February 2015 archive

Feb 01

Barefoot Beginner Training Blog February 2015

Sun 1st Feb 15

My overall health is mattering more to me than expected. I am going to make February – Flexible February – and do the exercises given to me 2.5 years ago my a physio with regard to my right hip. I am also squatting each day. Each day makes it easy to understand. During February, I am squatting with a book under my heels. ‘Readers Digest Heritage of Britain’ circa 1973ish. Next month, It might be the slightly thinner River Cottage ‘Family Cookbook’

I am 12st 8lbs which compares with 10st 3lbs when I last ran under 40 mins for 10K. That was 8 years ago and I keep harking back to it as though I am still that runner. I am getting better at letting go though and I need to accept the weight I am also how flexible (or not) I am today.

So rather than beat myself up about things, today I am celebrating.

Hurray – I am 12st 8oz and feel fitter then I have for ages. My legs feel strong and I certainly feel better then I did as an injured runner of well over 13 stone. I have just managed to go a week of not eating any refined sugar. I have not been zealous about it but just cut out all those unhealthy snack, drinks and desserts and replaced them with fruit. I have enjoyed the challenge and feel better for it again. Today I may have some chocolate. I have given myself Sunday to do that if I fancy. Like I said. I need it to be easy to understand.

My hip feels good today. I have been squatting and doing exercises for a week and that feels like it has made an impact.

I have just managed to run every day through a cold and frosty January.

Ok- I might not be that 10st 3 sub 40 runner but I am OK with who I am today. Bring it on!

Started February with a barefoot mile whilst toes recover from blisters. Road felt smooth and good under my feet. Dreaming of the summer.

Mon 2nd Feb 15

In survival mode. Not sure how I am going to get through the next couple of days and be in all the places with all the things that I am meant to be. Did a barefoot mile before getting off very early. Ground feels great. Feet are good. Glad about that. No need to rush though.

Tues 3rd Feb 15

5 barefoot miles at 6am this morning and it felt cold. It felt like stepping out of a cable car when you are about to go skiing. Just wrapped around me and for the first mile i was worried about my feet. the difference, though, is the condition underfoot. It was bone dry and that meant that it was OK. after a mile and a half, my feet felt fine although they were a little more sensitive to stones and bit of road debris. My groin is still tight but my hip has improved a lot over the past week. It will be interesting to see how it copes with this 5 miler.

The truth is that I wanted to finish after 3 but the challenge of 1000 miles across the year kept me going…and I am glad that it did. I finished strong and was ticking along nicely by the end thinking about entering a 10k. I need to have a look around to see what is coming up that I can do.

Wed 4th Feb 15

The moon this morning was amazing over Winter Hill. I stopped at the halfway point to drink it in and a couple of mountain bikers came through my dark bubble with their lamps on and asked me if I was OK. I was. Cold..but OK. It was cold enough to take my breath away as I stepped out of the house this morning and my feet felt it within the first 200yds.

My right achilles is tender this morning and it has been getting progressively so over the past 10 days. I have never had an achilles issue so this is a new one for me. I have been barefooting a long time and for it to suddenly appear seems strange. It does coincide with my beginning to squat and lunge. Maybe that is the cause. i will keep an eye on it. Running everyday doesn’t allow it to recover and you can’t hide or mask anything. I think that is a good thing. I don’t think we should be in a continual cycle of doing something that hurts us and then recovering before we do the same again. It would be much better to learn how to move in a way that doesn’t hurt us in the first place. of course, we all break down muscle and then it builds it up to make us stronger but as part as the structure of my feet and lowwer leg go, I would much rather run in a more sustainable way.

Thursday 5th Feb 15

Not as cold this morning and the clouds were hiding the moon. The roads are so dry that the millions of grains of rocksalt are just sitting there like a carpet of drawing pins. 5 miles barefoot this morning. No problem but I am tired at the moment. My legs are OK, it is just a general feeling. I am glad that the runstreak is getting me out otherwise I might slide into a lull.

Achilles not too bad. I have been playing with the exercises and think that the slow lunges might be the culprit. I am going to stop them for a few days and see what happens.

Friday 6th Feb 15

I was tired last night and tired this morning so gave myself an extra 45 mins in bed. Good to get out though. My peak flow reading was also down so it was an inhaler job. Suffering slightly for something. Nice to be out though, It was a crystal clear sky and was just coming light. Moon enormous again and I am pretyy sure that it is Jupiter that is hanging in the sky next to it. A barefoot mile.

I am becoming a human thermometer and good at estimating the temperature. Cold this morning. See – I am a natural. I can also tell when it is warm.

Sat 7th Feb 15

6 barefoot miles. The wet side of damp and the plus side of zero out there this morning. Just ticked along. Struggled to rouse myself out of bed this morning but was glad I had once I was a few miles in. Soles absolutely fine and hip OK. My groin is the things that is now protesting. No more than previously but it is the only thing at the moment so it stands out. My achilles was fine. It looks like it was the lunges that were the cause. Not worried now that i know. I will just keep an eye on it.

Good to be out in the daylight and on a different route. Two guys parked in van opened their dor to shout ‘Yeah mate..Barefoot Warrior’ at me. Not a big fan of that sort of thing. prefer to be out and have people leave me alone but I guess i have to put up with it.

Sun 8th Feb 15

Just about to set off and doing a few squats at 5.45am when my son appeared next to me (Age 11) dressed in running gear. I sorted him out a headtorch and then we were off for a quick mile in the dark. I would love to say that we had a lovely father/son chat as we ticked along but I could see his pool of light bobbing ahead as he sprinted off. He waited for me for all of 3 seconds at the turnaround point and then was off again.

He was sitting waiting for me on the bench outside our front door when I got back. It was colder than I expected this morning and there was a hard frost. I hope this is the first of many runs together. He has just joined Bolton harriers and it funny listening to the coach extolling the virtues of running tights to a bunch of 11 year old boys.

Big day today. Our first commercial beer ‘The Holy Well Imp’ is bottled and now has its labels on. We are off to Ramsbottom farmers’ Market today. It will be interestring to see how it goes down.

Mon 9th Feb 15

A quick mile and I was quicker this morning because I was running a little late. My heels felt some abrasion this morning which is new. It was a cold wind and the very cheap gilet from Aldi did a great job of keeping out the chill. No need for fancy gear.

Tues 10th Feb 15

5 barefoot miles this morning. It was chilly when I first went out but overall things are getting milder. Convinced myself that I would stop after 3 miles if i had had enough and thsat got me out of the front door. I had had enough but carried ojn and was glad i did. Ticking along nicely come the end. Foudn myself wondering at what mileage point humans become faster than horses. I wonder what the horse world record is for a marathon and I wonder the same for a 100 miles. We forget that humans are a part of the animal kingdom. This running barefoot is not superhuman, it is very human.

Al;so found myslef thinking about the motivation we have for running. We are not all running models straight out of the the pages of Runners World. I don’t apsire to be like that. I just want to run consistently into old age. I spent most of my run, pitching barefoot running to the panel of Dragons Den. Now, that would be fun.

Wed 11th Feb 15

Busy morning so just about got a barefoot mile in before breakfast. It felt very cold and my toes went a bit numb. When I checked later it wasn’t as cold as i had thought. Wonky digit thermometers.

Thurs 12th Feb 15

5 barefoot miles this morning. Felt good almost straight away this morning. My soles could tell that i had run 5 on tuesday but it wasn’t bad at all. My feet seem to be working out what I am doing and I am not worried about my soles stopping me from running every day of the year. My achilles pain has died down and my hip seems manageable. I am off to Carlisle next week to visit a Hellerwork practitioner for barefoot running Magazine. She has offered to have a look at my right side, hip, groin and glute issue.  am looking forward to it. Should be fun.

The runstreak thing then is all in my head. It is becoming more of a cerebral challenge rather than a physical one. The biggest tool in my armoury at the moment is that I do it everyday. It will an interesting thing to write about. I have always said that the hardest thing about running is getting out of the front.

Fri 13th Feb 15

Feet sensitive this morning but then I am suffering with a cold and that does seem to make a difference to my soles. A quick barefoot mile. My next poece of writing in the barefoot guide is about setting eanigful goals. I have been stuck for a couple of weeks becasue I don’t want to just trip out the usual dialogue about goal setting. we ahve all heard it all before. Setting goals is easy. Setting ones that we will keep is much more tricky. Goals are funny things. I wonder what the connection is with the goals I set and the ones I keep. I set myself all sorts of challenges but don’t stick with the vast majority but there are the odd one or two that I do manage to keep to. If I can work out the connection then I might well have something that I can use when setting my own goals again.

I do believe in setting goals. It does make a difference to me.

First thoughts are that goals work best for me when they are deeply connected with something I see as part of my identity. That are easy to understand and come round daily or weekly, that can be done and then forgot about until the next time and don’t require 24/7 willpower. Things that can’t easily be scuppered by other people and that don’t allow me wriggle room. Things that have an overall aim like writing a Barefoot 365 book about a year of barefooting.

Sat 14th Feb 15

8.75 barefoot miles on this wet and dreary Valentines Day morning. Nice to be running in the daylight though. My feet felt pretty robust fron the off. I think that it might all be in my head. I knew I was running quite a way and my feet responded accordingly. after 2 miles or so, I got a spasm in my left calf. It is my calf that i live in fear of the most. Pictured from behind, it would have been at the centre of ther 10 O’clock segment of my calf. Not too deep but it was also there when I bent down to feel it. over the next 7 miles or so, it spasmed a couple of more times but other than that was fine. It will be interesting to see what it feel like laster. I might get the roller out.

Stood on a bit of glass in the last 400m of the run. Very unusual place for there to be glass and wasn’t expecting it. it was in with a load of gravelly road debris and I didn’t spot it. I felt down with my fingers and just brushed it off and it is fine.

I did some squats before I set off. That is every day so far in February. There is a difference between a goal and a plan. I have overall goals but then I set myself a plan. It is easier to plan to do something than not do something. then you just do it and tick it off. Rather than eat less chocolate, i should try and eat more fruit. Perhaps one will lead to the other.

This runstreak is me experimenting to see what will happen and a challenge to see if it is possible for me to do it. Writing about it everyday helps.

Sun 15th Feb

This little runstreak is now comfortably over the 20 week mark. Not long until 150 days and then 6 months of running barefoot everyday.

My calf did react last night and does have a hot spot. Running this morning didn’t affect it at all though. It will be interesting to see how it goes on over the next week or so. It came on just after I had out in a quick burst to get past a junction where a car was waiting to let me past. I waved and sprinted almost.

The more I think about goal setting, the more I am convinced that most people’s idea of a goal is actually a plan and that we plan badly. If you say ‘I want to lose 2 stones in weight’, I would say that it looks like a target but I think that it more a plan than anything else. It is a means to an end.

I would ask ‘Why do you want to lose 2 stones in weight?’ to get down to the real goal.

‘So that I can look good in my clothes’…

‘OK..so why is that important to you?’

Keep going until you get to the real thing going on. The losing 2 stones is just a way of achieving your real goal.

I think that you then take that and work out the positive action you are going to take. The things that you can do every day and tick off and not worry about rather than the all consuming stuff you can end up setting yourself that occupies your mind 24/7 and ultimitley leads to failure and a repeating cycle.

Mon 16th Feb 15

I forgot that I should be worrying about my calf until a hundred yrds from home. Don’t know why i remembered but I am taking it as a good sign. I am full of a cold and feeling grotty. I could have run my planned 5 miler but I decided to give it a day and just clock up another barefoot mile today.

I was reading the excellent book ‘Sapiens’ this morning and reached a section on naturalistic religions such as Buddism. I am fascinated but pretty ignorant of Buddism but id the central tenet is that craving for things causes distress and unhappiness then that has an impact on goal setting which i have been thinking about a lot. Seems to tie in with the whole idea of ‘mindfulness’ and accepting where you are and living in the moment whatever you are feeling. I am certainly guilty of always craving the next thing and forgetting to enjoy now.

I am just the same with running as with everything else. Maybe I need to let go of the cravings that I have and embrace what i am doing today. It goes against all the prevailing discourse of goals and targets setting but maybe content is the way to go.

Tues 17th Feb 15

A barefoot mile on frozen ground this morning. Still full of a cold and I couldn’t shake a nasty headache yesterday. Still had it at 5.40am this morning but then woke up less than an hour later and it had subsided. I have fallen off the no sugar wagon. Not gone crazy but I am wondering if that has anything to do with it.

I am keeping with ‘Flexible February’ and last night realised that i hadn’t dome my squats. It was an easy thing to just get them done and forget about it. I am enjoy the experimentation. Pick something to see if it works and then work out how to make that manageable each day and then do it for a month to see what effect it has. It can become habit forming.

My hip is much better although my groin is still troublesome. Not as much though now that I am just doing squats. I used to lie in bed in fear of moving in a way that would make my hip spasm. last night, I was tempted to move it around all over the place to prove it wouldn’t.

The temptation is to make my squat more challenging and reduce the height of the book under my heels but I decided that I would do it with this book for a month and that also seesm important to me in this type of goal/plan setting. It means that i can stop worrying about pushing myself or feel like I should be. it is systematic and takes the pressure away. In the past, I have pushed on and made things difficuult too quickly, failed and felt like a failure. I want to get away from this boom/bust target and goal setting that i am so good at. I am a test myself to destruction type of person and need a way to regulate myself so i don’t do that.

I have been out runnin gin the past with a dodgy calf and tested it out. it has been fine but the experimenter in me has gone on to say ‘Well..would it be OK if I did this?’ ‘…and then this?’ until finally I hve found the break piint and damaged myself.

Seems stupid and unbelievable but I have really done that in the past..and not just once!

Wed 18th Feb 15

5 barefoot miles this morning after a vist up to see Jean Haines and experience Hellerwork Structural integration. jean was very generous with her time and I came away with few new insights into my relationship with my body and the way I move. Particularly the way I place my feet when sitting. I use pressure through my feet to create tension through my legs and pelvis to support my back. i also do this weird thing where I fold my toes under my feet and bend my whole foot inwards.

Jean thought that my posture was good and I got to thinking about the runstreak and my pitter-pattering along every day. When i run, i feel balanced. More balanced than I ever have. it would be interesting to look at the running styles of long time runstreakers to see if there are any similarities. runstreakers need to find a way to run that doesn’t damage the body so much that it requires rest days.

At my son’s running club last night. I heard a chap saying that the problem stems from his hip. That is where he was experiencing pain. However, having talked to Jean, the likelihood is that the problem stems from somewhere else and manifests itself in his hip. His solution was to take Co-codamol and nurse it through. I am not being judgmental here. I have been there, it is just that the discourse and common practice that exists in some settings needs to be challenged.

Most people are not read to hear the challenges because they have bought into things so much. It took me many years before I was ready to take the path I have taken and it was born out of necessity. I think that readiness is important in most things. I am guessing that he was getting ready for an event and no matter what anyone said, he was going to carry on. I have no problem with that. Soemtimes we should abandon common sense and go for it because something is so important to us.  I have not felt the need to do an event for some time. Not quite true. I feel the need but then it goes away again. I think that it will just get in the way of where my running is at the moment.

Thur 19th Feb 15

A wet barefoot mile after a heavy night out and sleeping on a thin yoga mat with a sleeping bag chucked over me. Just the job! I haven’t been counting the days of the streak and in my head i was convinced that I was upto about 150. In fact, I thought today was about 150 so I found a website that counts the days for you and found that it is only118! I must have been wishing my life away.

The thing is though, it just made me grin. I have found out that I am not really bothered about the numbers, it is the process of running everyday that I am most interested in. I can’t see me keeping count very much. I do seem to have become attached to the idea of running 1000 miles across 2015. That makes me log my miles and it is getting me out more than I would be otherwise. Soles are fine. I was very pitter-patter this morning, particularly up the hills. I felt very stable on my feet.

Fri 20th Feb 15

5 barefoot miles this morning in the daylight. Feet felt sensitve after 2.5 miles but I knew I would have no problen finishing. i am feeling more solid on my right leg than ever. I think the squats are doing a good job. My hip is OK although my groin gives me a bit of pain now and again. It is folowing Jean’s input on Tuesday so that may well have a lot do with it too.

I only had one sock on the inside of the door today and without thinking put it on my right foot so that i could hop through the house. My right leg must be feeling trustworthy.

This barefoot 365 thing is a marathon not a sprint. In fact somewhere just short of the 40 marathon point across the year. Funny where your mind wanders when ticking along.

Our first beers are just being sold and we are brewing on Sunday. My mind spent the run calculating volumes and weights and times etc.

Looks like I should be able to get the 20 miles in this week even though I had a bit of a calf ping last week. Not so much as a whisper in my calf now.

Sat 21st Feb 15

Ok – Which wiseguy ordered the snow. It was meant to have been and gone but it was back this morning. I looked out and there it was. Just a barefoot mile in what amounted to rocksalt infused slush. Quitye enjoyed it but the cold was a shock. It has been in the low figures above zero recently and the sudden drop was a jolt.

My hip feels better than it has for ages. I might take up latin american dancing to celebrate its nerw found freedom. From pitter-patter to Cha-cha-cha.

Sun 22nd Feb 15

Today was our nano-brewery’s brewing day number 3. I was up early and whilst the grain was mashing got in barefoot 6 miler. The ground felt a challenge this morning. Not a problem, it just slowed me down a bit. Good to get the 2 miles in for the week again. Not run this consistently for ages. Enjoying it. No issues in any part of my body to report. Gloriously boring.

Mon 23rd Feb 15

As I was setting off for a quick mile this morning, a voice came from above. My son shouting ‘Wait!’ from his bedroom window.

He came with me this morning and it was fun to chat and run. My feet feel almost like I have gone back to the beginning today. Tender from the outset and I could feel every stone. It is chilly and there was lots of rocksalt about but robust was not a word I recognised this morning.

So…Hellerwork is a somatic for of therapy. Somatics is putting everything physical and pyschological together.

Hellerwork is as much educational as it is therapeutic. With its focus on empowering clients, it is teaching a profound level of self-responsibility, where the expert is the person themself. That is exactly how i feel about barefoot running.

Tues 24th Feb 15

5 barefoot miles at 6am this morning. My feet are still tender and I didn’t know whether I could manage the 5 miles or not. Common sense says that you should listen to your soles and not run or at least not run far. I have a problem with common sense. we all seem to live our lives by it but really it just an other word for ideology and although it may make sense for a large group of people, it may not be sense for me. i need to make my own sense of things.

I did listen to my soles. At times, it was hard not to but I started to interpret their message differently. They pointed me through puddles and onto smooth bits of road. I want to experiment and see what a 20 mile week feels like when my soles are like this. Am I going to have weeks like this as part of a cycle or is it going to get progressivley worse? I don’t know. It will be interesting to find out.

Common practice is to mix up your running routes os they don’t get stale. I get that but I am finding that not having to think about my 5 mile morning route is a blessing. Also I can bale out after a mile or or 3 if I need to. That gets me outm of the door. the knowledge that I can just do a mile or 2 miles in need be. I haven’t baled out yet but the knowldge that I can gets me started.

Seeing the miles clock up on dailymile is satisfying as is writing about it every day. lots of things might disappear from my life but this running nhabit is here to stay.

Wed 25th Feb 15

A tender barefoot mile this morning. Not as tender as yesterday but still there. It will be interesting to see how tomorrow goes. The squatting has made a big difference to my groin too. I am feeling more stable on my feet and maybe this means that I am not using my groin to stabalise my right hip as much.

Mindfulness is everywere. Just reading about Hakomi and it turns out to be a branch of mindfulness.

Thur 26th Feb 15

5 barefoot miles in the drizzle. I enjoyed it. The wet road is much easier to run on than a damp one. My squats this morning felt easy and free. They have had a big impact. I have decided not to set goals but to create experiments. I wanted to see if squatting everyday made a difference to my hip and it has. During March, I am going to continue but lower the raise under my heel slightly (by the very technical method of choosing a thinner book). I also need to work on the hard mass of fascia in my lower lateral parts of my back. I think that is the next area for me to work on. I need an experiment for that.

Fri 27th Feb 15

Unexpectedly siff in the legs this morning. I did feel a bit of it in the sqauts but then for the first half mile of my barefoot mile this morning, my left calf and hamsgtring felt it. Fine by the end.

I think that my running has become nurturing rather than destructive. I am much more at peace with my running than at any point I can remember. I am relaxed about it. I cannot find a better term than being’at peace’ with it. It is feeling like a calming, nurturing part of me. I have always had running at tghe centre of my identity. Never more so than now. I am not striving desparately with my running. I am making progress but it feels gentle and built on solid ground. I feel like I can be a lifelong runner. I am not crfamming things in to get somewhere with the knowldge that I will break down eventually. What i am doing feels sustainable.

Sat 28th Feb 15

My flexible February is drawing to a close and my hip is so much better than at the start of the month. I have performed my squat exercises every day (except one where I forgot) and I am much more comfortable sleeping at night and I feel for stable on my feet. It is an example of an experiment that has worked. i wanted to try it out and see what happened and I will continue. i will lower the heel raise a fraction in March and see what happens. i also want to work on the sides of my lower back. They are very stiff. A month of running 20 miles a week. Very pleased.

My barefoot mile and a bit this morning was interesting. i am stiff around my lower legs in my left leg. I have had tender soles this week. Maybe they were trying to protect me from myself.

A mile and a half barefoot in the rain.