually it will help the stabilisation in my hip. It feels good to stretch the whole area when I am in a squat. It may well be the answer.

Thursday 6th Feb 14

7.17 miles in Vivobarefoot Evos in the dark and dreary rain. Dropped my daughter off at band practice and ran from there for 58 mins. Quite pleased to be running just above 8 minute miles. I was full of running from the off tonight. From not wanting to run to being keen to get out there. I am riding the wave of enthusiasm whilst it lasts. My toe bending and squatting have continued. I cannot squat with the weight forward. I end up on my heels. I cannot manage without books under my heels at the moment. that will be something i work towards. I had  pain in my left knee today.  The last time I had it was when I was using deep squats to build up some muscle in my legs following injury. It is a deep ache and quite unpleasant. I haven’t been out for an evening run in the rain for a while. It was urban and full of traffic but I enjoyed it. I felt like a runner.

Sunday 9th Feb 14

Ran about 7 miles with the Northwest barefooters this morning around the Sale area. I wore my Softstar Moc3s. They are so comfortable but they slip and slide in the mud. It was good to see everyone and the run was based around friendly chat and a cake afterwards in the excellent cafe at Sale Water Park. I lived in a few locations around the area we ran but I kept getting turned around as we weaved along the various paths and tracks. good fun.