January 2015 archive

Jan 31

Barefoot Beginner Training Blog January 15

Thur Jan 1st 15

A barefoot mile to start of the year. My right heel seems fine after the glass of yesterday. My breathing was shallow and when i checked my peak flow reading it was down to 400 which is low for me. (650 usually). I have been having allergic reactions to things but can’r pinpoint what is causing the problem. My eyed in particular are watery and itchy and the skin around my eyes has become chapped. I have been sneezing and my throat and roof of my mouth has been itchy.

I have been thinking a lot about the power and danger of new year’s resolutions. Toying with the idea of 1000 miles in the year. Average 84 per month. Also to write one post a week for both Barefoot Beginner and Crafty-Ales. Publish on Tuesdays. it is all about forming habits.

Fri 2nd Jan 15 

5.4 miles barefoot this morning. Mostly off road on rough man made trails. really enjoyed it. Worst surface is slippy grass and mud. I found myself running on gravel instead just to get some grip. I used petroleum jelly on my soles before setting off this morning because I think that the rocksalt locally is drying out and cracking my feet. I have ordered some Mushers Secret but thought PJ would suffice until it arrives.

I need to run off road more often. I am opening up more options and routes. The far side of the Jumbles was pleasant to run on. Good fun.

Sat 3rd Jan 15

1.2 miles barefoot around the walls of York. Good fun and lovely flag stones to run on. Off to railway Museum and bit of shopping round the Shambles today.

Sun 4th Jan15

6.7 miles barefoot this morning. Set off whilst it was still dark and then fancied getting off the road and onto the trail to escape all the fresh rocksalt that was spread last night. My Mushers Secret has arrived but I used PJ again today. Put some on my face to prevent chapping. I have been struggling with that since a market a couple of weeks ago. The worst surface this morning was easily the half mile or so across frozen fields. My feet got very cold and the surface was sharp and uneven. Gravel was better. Feel fine after it. I think this may be the furthest I have barefoot run in a week. About 22 miles.

Mon 5th Jan 15

A barefoot mile this morning and to be honest the outsides of my soles feel a bit battered. It is the outside edge of my midsole that feels tender. A little red and I think the rocksalt has played havoc. I am definitely putting friction through that part of each foot.

It was my first morning using Mushers Secret. It was more solid in the pot than I thought but when I started to apply it, it went on very easily. I covered each sole and heel liberally. I did this by standing next to a chair and putting the top of my foot down on the seat so that my sole was facing upwards. I slid a sock on afterwards to prevent treading it through the house. Took socks off at front door and ran. I can tell when I have something on my sole like this as they feel more robust but the outside of each foot was tender. I took my time. The morning was so dark and foggy that my headtorch just fogged up my vision. I used it held in one hand and then on the return just switched it off and ran in the complete blackness for quarter of a mile. I felt the way with my feet. it was good fun.

I am now about to wash the Mushers off, I suppose. With a dog, you might wipe with a cloth but I don’t feel right doing that. It will be a thorough clean of my feet as usual and then reapply before I go to work.

Tues 6th Jan 15

5 barefoot miles at 6am this morning. My soles are feeling a bit worn so I set off thinking that I would run about 2-3 miles but then once I am out, I find it hard to cut a run short even if it is the sensible thing to do. Maybe I can shock by body into a reaction and it will work out what I am doing and make my soles more robust…or it will just give up. Interesting experiment. Don’t want to always live in life’s sensible lane.

I used the Mushers Secret before setting off. I stood by the front door and used my left hand to apply to my right sole. I then put this foot outside and stood on it whilst repeated with other hand and foot. Don’t want to get it on the floor inside. It drizzled the 50 mins or so I was out and when I got back, I could see my waxy footprints leading from the front door.

I found myself avoiding puddles rather than running through them to stop it washing off. My soles were much more dirty when I got back. The wax seemed to have concentrated in a couple of stripes on my sole and collected the dirt. It should wash off pretty easy though. I don’t know how useful it is. Time will tell.

I am conscious that in pushing my soles harder than they wanted to go, I have overidden my body’s defence mechanism and I might pick up an niggle somewhere else, probably in my lower leg or foot. I will keep an eye out for that. I am gone further than sensible but I am not stupid.

Wed 7th Jan 15

A barefoot mile this morning. I applied the Mushers Secret more thinly this morning as it picked up loads of dirt and was thick even after 5 miles yesterday. I applied to the outside of my midsoles and heels slightly more than other areas. the salt spreaders had been out in force overnight but the freeze hadn’t happened. Salt all over the roads. I stuck to pavement and then came to the traffic free unlit section of road that I run most mornings. I had forgotten my headtorch so ran it in the dark. I felt my way. I can see this becoming slightly addictive. Running in the dark is thrilling. I do know this section of road very well. My soles were more tender than I expected when I set off and I was glad to be just doing a mile this morning.

I am interested to see if anyone else uses something to protect their soles from rocksalt or other stuff so have just started a thread in our forum on the subject. have a look. http://www.barefootbeginner.com/forums/topic/rocksalt-and-mushers-secret/

Thurs 8th Jan 15

5 miles barefoot this morning. I woke up early after making myself go to bed early last night. I am getting towards the end of Breaking Bad and wanted to watch the next episode but I could also tell I needed some sleep. I had no doubt that I would do the 5 miles this morning. My soles felt more robust. maybe it is the Mushers or maybe it is just that I am going into a good phase. It doesn’t mean that I don’t feel it when I step on something though. I do. My ability to lift my foot and prevent damage is improving though. Now I have said it, I am bound to tread on something tomorrow!

I enjoy the routine and imagine that I am someone who walks to work each day. This is just my version.

After listening to Ady Benn on the Trail Running podcast last night, I got to thinking about speed. I seem to be running my 5 milers at about 9.5 – 10 min mile pace. I am running well within myself and never get to breathing heavily. It is just -tick,tick, tick sustainable running. I am happy with that at the moment. If I can build up a really solid base of injury free running for a long period then I know that I will start to look at speed. I need to get this phase built up though. I want to be running into my 80s. I don’t want to join the ‘graveyard’ of broken runners (Total Fitness) by pushing things too hard.

By the end of my run, I was splashing through puddles, enjoying myself. the wax from the Mushers has formed a dirty stripe on the edges of both the inside and outside of my sole. Interesting. Bending down to put it on, I am shocked by the lack of flexibility that I have in my right hip in particular.

Fri 9th Jan 15

A quick barefoot mile. No new rocksalt and a lot of heavy rain so I ran without applying the Mushers Secret this morning. I ran half of the mile in total darkness and didn’t switch my headtorch on. I knew that it would be slightly addictive. Enjoyed it. My soles are OK. A little tender on the outside of my midsoles on both feet but I ended up running quickly this morning.

I am just putting together the next section of our guide and thinking about the transition from conventional running shoes to minimal. The prevailing wisdom and discourse at the moment it to go from conventional shoes to minimal with coaching to support the change in technique that might be needed.

I can see how that works and we have runners in our group who have done it successfully. I think that my mindset is all wrong and I struggle with the kind of diligence needed. I don’t think that I am the only one. My guide is for people like me. We slip back into our old way of doing things when we are given the chance. We know what to do but doing it is something else.

An honest admission but I think that there are a large proportion of runners out there like that. It is like when we get physio programmes and think that in itself will sort things out. We don’t do them. We think that just speaking to the physio is enough.

The guide advocates a period of barefoot running. Barefooting doesn’t allow us to slip back into our old way of doing things. It makes us relearn things from the ground up.

I would love to hear your thoughts.

Sat 10th Jan 15

Just a barefoot mile tonoight as it was going dark. 3C and a bitter wind. My feet felt cold at no point though and the ground was dry. Today was the first run in this runstreak where it felt like a chore and not a pleasure. I think that it is because I left it until the evening and didn’t run this morning. I love my morning runs and the routine it gives me.

I need to check how many days I have now run. I think that it is 110 on the trot which I think might be close to the most I have managed. i got close to that last year but gave up pretty soon after 100. No danger of that this time.

Sun 11th Jan 15

6 barefoot miles this morning whilst our West Coast IPA was in the mash tun. I also brew beer and have been recently licensed to produce and sell commercially. Second brew day and it went much more smoothly than our first. Nice to get a run in in the middle of it all and be greeted with a bacon sandwich made by my son when i got back. My feet feel fine but I was a bit heavy in my stride today.I found it hard to shake off. I think I was feeling pressure to get back and was pushing quite hard. My left calf developed a little hot spot but it didn’t stop me running. Overall a positive day. 7 days run and 20 miles barefoot into the bank for the week.

Mon 12th Jan 15

Couldn’t get warm last night and was aching all over. For about 3 months now, we have had children and staff sick and I have managed to avoid everything. It has finally got me. Also running 6 miles and then the physical work of brewing all day yesterday was a challenge. It was a bit overwhelming to be honest and I am a bit on the edge. I fell like I may have bitten off more than I can chew. I was up 45 mins later than usual but still got my barefoot mile in. I am not even out of breath and didn’t need my inhaler. My nose is running and eyes watering. I haven’t put Mushers on my feet for a few days but did put a very small amount on my cheeks. They have been getting chapped. It works well but you can only use a tiny amount because it just doesn’t come off.

I have been watching Breaking Bad. 2 more episodes and then I get my life back. It is compelling stuff. To be honest though. It is 7am and all I can think about is having an early night tonight.

Tues 13th Jan 15

2 miles barefoot this morning. I have a head cold and a very sore throat. I had a bit of a disturbed night sleeping wise but was up as normal to run a 5 miler. I have always used the adage that I am fine to run with a cold as long as the symptoms are from the neck up and my chest is pretty clear. Once I stop coughing up green stuff, I tend to back off. Did a tiny bit of that before I set off but my chest felt pretty clear.

It was my soles that limited my run this morning. I set off thinking that I would run a mile and see how I felt. If I was OK, I would carry on with options to run 3,4 or 5 miles by cutting short my usual route. After a mile, my soles were screaming and I turned round and ran home. I feel like I have listened to my feet and made the sensible decision. We have often chatted in our group about how our soles protect us and become more sensitive when we are ill to limit our miles.

It might all be in my head but it felt like that this morning. Planning just a mile tomorrow and we will take it from there.

Wed 14th Jan 15

-2C this morning and I was running on frozen hail. Ouch! It was a bit slippy and my steps were very small at times. I tried not to grip on with my toes as this tightens things up in my groin which I have a bit of a problem with at the moment. I even did a few clam type exercises yesterday which shows that it has been affecting me. Stems from weak glutes, I think.

My left calf had a tight spot when i woke up. Not much but there. It first came on a few days ago. Not sure why it should suddenly reappear as I woke up. It is when I stand up with feet flat on the floor and lift my toes towards the ceiling. I used the roller on my arches for the first time in a while and it was good to get into some tightness. it hardly took any pressure at all to get into a spot in my calf. Towards the top outside area. i will do it again tonight but gently. I didn’t feel it all in my barefoot mile this morning.

My plan for tomorrow is probably a 2-3 miler rather than the usual 5. i am still full of a cold.

Thur 15th Jan 15

AIWSH1245 barefoot miles this morning under the sort of moon you see in picture books. A well defined crescent with a nose and smiling mouth. It may even have a had a nightcap on, my eyes are always a bit blurry first thing.

I had no plan to run 5 this morning. In fact, I set off thinking that 2 miles would be a bit far but I just ended up keeping going and pitter-pattering along. I put a thin layer of Mushers on nut I could still feel the rocksalt burn in places where the residents had been out on steep corners and spread salt yesterday.

I could feel that dull ache in my left calf immediately and then after a mile, it vanished. On 2.5 miles, i turned a sharp left corner and it twanged. Then it died down. At 3.5 miles, I turned another sharp left and it twanged again and stayed with me for half a mile. At 4.5 miles, it started to make its presence felt.

It is a difficult thing, this runstreaking. It isn’t stopping me running but it is there. Do I not run? That might be the sensible thing to do but for how long? Not an option for me at the moment. I will see how it goes. Do I roller it? or do I leave it alone?

All things to learn and experiment with.

Fri 16th Jan 15

My left calf is fine although my right one seems to have gone out in sympathy. It feels superficial but I was a little worried before I set out. Whilst running this morning, it was fine and I can now no longer feel it at all.

A barefoot mile this morning and my feet felt cold. I kept waiting for them to warm up and my right one did a bit but my left one stayed cold all the way. No frozen puddles but it felt cold. The outsides of both midsoles felt a touch tender after yesterday’s 5 miler.

Sat 17th Jan 15

I was planning a long one this morning but the snow came in and I am not experienced enough in it to be gung ho just yet. It was the first time this year that i have had the chance to run in freshly fallen snow that is soft. It was good fun and my feet didn’t feel too cold until I walked back across my garden and my feet sunk in completely. I wish that I had gone out much earlier when no-one was about. prefer it that way. as it was, I ended up just doing a barefoot mile. No calf problems in either leg.

 Sun 18th Jan 15

Got to say, it was pretty unpleasant this morning. Enjoyed yesterday running in the snow. Very cold and icy this morning and that made it unpleasant underfoot. My feet felt much more cold although towards the end, they were not too bad. Now 10 mins back inside and the pain is quite something in the toes on my left foot. I know that it will go away but for the moment it is quite something. Can’t get the car up the road so will have to give Hogthon Tower Framers’ Market a miss today.

Mon 19th Jan 15

It was -3C this morning and the roads were very icy. i can handle the cold but it is unpleasant and sharp underfoot so I decided to wait until this evening. It was 0C and I found a mile of road that was clear of ice and ran that. It was good to be out. My stomach is aching and I think that I have a bug of some sort. maybe the cold will kill it off. I think that I might be able to get out for a couple of miles in the morning. Don’t want to slip into just a mile a day. pavements are too icy but the main roads are OK. Would just need to be out very early to avoid traffic.

Tues 20th Jan 15

Still cold and icy so I just ran a mile this morning. Unpleasant to run on what was slush last night and now is frozen with sharp ridges. The clear bits of the road are easier but have been salted. Did ballet impressions a couple of times where i didn’t see black ice in the dark. Glad to keep the streak going and looking forward to spring.

Wed 21st Jan 15

-1C this morning with a new dusting of snow which meant that I slid all over the place getting out of the drive onto the road this morning. Not the -5C of yesterday morning but the new snow made my feet feel cold initially. I had a choice. Stay on the clear road or head onto the frwsh snow for half a mile. I stayed on the road because I didn’t know if the dark section had mostly a layer of ice under the snow and I didn’t want to end up all over place again. A barefoot mile.

Thur 22nd Jan 15

Roll on spring. A mile barefoot this morning and I stuck to the roads. The pavements are too tricky. Slippy, icy and hard on the feet. I did end up on the pavement a couple of times to avoid traffic and my soles felt on fire. tehn back on the road dodging the piles of rocksalt and they were fine. Right groin very tight during the night. I think i took the tiniest steps, I have ever run with this morning.

Fri 23rd Jan 15

A barefoot mile this morning. The air felt very cold and my son has pinched my running hat from near the door so it was a chilly start. The road was smooth for the first time in a week and nice to run on. Went off hard because it felt so cold and enjoyed it. Breezed up the steep hill and then pretty quick down the other side. Then the road became rough and I slowed down. My feet feel each stone when the temp is below zero and it was steady as she goes.Dreaming of fresh spring days and long runs.

Sat 24th Jan 15

A quick barefoot mile this morning before heading off to Glasgow to watch the athletics. Not a bit flashy meeting this and that is how we like it. A GB athlete in every race to cheer on. My stomach has not been right for ages and I didn’t have a cup of tea this morning because I couldn’t face it. I am eating porridge as I type and that is OK but something is not quite right. Lots of poorly people at work. Slightly breathless too. I think I feel a detox is needed. Not something I have ever done but feels like I need it. Itchy too. My chest and stomach have a slight rash. Must be a virus of some sort.

Sun 25th Jan 15

A barefoot mile from the premier Inn in Carlisle on the way back from yesterday’s athletics. First run without snow for a week and it was good. A boke with a big dog stopped me and asked why i had no shoes and then started to tell me i should run on the beach. I pointed out that his dos wasn’t wearing any shoes and he said ‘Yeh but she isn’t wearing any knickers either.’

I had no answer to that, laughed and carried on.

Mon 26th Jan 15

5 barefoot miles this morning and it feels good to be back to a bit of normailty after the snow. Running in the dark on a dreary morning feels like the norm. I love it when I am moving along and I almost feel still. It is like i am on a conveyer belt. my head is still and my breathing feels normal and unstrained. It is like I am detached from the bottom half of my body which is moving me along. I feel like I can keep going indefinitely.

Then I step on a rock and the magic is broken but I love it.

When i get in, I struggle to bend down and easily put my socks on. I am so inflexible around the hips and lower back. I need February to be a month where i address that in some way. To work with me, I need to do something simple and easy to understand. If it is too technical, i start to wondwer if i am doing it right and drop out of it. It needs to be every day and simple so that it becomes a habit.

My groin and hip feel tight on the right hand side.

Tues 27th Jan 15

Hip and groin made it difficult to sleep last night. I think that I lack stability in my right hip and I suspect my glutes are the issue. Then everything else works harder than they should to keep things stable and then tighten up in protest. Don’t blame them! It is pre barefooting issue that has returned. i first got it after an 11 miler in trail gloves a couple of years ago. Everything felt like it was giving way in the folowing weeks and I ended up at a physio with some exercises.

I am determined to do them again consistently during Feb and make Feb a Flexible February. I want to be 45 and flexible.

Yesterday, I also swapped my lunchtime piece of cake for an orange. I think that I need to lose weight and things will also be easier.

A barefoot mile in the rain this morning. Nice when the road is very wet. Feet feeling robust but a bit of tightness in my right achilles.

Wed 28th Jan 15

5 barefoot miles this morning in the dark and the drizzle. Love it. It is like having my own personal quiet space to run in. The morning closes in on me and i am completely alone and it gives me quality time to tick along and think.

Yesterday a colleague said how calm I am at work when everything is crazy and pressured. i out that down to running. I am able to cope with things much better when my running is consistent.

Also thought about the taboo of bowel movements and wondered how everybody else deals with it. i knew that i was going to get caught and sure enough my bowels started to gripe after a couple of miles and it takes the pleasure out of it and I am sure that it affects my form. I am pretty good at timing things but some morning I am just out of sync and it is a problem.

A regular route helps. I was tired this morning but determined to get out by 6am on the dot which leaves me not having to think about my run too much. I can do my regular 5 miler on autopilot and without the need to hurry or watch the clock. I haven’t taken a watch with me for as long as I can remember.

Although on auto pilot, i have a set of steps half way through my run where I force myself to stop and spend a few moments enjoying the morning. I heard owls hooting this morning and looked down at the street lights and found pleasure in being out when many people are still in bed.

I want to be flexible and this morning I struggles to bend down and put my shorts on. It was the lower sides of my back and torso that just protest when I bend down. I need to find a way to work on my flexibility during February. I have cut out sugar and sweet stuff and am substituting fruit and feel better for it.

Thurs 29th Jan 15

The snow arrived again and I just did a barefoot mile because I was pushed for time. Just a thin layer that was nice to run on. No problems with the cold. Good to be out in it. Pushed for time because I couldn’t find my car keys. 45 mins into the search, found them under the desk where I am sitting now. Must have got knocked off and kicked under last night. Stress levels were high but a run in driving snow sorted that out.

Fri 30th Jan 15

Slid barefoot down the road in ankle deep snow this morning. Out of control for a little bit but managed to stay on my feet. The windchill on the half mile out made it feel the coldest morning yet and I didn’t enjoy it. I found that running on the ice was warmer than in the freshly fallen snow. The run back was OK but now my feet are warming back up and the toes on my right foot are screaming out. The pain is quite something and I am reminded how imprtant it is the respect the cold. i have been out for 10 minutes or so and am now sitting in pain. Ouch.

Did exercises this morning. I then tried to just kneel down and realised that i find that a challenge and my quads are so tight. I have not been able to sit cross legged on the ground for years and i attempted that. It is a simple but challneging goal. to be able to sit up straight crossed legged on the ground for an extended period without falling over backwards

Sat 31st Jan 15

The last day of December saw me with glass in my heel and the last day of January sees me with snow induced blisters on the second toe of each foot. I new that yesterday’s run felt cold and my feet took a long time to warm back up. It has left two good sized blisters on the underside of the toes. The whole pad of the toe on my left foot and the pad and going inside on the right foot. Tender all yesterday and then when i went to bed and inspected properly, I could see them quite clearly.

they were still there this morning but I put a layer of mushers on each toe and set off. It was fine. the roads were mostly clear of snow and ice except for the odd patch hee and there. Lots of salt around but I am going to wash that off now. Just a mile to keep the streak going.

It would have been easy to not run today and let the blisters go down but the whole point of this challenge is to see if I can run everyday for a year. Turns out that this morning was fine. I thought about all those people on multi day events who set off with blisters from the day before. Granted, most of them are not barefoot but common sense also would be for them stop and they carry on and get there.

January: 31 Runs – 67 miles – Longest run 6.7 miles.

This is 1 mile further than my furthest ever barefoot mile total for a month which was November 14. I am pleased because things were cut short by the amount of snow and ice but I managed to keep the runstreak going.


Jan 16

Barefoot running and the ‘Paradoxical Theory of Change’

mirrorI know a runner who cannot face running in organised events anymore. He would love to but cannot get anywhere near the times he was running a few years ago. Nobody else cares but he is weighed down by the things he achieved in the past.
One of the biggest problems we face when we begin something new is that we come to it with a whole host of expectations and back history. Experience is useful but if we are not careful it can also be the thing that stops us making progress. It can become a barrier and to some extent we all suffer from it. We need to let go of that previous version of ourselves and accept where we are at today.

It is what a Gestalt therpist would term ‘The Parodixical theory of Change’. The paradox is that the best way to change is to first accept and be comfortable with where we are at the moment. It isn’t always an easy thing to do. We are much more comfortable shutting out eyes to our current selves and creating a shiny image of the person we want to be.

So…we can end up putting things off until we are either the same weight as we used to be, we are at the same mileage that we used to run or we can manage the same sort of speeds we used to achieve. It is easier to spot in other people than in ourselves.
[spacer height=”08px”]As runners, most of us are prey to that ‘miles a week’ dialogue. It is one of the ways that runners classify other runners. Are we a 20 miles a week runner or a 40 mile a weeker? Those of us coming to barefoot running from a lifetime of running can find it hard to shake. The thought of dropping down to almost zero can be hard to accept.
[spacer height=”08px”]Even more pervasive is speed. Again, runners class other runners by their pace. Are they a 40 or 60 minute 10K runner or a 3 or 4 hour marathon runner?
[spacer height=”08px”]It has been hard. I was typically a 20 mile a week runner and could just about get under the 40 minute mark for a 10k. Going back to zero took some time to accept.
[spacer height=”08px”]The fact is, I was always running on borrowed time. I was always going to break down eventually…and I did.
[spacer height=”08px”]One of the biggest things that I have done whilst barefoot running is let go of my vision of the runner I was. I have accepted who I am now and what I am capable of at the moment. I look at myself in the mirror and accept where I am up to. I am grateful and count my blessings because there was a time where I was not sure if I would ever run again.
[spacer height=”08px”]I look at myself and feel no shame about where I am up to. I embrace it. To be honest, I feel a sense of relief at not having to live up to that runner I used to be. I have let go and accepted that this is a different phase of my life.
[spacer height=”08px”]I am in no rush. I have the rest of my life stretched out in front of me and want to be a lifelong runner. I am building from the ground up and rather than feel shame, I feel pride in the fact that I didn’t give up. I kept searching and experimenting until I found I way that worked for me.
[spacer height=”08px”]We have nothing to prove to anyone. We need to accept where we are, embrace it and smile. Forget what we can’t do and celebrate the things we can achieve.
[spacer height=”08px”]Give it a go. Look at yourself in the mirror, let go of the past and celebrate the things that you can do today. It doesn’t stop you dreaming and thinking big but you will be doing it from solid ground.

[spacer height=”08px”]Embrace it and step into the person you are rather than cling onto that mirage from the past. Do it often and make it a habit. It is one of the most empowering things that you can do.

Jan 12

Transition to minimal shoes. Finding a way that works for you

7856933398_d8f3523225_mOn Barefoot beginner, I am advocating a period where we learn to run barefoot ( I think most people can get to about the 5k point in 12 weeks) before we even think about running in minimal shoes.
It may feel drastic but there is a good reason. As runners, we often know what we should be doing but then slip back into our old routines. Running barefoot doesn’t allow us to do that. It forces us to adapt and I believe that for many people it can be used an important step in the transition from conventional to minimal running shoes.
I believe that the whole concept of the transition into minimalist shoes is misunderstood. Or perhaps I should say that I believe that it is there is certainly more than one option and different things will suit different mindsets. We need to find a way that works just for us. [spacer height=”08px”]
The transition from shoes to running barefoot is simple to understand. Just take of your shoes and run barefoot. Stop when your soles have had enough. Take the next day off and then go again. Your soles should prevent you from doing too much and you will gradually ease your way into becoming a barefoot runner. Simple.
It is when we start to throw different kinds of footwear into the mix that the problems arise.[spacer height=”08px”]
However, running shoes are a reality. Most runners have no long term desire to be a barefooter. They are looking to find a safe way to transition from their built up conventional running shoes to something much more minimal. It is at this point, that I part company with much that is regarded as conventional wisdom out there and my concerns and approach comes from years of running and gaining some insight into the mindset of a fair proportion of runners. Certainly the ones like me.
Before I begin to explain my opinion on transition from conventional to minimal shoes let me just say that I know that there are people who have transitioned successfully using a variety of approaches. If you have found a way that works for you then more power to your elbow. I would love to hear your story. Success inspires success.
That being said, whilst I consider barefoot running to be inherently safe, I consider the minimalist road to be a dangerous one. [spacer height=”08px”]
It is simply so much fun that it takes a runner of rare discipline to back off the miles and take the time to relearn their technique. It can be done but I am just not suited to that kind of diligence. It is an honest admission that I think needs to be declared. I am not alone.[spacer height=”08px”]
Recently I heard ultra-running coach, Ady Benn, discussing runners who visit physiotherapists. They often receive a rehab programme, pretty much ignore it and go back to doing what they were doing before. It is though they think that just visiting the physiotherapist will do the trick by itself. It struck a chord with me and I know that I will not be the only one. [spacer height=”08px”]
I believe that the same sort of thing happens with transition. We know what we should do but we just go back to doing what we were doing before. Just in minimal shoes – a dangerous road.
For that reason, I needed to find a way to transition that was simple and didn’t need much thinking about. I wanted to find a way that I could just get on and do without needing someone analysing whether I was doing it correctly or not. [spacer height=”08px”]
I ran barefoot because it meant that I couldn’t just go back to what I was doing before. It was impossible. My soles wouldn’t let me. I had to change and rebuild my technique from the ground up. I had to build a whole new set of routines to slip into.
I have heard respected coaches saying that the transition from conventional to minimal running shoes should not be done without coaching on running technique. I agree with that wholeheartedly. [spacer height=”08px”]
However, if you are switching from built up shoes to running barefoot, I don’t believe that it is necessary in most cases. I also think that it is possible for a barefoot runner with well embedded technique to then transition safely to minimalist shoes without too trouble. [spacer height=”08px”]
Therefore my approach is to go from built up shoes to barefoot for a period and then into minimalist shoes.
How much barefoot is needed in the middle phase? My answer is that you need to be honest with yourself. This is grown up, life-long running. It is not meant to be a quick-fix flash in the pan.
Take your time and enjoy the barefoot phase.  I regard about 12 weeks as a minimum and in my view, you will get a lot of benefit from barefooting way beyond that. [spacer height=”08px”]
When we eventually start to go from barefoot running to minimal shoes, we need a simple system to keep us safe.[spacer height=”08px”]
My golden rule at this point is ‘Don’t run further in minimal shoes than you can manage barefoot’.[spacer height=”08px”]
The shoes will protect your soles but it was never about that. Blisters were never the issue. Blisters might slow you down for a couple of days but it is damage to the structure of your feet and lower leg that is the killer. It is worth saying again.[spacer height=”08px”]
‘Don’t run further in minimal shoes than you can manage barefoot’.[spacer height=”08px”]
Let your soles continue to guide how far you can manage…and don’t cheat. Your transition will be slower but will happen just at a pace that will suit you.
If 40 seconds is your barefoot limit, 40 seconds is your minimalist limit too. If 3 miles is your barefoot limit then 3 miles is your minimalist limit too. Just not on the same day![spacer height=”08px”]
There is certainly more than one way to transition from built up conventional running shoes to minimal shoes and we need to find a way that works for us. I know an excellent runner who runs successfully in minimal footwear. She has flirted with barefooting but has the mindset needed to do the drills and implement the techniques given her by a very experienced and knowledgeable coach over a significant period of time. It has worked well for her.[spacer height=”08px”]
However, I find that kind of thing difficult and I am not alone. I needed something much easier to understand and implement. Running barefoot meant that I couldn’t just slip into my old routines. It has meant that I have had to change.
I am advocating a transition that goes from conventional shoes to a period barefoot running and then the slow transition to minimal shoes. That is what Barefoot Beginner is all about. At some point you may feel the need for some coaching and there are some excellent people out there who can help. But the best thing you can do right now is to simply take off your shoes and run.

Jan 05

Barefoot365 – A Challenge that sort of just happened.

Barefoot 365The year 2014 had seen my life become increasingly hectic. I was close to burning out and needed a way to cope. I started a barefoot runstreak that just sort of happened. It evolved gently into a personal challenge to run barefoot every day for a year.  It then morphed to see if I could keep the runstreak going and run 1000 barefoot miles during 2015.

I had wanted to see how long I could run barefoot into the British winter and the runstreak  grew out of running each day to help my feet become accustomed to the gradually lower temperatures.

As for burning myself out, it is something I don’t like to admit. In addition to my full-time job as the headteacher of a primary school, I had been market trading at the weekends and set up a craft brewery. I had begun to train adults in safeguarding and also started a 5 year doctorate programme. There were a lot of firsts and my headspace was becoming increasingly taken up.[spacer height=”08px”]

I was feeling run down and at a very low ebb. In short, I was exhausted.  I have always found that running helps me deal with the ups and downs of life and I needed a way to run consistently.[spacer height=”08px”]

I had been running pretty consistently. Some in miminimal footwear but increasingly barefoot as it allowed me to run without problem. Each time, I broke down, I could track the problem back to a run in footwear of some sort.[spacer height=”08px”]

I needed early nights and simplicity and that’s what I ended up doing. Running at least a barefoot mile every day seemed simple and easy to understand. So easy, in fact, that I didn’t realise that I was doing it until a couple of months in. It just sort of evolved.[spacer height=”08px”]

In Oct 14, I just started to run 10 minutes at the start of each day. By the second day, it felt like something different was beginning but I didn’t think about it too much. I just did what felt right for me at the time.[spacer height=”08px”]

I was feeling burnt out, run down and unfit. I had a tight hip and groin that was keeping me awake at night. I had spent an entire day the previous week putting a huge wardrobe together and was now struggling to even bend down and put my left sock on in the morning. I felt like an old man.[spacer height=”08px”]

I had some experience of running a mile a day. In the summer of 2013, I had run over 100 consecutive barefoot days  and had surprised myself by running a respectable 1:40 something half marathon without really running very far at all in preparation.[spacer height=”08px”]

By day 4 of daily running, my mood was improving and I was feeling more in control of life. I was a bit wheezy ( I have been an asthmatic since childhood but it had taken a turn for the worse recently) but I was able to bend down more comfortably and my groin and hip were less tight.[spacer height=”08px”]

I was still not planning anything but felt that I was running to beat of my own drum and was happy to go wherever it took me.[spacer height=”08px”]

New year’s Eve on Dec 31st 2014 marked 10 weeks of continuous barefooting and Barefoot365 had slowly evolved. I began to wonder if I could run barefoot every day for a year throughout the seasons in the UK. I have been a runner for over 30 years but have never been able to run consistently without injury. 1000 barefoot miles in 2015 became a personal challenge. It would mean running an average of about 20 miles a week across the year. That would be a first for me.[spacer height=”08px”]

I plan to write regularly about how I am finding things as well as keep a daily barefooting blog. It would be great to see how many days I can run in 2015 and if I can manage 365 that would make me smile. If I can’t, then so be it. I am not about to let it spoil my year.[spacer height=”08px”]

One thing is for sure. I will have found out a thing or two along the way. I would love it you would join me. We have a facebook group called Barefoot Mile a Day. Come and join in, you will be made very welcome.

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I have also set up a Barefoot 365 facebook page. Have a look and like the page to keep up with things.


Jan 01

Training Blog December 14

Mon 1st Dec 14

December started with a blister on the outside sole of my right foot. I ran almost 7 miles barefoot yesterday and before setting off thought that I might get some distress from my sales but it was better then  thought. It was only later that I felt a big blood blister. It was like I had stepped on something and was painful to step on so I drained it a couple of times and then covered in spray plaster because I knew that I would be running this morning. I did a mile and was absolutely fine running on it this morning. It will be interesting to see how it is over the next few days.

Tue 2nd Dec 14

Day 41 – a mile barefoot in the dark. No real problem but I am not going to go far until this blister has settled down. The nice thing is that I feel under no pressure. I want to be a lifelong runner and I am not going to hurt myself for the sake of a schedule.

Wed 3rd Dec 14

What is it with the council? First they resurface the smoothest road in Bolton with broken bits of tarmac and then they go and send the gritters out at the first sight of frost. I have been waiting for this day. I have been seeing if I can run barefoot each day as it has become colder. It is around zero this morning and the cold isn’t a problem but the rock salt is. I ended up on the pavement and heading for a traffic free road with no grit this morning. I am enjoying the flexibility of my runstreak. Life is busy at the moment and I have a large assignment to get in. That means that I am burning the midnight oil. What is good , is that I can drop off some of the other things that I do for a little while in the knowledge that I can pick them up in a week or so. Other than my training blog, I have dropped off my usual barefoot and beer related writing and will come back to it and  I am just keeping the runstreak going with a mile a day for a little while. It keeps my sanity and things ticking over. I can see the light at the other end.

Thur 4th Dec 14

Day 43. I slept in this morning to catch up with a bit of sleep which I felt was more important than a longer run so just a mile. It was down at about zero again. Yesterday was more like -1C and the cold is not a problem as long as it is pretty dry. I have some real aching in my right hip and my groin is tensing up. I have not had that for a long time and it was one of the things that characterised my early minimalist running in trail gloves. I have exercises to do so had better get on with them.

Fri 5th Dec 14

A barefoot mile and it was cold and wet underfoot. I counted on the rain having washed away the rock salt and ran more on the roads than over the past day or two. My breath fogged up my vision in the beam of my headtorch. I got to thinking about how great my little torch has been. It has been with me on runs day after day and it never complains. It just gets on with the job and has even been through the washing machine and come out fine. It is a little Petzl Tikka. I am still burning the midnight oil and should be able to let up in a day or two. At least my soles have had a bit of a rest.

Sat 6th Dec 14

A barefoot mile this morning. It was cold and icy and the roads were slippy. Good fun really. First run in the daylight this week and that brought about the usual stares from folk walking their dogs. As far as I recall, none of the dogs were wearing footwear but no-one was staring at them. The injustice of it all.

Sun 7th Dec 14

Very wet and cold this morning. An early barefoot mile before setting off to do Great Harwood Chritmas market. Keeping warm and dry will be the order of the day, I think. Then off for an outdoor Carol Service with Em later. Shold be fun. My feet felt robust and I was pushing along even over the stony bits this morning. My hip feels much better. When I look at my mileage, I had taken a big step jump and it looks like my hip is the thing that goes off first. This week of barefoot miles seems to have recharged my batteries and kept things ticking over. My first EdD assignment is ready for handing in and I can get back to a bit of normality. Maybe!

Mon 8th Dec 14

There was a terrific hail shower just before I set off this morning which on top of very wet ground made it a mazy run of icy puddles this morning. I kept the barefoot mile going. My soles were burning pretty much straight away and then it eased off. Tricky going downhill and on a steep slope I switched to the pavement for more traction. It is certainly the coldest that my feet have been for some time. They are now warming up and that is OK. Not the pain I expected. At least not yet.

Tues 9th Dec 14

Dodging frozen puddles this morning which is better than the freezing slush of yeterday. kept the streak going but this was the first morning that getting out there was a struggle. Late night drive back from Robinwood last night. Day 48. Tommorow will make 7 weeks of continual barefooting.

Wed 10th Dec 14

The weather has taken a real turn for the worse and I didn’t run as planned this morning up in Northumberland. I ended up running when I got home. I just came in and got my stuff on and went. I really enjoyed it. I felt quick and robust even through the cold. A barefoot mile My feet were in icy puddles for quite a lot of the way but it wasn’t a problem. They gave me no issues warming back up afterwards. City vs Roma on TV tonight.

Thur 11th Dec 14

I was up late after a busy few days away with schoolchildren on Outwards Bounds. It was cold up there. This morning was cold again and my feet handled it well. I was running through cold puddles and it was fine. No ice around so can’t be too bad. My legs feel softer than a couple of weeks ago. the barefoot mile a day has kept me going during a busy and difficult perios where running may have stopped in the past but I also needto now break out of the routine and go further. Not easy to do barefoot in this weather. I may try an out and back couple of miles tomorrow although most likely Saturday in the light.

Fri 12th Dec 14

What is it with common sense? I got to thinking as my feet were slowly going numb during my barefoot mile this morning. Common sense is what is says. It is a generalisation. The thing is that we are individuals and we should challenge the things dictated by bloody common sense. Running every day barefoot throughout the winter flies in the face of common sense so why am I doing it. For fun, enjoyment and to see if I can. Knowing what the commion sense is can be quite useful but then ignore it if you choose. Don’t put anyone else in danger, that would be selfish but live life and don’t sit in that safe zone dictated by common sense all the time. It was cold this morning and there were some deep puddles to splash through. I was 100yds into the unlit section before I realised that I hadn’t put my headtorch on. I was feeling my way with my feet.

Sat 13th Dec 14

The coldest morning by far or so it felt. Icy inderfoot rather than wet in most places. Car said -1C but it felt colder. I ram 3.5 miles barefoot and my left foot was numb quickest. My right foot didn’t really get there. After 2 miles, the feeling went away and I felt fine and the cold was no longer an issue. Cold induced vasodilation in action. I think my body had worked out what I was doing. Again, I am not really bothered why it works as long as it does. It would be interesting to look at all the common sense assumptions to do with running and then investigate a way to test yourself against them to find a way of running that works for you. It is also interesting to think about running in a seasonal sense like strawberries. Sure, you can have strawberries all year round but is that really a good thing. Depends on your point of view, I suppose. Now that I am only running barefoot, my long runs seem lmited in the colder months. Maybe that is a good thing for someone looking for a way to make running a lifelong pursuit. This has been my only run of the week in the daylight.

Sun 14th Dec 14

A mile barefoot with a headache this morning. I am defintely under the weather and am up early ready to go to Ramsbottom farmers’ market. My breathing is laboured again and my inhaler is only just taking the edge of it. Visit to the doctors this week. My feet were not bothered by the cold this morning but they felt tender after yesterday morning’s run. I am turning into a completely unshod runner. I haven’t run in shoes for quite a long time now. Whilst running, I was thinking about James Cracknell in the desert. That has to be one of the most remarkable things that I have seen. Highest placed Brit ever in the Marathon de Sable.

Mon 15th Dec 14

5 fantastic barefoot miles this morning. I set off at 6am with the thought of doing about 2.5 miles but my soles immediately felt robust and I was running well. I had in in there so I made hay whilst the sun was shining (or not seeing as I hardly ever run in the daylight). Not as cold today and the rain has washed the rocksalt away. I have beenr eading Ruby Wax’s book on mindfulness and it is fascinating. I took a couple of points on my run to stop for a few seconds and feel what was going on around me. It is all too easy to get carried away with life. She also makes the point about us being comfortable with the pain of misery. It feels comfortable because it is what we are used to and getting out of it means change. We would rather put up with it than change. She makes a good point. I was stuck for years in a cycle of injury and rehab that I deep down knew wouldn’t help but made me feel comfortable. I was in a comfy rut. It would be nice to run a workshop for runners where we look at the givens of running and then test ourselves against them. Day 54 of this little run streak.

Tues 16th Dec 14

Day 55 and something weird happened on my barefoot mile this morning. I turned right instead of left for a change and this route has steep hills. I was running pretty quickly uphill and my soles felt incredibly robust. I was expecting to feel the barefoot burn but instead could feel my soles protesting as the skin bunched and shifted on them but no pain at all. Just sensation where I could feel the skin moving around. I kept waiting for the pain to arrive but it never did. I could still feel enough to be cautious and back of the pace slightly but it wasn’t pain that did it. Both brilliant and something to beware of, I think.

Wed 17th Dec14

8 weeks of daily barefooting and my soles felt no discomfort for the second day running. It feels significant and a change. 5 miles this morning. I went out thinking that the weather was awful and that my soles were tired and that I would do a mile but my soles felt fine. Again, I could feel the pulling and shifting of the skin but just as a sensation. I ended up keeping going and ran my usual 5 mile route. Giving myself that hour to run in the morning works well for me. It gives me space to run upto 6 without worrying or rushing. My stomach felt sore though. Lots of bugs going around at the moment and it was there all along. My stride felt heavy and I had trouble running light. My feet wouldn’t lift too high off the ground. When I came around the final bend onto a flat smooth section though, I speeded up and an image of Dr Mark Cuzzella came into my mind. Not as fast but my form felt similar. Maybe not to a passer by but at least in my head. Nice to get 2, 5 milers in so early in the week.

Thur 18th Dec 14

A barefoot mile with headtorch and no problem. Soles still feel robust even though I had the beginnings of a blister behind the big toe on my right foot yesterday. It has gome away and things are fine. I was challenged on my thinking yesterday about spending money. Not so much challenged but I had one of the pints I made expanded. I think that I have a mindset problem with coahing in a lot of ways where some people don’t. I find that it can be useful as long as I believe in the person doing the coaching. Mostly I don’t. That cynical ‘spend your money here and I will sort you out’ sort of thing that is all over the place. It would be interesting to go and see Tony Riddle. Perhaps I am just not willing to invest the time in drills when I think that i can do it myself by barefooting regularly. Interesting problem.

Fri 19th Dec 14

A barefoot mile and it has turned a bit colder again which meant my soles felt it. No real problem though. Just pitter-pattered along. The hills were easy and I felt good on them. The hills just come and go. I have noticed that since beginning to barefoot. I think it is the short strides being like a low gear. I enjoy the hills, it breaks things up. Downhil is more challenging than uphill because my feet want to slide and the friction is increased. Lifting going downhill takes practice and feels weird. Danny Dreyer had something in his book about keeping your trailing foot on the floor longer than normal when going down hill. it would then be about removing alltension from that leg to stop pushing off. Practice.

Sat 20th Dec 14

6.3 miles in the daylight on the trails this morning. I wonder which is worse – gravel or treed debris. At least gravel is consistent and not full of spikey thorns. I chose a route with the trails in the second half to let my feet get going and that seemed to work. Also worth remembering that if you have the choice of running rough trail up or downhill choose the uphill every time. Much easier.

I was really pleased to find that i had no trouble on the trails this morning and that opens up quite a few routes. Now that it is evening, I can feel my soles. They have definitely been out for a run but I wouldn’t describe then as sore. They are more in need of a break.

Bumped into an old running friend. he was walking alongside the Jumbles resevoir at quite a pace. He no longer runs because of his knees and we had a good chat about barefooting. It is runners like him that strike a chord with me. There may just be another way for them. Day 59 of this little barefoot runstreak.

Sun 21st Dec 14

A barefoot mile this morning to keep the runsteak going and make 20 barefoot miles for the week. My soles don’t feel pain in the same way as the did at the start and that needs thinking about. Yesterday, i ran 6 and a bit miles on the trails. At the end, I felt like I could easily have done a few more miles (say upto 10) but in the evening my soles felt a bit battered. nothing too bad that made me think I wouldn’t run today but tired. I didn’t feel this at the time. This must be because my soles are getting used to running but it also means that the way I listen to them has to change. It is no longer just pain that is going to keep me safe but also sensations and being sensible(ish).

The amazing Ron Hill completed his 50year runstreak yesterday. Just day 60 for me. Found the #runeveryday hashtag from Ron Hill’s T-shirt.

Mon 22nd Dec 14

Ran barefoot for 3 miles around Egerton with no real problem. Just keeping the miles going. Day 61

Tues 23rd Dec 14

Very wet today and running quickly. Feel feel pretty good with some tender spots on the outside of my midfoot on both sides. Be good to get a 10k in over Christmas

Wed 24th Dec 14

Glorious day and it would have been good to get out for a decent run today but ran out of time. My feet told me pretty quickly that I needed a short run today in any case. I did a barefoot mile and remembered why I run early morning when no one is about. I don’t like the fuss. I have avoided runs because of it. I ended up running quicker than I have for ages uphill. Good fun. Arms swinging on the uphills and flying. I am definitely getting fitter. A barefoot mile was my lot on day 63. 9 weeks of barefooting. New Years Eve will take me to 10 weeks.

Thursday Dec 25th 14

Just a barefoot mile this morning. My breathing was very laboured and I have been sneezing a bit this morning. Time to go back and get a preventer inhaler I think. Not had one for years but this is getting beyond a joke. Maybe it was something to do with the big chocolate Santa I ate before I set off though.

Fri 26th Dec 14

3 barefoot miles this morning was all my stomach could handle. Severe case of runners’ trots or IBS or one of the other terms for it. Whatever we call it, we don’t discuss it often enough. It can be debilitating and I once had to walk the second half a half marathon because of it. The number of times, I have been running home from work and had to stop. I have planned my entire race mornings around bowel movements. It can be quite difficult. Be good to discuss openly in the forum at some point.

My feet felt a bit tender this morning and 3 miles was probably enough in any case.

 Sat 27th Dec 14

A barefoot mile this morning in the first snow and ice of the year. It snowed a lot yesterday and then it froze overnight. My feet were very cold straight away and I headed for the car tracks on the road. They were very slippy. It turned out not to be the cold that was a problem but the sharpness of the ice. It made me turn back because the most i could do was hobble on it. I found a section of road that was easy to run on and did my mile there. My feet warmed up and it was pleasant to be out. A couple of people stopped me including a delivery van driver to ask but were all very happy and positive. ‘So…you are not crazy then’ said on guy. Not too sure about that. I am in the bloody minded phase. I am doing a mile no matter what. Not advocating it for anyone.

Also seem to have something stuck in my foot. I felt it go in and the irony was that i was in the hose wearing socks at the time. I jumped and felt a pain in my left arch. Tracy had a go at removing with tweezers last night but to no avail. Still sore.

Sun 28th Dec 14

4.83 miles barefoot this morning in the ice. No snow any more but the roads had a thin lacer of ice on them. My left foot in particular was very cold initially and my soles were protesting almost straight away. I set off thinking that maybe I would do a mile but ended up getting into the swing of things. The sun was shining and I got into a rhythm. After about 1.5 miles my feet felt fine. I am sure that they are a little numb because my left calf started to feel sore towards the end. I have not had that for a long time and I figure that my form must be affected by numb feet. I could have gone further but I think that would have been for the wrong reasons. 5 miles or so is fine for now. So easy to get caught up and run for the wrong reason and not for myself. Good to have an early night last night and be up early as usual.I like the routine.

Mon 29th Dec 14

Well below zero this morning for this barefoot mile and my soles were tender almost straight away. I think it is a combination of the cold and the rocksalt. Looks like the grtiiter had been up during the night. lots of fresh and melted rocksalt everywhere. It wasn’t there yesterday. Must be getting ready for Monday morning and getting folk to work. My right groin was tight which I think is to do with running on ice yesterday. You grip with your toes evern when you try not to.  had a long soak yesterday and that may have softened my feet up also. This thing stuck in my right foot is not working its way out yet. It is in there, no doubt. Tender to touch.

Tues 30th Dec 14

A barefoot mile to keep things going. About -2C and my left foot again went cold much quicker than my right. I prefer to get up early and run when there is no one about.

Wed 31st Dec 14

First piece of glass of the year and it waited until the last day of the year. Running past The Cross Guns Inn and I felt a sharp stab in my right heel. I carried on a step or two but it was pretty clear that something was wrong. I brushed a stone off and that didn’t help. My feet were pretty dirty and i couldn’t see anything. I brushed my fingers and felt something tiny and managed to get hold of a sliver of glass. About 5mm long. I pulled it out. Plenty of blood initially but I carried on running and it was fine for the next 4 miles home. I passed a group of cyclists near home. Mountain biking forty somethings on shiny bikes and lots of expensice gear. One shouted at me,’You’ve got no shoes mate’. I shouted back that he seemed to be sitting on top of a big piece of metal. Wonder if he had noticed? I wonder how much his getup and bike cost. Expensive to sit in a garage for weeks on end. Barefeet cost nothing and I am put every day in mine. It was all very good natured but I am not a fan of this sort of thing. I prefer to enjoy my run without having to justify myself and respond all the time. My barefoot running is not attention seeking behaviour. I just wanna run.

I spent a while wondering how many miles I can run in 2015. I have never done 1000miles in a year because of injury. 20 miles a week would do it. I found myself plotting and planing and scheming. I am still not immune to this sort of thinking. It is so seductive and dangerous but also helps get me out of the front door. The balance is so hard to find.

5 miles to complete 10 weeks of barefoot running every day.