June 2015 archive

Jun 13

Hardware and Software according to Lee Saxby

LeeSaxbyhardwaresoftwareI wish I could sum things up as succinctly as Lee does. In this post, he spilts things up into hardware and software and in my year of running everyday barefoot, I am trying to improve both things.

The software by running actually barefoot and  working on cadence and technique. The hardware by being patient and letting my body develop the structure it needs gradually over a long period of time. Running barefoot has limited my mileage and my increase has been gradual. It seems to be working.

I am not of course saying that my way is the only way to success but it does seem to be working out well for me.

Lee’s BTR website is well worth a look round and his posts are clever, succint and useful.

Jun 11

New study on running form – commentary by Pete Larson of Runblogger

Journal Article ShoesThose of you who have been reading Barefoot Beginner for a while will know my feelings on research projects. Dangerous things!

I think research is a fine annd noble thing and usually I have no issue with the researcher but the problem comes when their findings get out there into the public domain and start to be interpreted. Before you know it, we are being told how to run which was probably never the intention of the researcher.

In that respect, I have a lot of time for Pete Larson and his Runblogger site. I think that Pete is a pragmatist and searches for the things that work. I find that I trust his opinion because he doesn’t come to the table with an overt idealogical standpoint. He does a very good line in analysing and providing a commentary on the many studies that are out there.

I also love his posts about his lifestyle and the way he has turned his passion for running and blogging into a lifestyle business (and a very successful one at that).

This commentary from Pete is on a new study that looks at the differences in running form between barefooters, minimaI and standard shoe runners.

I was aware of the study and am glad that Pete has had his analytical eye on it. It is entitled:

‘Comparison of Minimalist Footwear Strategies for Simulating Barefoot Running: A Randomized Crossover Study

The full citation can be found by following the link to Runblogger here or by clicking on the image.

I tend to post this sort of interesting link over on our Barefoot Beginner facebook page. Have a look and like the page.





Jun 02

Improving my running form with Ben Le Vesconte

I am attempting to run barefoot every day of 2015 and cover 1000 miles in doing so. Things are going well but I thought it was time that someone had a good look at my form.

You can read my thoughts on how it is going and what I am learning each day on my Barefoot 365 facebook page and each month here on Barefoot Beginner. If you want to join in then we have a Barefoot Mile a Day facebook group here. You will be made very welcome.

A few weeks ago, I attended a running clinic by Ben Le Vesconte. I was curious to see what someone with Ben’s knowledge would make of my running form.

Ben gave us some background and then we were off to be filmed on a treadmill. We ran at 8kph and them 13 kph. I had not run in shoes for over 6 months so I slipped mine off and went for it whilst Ben filmed from the side.

You can click on each image to see the video footage. Just a few seconds on each case. (A new window will open and then you might get a white screen for a few seconds whilst video loads)

pic before 8kph

8kph felt slow but I settled into my usual pitter-patter and Ben asked if I had ever run with a metronome. I did start out with one a couple of years ago but have not run with one for a long time. I think that increasing my cadence to 180 bpm was one of two big contributors to changing my technique.

I don’t get any niggles when running barefoot but do in footwear so wanted Ben to have a look at how I went on in a pair of Vivobarefoot Evos. I have not worn any footwear whilst running for running for a long time and it felt strange and very, very loud.

pic before 8kph VB

Then quicker in shoes. The main issue I get in shoes is in my calves. It was the thing that caused my main injuries in my shod days in conventional shoes. It was much less in minimal shoes but eventually my calves would succumb. It simply doesn’t happen barefoot and my thinking is that if I run every day barefoot without issue for a year then maybe I will imprint this form and be able to replicate it in minimal shoes.

Pic before 13kph VB

We headed back for some analysis and I was pleased to say that Ben was pleased with my tecnique. He may have been over generous but when slowing the footage down, he could see where my point of contact was and put me into the category of a skilled runner. He then set about improving things further.

This was the part of the day that I was most interested in. I wanted to know what exercises I could do to fend off injury. Things were split into flexibilty and strength. I am pleased that my idea of reducing the heel raise on my squats by using a thick book and gradually turning over the pages went down OK. I was shocked at how little flexibilty I have in my quads and came away with drills to improve that.

The biggest thing to come out of the day for me was my lack of flexibility. It  needs some work. Nothing that diligence and patience can’t remedy and I think that in my quest to be a lifelong runner, it is going to be important.

We did quite a bit of jumping at 180bpm. Both stationary and then on the treadmill. I have been doing this whilst out running and it always leads to be getting back into my stride more upright. It is strangely addictive…and then we had another go at being filmed. This time we all went barefoot with a metronome set at 180bpm

Pic after 8kph

Then quicker. My form worked well at the slower pace but if I want to go quicker, I need to pull the heel up with my hamstring and pull it through and down quickly. At the moment, I don’t do that effectively and my cadence increases rather than my stride length. This needs some practice as well as being more upright and open through the shoulders and keeping my hips forward. Whenever I do that now, I find myself flying along.

Pic after 13kph

There were 12 of us in the group and it took all day to analyse the before and after for everyone. I learnt a lot from watching everyone else and listening to Ben answer their questions.

I came away feeling good about the experiment I am doing on myself. My form has changed completely and I am running pretty well (although there is clearly room for improvement).

The two main things that have done that are increasing my cadence to about 180bpm (or higher) and taking off my shoes and running barefoot regularly. Hopefully, the strength and flexibility drills, I learnt today will help me be robust enough to handle it.

You can see Ben’s ‘Running is A Skill’ facebook page here. and can email him at  Runningisaskill@gmail.com.

A huge shout out to Anne Rosbottom for getting this day organised. We will hopefully be having some follow up with Anne sometime soon.

Jun 02

Problem Sitting? – Advice from Michelle Hall of Barefoot Scotland

I worry about the way I sit. I spend a large amount of time (including typing this) sitting at a desk or table and on a recent visit to a Hakomi body centred pyscotherapist, I found out that there is so much about my daily life that manifests itself in the way I hold and support my body whilst sitting.

stron and collapsed sitting

I came across this post from Michelle Hall on her Barefoot Running Scotland website.

I came to it through a desire to learn about sitting but it was the whole business about active and passive hanging that I found the most fascinating. Her blog is full of fascinating stuff that will be of interest to most barefoot runners. Take some time and have a look round.

Jun 02

Barefoot to Minimal defined – Video from Ady Benn

Ady is an ultra runner who competes barefoot, in sandals and in minmal shoes. He has just put this 4 minute video together showing the sliding scale from barefoot to more conventional shoes.

He mentions our very own Barefoot Ultra Fell running shoes in there and I liked it because he explained it well. On steep, muddy ground, it is easier to run with good form with something that is sure footed rather than something slick. I runn mostly barefoot and the most challenging surface for me are wet muddy slopes.
Nice for Ady to describe the Walsh is a shoe that he would take pretty much anywhere and it looks like he has knocked them about quite a bit.


Ady is listed on Lee Saxby’s new website as an accredited BTR(Born to Run) coach and he also runs his own business at Elemental Fitness. Check them out.