Category: Barefoot salvation

Jan 13

I am a badass barefooter and my soles sing rock all day

Last week, Barefoot Angie Bee talked about doing stuff that leaves her feeling like a badass (Our post of the day on our facebook page). It was great post and I could sense the joy and exhileration coming out of it. It left wondering when the last time was that I did something like that. When was the last time a felt like a badass?

It stuck with me all week. I had visions of crawling across Crinkle Crags or plunging into underground caverns. An opportunity came when I was invited to enter the Pandemonium obstacle race in February but I can’t help thinking that the answer lies much closer to home.

I have been getting up at 5.30am recently and getting out there in all weathers to do at least a barefoot mile. Because of the cold, I felt that I had been neglecting barefoot running a little.

So…here I am, pitter-pattering in the dark with my headtorch on. I pass a few dog walkers and I am sure that they are not blown away by my form. I hardly feel like Mo Farrah as I handle the patches of rough stuff on my route.

I don’t feel badass when I am running. It is later, when I am walking into work, that it hits me the most. I can feel the aftermath of my barefoot run in my feet. I love it. It reminds me that although I have a suit and tie persona, I am also badass barefooter with soles that sing all day.

..and it isn’t Andy Williams that they are gently crooning. My feet sing rock!

I also love that feeling in my legs after a long run. In my teens, I remember training for my first really long fell race and then walking to the football with the run still in my legs. I was a badass fellrunner back then. The feeling is the same.

Runners get so much advice that stays on the right side of cautious that it easy to be too sensible all the time. I am one of those advice givers. Talking to a runner recently, the sensible thing for the runner to do was back off a little. That was always going to be my advice but I also acknowledged that there are going to be times when pushing it and feeling the joy are worth the risk.

imagesLast year I wrote about missing the butterflies in my stomach. I had been reading so many posts that talked about being steady and taking it step by step. The problem was that I missed those butterflies in my stomach. For me, perhaps Angie Bee’s advice should read.

‘Do something that gives you butterflies in your stomach.’

I feel like I need to cowboy up a bit and treat my feet a bit rougher at times. Let them work out what it is that I am trying to do and then let my body do its wondrous stuff. Just get out there sometimes and not worry to much about it.

A barefoot mile isn’t amazing but my rock singing soles left me feeling like a badass all day.

To feel badass, I need not put life and limb at risk and it needn’t be about running. The most terrified that I have ever been was auditioning in front of a panel for a barbershop quartet. Sheer terror, I lost control of my legs and my knees actually knocked. It took days for the adreneline to seep away and gave me flashbacks. That is another story.

Life should not always be sensible and we all need to scare ourselves now and again. I love that feeling when you have no idea whether you can do something but just go for it anyway.

Henceforth, you can call me the ‘Butterfly Hunter’ I am going off in search of a few. Who knows where it will lead. 

I would love to hear your butterfly laden tales. The sort that make you feel that you are alive. If you have one to share then please contact me using the form at the top of the page.

If you haven’t already done so then join our Barefoot Beginner facebook group. The chat is warm and friendly. You will be made very welcome.







Dec 04

8 ways I have changed my response to injury since barefoot running

About three weeks ago I got a serious niggle in my right calf. It was enought to make me slow down and cut a run short. It was in the week after I had played football for the first time in years. I had been nursing a sore hip and compensating when I ran.

What interested me was my response. It was completely different to the way I would have reacted before becoming a barefoot runner.

  • I was calm – Before I started to barefoot, I had run with fear as a companion for a number of years. In particular, fear of my calves going. I felt the discomfort in my right calf and just observed it for a while and played with my technique to try and get it to melt away. You cannot fake fear, it is either there or it is not. The truth is that although I didn’t like it, I am not scared anymore.
  • I didn’t panic – I played with my technique but it didn’t go away. In the past, I would have been devastated and I know that it would have been the beginning of something that may have put me out for a lengthy period. Worse than that, it would just have been a continuation of a long standing problem that had really stopped me running with any consistency for years. This time, there was no despair and no feelings of panic in my stomach.
  • I backed off – I kept observing it and backed off. I ended up almost walking at the end of my run home. It felt pragmatic and I made the decision to only run as far as I could over the next few weeks. That is sensible and obvious however like many runners, I have not always done the sensible and obvious thing in the past. Barefoot running seems to have given me a bit of perspective.
  • I ran barefoot – Barefoot running seems to work best for me and I made the decision not to attempt footwear until I felt like things were better. I run in shoes but only as a layer on top of barefoot running. When injured, it seems to make sense to strip things back to basics and only layer shod running over the top when I can handle it.
  • I trusted my feet – My feet tend to be a good guide to how much I can handle. At first, I only ran barefoot and stopped when my feet couldn’t handle any more. As I started to add some shod running back in, I set off barefoot before adding some footwear. My soles reacted differently each time. Some mornings they were sensitive and I backed off and didn’t go far and other times they felt robust and I went further.
  • Deep down I knew – The more that I chat and work with runners, the more I am convinced that deep down we know what we can handle. We are just really good at burying our heads in the sand. When I stripped it back, I had a good idea what I could and couldn’t do. No point pretending otherwise.
  • I ignored generic plans designed for other runners – Over the decades, I have searched for hard and fast rules for returning from injury. I have tried quite a few and ended up injured again. I decided to dispense with all that and do what felt right for me.
  • I rollered – This is a new one for me and replaces the physio and massage I would have spent money on. I think that it helps me pyschologically and it may just be that it keeps me feeling like I am moving forward and doing something pro-active. I think it helps my head more than my calves but then running is a cerebral activity.
  • I lived to barefoot another day – The more I work with runners, the more that I am convinced that having a race to head towards can be a major source of injury. Having that fixed date means that we sometimes cram in training that we cannot handle. This is particularly true when recovering from an injury and leads to all sorts of scouring the internet for training plans and rehab schedules. I’ve had it with all that. My goal now is to be a runner and I have the rest of my life do it. There is no rush. I am going to live to barefoot another day.

I am convinced that barefoot running has slowed me down and given me a new perspective on many areas of my life. I value the simple things more and roll with things that would have caused me panic and distress previously.

3 weeks later and I am back running with no problems. In the past, a niggle like this would have put me out for months. I love barefooting.

 If you have a tale to tell about the way barefoot running has changed your outlook on life, I would love to hear from you. Find out how to share your experiences here.