Category: Real Barefooters

Dec 16

Paul Beales – Real Barefooters number 14

Paul Beales is our Real Barefooer Number 14.

imageFrom following your posts for a while, you seem to have moved from being a dedicated barefoot walker into running. How long have you been walking barefoot?

The last long walk I did in hiking boots was in August 2012. It was around this time that Adam, a fellow heart patient friend that I met on Twitter started trying to get me to run, AND TO RUN IN BARE FEET! I eventually bowed to his persuasion and bought myself a pair of New Balance Minimus Trails to try in November 2012. The first actual barefoot walk/run I did was in June this year.

Injuries often set us off down the barefoot path. Was that the case with you?

Not at all Chris, I kicked off my shoes for the fun of it and the challenge, and in the hope of strengthening my feet and leg muscles to be able to run properly of course.

So.. what is a typical week for you. Do you balance running and walking?

I consider myself as a runner not a walker now, but due to my medical condition, I am not yet able to run for more than about two minutes at a time before my leg muscles run out of oxygen and insist that I stop and walk for a while; particularly on uphill sections! Initially, I couldn’t run for more than about 30 seconds, so I am getting better at it, and I am hoping to keep increasing the running portions next year – I would love to be able to do a 5K next year without any walking breaks. I am however a total fair weather runner and I hate running the streets, so I only get out once or twice a week at the moment at weekends.

I am concentrating on 5K runs now and I love to do parkruns. It is a 14 mile drive to my nearest parkrun though, and 9am in the morning is not the most convenient of times! My current PB is 00:35:32, which I did as a Freedom run at the Bryn Bach parkrun up in the Welsh valleys the other week.

I know you sometimes have Sockwa on your feet. How are the X8?

Haha, I ALWAYS have Sockwa on my feet Chris – I rarely wear anything else these days! It occurred to me the other day that I have forgotten what it actually feels like walking in shoes with any heel or cushioning. In terms of muscle use and ground feel, I am basically barefoot all the time now. Of course I am not getting the same amount of proprioception that you get when truly barefoot, and true barefooters will tell me here that I am not getting any of the electrical earthing benefits!

I haven’t actually tried running in the X8 yet. They have the same footbed as the G3 and they look great, so I don’t foresee any issues, but I am saving them for the warmer weather next year, as they are breathable. I wear Amphibians for work as they are fleece lined and warmer than my G3 and the X8. Unfortunately, this model has been discontinued by Sockwa and is no longer available. My favourites are still my bright yellow G3 though.

A 5 minute plank! – What was your first attempt like? Are you feeling any wider benefits?

This was the MPE300 challenge posted on Facebook by Paul Mumford, a barefoot running PE Instructor from Essex. He suggested that everyone start with a 10 second plank on 1st November and add 10 seconds every day to finish with a simultaneous 5 minute plank at his gym on 30th November. I had a go just to see what I could do. I started to struggle after about three days, but I stuck at it and with help from Paul and encouragement from all the other participants, I worked on my technique and I got better and better at it. The simultaneous plank was scheduled for 8am on 30th November, and I was supposed to be joining the group in Paul’s gym via a Google+ video link, but that didn’t quite work out and I ended up getting carried away the night before and doing a 5½ minute plank! I did of course stick to the schedule and do my five minute plank later on the 30th.

Yes, I notice quite a big difference when I run, in that my core feels much stiffer and I am a lot less unstable on my legs when landing on uneven ground. I also practice Qigong two or three times a week and I noticed that I could sense my Dan Tien much more. The odd thing is that we all asked Paul what we should do next, expecting him to say to do a 1 minute or a 3 minute plank every other day or something, but he said no, do something else like squat jumps, which surprised us all, but as Paul also teaches barefoot running, and I still can’t believe he had me a do a 5 minute plank in the first place, I have to believe him, and I am now doing leg strengthening exercises twice a week instead – Just out of interest, I tried a plank last night to see what would happen and I did 3 minutes no problem, so I’ve still got it! (https://www.facebook.com/pauldmumford.)

I was running yesterday and came to the conclusion that I need to stand up at my desk and then I read all about your standing desk. So..first of all why? and second..What was it like at first?  and third…Can you feel a difference?

1467398_10202312659325257_912511914_nHaha, you have been following me closely on Facebook and Twitter haven’t you Chris?

Well, since you asked …. sitting down all day is one of the worst things you can do for your body.

Standing whilst I work burns around an extra 280 calories a day. I know this doesn’t sound a lot, but an extra 1400 calories a week is actually the same as an extra day’s food every week for me! Standing also naturally improves my posture and helps to strengthen my muscles. It allows my body the natural movement that it needs and takes the pressure off my back and joints. Standing up at my desk also keeps the blood flowing and keeps me feeling vibrant and alert instead of sluggish and slovenly, and I feel more energised throughout the day.

I am only on my second full week at doing this and I have to say, it is not easy. At the end of each day I feel like I have had a full day’s shopping trip with the wife, and I am glad to be able to sit down when I get home. I expect like anything, it will get easier with time though and I’m not giving in. It is too early yet to notice any actual health differences. One thing that I have noticed though is that it is so much easier to set off somewhere, like to pick up documents from the printer etc. now that I don’t have to struggle out of my chair, and my colleagues have also commented on how much easier it is for them to discuss things with me when they come to my desk.

 

You recently posted a picture which I think was comparing your weight in 2009 with recently. Many people talk about it but you have done it. If you have 30 seconds to share a couple of bits of wisdom with someone looking to do the same, what would you say?

Yes, I was 105kg then! This morning I was 91.8kg. A lot of the weight was water retention due to my then undiagnosed heart condition. Other of it was due to inactivity … also down to the heart condition I guess. I also liked my beer then and used to drink at least one or two cans a day – possibly the cause of the heart condition! I had also been a smoker until 2006 when my youngest son Jonty was born. As soon as my condition had been corrected diagnosed and treated I immediately felt a hundred times better! My cardiologist also told me that I must not drink any more alcohol and I have not touched a drop since August 2011. It was at this time that I started walking, and I enrolled on a number of charity walks for heart charities like BHF and Heart Research. I also did a Sugar Challenge earlier this year and weaned myself off lots of sweet things like Coca Cola and cakes etc. – though I have been known to have the occasional lapse on this.

So I guess my weight loss is down to water tablets, more exercise, no alcohol and less sugar? I wouldn’t recommend anyone else have to follow this particular weight loss plan, but I would recommend that people look at the surprising amount of sugar, glucose and dextrose etc. that there is in the most unexpected things like bread, cooked ham and baked beans etc.

I love the area where you run. I recognised one of your pics as looking down towards Tintern Abbey. It was a view that stuck in my head from when I walked Offas Dyke in my teens. What would be your perfect route for a run?

Yes Chris, the Wye Valley, Monmouthshire and the Forest of Dean are all perfect places for barefoot running – though I have never met any other barefooters on my walks and runs!

1465176_472149839569582_198313119_nMy perfect barefoot run was actually done in Morocco on our summer holiday this year though. I used to fall out of bed at 6am every sunny morning and run through lovely clean streets, with a cheery wave to the street cleaners each day, down to the brick paved promenade and back along the beach with only the occasional other keen runner or seagull for company. I was dead chuffed to achieve a marathon distance in just the first week of our holiday!

I have wanted to play the ball game since reading BTR. How on earth did you get involved with the whole Trailball thing? Is it as much fun as it looks? and what are the plans for the future?  Where can we find out more?

Errmm, Twitter again. I connected with another barefoot runner Christian in France, who was organising running sessions for other barefoot runners in Paris. He was looking for ideas to make his runs more interesting and came up with the idea of TrailBall. I volunteered myself to help him introduce the sport to the UK and he made me UK Ambassador and sent me three prototype TrailBalls to work with.

We held our inaugural UK TrailBall event on 24th November this year. Christian had teams running in Paris and we had teams, mostly made up of Wiltshire Barefoot Runners, running in Swindon, Wiltshire. The French team won the race and set a new world record of 00:25:58 minutes for the 5K speed challenge. Our A team came a close second only 7 seconds behind. We have a rematch scheduled for 22nd December, when we are hoping to have Welsh teams running in Newport, as well as Ian Hicks running English teams in Chippenham. Hopefully one of our teams will get our revenge and take the 5K speed title for the UK.

Yes, it is great fun Chris. It’s like being 10 years old again when you throw caution to the wind and chase after the ball. It is great for runners that want to do more than just run faster and longer or need motivation for running. I also noticed the other week that all the twisting and turning chasing after the ball was straining a whole new set of muscles not worked when I run.

Anyone with a TrailBall and a GPS tracker can form a team or run solo and set a new world record. There are many different and exciting variants of TrailBall described on the websites to suit all ages and abilities. The official TrailBall site is at http://trailball.net. The TrailBall UK Facebook page is at http://www.facebook.com/trailballuk and on Twitter at @TrailBall_UK. Anyone who wants to know about upcoming events in the UK should click Like on the Facebook page. TrailBalls can only be purchased from the official website.

You seem to enjoy having a challenge to focus on. Have you anything coming up soon?

You’re not wrong Chris, since I got my new-found energy I can’t seem to stop moving, haha.

On 1st January next year I will be setting off on a 605 mile (virtual) run from Land’s End to John O’Groats being held in aid of my Facebook friends Julia and Sandra’s favourite cancer charities. (https://www.facebook.com/landsendtojohnogroats2014)

On 1st March next year, Julia and I also will be launching the Amis Sans Shoes Global 10K Barefoot Run/Walk/Hike in aid of Care International UK. This will be taking the craze for virtual runs one stage further and we are looking for barefoot runners and hikers to organise barefoot events in their local areas so that barefooters can meet up with other barefooters and run or walk and socialise together – something that is still quite a rare event despite the rising popularity, and then share their experiences on Facebook .  I should say here that when I say barefoot, I really mean BAREFOOT – no shoes, socks or sandals will be allowed for ANY of the 10K!

I will be organising my local 10K barefoot run around the world-renowned Three Cliffs Bay on the Gower Peninsular in South Wales – and everyone will be welcome to join me. If I can time it right with the tides, at least half of the 10K will be on the beach! I might even make it a weekend event and include a night under canvas at the camp site overlooking the bay!

The Amis Sans Shoes Facebook page is not quite ready to be launched yet, but if anyone wants a sneak preview, it’s at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Amis-Sans-Shoes/284889931636079. Anyone that is interested should click Like to keep up to date with developments and so that we can get a feel for how many people are interested. We are hoping it will be hundreds worldwide!

I am also considering forming a team or teams of four to do the Camelot Challenge Multi-Terrain Half Marathon run by Julia in Dorset in September next year with a TrailBall, and set a new TrailBall Enduro world record. (https://www.facebook.com/CamelotChallenge.) If anyone is interested in joining one of these teams, please ask them to let me know.

Phewww!

Thanks Paul. Check out the rest of our Real Barefooter interviews here.

Pauls’ interview is our barefoot post of the day on our Barefoot Beginner facebook page. To keep up with other barefoot posts, visit and like the page here.

Nov 11

Sue Kenney – Real Barefooter number 13

Sue and I had exchanged a message or two and I became fascinated by her tales of pilgrimage in Spain and her Dragon’s Den adventure. What interesting lives we barefooters lead.

Hi Sue, thanks for taking part. I am looking forward to hearing about your barefoot journey. We will delve in to that in a moment but first up can you tell us what a typical barefoot week is for you. Do you walk, run barefoot regularly?58314_10152135853230385_1263877344_n

Photo courtesy of Amanda Stillemunkes

In a typical week, I am barefoot or at least wearing sole-less shoes pretty much all the time. At some point everyday, I walk, run, go on my SUP (stand up paddleboard), do yoga or some other activity while barefoot. My favourite place to go is a 6 kilometer trail in the forest where I usually run, unless I am introducing someone else to barefooting, in which case I walk. For business meetings, shopping or going into establishments that don’t allow barefeet, I wear the soleless shoes that I designed for this reason. Occasionally I will put on a pair of heels if I am dressed up, just cause.

Sue cafe barefoot I know a little about your athletic background. Tell us a little about rowing and has exercise always been an important part of your life.

At the age of 40 I decided to start rowing as a way to deal with the death of my younger sister. After a couple of years of training with the Argonaut Rowing Club in Toronto, I started competing as a Masters rower. At the age of 45 I was selected as part of a crew of eight women (average age of 43) and we won a gold medal at the FISA World Masters Rowing Championships. This sport gave me a great appreciation for being disciplined, working through physical exhaustion and I developed incredible focus. Throughout my life I have always been active in various sports and dance like canoeing, running, SUP, tango, salsa, mountain biking, ice skating and swimming. I discovered yoga in 1991 and took up Bikram Yoga in 2001 and I still practice yoga. An important part of my life has been Vipassana meditation. Over a couple of years I did five – 10 day silent meditation retreats and this profoundly impacted my ability to be still.

561077_10152136013380385_1326903022_n

Photo courtesy of Amanda Stillemunkes

Walking is clearly a central part of your life and I know that you now guide others. The Camino Trail sounds amazing. It is an ancient Pilgrim’s way in Spain that you have walked numerous times. I know that you describe yourself as a Pilgrim. How do you define the term and how does that translate into your everyday life?

After I was downsized from my corporate telecom position I walked 780 kilometers across the north of Spain, alone in the winter. I came to understand some basic virtues of being a pilgrim and decided to focus on them in my everyday life. Pilgrims live a simple life that involves carrying all they need on their back, walking in nature, sharing food and stories, being accommodated by strangers and helping others, displaying respect, as well as being compassionate and loving to others on their journey. When I came home I started by sharing stories. I wrote My Camino, a best-selling book about my first journey and followed it with another book as a way to inspire others on their life journey. Each spring I coach and guide a group of pilgrims on the Camino and this year will be my 9th group and the third time I have walked barefoot. I offer workshops, lead others on barefoot walks, do talks and offer advice. Mostly, I look for ways to serve others and graciously accept when I am being served.

I read about your barefoot awakening in the woods and how you felt your feet had become so tender whilst encased in shoes. For those who haven’t heard could you describe it for us.

Over the many years of walking since the first Camino, I noticed that the soles of my feet were very tender while in my boots and whenever I was barefoot at home. I thought the solution was to buy boots with thicker soles and more support, and I did. I also wore slippers and shoes all the time because it was so painful for me to expose the soles of my feet. At that time I had been walking in the forest a few times a week for several years. I received a message ‘in my mind’ to be still. One day while sitting still by the water on granite rock, I decided to take my shoes and socks off. I immediately felt a surge of energy enter my body. At that moment I knew I should connect my feet to the Great Mother Earth and that changed the course of my life. I started walking barefoot and read every book I could find.

It took several months for the sensory nerve endings on the bottom of my feet to trust that I was going to let them do their job: read the terrain, temperature, moisture etc. to adjust the systems in my body to adapt to what was being experienced. Walking in the forest helped me to adjust quickly because my feet were forced to respond to the constantly changing terrain. Once they did, the nerve endings ‘pulled away’ from the edge of the skin so that it wasn’t painful to step on rugged ground anymore. Shortly after. a layer of fat developed on the bottom of my feet. I felt more free than I had since I was a child. I soon learned that I could walk in the forest and not look down at the ground to see where I was going because my feet had become a new set of ‘eyes’ that longed to explore and adapt to whatever terrain presented itself. As well, my allergies to dogs and cats virtually disappeared. I’ve had asthma for about 30 years and since I’ve been barefoot, my lung capacity has increased and the asthma is gone. Because of this, I regained confidence that my body was capable of healing itself and could be adapt to any environment, as long as my feet were bare.

It is that time of year again. Any advice for those thinking of barefooting in the cold?

Go slowly! I live in Canada and we have four distinct seasons. I find if I go outside everyday then my feet and body adapt slowly to the shift in temperature. I also spend a lot of my time on a lake so every couple of days in the fall/early winter I go in the water and walk lifting my feet up out of the water with each step. It’s called Kneipping and it is one of the oldest forms of naturopathic healing.

I recommend newcomers to winter barefooting start with a few minutes at a time. Always carry socks and shoes when the weather is around freezing or below and stay close to home. Start off my taking the garbage out, shovel the walk, brush off the car and anything else that doesn’t take a long time.

Once a layer of fat builds on the soles of my feet and I am confident I can handle more cold, then I start walking in the snow for longer periods of time. I stay away from salt, melted snow and ice cold water.

Don’t hesitate to carry Hot Shots too. Be very careful and aware that freezing cold weather is not something to take lightly when barefoot. Be cautious and at the same time, you can have a lot of fun experiencing this season.

Beth and girlsI am fascinated in the whole area of barefoot healing. When you speak to groups about it, what is your message?

Firstly, I believe that being barefoot will not necessarily heal you but it will help your body to heal itself. When we are barefoot our posture, balance, flexibility and core strength improves. That alone is enough to go barefoot indoors. Better posture means we look younger, our spine is aligned, our feet (the foundation of our body) get stronger and so much more.

As well, I believe that a holistic approach to life is not just about eating organic, meditation, yoga or exercise and naturopathic healing methods. We are missing an important ingredient and that is connecting our feet to the Great Mother Earth. After a few months of barefooting in the forest my allergies to dogs and cats, and my asthma virtually disappeared! There are minerals and negatively charged ions that our body needs to help to heal itself. I believe it was because inflammation was reduced, my body was able to adapt to that environment and heal itself. We also become more environmentally aware when we notice what we are stepping on in our bare feet.

I also use life or personal coaching in my work. Are there any lessons you have learned from barefooting that translate into wider life?

Barefooting teaches us about trust, discerning judgment and making choices. They are the three fundamental principles I use in my coaching. It also provides a way to focus on being aware of where we are on our life journey, physically, spiritually and metaphorically.

Grounding is a controversial area. What do you believe?

As I said earlier, I believe that because our body is bio-electrical and there are negatively charged ions in the ground and our body needs to manage over-inflammation. This has contributed to my own personal healing. We know asthma is inflammation and my symptoms disappeared after going barefoot on the grass/ground/rock. I’m never sure about believing research because it is often funded by parties vested in the outcome, but I can trust in my personal experience.

More importantly, almost everyone I talk to has a fond memory about being a child and running around barefoot. It brings a smile to their face almost immediately. I believe the essence of connecting with the ground is primal for us and not everything has to be proven scientifically for me to believe in it’s healing power.

I also see that you speak about efficient thinking. Is that one of changes that you see in pilgrims as you guide groups on the Camino?

Yes. Efficient thinking is all about letting go of the thoughts that no longer serve us and instead focusing on what we want to create. When we walk, we sort through thoughts (consciously and unconsciously) and we become more creative. That’s has to be good.

I have a million and one ideas going round in my head. Where on earth should I begin?

Write them down and then read them out loud. As a writer I have learned that ideas are a dime a dozen and everyone has them. If you write them down and they still look good, that’s a start. If you then read them out loud or have someone else read them to you and you still like it, you are on your way. Hearing the ideas out loud will help you to self edit them as good or bad. That will get your list down from a million and one to about 10 to 20.

Dragon’s Den. More than just a little exciting. Tell us more.

Earlier this year I auditioned for the hit CBC TV series Dragons Den. I pitched a business concept idea for Barebottoms, a sole-less shoe I designed because I wanted to get into stores/restaurants while still being barefoot. I passed the audition and made it to the next stage to be filmed pitching to the investors they call Dragons. Since the true barefooter’s market would be seen as too small in the eyes of these investors, I decided to include the yoga/dance market of people who are presently barefoot indoors with a strategy to get them to eventually go outdoors bare-soled.  I took the shoes to the Toronto Yoga Show to secure some sales and prove it as a potential market for yoga shoes since they provide grip. In April I was filmed as one of 200 pitches made to the Dragons. They pick 60 to edit and broadcast on the show sometime before he end of April 2014. I can’t divulge the outcome of my pitch until after that time. My fingers and toes are crossed.Sandra gorgeous

My strategy with Barebottom shoes is to introduce people who presently go barefoot indoors to taking a step outdoors. So I am showing them to the yoga and dance crowd. So far I had 2 yogis who were a part of my photo shoot after a yoga class, decide not to take their shoes off and went outside in their Barebottoms! For some, it’s a huge adjustment just to walk barefoot indoors.

If barefooters want to find out more about Camino or your other work, where should they look?

My philosophy about barefooting is really more about the fact that it makes common sense to me. I don’t need all the research to convince me about what I have personally experienced from being barefoot. It feels right.

www.suekenney.ca

Order Barebottoms on line at www.barebottomshoes.com

Facebook My Camino or Barebottom Shoes

Twitter @caminoperegrina or @barebottomshoes

Thanks Sue – For more interviews with real barefooters, see our archive page.

Sue is a member of our Barefoot Beginner facebook group. Come and join in the chat, you will be made very welcome.

 

Sep 19

Mikey Royce – Real Barefooter number 12

I first met Mikey as we ran the Cross-Bay half marathon earlier this summer. Mikey passed me in deep water (my short legs are a definite disadvantage sometimes) and I tried very hard to catch him but he stayed tantalisingly a few hundreds yards ahead for the last 6 miles.mikey roce 1

Hi Mikey and thanks for agreeing to take part in our real barefooters feature.

No problem Chris – that was an amazing race, I met so many new friends that day, and it was a great barefoot friendly course.

During that run Mikey, I could see your shoes clipped to your waist bobbing along with each stride. When you do use footwear, what do you put on your feet?

Yeah, I don’t like the idea of getting caught on a long run without something to put on my feet. Usually it’s just a pair of flip flops tied to my belt, but for a half marathon I decided to carry actual shoes, just in case.

Footware has always been an absolute nightmare. I have oddly shaped feet, low arches, high instep and wide toes. I had the usual experience with the running shop gait analysis and went through a number of big, heavy support shoes, every one of them causing pain on a long run to some degree.

I went minimalist with the Vibrams, and I really liked them for a while. However, I’ve gone off them recently, I dont feel like my feet can really stretch out in them – maybe my oddly shaped feet again.

So, my shoe of choice at the moment is the Green Silence from Brooks. They are not marketed as minimal shoes, but they are super light weight, reasonably low drop heel to toe, and actually fit my feet. On top of this, they are made from recycled materials, so it’s all good.  I’m clocking up a fair few miles at the moment, so I need something that I can feel the ground through but will save my soles from getting abraided away.

I would love to try a pair of Lunas next, they look very handy for carrying tied to a belt.

I watched a friend of your finish the Cross Bay barefoot. Her barefoot style was easy to spot from a long distance. We all run in different ways. How would you describe your own barefoot style?

I learnt from reading Barefoot Ken Bobs book. When I started out, I went for short stride, high cadence, and have slowly been able to increase my stride length as my technique has improved – I can now run a 5k barefoot in under 22 minutes and a 10k in under 45, so that requires a reasonable stride length. It’s all about being aware of where youre stepping, avoiding anything sharp, and above all being as gentle as you need to be.

The ball of the foot lands first – gently, just a little out front, – then, almost an instant later, the toes and the heel come down together as the foot passes the center of gravity. Im a little heavy on lift off, I get carried away on race day and tend to dig my toes in. After a race, I nearly always have blisters on my toes.

My running buddy that day was Jane, one of my regular friends from parkrun. She ran the Cross Bay barefoot last year, and so we decided to run it this year. Her style of running shod translates very well to barefoot – she is one of those lucky people who are increadibly light on their feet, she runs entirely on her forefoot so that her heels never touch the ground.

You look very committed to your local club and parkrun. Tell us about the part they play in your life.

I think all club runners become very attached to their running club. Humans are designed to run in a tribe, the running club is a modern form of that primal and fundamental behaviour. Most of us spend our days chained to a computer, in a totally artificial environment, so getting together and running on an evening or weekend morning fixes alot of the problems we may have stored up.

The York parkrun has been going for nearly two years now, and it has had a huge effect on the local running scene. The various clubs used to be very fragmented, but now we have a shared hub, it has allowed people to meet who wouldnt otherwise, and the community has benefited massively.

Mike RoyceIs it true that you make your own bows? I have met a few archers but nobody that makes their own bows before. It seems to hark back to a simpler time and fit in with the whole barefooting thing somehow. What do you think?

Well, I’ll say that its true that I am an archer and I have made a bow, and am in the middle of making another. I never like to make things easy for myself, and making things is much better than buying them!

I have been into recurve archery for a few years. I started out Olympic style with sights, stabilisers and all the other gizmos. Then, I tried a friends traditional longbow, and I was blown away by how simple it was. Shooting bare, without sights, feels very natural, very much like running barefoot. You may miss more times than you hit, but theres more call for celebration when you do get the arrow on the boss, and a victory lap if one should hit in the gold!

Tell us about your first barefoot run. I made it 40 seconds and had to put my shoes on and come home.

It was just as I was getting back into running following a twisted ankle. I was out running an easy run with a friend, just easing back into it, when I just decided to take my shoes off for a couple of hundred meters. I had read about barefoot running and I suppose the urge came over me to give it a try. We were running on a compacted mud track by the river, which was perfect for a first try – and, I was hooked. I loved how you could feel the texture of the ground, but I very quickly appreciated  how you can get a better idea for how you are balanced every step. I’ve read about proprioception in terms of archery, but now I was able to apply that same thing to running.

You look like you are putting in a few miles at the moment. What have you got lined up for the next few months. Any races/events?

The big event of the autumn is the Yorkshire Marathon. In training, Im clocking between 30 to 40 miles each week, since Im not a very robust runner in terms of recovery, thats a bit more than I find comfortable. Because of the volume, Im not really able to do many of them unshod – my feet just arent that tough! There is also the danger of running barefoot with bad form when fatigued, and Im not willing to risk it.

On this last weekend’s long run, we ran an out and back route to one the local stately homes, on the way back I took my shoes off for a few miles to let my arches stretch, and that was awesome after the long slow shod run out! Unfortunately, we were heading back along a narrow country lane, when a huge tractor turned the corner, coming towards us filling the lane from hedge to hedge. We had to climb into the undergrowth to avoid getting squashed, which was a little difficult with unprotected soles!

So that’s it pretty much for autumn racing. No doubt there will be a number of half marathons and 10ks later in the year, and the York Brass Monkey Half to kick off next year – that’s always an interesting race, as the conditions are always so variable. There is either wind, or ice, or snow, or maybe all three. I’ve not decided if I’ll attempt that one unshod, it may be a little cold!

 

PhotoI have an old red running hat that goes with me most places. Do you have an unsung piece of kit that you would grab first if the house was burning down?

I get sentimetal about some things – if the house was burning down, I would rescue my guitar. But I’m not sentimental about running kit, its all just functional for me – I’ve got the soles of my feet, the rest can be replaced.

So…..The  Saltburn half marathon ended up as 16 miles – How on earth did that happen?

The route was marked out with yellow tape tied to trees and lamp posts along the way. Or at least that was the theory – the local kids figured this out, and moved the tape, rerouting the run in a random tour of the Teeside suburbs! We spent the whole race wondering if we were heading in the right direction or if we were being lead off towards Newcastle. Everyone ran over distance, we made it around 16 miles, one lad came in later having run 19 miles.

There was also a full trail marathon that day, we didnt wait around to see how far they all had to run!

After a long run or training session, what would be your ideal post run wind-down?

I have an awesome recipe for a recovery shake, with a few variations depending on how Im feeling. Its made from frozen banana, peanut butter, milk, whey protein, oatmeal, agave nectar and cinnamon. One pint of that stuff has 100g carbs, 40 grams of protein and 25 grams of fat, around 800 calories or so. I sit and drink that and listen to some Led Zeppelin.

Finally – Mo vs Bolt – Predictions please

Can’t call it Im afraid – over 600m, its 50/50, and Im a fan of them both. Bolt is amazing to watch, he has such style, and Mo is just a total hero to all of us distance runners! But it would be an amazing race, I really hope they agree to it!

Thanks Mikey. You can read previous interviews with Real Barefooters here.

We have a fantastic community of barefoot runners contributing on our Barefoot Beginner facebook group. We are a mix of barefooters, minimalist and shod runners with a common interest. The chat is warm and friendly. Come and join in. We also have a facebook page for you to visit and like.

Jun 02

Bob Allsop – Real Barefooter number 11

Hi Bob – Thanks for agreeing to take part in our Real Barefooters series.

That’s my pleasure Chris, thanks for asking me!

I am pretty sure that yours was the first UK barefoot blog I found. I have to ask about the name ‘Toad Shoes’. Where did it come from?

The name ‘Toad Shoes’ was formed when my daughters nicknamed my first pair of fivefingers ‘froggy shoes’ because of the weird toe pockets. This became ‘toad shoes’ which was a play on ‘toed shoe’ while still retaining the amphibious reference! When I decided to start a blog the fivefingers were my only running shoe, and I couldn’t think of anything better!

I know that you started running in about 2009 in a pair of conventional Mizuno shoes, what prompted the change?

I never did the gait analysis / shoe fitting thing when I decided to start running. I just went online and bought a pair with the biggest discount! Luckily they fitted and were an OK match for starting out in. When my mileage started to increase I got a couple of niggles; my hip and knee. I eventually went for gait analysis and switched to Brooks, which got me through my first half marathon in 2010, but the niggles soon crept back again.

I had run a couple of miles barefoot on the beach in Devon in 2010, and became aware of fivefingers. It wasn’t until February 2011 when I finally took the plunge and got my first pair of bikila’s as a birthday present.

I struggled for a few weeks to find the correct form, and was probably heading for a stress fracture when I just decided to take them off and run barefoot. CLICK! It was like a switch had been activated and running in the fivefingers seemed so comfortable and natural. A couple of weeks later and I had ditched the Brooks forever!

I recognise the scenery around Foxton Locks in Leicestershire. I love the sweet boat. Do you spend much time running the tow paths? What is your favourite terrain for barefooting?

The Candy Boat is Sweet!

 

 I love running on the tow path. I live 2 minutes away so it’s convenient. It’s also traffic free, flat and has fields on both sides so there’s a lot of wildlife. Unfortunately it’s a compacted stone path for 6 miles to Foxton Locks and beyond, so not very barefoot friendly and I’ve bruised my feet whenever I have tried.

My favourite terrain for barefoot running is sun baked footpaths over fields, followed by smooth back roads out in the countryside.

My shoe collection is pretty similar to yours. I would love to try a pair of Seeyas. Have you got a pair that you are craving at the moment?

The seeyas are lovely to run in, but struggle off road. I’m really looking forward to putting some decent miles on my 4mm Xeros this year now I’ve found a lacing method I’m happy with. I keep reading glowing reports on Luna Sandals so they may be my next purchase. The trouble with minimalist shoes is they last so long, and it’s difficult rationalising purchasing new ones!

What do your family and friends think of your running? Slightly mad?

I’m not sure what people think! Maybe pretty mad at first, but after almost three years since my first barefoot run they know it’s not just a phase I’m going through! I felt 2012 was a strong year for minimalist / barefoot running in the UK. Most shoe manufacturers have introduced a ‘barefoot’ model to their range, so it’s not quite such a strange concept now.

My eldest daughter and partner wear vivobarefoot shoes, and my youngest daughter walks barefoot with me while taking Fergus our family dog for walks, so they are aware of the benefits. I have just ordered some 6mm Xeros for my daughters so that should be fun.

Give us 10 word description of the soles of your feet.

Slowly returning to their former toughness after frostbite last December!

500 miles barefoot a year is good going. What is a typical running week for you? How do you fit it all in?

The barefoot miles were about a third of my total mileage last year. Training for my first marathon certainly boosted my miles over the two previous years!

I run with the local club on Tuesday, usually running barefoot there and back, with a long run at the weekend. Training for marathons has meant a midweek speed session followed by a recovery run. About 30 – 40 miles per week. I have been running at night in the week and early Sunday mornings to try and fit it all in, although it hasn’t been easy.

If you had a minute in a lift with an injured runner wearing a pair of Asics Gel Kayanos and a knee strapping, what message would you try and get across?

I would comment they must really enjoy running to be doing that to themselves! Then explain I had been there (I had to wear ITB knee straps to get past 4 miles) but there is a more natural way to run that minimises damage and is more enjoyable. I guess most runners are aware of barefoot running now so it would be more a case of encouragement.

I have just read about your Stratford marathon and your upcoming ultra. Tell us a little more about that.

My first marathon went well last year and I felt I could have run further. I thought about running a 50k soon after but felt I had spent enough time away from the family training. When I found out there was an off road 35 mile ultra marathon 15 minutes drive away I just thought, it’s now or never! I’ve run two marathons as training runs but they haven’t gone as smoothly as the first. My finishing times were OK but the final 4 – 5 miles felt quite hard. This was probably due to running the first 20 miles on food rather than energy gels. I’m planning on using both for the ultra, but it’s still 9 miles further than I’ve ever run before!

My red running hat has been with me for years. Do you have a piece of kit that has stood the test of time and you wouldn’t be without?

My trusty bikila’s – They have over 1300 miles on them and have been kept alive with bike tyre repair patches on the outside and lens cleaning cloth on the inside!

 

I am not the best cross-trainer in the world. Are you simply a runner or do you do other things as well?

I do a kettlebell workout once a week for core strength, and try to walk a couple of miles a day which I find helps with recovery.

I started running as mountain biking was taking up too much time, and I thought it would be a more time efficient way to stay fit. I haven’t been back on the bike for over a year but fully intend to one day, maybe duathlons?

After your ultra, do you have any other big plans for your running coming up?

Nope, I’m having a rest!

I do have a desire to run a full marathon barefoot one day, after running a barefoot half marathon last year in 1:44 hr. I started quite far back and it was fun overtaking so many shod runners, although everyone was friendly and encouraging! My longest barefoot run last year was 16 miles, so only another 10 to go!

 

I’ve also just volunteered to be a guide runner for visually impaired runners so I’m excited to see where that takes me (no pun intended!)

If we want to keep up with all things Bobblesop, where can we look?

There’s my blog (http://www.toadshoes.co.uk/) but I don’t post on my blog nearly as often as you Chris! so the best place for my barefoot running shenanigans is probably dailymile (www.dailymile.com/people/BobA4)

Thanks Bob. We have a fantastic community of barefoot runners contributing on our Barefoot Beginner facebook group. We are a mix of barefooters, minimalist and shod runners with a common interest. The chat is warm and friendly. Come and join in. We also have a facebook page for you to visit and like.

Mar 08

Tracy Davenport – Real Barefooter #10

TracyOur next real barefooter is Tracy Davenport. Tracy was one fo the first people to answer my plea when I was an injured runner looking for answers. I started a twitter account and sent out a message. Tracy replied and soon I has a pair of Invisible shoes tucked into my waistband. Pretty soon after that she launched Barefoot Britain and has become so well known in UK barefooting that asking her a few questions seemed like the most natural thing in the world. So…here we go.

BB: I first chatted with you when I was looking for a pair of huaraches carry with me on a run. How long have you been running in them?

I first started running in huaraches about 16 months ago, I hadn’t been barefoot running too long at that point. Running barefoot in the warm Spring weather and in day light is one thing. However as the nights started drawing in I needed to look for solutions to protect my feet when I couldn’t see the ground well. That was when Lena (the owner of Xero shoes) sent me my first sample pair of Xero shoes.

So..we know that you wear Xeros. Do you run barefoot and what else do you put on your feet?

I always prefer to go completely barefoot when running, for me it is always a clear choice. It just feels so much better in so many ways, not to mention I run much better, cleaner.

I also run in kigo drives, a really nice light weight zero drop minimal shoe made almost entirely out of recycled materials and made using green processes. They can even be returned for recycling when you have worn them out! I really like the green factor to these. And finally I have my Lunas, I find they are best for when I go off road and trail running. With the thicker sole they provide the protection I need in this area, there is a lot of very sharp flint poking out of the ground round here! Incidentally, both of which will soon be available in the Barefoot Britain on line store soon!

I think I’ll always be on the look out for new minimal shoes though, it’s nice to have a choice of well made minimal footwear (not made by huge corperations) to choose from when it just isn’t possible or practical to be barefoot.
I love your Barefoot Britain website. How long had you been thinking about it and what made you take the plunge?

I’m glad you like the site! It has truly been a labour of love. As I mentioned earlier, I was searching for something I could wear to protect my feet when running in the dark. At that time there was very little available in the market and to make matters worse there was even less available in the UK. Sure you could get hold of Vibram Five Fingers but frankly at the time, I just couldn’t afford them and I was noticing a lot of poor quality copies out there, which instilled very little confidence in me. After that I had my ‘Eureka’ moment! Surely I couldn’t be the only person in th UK who was looing for affordable minimalist solutions could I??
That’s when I decided to take a punt. After numersous skype meetings with Lena at Xero Shoes or Invisible shoes as they were known at the time, we came to an agreement and I decided that I wanted to take the plunge.

Barefoot Britain

I don’t know much about your background other than the knowledge you have about supplements. Tell us a bit about that side of your work.

As long ago as I can remember I have always had a love affair with sport. When I was younger, it didn’t matter what sport as long as I could go out and do it. Ironically though, running really was just not for me – or so I thought :-). When you love sports and activities as much as I did, the natural progression was to take an interest in the fuel you use, so by the age of 15-16 I was already fairly knowledgable. After university I worked a number of two bit jobs as you do and in one of them I met my now boss of, can you believe it, thirteen years!! We became friends and he has just started Reflex Nutrition and was looking for a little help in the office. I jumped at the chance, not only would I have a regular stable job and income but it was in one of my favourite areas! Naturally, from working in this industry as long as I have, you can’t help but pick up a thing or two! As well as this we are offered regular training on supplementation, it was and still is important that we, who speak to customers are specialists in our area.

My job there specifically is handling the UK trade accounts, which entails everything from handling orders, overcoming any issues which may arise, explaining products and how they compare in the market place and generally looking after them in a personal one on one way. Often much of what I do for each account is bespoke to them and their customers needs.
I have to say its obviously something I really enjoy or I wouldn’t still be there after all this time!
I saw the pictures of you unpacking boxes when your first delivery of stock arrives. I am guessing that it was quite a moment.
Chris, I’m not sure I can even truly explain to you how I felt that day. My first order had arrived. It was very emotional going from elation to utter white knuckle fear. I was ecstatic to be able to have this opportunity to do something I love and enjoy so much, but on the flip side of the coin all my insecurities blossomed like spring flowers. Could I make this work? Am I sinking loads of money we really can’t afford to loose into something which may not work?? It was a big chance to take, especially in the middle of a recession.

Despite those early insecurities, it wasn’t long before I knew that I was going to make it work, no matter what. I’m now more determined that ever and a big part of that is because of the amazing people and wonderful stories I hear every day. Doing this has made my life better in so many ways, there is no looking back.

How much time does Barefoot Britain take and do you still manage to fit your runs in? What is an average running week for you?

Ha! Barefoot Britain (outside of my family) IS my life! It’s the first thing I do every day and the last thing I do at night. Somewhere in between I will spend time with the kids, work three days a week at Reflex and then fit in a few runs and some yoga. An average week of running for me is mostly on the days I work at Reflex, on those three days i don’t have to collect the kids till 6pm, so I use that time to run. Averagely 4 miles or so on each of those three days and then on the weekends I will normally fit in one longer run sometimes two if I can get up early enough – and that will usually be 6 -7 miles. Time is always an issue when you have young kids and it is always a fine balance between spending too much time doing other things. So, I guess, I run when I can for as long as I can.

I realise I mileage is totally put to shame by the majority of people you interview but running for me was never about distance or time. Only love of running.

I like the way you support the barefoot community. Tell us a little about Yoga for Runners and the Barefoot Brighton run.

I love supporting other people in the Barefoot world, I get as much out of that side of the business as I do any of it. We are all very like minded in a lot of ways and I do strongly feel that there is a sort of kinship there. We are all working hard to do something which isn’t readily accepted in the rest of the world. Each day can be a battle with ‘normal’ people who just don’t get is or want to get it because it is simply too ‘out there’ for them. We do what we do for love, not money. Surely there is no nobler cause!

I met Emma Spence-Goodier at The Running Show last year and after recently getting into yoga (partly from seeing her there) I had also heard from several runners who’s opinions I trust, that her work shop ‘Yoga for Runners’ was brilliant. So not only did I want to go to support her business but I knew I was going to learn things which would help me to improve my running. I really enjoyed it and found her to be warm in her personality and wonderful teacher. Win, win situation!
I got involved with the Brighton Barefoot race shortly after the previous one. I emailed Martyn Challoner who has organised the previous two, offering my assistance. Which as it turns out was perfect, he lives no where near here and it has always been difficult sorting out certain things from such a distance. He said it would be helpful having someone right here to handle anything if it cropped up. Several months after our initial emails, he came along to one of the group runs I had organised in Brighton and I think that is what really sealed the deal. He is a great guy and I am lucky to join him in helping to organise this wonderful event. Just to be clear though, this is Martyns race he has done a stirling job pioneering this race in the previous two years and I’m just greatful to be involved.

I am right in thinking you like mince pies? Me too! I am trying to improve and slowly getting there. What sort of diet do you normally have ?

Oh yes indeedy! I love, love, LOVE mince pies!! I just can’t get enough of them. Perhaps that’s because you can only get them for a couple of months a year that I gorge myself! I have to say the rest of the time I do have a pretty clean diet though. Not because I’m trying to prove anything to anyone, I just really enjoy the way I eat and I try look after myself. The bulk of my food throughout the day tends to be raw foods, every morning I make up a sandwich box of normally 4-6 different types of chopped veggies or salad leaves and I’ll just pick on it throughout the day. My latest favourite is cooked beetroots which have been proven to dilate you vascularly and therefore improving race performance. I will normally supplement this with rice or oat cakes and at least one protein shake. I stick to Reflex’s Vegan protein as not only do I really like it with almond milk, but I prefer to avoid dairy – I have personal issues with the industry and don’t want to be consuming all the hormones passed on through the milk. I also tend to avoid gluten but I’m not strict about that.

Other than that I just eat a lot of roasted vegetables fish and chicken. I simply feel better when I eat foods that I know are good for me so why would I want to change that?
My vice, well yep I do love a Vodka Matini on the weekend and the odd glass of Pino. But what’s life without a few vices!

OK, the money question. I get asked it alot and can’t explain. Why do you love barefooting so much? Simple question, hard to answer.

Boy, you aren’t wrong here. The problem is that every time I try to answer this question I end up sounding like a new age hippie. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I worry that people may dismiss what I’m saying because they think it’s a load of mumbo jumbo.

The fact of the matter is that I love it because of the way that it makes me feel. Alive, alert, refreshed and relaxed. I also found that my memory has improved and I know that this is because of the stimulation the nerve endings in my feet are receiving from the ground, it has literally woken up my body and senses. I do believe that reflexology works and I know that every time I head out, this is what I’m getting.

If things go to plan, where will Barefoot Britain be up to in a couple of years time?

If and it’s a big if, but if everything goes to plan I would like to become the leading importer of more underground and ethically manufactured minimal footwear in the UK. I want to offer my support to the brands that need it and who are doing their bit to have as minimal an impact on our beautiful planet as possible. The greener the company the better. But more importantly, I want to spread the barefoot word. I want everyone to know just how amazing it is and to try it for themselves. It makes me feel so incredible that I want everyone else to feel the same way!
Finally – We all need something to look forward to. What keeps you going and what have you got coming up that you are really looking forward to?

Wow, I have so many things I’m really looking forward to right now! I have the New Forest Running Festival where I’ll have a gazebo on the 9th & 10th of March where they have races from 5k to 50k. I’m told there were quite a few barefooters there last year and I hope to spread the word! If you are interested in coming along I have a 10% discount race entry code of ‘barefoot10’

I also have Vegfest in Brighton coming up the following weekend which will be fun.
And next in line is the BIG one! Brighton Barefoot 5k race which will be held on International Barefoot Runners Day, 5th May in Stanmer Park Brighton. I as well as Martyn are giving away lots of great prizes including several pairs of minimal shoes on the day as well as goody bags and Reflex have offered their slushee machine to give away free pre and post workout drinks.
With these in the immediate line up for the future I haven’t had time to even think about anything else but keep an eye open as I have lots of other things I’m working on for the rest of the year!
A massive thanks Tracy for agreeing to take part and being our 10th Real Barefooter.
You can contact Tracy on Facebook or visit Barefoot Britain.
Chat about this or other posts at our Barefoot Beginner Facebook group. We are growing by the day and it has become a pleasant place to share news and advice. The chat is warm and friendly, you would be very welcome.

Feb 22

Lionel Jones – Real Barefooter #9

Lionel Jones runs with the Northwest Barefooters group. He is just about to enter his first ultra and I spoke to him in the week running up to it.

Hi Lionel and thanks for agreeing to take part.

DCIM100MEDIAI just read you were filling hay nets and running. What is a typical running week for you?

The typical week for me varies a lot really, most of the times when I’m home I can get up and go for a morning run whenever I feel awake – usually after a coffee around 9am. At the moment however the wife is off work so I’m helping her out with her horse, hence the filling of haynets and then running home, the distances at the moment are a bit varied. I either run 2 miles straight home or take a few detours and do anything do 5/6/7 or 10 mile distances.

 

I also read recently that you just ran for 5 hours in your VFF. What are you
training for? Can people get involved and sponsor you?

Currently I’m training to do an Ultra Marathon of 40 miles, I am running on behalf of Cancer Research and British Heart Foundation to which I have raised a couple of hundred pounds but as the run itself is Sat 23rd Feb my charity links will be closing fairly soon afterwards.

 

I have seen you barefoot and in VFF, do you wear anything else on your
feet?
After reading Born to Run I was interested in the whole concept of distance running and also of Vibrams, I was lucky enough that soon after I was able to get a pair of VFFs from the US as they were half the UK price so not as much to lose out on if I didn’t like them. After walking past them a few times and trying them on a few times and
umming and ahhing a few more times I finally made the jump into getting a
pair and found them extremely comfortable.
Initially I intended to wear them alternately with my expensive “proper” training shoes but after just one or two runs the £120 Brookes were consigned to the attic (where they still remain) and now I only wear my VFFs or run barefoot.
With regards to the running itself, I started out my wearing the Vibrams as proper trainers and found that negatively I always found the big stone on the ground with my right heel but positively I was able to shave a bit of time off my fast running, exampled by my 6 mile run in just over 40 mins one day……..
Due to the stone to heel ratio and the fact that I wondered why I had run so fast a day or so previously I started reading about how to run properly in VFFs and that was when I properly discovered the concept of Barefoot running.
To me it was a bit of an epiphany, I went from having music on and hurtling round a 6 mile loop one day to running without music and hearing a woodpecker in the trees and seeing a fox watching me from the fields a day or so later which to me was a far more enjoyable experience than the first run so since then the concept of Barefooting and slowing down to enjoy the run has been been my mantra. I do have a blog called Barefoot-eljay which I started to keep myself inspired for the Ultra that I intend to do. Unfortunately though I’ve been slacking a little on my writing lately so I need to update things a little.

Hip bursitis! Me too – Are you managing OK with it?

Further to the above I have genuinely found that since finding barefoot running I don’t appear to suffer half the injuries that I used to suffer from and by slowing down I am able to enjoy my running / environment and do much more than ever before.
The injuries that I used to suffer from were Shin Splints (Although I tried to combat that by running with a set of orthotics in my trainers), Knee problems (Abnormal knee syndrome/Crepitus Patella I think are two of the names I have been given over the years) and Hip bursitis.
Touch wood – Since barefooting, which is almost a year now the only problems
I have had that I can put down to BF Running are tight calves which I now
don’t really suffer from.

DCIM100MEDIA

Lionel with the camera in the Alsager woods with Northwest Barefooters Stephen Fowler (Naked Runner) and Georg Schirmer.

I see you are a City fan. I once wrote about Nigel DeJong being a
persistance hunter. Pitter Patter bang! Do you have any other sports or
exercise in your background or is it simply running for you?

Other sports…..I enjoy cycling but my main enjoyment these days if from
running, Running slowly and enjoying my environment.

I think I saw your backside at about minute 7 on the Barefoot Connections
conference video. Did you really run alongside Barefoot Ted? What did he
have to say?

At the conference, I ran with Barefoot Ted in the morning and sat close to him during the lectures. At one point I thought the lecturers/speakers were getting too technical about how and why we should run. I sidled up to BF Ted and asked him about when he started to run barefoot, did he follow all this technical advice or did he just run in a way that was comfortable to him?
His answer was that he ran in a way that was comfortable……sound advice that I found more helpful that learning how to balance on my heels, spring into stretches, run at 180 BPM etc….. Funnily enough, nearly 6 months later, I hardly ever stretch, don’t use the
metronome on my phone too often, don’t practise my balancing but I do run in a way that I find extremely comfortable……so much so, I have run further than I have ever run in proper trainers and am about to run the furthest single run distance I have ever attempted before.

OK, I see you like the Australian Pink Floyd. If barefoot running was a
band, what band would it be?

Lastly, if BF was a band…..I think we would be a cross between Madness (Early days) for the upbeat enjoyment, The Doors for the out-there at the beginning of something style and probably Pink Floyd for the calm and satisfying demeanour.

 

Thanks for taking part Lionel and good luck to you and Georg (met previously in Real Barefooters ) this weekend in the Ultra. Let us all know how you both went on.

Both Lionel and Georg run in the Northwest Barefooters group. You can visit their page here to get involved and see what the group has been up to.

They are also both members of out Barefoot Beginner facebook group. The chat is lively and good natured. Come ond join in.

Dec 22

Real Barefooters Number 8 – Shaun Daws aka Barefoot Dawsy

Our next Real Barefooter is Shaun Daws (far right) probably better known to some of you as ‘Barefoot Dawsy’ of www.beginningbarefoot.com

Hi Shaun, thanks for joining in and agreeing to be one of our ‘Real Barefooters’.

You have been blogging for just over a year, were you barefooting for a
long time before that?

I guess that all depends on what you mean by barefooting. I started running in minimalist shoes (Vibram Five Finger KSOs) back in April 2010. From there I dabbled a little with pure barefooting. It wasn’t until about July 2011 that I finally took the plunge and started doing the majority of my training and racing in bare feet.

I love barefoot running and I can’t quite explain why. Why do you
barefoot? What was the initial thing that got you started and what is it
that keeps you doing it?

Barefoot running sort of snuck up on me. I never really intended to do it. Most of my life I hated running! But when my first son was born, I realised that I was overweight and getting older, and if I wanted to keep up with my kids I would need to make some changes.

I started looking online for ways to run without getting injured, as I had heard all sorts of horror stories and didn’t want to end up worse off than when I started. I came across an article on Nerd Fitness about the injury-reducing properties of barefoot running (http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2009/11/04/barefoot-running-the-great-debate/). Within a week, I was running my first 5k (ever) in VFFs and loving it!

As to what keeps me going, I have to be honest and say that I’m addicted. When I can’t run for awhile, I don’t feel like myself. I get depressed and can’t focus. As soon as I run though, everything feels like it’s falling in place again. This feeling is only amplified with barefoot running. I’m finding that the more that I run barefoot, the less I ever want to wear shoes at all.

You are clearly a family man. What do they think of your barefoot running and blogging?

Living in Australia, going barefoot isn’t really seen as something unusual. I think they find it a bit funny just how much I’ve been bitten by the barefoot bug, especially since I grew up in Canada, where my feet were lucky to ever see the light of day. My kids love going barefoot, and I encourage them to do it as much as possible.

 

As for the blogging, I think they see it as an unusual and interesting passtime. I do get the odd comment when I receive some crazy pair of minimalist shoes in the mail though!

 

I have been following your blog and facebook for quite a while, Great mud run picture. Who are the guys and what is a typical running week for you?

The guys are my workmates. I’m very lucky to work for a small software company that’s very encougaging when it comes to fitness. The year I started running, 4 of us took on the 100km Oxfam Trailwalker in Sydney, and we’ve since competed with and against each other in several races here in Australia. In 2013, we’re doing Trailwalker Melbourne for the first time, and I think we’re even going to try running it this time around!

In the UK, we have a chap who calls himself the Barefoot Podiatrist. He
runs barefoot and slacklines. I reckon they go together, what do you
reckon. Tell us about your slacklining so far.

Well I’m certainly no pro slackliner, in fact I’ve only tried it out a couple of times. I’m actually in the middle of writing an article about a recent outing with the guys from Slackline Australia. It seems like a great sport, and a fun way to cross-train for barefoot running. It looks simple, but without strong core and leg muscles, it can be very challenging.

 

The combination of barefoot running and blogging is having a
transformative effect on my life. Is it the same with you?

Oh definitely! I define myself now as a barefoot runner, and see myself as a blogger as well. It took me a while to get to this point, but it’s a good feeling to think that I actually have something to offer as a blogger, and that there are people who benefit from some of the experiences I share.

I recently posted a picture of myself running with two friends. If we were
in Lord of the Rings, I am Gimil the dwarf. You seem to be a bit of a Star
Wars fan. So, who would you be?

It’s that obvious, huh? As much as I’d love to say that I’m a Han Solo, the reality is I’m more of an R2D2. I’m loyal, a bit cheeky, love being where the action is, and most of the time, nobody has any idea what I’m saying (except a few close people maybe!).

How did #barechat come about. How can we get involved?

#BareChat is something I’ve wanted to do since I started using Twitter. It’s just such a novel way of meeting new people with a shared interest. The great thing about it is that it’s open to anyone with a Twitter account, and it’s as easy as searching for the #BareChat hastag and/or using it in your tweets. I’ve been really lucky to have met some great people in the community, and have had a lot of support from vendors. This has meant that we’ve given away some great stuff for free – from shoes to DVDs and even a Sport Kilt!

It’s held every second Wednesday at 7pm US Mountain Time. The latest giveaway details, times, and instructions can always be found at beginningbarefoot.com/barechat

I have seen you in Leadvilles and Luongos. What do you typically choose to put on your feet?

Unless I’m running in really rough conditions, I prefer to run completely barefoot. For a while I had lapsed back into using minimal footwear all the time and received a stress fracture for my trouble. Since then I’ve really focused on improving my form and running bare, and this has made a huge difference.

On the rough stuff, I currently have 2 go-to shoes: Luna Sandals Leadvilles, which are incredible on rough trails, and Vibram SeeYas, which are just lovely in every way. Of course, I do wear shoes at other times, for formal occasions, work, and socialising…some of my favourites for day-to-day wear are my Vivobarefoot Gobi’s and Skora Forms.

Ok, tell me about Hardrock.

Well, there’s not much to tell yet, but it’s definitely on my long-term radar. Just have a look at some of the pictures from it and you’ll see why. I suppose the only caveat is that it’s one of the hardest races in the world!

I’ve actually recently found one that I want to do even more though. It’s called Laugavegur in Iceland, and looks incredible!

 

 

I have a friend who I call the barefoot procratinator. He just needs to do
it. What advice would you give him about his first barefoot outing?

Take off your shoes, and start slowly. When I was rehabing from my stress fracture, I started using a technique I like to call Micro Runs. Basically these are runs of 100-200m that I would do whenever I had 10 minutes to spare. They’re short enough that you don’t need to put on running gear…just ditch the shoes, run around the block, and you’re done. Doing one or 2 of these each day helps train your body to be used to running barefoot, and eases you into it gradually. Also, keeping your civvies on reduces the likelihood of going for too long.

Thanks Shaun, if people want to keep up with all things Barefoot Dawsy where should they look?

I’m a bit of a social media junkie, so I’m pretty easy to find. I’m on Twitter at @BarefootDawsy, Facebook at facebook.com/beginningbarefoot, and of course beginningbarefoot.com. Also, I’m always happy to take questions at bfdawsy@beginningbarefoot.com too! For bonus points, come out and see me at #BareChat, or even flag me down on the streets of Sydney!

Shaun Daws (aka Barefoot Dawsy)

Website: BeginningBarefoot.com
Email: bfdawsy@beginningbarefoot.com

Twitter: @BarefootDawsy

Read More ‘Real Barefooters’ here


Dec 01

Real Barefooter Number 7 – Tyson Goes Barefoot

Finding out the real stories behind the barefooters out there has quickly become my favourite thing to do.

I have been following Tyson on his blog for quite some time and am delighted that he agreed to take part.

Hi Tyson

Tyson Goes BarefootLove the rant on your blog about being confronted by people who tell you that you are doing the wrong thing – Do you get that way often?

I do. For some reason the idea of barefoot running doesn’t seem to be very popular among most runners in my area. But I think that is half of what makes barefoot running so fun.

What part of the world you run in, is it good for barefooting? Your chance to be a tour guide.

I live in the mountainous terrain of the western United States, also known as Utah. The altitude is most definitely something to get used to, but it is absolutely beautiful and a lot of fun to explore. Where I live isn’t the absolute best for true barefoot running since there are a lot of dirt and gravel trails, but I can always find some good places to kick off my shoes and go for a jog, but I almost always carry a pair of huaraches or something like that in my hands in case I hit a patch that is too rough for my liking.


I know that you mostly run barefoot. What do you put on your feet if you
need something?

I do run mostly barefoot, but if I am going to wear anything, it will either be my Xeroshoes or my Sockwa G3’s. I love the Sockwa’s for the winter because they are surprisingly warm and the Xeroshoes are a perfect running sandal.
I saw you in the Socwas, I am very jealous, how are you finding them?

I absolutely positively LOVE my Sockwa’s. They are incredibly comfortable, super light and very thin. They are the perfect barefoot shoe. My only complaint is that they do get pretty warm in the warmer weather, just like any other shoe. I guess I have just gotten used to having the air run between my toes.
It is getting colder, what do you think about barefooting in the winter?

I can’t wait to continue barefooting in the winter! I am excited to continue conditioning my feet for the snowy sidewalks of Utah. I have been running barefoot in the cold so far all fall, but the snow seems to be holding off so we will see what happens once the snow comes. It really is a mental game though. Your feet are working, so they should stay fairly warm, it’s just training your mind to think that it’s not crazy or impossible.

I would like to say I cross train but running is the king for me. Do you
do any other form of exercise?

I love to mountain bike. It is one of my passions. It is great country for mountain biking out here and I love any spare time that I can hit the trails. When I am not out on the trails or running or biking around town I actually love to just hit the gym a couple of times a week.
Every now and again, I bump into a dog walker with an over enthusiastic
puppy. Tell me about that mountain lion episode?

Haha, well there really wasn’t anything to it. I was out running in Boise Idaho when we were visiting family one morning and I go to cross a bridge and run through something that is called the green belt, which is basically just a pretty trail along a river. Upon crossing the bridge I passed a sign and glanced at it but kept running but the words mountain lion stuck out at me and I stopped in my tracks and backtracked to read what it said. Well it turns out there was a number of mountain lion sightings in the area. I kept running hoping to see the darn thing but had no such luck. I did run in to a cougar a couple of years back while climbing a mountain with some friends though. That scared us pretty good.

I have a thermal top that has been going strong for well over 20 years. Do
you have an ‘Old Faithful’ bit of kit that you wouldn’t be without?

I have a pair of shorts that I swear by. I wear them all the time, and not just when I am running (gross I know, but I do clean them often). They are just super comfortable, I love them.

We are in the middle of Naked November. Do you use GPS or distance
measuring of any sort?

I don’t. Mostly because I haven’t yet decided to splurge on a watch or anything yet. Although, I would love to have something sometimes, especially to monitor my heart rate. Christmas is coming up so we will see if anyone is going to be generous to me J

Tell us about a breakthrough run. The sort that made you punch the air because you knew that it was working?

I think the breakthrough run for me was fairly recent. I ran Ragnar Cape Cod this last summer and ended in pieces, my knees, shins, ankles, everything hurt. I started doing some research and came upon the idea of barefoot running. Long story short, I started training and one day while on vacation at Lake George, NY, I went out for a short 4 mile barefoot run and felt so good I ended up running 10. I felt so good, so energized, so empowered. It was something I never anticipated doing. It was the start of my obsession and the first time I really started to enjoy endurance running.

Ok, the Bear 100. What is it? Where is it? Have you lost your mind?

The Bear 100 is a 100 mile endurance race. The race starts in Logan, UT at about 4 or 5 in the morning and ends about a day later (if you are lucky). The course has about a 22,000 ft elevation gain and is almost 100% singletrack trails through the mountains. It is my dream. I may be crazy, but I can’t wait to train for that sucker. Most everyone tells me I won’t be able to, so I can’t wait to prove them wrong.

You have 1 minute with a prospective barefooter. What little nuggets of
wisdom would you pass on from your experiences to date?

Funny you should say that, this happened to me yesterday when I went in to a local running store, there was a guy that was thinking about going barefoot and I was able to put in my two cents. I think most of all I would share my story of how barefoot running helped me to eliminate running injuries as something I needed to worry about and I would explain to them how much sense barefoot running makes. Your foot has an arch not to sit supported in a shoe, but to be used and exercised. I would explain the logic behind the world of barefoot running and help them take their first barefoot steps. I believe in it so much, I don’t see how anyone could believe otherwise.

Thankyou Tyson for agreeing to take part. If people want to follow your
expoits, how can they keep upto date with all things Tyson?

Thank you Chris for allowing me the opportunity! It was a lot of fun. If you want to read my story or learn anything about barefoot running or see any minimalist shoe reviews, check my blog out at http://tysongoesbarefoot.blogspot.com

You can also shoot me any email at tysongoesbarefoot@gmail.com if you have any questions about anything.

 

You can read about other ‘Real Barefooters’ here.

You can comment in the box below or at the Barefoot Beginner group. You will be very welcome.

Nov 13

Georg Schirmer – Real Barefooter Number 6

Hi Georg and thanks for agreeing to be one of our Real Barefooters.

I am fascinated by the picture of you in the ring. What is your boxing background?
I have been training in Thai Boxing for quite a few years now, I first started doing mixed martial arts but now it’s mainly just Thai Boxing. I have had two competitive fights so far, with one win and one very painful loss.

Alot of barefoot runners do other sports barefoot, which came first, the running or the boxing?
They both sort of happened at same time, the more Thai Boxing  I did, the more I had to stay fit, and running works very well for this.
I did most of my running to lose weight for different weight categories in Thai boxing. This lead to running becoming more of an essential chore rather than fun for me!
I used to go out hard and fast with some very posh supportive trainers, as I was told I had flat feet and poor running form. After many painful miles and one fractured bone in my leg, I bought my first pair of Vibram five fingers (after my friend Mark recommended them) It was at this stage that running became fun again and I started running for pleasure rather than just fitness.
The frequency of my running also increased when my little boy, Sebastian, was born. I no longer had as much time to spend training in the gym, so I started doing very late night and early morning runs. Sebastian now accompanies me on many of the runs in a running buggy, much to the amusement of the rest of the residents of my village.

Ok, so what does the tattoo on your chest say?
Ex Unitate Vires, this being the Latin phrase for ‘strength through unity’, it used to be written under the old South African coat of arms. This phrase was always drilled into me while growing up in South Africa and means a lot to me, as I would be nothing without my family and friends around me.
Great picture of you on facebook with blood all over your leg. There must be a tale to tell?!
Ha ha, yes, while on one of my random runs around my village of Alsager I found this awesome single track running through a bit of woodland around an abandoned railway track. There were lots of brambles and bushes and I was running through most as it was too high to jump over, this one particular section of brambles turned out to be a barb wire fence….fail.
I get enough funny looks around town when running with Vibrams/homemade sandals/fully barefoot, but combining this with loads of blood pouring out of one’s leg does turn some heads!

I know that you race barefoot. Any recommendations for good barefoot races that are not too bad underfoot?
It’s very difficult to say which race will be good for barefoot running and which won’t. I would say, ‘Know your limits’. When you start running outside I think it is a very good idea to have some huaraches tucked into your shorts, unless you know the surface you are running on very well.
The Birmingham half marathon and Potteries ‘Alf marathon are both road races that have good enough road surfaces for barefoot running. But then the 10K Winsford run I completed last week was impossible for me to do barefoot last as most of race was around salt mines with very rough rocks and pebbles, I did this run with my huaraches.

Am I right in thinking that you have just destroyed your home made huaraches. What were they made from, did they serve you well?
O yes, my trustworthy huaraches , my lovely sister made those for me out of offcuts of leather she got from a horse saddle making company. She also made a matching set for my little 18 month old boy.
I did lots of miles in them and they moulded into the shape of my weird looking feet. The only problem I found with them is that the leather goes very soft when wet and goes a bit floppy. This became very apparent after my very wet Winsford 10k run and my right sandal developed a hole after 6kms, so I had a few sharp stones leave some marks on my foot. I am going to get another pair off my sister just like the first pair for summer use. I like the look of the leather ones, I even wear them as flip flops with my shorts but I may also buy/make some rubber ones for use in rain.

What else do you put on your feet?
After being introduced to Five finger vibrams by my best friend Mark, I do a lot of running in KSO Vibrams. I’m on my second pair, I ran through my first pair after about 1 year. I find it very difficult to buy comfortable shoes, partly due to having size 13 feet, I have to especially order my vibrams. I’m planning to buy some vivabarefoot leather shoes for work soon, as in my profession I need to be smarty dressed but I’m finding my posh leather shoes more and more uncomfortable every day. I think the shape of my feet may have changed.

It isn’t every lad from Alsager who speaks Afrikaans, Do you think your upbringing set you off down the barefoot path?
Yes! Growing up in South Africa I didn’t wear shoes every day until I was probably about 10 (except to church on Sundays). Even today, kids in South Africa don t wear shoes in Primary school. We even played rugby with no boots until you re about 14! So I found the transition from running with trainers to barefoot a lot easier than a lot of other people I know.

Is that you beside at the Grand Canyon? From reading lots of blogs, it seems to attract barefooters. Did you get chance to do any running?
I went there with my friend Mark and it was stupidly warm when we got there and time was limited so did a big hike for few hours with Vibram Five Fingers, I would love to go back one day and run barefoot there. Awesome trails around there and the views are to die for.

You look like you watch what you eat. What is typical day?
I use to be very overweight as a teenager, this was down to bad diet and also lack of exercise. I mostly follow a paleolithic diet, I eat quite a high protein diet with a lot of calories, up to 4000 calories when getting ready for a fight, with loads of fresh vegetables and salad. I try and avoid sugar and fast burning carbohydrates as much as possible, I also don’t drink alcohol (probably the only teetotal South African). I supplement with Omega 3 oil and creatine. This is quite different from a typical runner’s diet but it works very well for me. I’m planning to do an Ultra Marathon at the end of February with a guy called Lionel Jones (another barefoot runner), so I will be trying to cut my weight slightly and increase my carbohydrate intake, I’m currently experimenting with this.

I have done a lot of running around your neck of the woods, Do you have any barefoot training partners or groups that share your need to be unshod?
I wish! Even though most runners around here respect the fact I run with no shoes, they really don’t understand why (yet). My sister and best friend Mark aren’t keen runners but have come out with me for short runs lately with no trainers or wearing Vibrams which is cool. I have been out in Liverpool with Anna and Dave from Barefoot Running UK and regularly talk to people on Facebook’s group ‘Barefoot Britain’ regarding min/barefoot running. There is some very good info and advice available.

Any interesting challenges coming up?
Trying to fit in ultra-marathon training, Thai Boxing, work and family life is the biggest challenge at moment (as I’m sure my poor suffering, and very supportive wife will testify!).
But from a running perspective, my next challenge is doing the ‘born to run’ ultra-marathon in February 2013 in South Wales. I’m finding that there’s a very steep learning curve with regards long distance running, but I’m looking forward to it.

You can follow Georg on Facebook

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Oct 30

Real Barefooters number 5 – Gary Sidders – The Barefoot Bristolian

Hi Gary, thanks for taking part. The ‘Real Barefooter’s’ responses have gone way

beyond my expectations and I get a buzz out of hearing the stories of real

barefooters out there.

Having read a fair few of your tweets, I am guessing that like many barefooters you have read ‘Born to Run’. Did it start you off on your barefootdness or was it something else?

I first started my barefoot path when running became painful, boring and quite

simply zero fun. I was an average low mileage runner doing 4/6 miles 3 times a week,

maybe train up to 10 miles if my one race a year, the Bristol half marathon got

closer. It became a chore and sometimes I’d look for any excuse not to run. I laugh

now because I honestly thought my trainers needed to have the largest cushioned

heels I could get to suit my heavy landing.  I heard about Vibram fivefingers and

this new strange style of running. The key for me was the idea that these shoes

could stop my pain, mainly in the base of my back. As a carpenter who runs his own

business looking after my back is a major priority, if I can’t work I don’t get paid

so health is always at the top of my list.

I did my research and thought I’m going for it and bought the vff bilkas. I knew I

had to drop my mileage and I’d be lucky if I got to 5 mile distance within 3 months.

However the gains of pain free running in my back and also my knees won me over. My first run was on road and field. I was amazed that I could feel the ground

underneath me and by landing on my forefoot it didn’t hurt.

From that point I slowly built up my mileage including messing up my technique and

blowing my calves with a bad muscle strain. I ran on my forefoot and never let my

heels touch the floor what an idiot!!! Finding video footage for good technique was

hard and words are open to anyone to interpret how they like. After overcoming the

injury I did more research in to technique and started back. I found my calves no

longer tight but loose and supple, I run with a forefoot touch and a heel and toe

kiss (words borrowed from ken bob saxton but its the perfect analysis of how to

barefoot)

 

For those struggling you land with your forefoot ball first followed by the heel and

toe kissing the ground at the same time, it looks flat footed but its not. Also the

key is not to push off but to lift the foot.

 

Once I was comfortable at 5 miles I started upping my mileage effortlessly, I’d

completely fallen in love with running which is when I came across Born To Run. For

me, to read then actively go out and do what I was reading about was such a buzz.  I

totally connected with the book but this is where I was faced with a crossroad. On

one hand the book was about ultra running of which I’d never heard of but wanted to

try and on the other was the bare naked feet running that intrigued me so much. I

went down the naked bare feet running which was the right decision.

Again I started from scratch,  I ran half a mile with the skin on my soles burning

through friction the first day, then ran every other day on paths and roads to

slowly build up my technique and skill to hit 10k distance. I had my fair share of

blood blisters where I was landing too heavy at times also not allowing the skin to

recover in time. I also refused to run on grass because that teaches nothing about

technique. If you run on roads you know when you’re doing it wrong! Finally I was

amazed that even with a tiny 7mm sole on my minimalist shoes nothing quite compares to naked skin on the ground beneath you!

 

I have never tried Chia seeds. For the uninitiated tell us a bit about how you got into them and why you like them so much.

 

I heard about Chia seeds in Born To Run. I was even more amazed that I could get

hold of them in a shop quite local to me. Holland and Barrett sell them but they

give you half the amount for double the price compared to my shop. I did my research

and the first reason I took them was for hydration. The seeds soak up water and

slowly release it in to your system as its digested. I feel more hydrated when I

run. I think that’s the story behind the guy in Born To Run feeling like he had a

new lease of life after scaling a mountain.  Secondly it’s high in omega 3s and can

also help lower your cholesterol/blood pressure. I’ve got some of my friends and

family taking them now but the main response back is how good there digestive

system/ bowel movements have changed for the better. More and more reports of how good these seeds are keep emerging and they truly are a super food.

 

 I know that you ran the Bristol 10k barefoot although it was very rough. Have you run many races unshod, any that you would recommend for barefooters?

 

I’ve only ran 2 naked feet races, Bristol 10k and my first race the Frenchay 10k

also in Bristol.

It’s a race I had in my mind as my goal to run completely barefoot. Not only did I

complete it but I was also the first person according to one of the event organisers

to ever run it barefoot, (naked feet) I got such a huge buzz. It’s not a bad

barefooters race, there are some nasty surfaces but the adrenaline was pumping to

much to care. However my own personal number 1 rule is always carry foot wear with

you. If you need to stop, STOP! You do yourselves no favours running in agony. The

reason we were good at it thousands of years ago is we did it from birth, we never

had to retrain our brain to barefoot, it was natural instinct.

 

I love my Lunas, I know that you run in them also What else do you put onyour feet?

 

I started In vibram 5 fingers which I now use as casual wear, I then went to nothing

just me and my naked feet. I’m now on my 2nd pair of Luna sandals. I started with

the original sandal then moved to the Leadville pacer because the ultra marathon I

was training for was a mixture of trail (awful rocky trail) and road so I needed a

grippy sole. Since running naked feet and in minimalist sandals my feet have

changed. They are now spread wide, so normal foot wear cramps my feet. I now wear

merrell barefoot trainers just for casual but mainly its a winter shoe, they allow

my forefoot and toes to splay naturally. My work requires me to wear steel toe cap

safety shoes. The pro is they allow my foot to spread the con is there is barely any

flexibility in the sole.

 

 I would like to say that I cross-train but I would be lying. You use  kettlebells. I wouldn’t know where to start with them. How do you us them, does it make a difference to your running?

 

I started lifting weights when my upper body started to loose size and all that

lactic acid from running just simply destroys muscle tissue. I also read that having

a strong upper body gives you better posture and endurance when you run. I keep it

light, I do a 20 minute weight session at home on my non run days. It consists of 2

sets of ten press ups, 1 wide armed and 1 set with a more traditional press up

stance. I then do 3 lots of kettle bell swings with a 12kg bell kicking out 30 reps

at a time. This is fantastic exercise which seems to work all the body in one single

swing.

It’s fantastic for good running posture. I recommend people go online and read up

about it and also to learn good controlled technique. I then do 2 sets of ten arm

curls and 1 set of 10 sit ups which I do as slow and controlled as possible. Finally

2 sets of ten vomiting cats. Go online and read up they are fantastic and an

exercise I got from 4hour body by tim ferris. (Great book highly recommended)

It’s a 15/20min workout it’s nice and short but targets all the right areas and

doesn’t eat in to your day, simple.

 

I was impressed with your laid back attitide getting ready for a half marathon recently. Has barefooting changed your outlook on life or have you always been pretty chilled?

 

I would say its definitely changed my approach to running. It simply boils down to

the fact that I’m not going to break any world records running so I let time go out

the window, I’m not Mo Farah!(Seems to be hard for many to grasp or accept)

For me it’s about enjoying my run and disappearing in my own little world. All I

need to do is concentrate on good technique which is why I no longer listen to music

when I run. I take my phone with me and use my run keeper app, I stick it in my

pocket on silent and when I get back I like to take a look at where I’ve been. (yes

if I’ve had a couple of quick miles I get a little kick out of it if I’m being

honest)

My most recent half marathon I was very relaxed, I’ve enjoyed my best runs on

weekends when I’ve had a heavy meal with a couple of bottles of wine the night

before. I’ve ran up to 18 miles nursing a slight hangover. So I don’t take it

serious unless I’m running an ultra marathon.

This year I ran the bristol half with a group of friends and ended up breaking my pb

by 8mins. I found when training for pace my enjoyment went out of running.

 

As a child, I visited family in Bath alot and I think I recognise the crescent from your website. I haven’t been for about 35 years but a relative has just bought a flat down there. Are there many barefooters around in your neck of the woods?

 

I’ve met only 2, myself and my wife. (oh and 1 random guy who tapped me on the

shoulder during a race he then shot off). She’s slowly getting into naked feet

running but only to perfect her technique when running in luna sandals. I see about

3 minimalist runners during races but sadly no naked feet runners. I’ve also got a

few friends who run in vibram fivefingers but they’ve yet to do a race in them.

 

 I have visited your sash window website. I also love your tweet about a client giving you home made soup. Sounds like a nice lifestyle. How do you fit your running around work? What is a typical training week?

 

I really like talking to my customers about my running. It raises a few eyebrows.

Some think its great, others are on the fence and some say its plain wrong. I’m not

gonna preach it, I’m certainly not a barefoot activist. When I run I get strange

looks sometimes a bit of verbal but because I believe in what I’m doing, it’s water

off a ducks back. My job does make a nice lifestyle because when I finish my job at

whatever time, I go home, I’m my own boss. There is an on going joke with my buddy’s that I never work, I’m always running, but I just fit it around my day.

A normal week consists of running every other day of which 7/8 miles is the normal

distance. On a weekend I try to go off and come home when I want so runs can vary

from 8, up to 10/12/15 miles. If I know I’m working in some stunning locations I

take my running kit with me, when my jobs done I change and go off for a run. 1 week

I’m running through amazing countryside of Somerset or Gloucestershire the next on

Weston super-mare beach, more commonly its running when I’m back home on my own routes.

The word ultra keeps coming up. Are you training for anything in particular coming up? Where do you think your running will be upto in 5  years time?

 

My personal feeling is we were “born to run”. (Yep that bloody book) I’ve got myself

up to a level I never knew possible until I read that book. I run for fun and by

doing that I cover long distances. I now feel capable of running an ultra when ever

one appears in the Calendar I fancy. It’s not smug, it’s because I’m in tune with my

body I know when something hurts I adjust my technique slightly, I know that when my

muscles are screaming at me that when I stop at the finish line the pain goes away.

Just by understanding a few basics you can run further than you probably thought.

The main bonus to all my running and research is that our barefoot running style is

so efficient.

It means we run for longer with less effort, it also means we don’t hobble around

the next day with stiff legs. Every now and then I’ll tweak something that requires

an extra days rest, it’s just a reminder to me to perfect my technique on my next

run. As much as I like to think I’m the perfect barefoot runner I still need to

watch my technique as much as someone just starting out.

I strongly recommend people watch or invest in the vivo barefoot app or visit there

website to watch the video on perfect technique.

Also books by Ken Bob saxton and Michael Sandler are great reads also Scott jureks

new book eat and run is a great read for those thinking ultra.

In five years ill be running, my goal is to keep running as long as I’m alive its my

long term project. I wanna see how I’m doing at 60 then 70 and beyond but the one

thing the born to run book tells us is its our natural instinct to keep running. As

long as I’m healthy I’m gonna be running.

 

You can follow Gary on Twitter

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