September 2015 archive

Sep 30

Barefoot beginner Training Blog – September 2015


Tues 1st September 2015

A quick barefoot mile before heading off to the airport to see family in France.

Wed 2nd Sept 15

6 barefoot miles through the French and Swiss countryside to find Pere Jacob’s brewery. French roads rough and Swiss roads amazing and smooth. Nice way to start the day.

IMG_3326Thursday 3rd September 15

A barefoot mile this morning befoe heading toi Chamonix and the Augille de Midi cable car. 3500ft straight down from the viewing platform. Guy next to us climbed over the rail wearing wing suit and parachute.

Friday 4th Sept 15

Another barefoot mile. Got up late and so missed the chance to run firther before heading to airport.

Sat 5th Sept 15

Very gentle barefoot mile after late night in the DunscarBbridge Brewhouse.

Sun 6th Sept 15

IMG_333315 barefoot miles this morning. up nice and early. Feet cold for first mile or so. Top of foot felt discomfort when running uphill, downhill or on rough ground so that wass pretty much the entire route. the route was challenging climb wise. I am running at about 10 minute mile pace over this rough ground and the hills slow me down. It is because, I am also slow going down as well as up. No real problem though and foot is OK. Giving myself the best chance of doing this marathon. Plan for a longer one next weekend and then we will see what things are like with 3 weeks to go.

Mon 7th Sept 15

First day of school year and so out at 6am. It was darker than I expected and the last couple of days have been a little chilly. I like it. Still stopped halfway and looked out over the valley to the cars driving in the distance on the other side. MMy foot is a little tender after the 15 miler yesterday but nothing bad. Yesterday when I stretched out, I felt a lack of confidence because I was worried about scraping my toe again. It affected my pace. I curl my toes upwards when on rough ground and this makes the tendons on the top of my foot work which is why they are a little sore this morniing.

Tues 8th Sept 15

5 barefoot miles in a perfectly still and slightly chilly morning. Running from being under streetlamps to daylight. I love it. My left foot tendons were tender when I got out of bed and it was most noticeable when running down steep hills. My form completely affected. No problem or discomfort on the flat. I am not worried. Going to put in the miles posssibel and give myself best chance of the marathon in3 and a half weeks. If I don’t get there, it will not be the end of the world.

Wed 9th Sept 15

Wow – What a difference a day makes. It was pretty dark at 6am this morning and I almost went and got my headtorch. Not long until I will need it. I enjoy running in my own dark bubble but it is here sooner than I thought. Still burning the candle at both ends. Another night workking until midnight on assignment. Finally got it to thee pint where it is OK. Needss a few extra bits over next couple of days and then I will get a few consecutive good night’s sleep. Foot OK but set off at a bit of a shuffle until things had warmed up. Not lifting my feet far off the ground at all which has always been my style as a barefooter but it seems more pronounced.

Thursday 10th Sept 15

5 barefoot miles this morning and feeling a bit more normal. My foot was OK except on steep downhills annd I am back into a routine where I am out there at 6am enjoying the morning air. Good to stop in the middle and pause for a minute or so to ground myself and stop my mind whirring aboout the things that I have going on. I go calm when I do that. I try and remind myself that the day is for enjoying and not getting to hung up about.

Friday 11th Sept 15

A mile barefoot this morning and I changed route to take in the newly refurbished park in Egerton where I live. I wanted to have a go on the monkey bars. On holiday, I was shocked at how my upper body strength has deteriorated. I grew up in a very small house which just happened to have 3 big trees in the back garden. I had a rope swing and climbed just about everything that was climbable. i prided myself on it. In Geneva, I couldn’t get up the climbing wall that comes out of the lake and kept falling back into the water. So…monkey bars for me! I tried a couple of pul ups. (Ahem…least said the better). I think that I will make it a regular stop off in my morning runs.

The pain in the top of my foot was noticeable by its absence. The body truly is an amazing thing. Been planning a 20 miler for Sunday morning. Looking forward to it. Lots of little route alterations to keep thinngs interesting.

Sat 12th Sept 15

A mile barefoot and another trip to the monkey bars. Pathetic attempt at pullups. Things can only get better. No discomfort at all. Feeling good.

Sun 13th Sept 15

IMG_336320 miles barefoot this morning and it felt like a breakthrough run. I gained in confidence and was full of running. I managed tor un quicker on rough ground by relaxing and was running on the edge but I felt in control of this run rather than it just being a beast.

Took 3.5 hrs and my foot was fine. The top of foot pain went away when I tried to engage my big toes and the rest of them followed. It was glorious up in the West Pennine Moors and I set off at just gone 6am. New route and that made it interesting. I spoke to a woman with 4 enormous dogs and we came to the conclusion that the only person wearing anything on their feet was her and she was the only one with a limp. Go figure!

IMG_3347Lots of time to think about the people who I have read about, met and learnt from over the past couple of years. Danny Dreyer, Tracy Davenport, Anna and David, Gray Caws, Ben le Vesconte, Ted, Ken Bob, guys at Evolve, Jean Haines, Jon Woodward, Colin, Aleks Kashefi, Ron Hill and all the real barefooters interviewed.

I think I stand a chance of making the marathon in 3 weeks time even thoguh it is brutal underfoot.

Mon 14th Sept 15

Dark this morning so dug out headtorch for morning run. In the end I forgot to switch it on. A barefoot mile and my feet are OK after the long run yesterday. My legs were heavy but not badly so. My left foot has a little discomfort on the top but only onn rough ground annd I iginred it pretty much and kept my toes to the floor. Soem amazing things going on. Georg and his coast to coat and Tracy and her hardcore lined half marathon. Jyst shows what can be done. I will get there. Day by day, step by pitter-pattering step.

Tues 15th Sept 15

5 barefoot miles setting off in the dark this morning. Almost straight away my soles felt tender after Sunday’s run. Half a mile in and I was wonndering whether I was going to manage but I now have enough experience to know that my soles can go from tender to no problem depending on the surface and the point in my run. I gave myself the option of bailing out after 2 miles and 3 miles but ended up being OK. It is just as satisfying running a 5 miler 2 days after running 20 miles. I feel more like a runner somehow. The 20 miles hasn’t knocked me out for a week annd I am just back into the groove.

A word on being sensible. It is not always the best option. What does being sensible mean? Usually it means doing the thing that is common sense at the time. So..what is common sense? It is made up what everyone seems think and assumes to be right. The problem is that when there are a load of assumptions made, they are often wrong. Just because a load of people think something is true doesn’t make it so. Plus it might be true for them but not for you. We are not all the same. Much better to experiment and work out for yourself what is good for you. The common sense assumptions are a good place to start and to test yourself against but the number of times I have been told that what i doing is not sensible yet i have gone from a broken down runner to someone who is running pretty much injury free every day. Not being sensible is not the same as being stupid, however. Try to avoid that.

Wed 16th Sept 15

Soles tender this morning and developing a crack in my right heel which is a new thing for me. I need to look back at Ady’s YouTube clip on heels. A few more pathetic attempts at pull-ups on the monkey bars. No worse than last time…and no better either.

Thursday 17th Sept 15

5 barefoot miles this morning and much better. My soles are a little tender but nothing toobad. Getting to the time of year when the ground is damp whatever and I must admit I enjoy running on dry ground. A pleasant run overall. Met a woman wlaking her dogs who stopped me and said that she had been wondering for ages why she kept seeing me out barefoot. I stopped for a walk alongside her and explained that I often meet people with dogs and a limp. They are usually the only one of us wearing shoes. She nodded. Most people are just curious and when you explain they understand.

Friday 18th Sept 15

Feeling tired at the moment. Managed to get oout of bed first thhing and put on headtorch. Didn’t need it in the end. The run was OK but no real spring in my step. I think I will be better when I know that I am heading out for a 10  miler in the morning. I tried to remove one of my new finger plasters from my toe afterwards. Really difficult to get off which is a good sign. Skin on top of toe is a thin as wet tissue paper.

Sat 19th Sept 15

10 barefoot miles this morning and feeling good. Just warming up after 10 and running strongly up steep hills near finish. I felt like I wasn’t ‘barefoot’ running this morning. i was just running. The barefoot bit was incidental. I went into that free flowing state that runners get sometimes and the miles slipped by. There is a very steep, long hill at about mile 7 which I had been thinking about early in my run. I was waiting for it to come. It was only when I was a good half mile past it that I realised that I had run it. I have no recollection of being on the hill at all. It just glided past. There is a distinct change in my running and it has happened over the past couple of weeks. I am realising that running quickly is a confidence thing and I am getting used to the idea and just accepting what the ground gives me.

43 barefoot running miles in the last 7 days. Who would have thought that was possible after that first 40 second run.

Sun 20th Sept 15

Day  number 332 of this little barefoot runstreak and on track to hit 1000 miles by October 22nd. This morning was just a mile in the dark after yesterday’s 10 miler. Feet feel OK if a little tired. It is mazing how quickly they recover.

Mon 21st Sept 15

A barefoot mile after sleeping like a log. A very long day selling beer at Sefton Palm House yesterday. Wet and dark this morning. I am confident that after another 2 weeks my soles will be fresh and I will be full of running. Reading blog this morning about barefooting being more difficult for older runners. Doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile though. I was one of the runners described. You end up finding a way.

Tues 22nd Sept 15

An unpleasant barefoot mile this morning in the dark. Unpleasant because I felt heavy and lethargic and wheezy. A lot to do with the fact that I ate blindly yesterday and I feel yuk. A lesson learnt. Probably not. Need to do something about it though.

Wed 23rd Sept 15

Still wheezy this morning and not feeling quite at it. 5 barefoot miles and improving all the way round. Feeet feeling OK

Thursday 24th Sept 15

Feet feel robust and glad to have eased off a little. Looking forward to seeing how they are after another 10 days with nothing crazy in there. Marathon pack arrived. Getting closer. A barefoot mile in the dark this morning. Cold underfoot and headtorch out now we are past the Autumn Equinox.

Friday 25th Sept

11 months of running barefoot every day. Motivation is not a problem because I believe that I have found out whyI run and have a structure that is easy to follow and understand. 5 barefoot miles this morning. Ground damp and then the heavens opened. I am hoping for dry ground next week on marathon. If not dry then very wet. Damp is not my favourite and can be a challenge.

Sat 26th Sept 15

A barefoot mile. Feet feel OK. The mornings are getting colder. Thought there might be a bit of frost but not yet.

Sun 27th Sept 15

6 barefoot miles this morning. It is a week before the Chester marathon and feeling OK about it. Worried about conditions underfoot but I will take it as I find it. If I need to slow right down then so be it.

Felt pretty dreadful this morning. Stomach not good last night ot this morning and I feel wheezy and lethargic. My joints have been aching for a couple of days. Not just my legs but all over. Always feel better for a run though. I took my time for 5 miles thenn picked Dan up. He bombed off ahead and I tried to keep up. At the halfmile turn round point, he was way ahead and I worked really hard at catching him. He ran very well and fought me off on the last flat section to beat me home by a 10 yards or do. Good fun. Not sensible to be going flat out at this point but it was what I needed to lift me out of a bit of a rut.

Mon 28th Sept 15

A wheezy barefoot mile this morning. Still feel lethargic. Soles are good though. I have a slight felling in my left calf but I think that it is the beginning of ‘maranoia’ with less than a week to go until Chester.

Read a post about minimal shoes this morning. Funny but I don’t have a problem with the term barefoot shoe but with minimal, I do gave an issue if they are nnot. It was the Altra which has a good amount of cushioning thhat caused the problem for me. They are zero drop with a wide toe box and I would like a go in a pair but they are not minimal. We need a term for zero drop with a wide toe box that doesn’t hijack minimal.

IMG_3390 IMG_3390 IMG_3387Tuesday 29th Sept 15

Good to chat with Greg Dimelow yesterday and hand over a pair of Walshes. Maranoia is weaving its spell this morning. I cut my 5 miler short and ended up with less than 3 because of a sharp felling in my right heel. Must be something in there. I need to have a dig around and get it out. No real fear to be honest but a pain in more than one way.

We were chatting about the 10% mileage increase rule and then I got thinking about the term recovery run. I think that is what my runs mostly are. They sya that there is no such thing but I disagree. Only if you run wrong.

Wed 30th Sept 15

Yesterday was last 5 miler before Sunday’s marathon and I ended up hobbling home after 2 miles and performing open heel surgery to remove a bit of glass. Usually causes no problem and I can sort of flick glass or thorns etc out whilst out running. On 3 occasions during the past year, however, it has needed more digging to get things out.

This morning, I did a barefoot mile to check it out and no issues at all. I was whizzing along feeling more full of running than I have for ages. Pics to follow!

September closed with a hole in my heel and having run 107 miles which was one short of my monthly barefoot record.





Sep 30

Crikey – I seem to have entered the Oldham Way Ultra

Walsh 600x100 bannerMy fingers just seemed to move themselves and before I knew it, I had clicked send, paid my money and there I was on the start list of the Red Rose Ultra. (previously known as the Oldham Way Ultra)

I am blaming Greg Dimelow. I met him a couple of days ago to swap a pair of Walsh zero drop ultras for a VW beer cooler (don’t ask) and we got chatting. We put the world to rights as usual with the main thrust being that there is far to much sensibleness in the world. I think that we both feel that there is this prevailing discourse in running that means that you have to do things in a certain way. Increase your mileage by no more than 10% a week. Don’t run every day, rest days are important plus a myriad of other things. We just all take these things for granted as being true. Greg doesn’t and following our chat he posted in our group about his plans to run the OWA. I was sitting outside my daughter’s brass band practise when I read his entry and within 10 minutes was on the start list.

Sometimes it is best to just not think about things too much. The OWA is 40 miles and my furthest run to date is 22.5 miles and all of that was on the roads. Roads that took me up and over the West Pennines but nothing I could sink into upto my waist. That was also barefoot and I cannot see me running the OWA barefoot.

This means that I am am going to have to get used to having something on my feet. Having not run in shoes for over 11 months that is the thing causing me a moment or two’s thought.


Nice video on the race reports section

I had always planned to gradually transition back to shoes and the whole point of running a year completely barefoot was to improve my form. It will be interesting to see whether I can handle it.

It is interesting to note where my points of concern are and are not:

  1. Although I have not run that far, I am not worried about the distance. I will use the winter months to enjoy myself and get used to spending time on my feet. The terrain doesn’t worry me too much. Looks fun.
  2. Kit – I ran a lot of long fell races in my youth but before the days of mandatory kit. I have a cavernous Low Alpine bum bag from the last time I did the Mary Townley Loop relays but things have moved on and I reckon I will be wearing one of these new fangled Ultra Vests. Need to practise.
  3. Blisters – I am going to be putting shoes back on. I have had no blisters barefoot. It is shoes that cause blisters and not the ground. I need to get comfortable in a my shoes.
  4. Navigation – The moors are big out there and it is just far enough away to mean that recce runs are going to be few and far between. I will be practising then getting in with a group of locals and sticking to them like glue.
  5. My weight. I am running a marathon on Sunday and am at least 2 stones overweight. I need to do something about that if I am going to lug myself 40 miles over hill and dale.
  6. I am worried that I am worrying too much and have too much time to prepare and think about things. If it was this weekend. I would pack my bumbag, put on my Walshes, use the maps that they provide for each section and just get out there with friends and enjoy myself. I would get round.

OWA Kit list is below. 

  1. •Waterproof jacket – not a log flume poncho or super market fashion jacket, it has to have a waterproof membrane with taped seams
  2. •Waterproof trousers see point 1
  3.  • Long sleeve top
  4. •Hat and gloves
  5. •Torch and spare batteries + a back light or Glowstick (if you are out after dark)
  6. •Foil blanket
  7. •Mobile phone, add our number now or don’t complain on the day if you don’t have it; 01484 599123
  8. •Whistle
  9. Map, Compass and the knowledge how to use them. We will supply you with A4 map extracts on the day.

I have also begun to read Phil Maffetone’s blog. Full of good stuff. I reckon it might be interesting to use some of his ideas in preparation.

I will keep you posted and see how we go. Quite exciting!


Sep 28

Minimal shoes from startup companies


Xero Shoes












I enjoyed reading this post from Amy Hatch on Gear Junkie.

She goes through her selection of startup companies that have entered the minimal shoe market. Pleased to see Xeros in there. It is the comments that follow the post that make me smile. Terminology is so precious to some people and they just can’t let things go. We always get the same reaction when someone uses the term ‘barefoot shoe’. It causes so many people to get steamed up. Personally I have no problem with the term. It isn’t misleading. If they had meant to mislead us, I am guessing that they would have missed out the word ‘shoe’. Nobody owns the word ‘barefoot’ although sometimes you get the sense that some people think that they do.

Walsh 600x100 banner

The word ‘minimal’ is an interesting one though. It seems to have become adopted as a shoe that is an alternative to the cushioned running shoe that is typified by the Nike Pegasus and myriad others. However, some of the shoes in this list are not minimal at all. That seems to have caused a little bit of disturbance. The Altra is cushioned but has a big wide toe box and is zero drop and was one of the first so called ‘minimal’ brands on the scene. Since its arrival, lots of more minimal shoes have arrived that make the Altra look positively built up.

Perhaps we need a term for the shoes with wide toe boxes and zero drop that doesn’t hijack the term minimal.

I haven’t run in shoes for over 11 months now and I fancy a pair of Altras. My goal is to run injury free and I have yet to try zero drop and cushioned. I might splash out on a pair and see how they go.

You can read Amy’s post here


Sep 23

Barefoot Runner Gladson Johnson

Running-kXfG--621x414@LiveMintEnjoyed this article about barefooter Gladson Johnson. on

What resonated with me most was the fact thhat he does all his exercise before anyone else in his family gets out of bed in the morning. A man after my own heart.

I enjoy stories like these. It makes what I thought was impossible seem possible.

Sep 23

Some nice feedback

I have just had a lovely email in from one of our readers.

Hello Chris,
Thank you very much for the download. I look forward to reading the info. I have gone through your website already and enjoyed reading the various articles.
As far as stories are concerned, I could easily fit in the graveyard of damaged feet as you mentioned. I have spent many years dancing, fast pace walking/short runs followed by walking, or hiking for long hours. I find myself today taking it easy because no matter the shoes for dancing or the sneakers that I buy I end up discarding them because my feet are sore. I now walk slow and only for an hour. I have not danced for a couple of years, although I look forward to being on the dance floor again one of these days with new high heels 🙂
I read your post about the shoes/sandals you mentioned. I have not looked into them yet.
Once again, thank you for your courtesy. Much appreciated!
Thanks Chiara, it makes it all worthwhile.

Sep 22

Barefooting harder for older runners? Maybe but so what?


Daniel Lieberman runs barefoot across the Weeks Bridge n Cambride, Mass.Credit Bryce Vickmark for The New York Times

This article on the NY times blog caught my attention. It cites research that claims that barefoot running is harder to transition to when you are older. Older seems to mean over 30 and the hypothesis is that this is because older runners have years of bad running to unlearn.

This seems obvious but that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t or can’t be done. I am one of those older runners with 25 years of cushioned shod running in my history. I was broken and at the end of the line and now I have gradually taught myself to run with good form by barefoot running (with the help of a little handheld metronome in the very early days).

I am now running every day and pretty much without injury. Harder? Possibly, but so what?

In my eyes it is all about readiness. I hit a point in my life where I was ready to do whatever it took to find a way to run in a sustainable way into my old age. It can be done!