Category: Tim Hines

Sep 16

Falling in love again – Tim Hines

8734992546_34501cc1b1_mRecently I have strayed. It felt right at the time, it felt good, it felt different. I enjoyed it.

Afterwards I didn’t even feel any guilt. I rationalised it all and convinced myself I had good reasons. That it was inevitable and that I was only doing what everyone else does.

I regret it now.

I should have stayed barefoot.

I didn’t mean to stray from the barefoot path, but I had one eye on winter. I could see the inevitability of cold days and running in shoes and I panicked. I put my shoes back on. Foolish. I could have enjoyed running for the rest of the summer and feeling the ground but I foolishly put my shoes back on because I knew that I would have to at some point. That has all of the logic of throwing away your new presents at Christmas because it is inevitable that they’ll get thrown away one day.

I don’t even remember why I ran barefoot again. I just did. Thank goodness I did.

Immediately it all came flooding back to me. The connection to the ground, the silence, the feeling on my feet and the freedom.

What was I doing? All of those days running with something between me and the earth? Damn fool.

I think I have to put it down to a personality trait I have which has shown itself many times before. I can’t do things in moderation. If I was a barefoot runner then I had to barefoot the whole time, so I did. Then one day I didn’t and instead of just going out again barefoot I just didn’t. The rationalising tendencies then kick in, explaining this and justifying that, making it all seem ok.

Finally I feel I have managed to arrive at a more healthy mix. This weekend I ran barefoot in the hills above Staly-Vegas and with sandals around the wilds of Sale and Chorlton. Earlier this week I ran in shoes, barefoot and in sandals, which makes it sound like I’ve clocked a fair few miles but in reality I’ve probably managed about 25k in total for the week.

So now, until the cold makes trainers of some sort essential to avoid numb, dumb feet, I will most likely be running in whatever footwear suits the task. Merrells for a stony, hilly trail, barefoot for a jaunt round Sale. Sandals for a stony Sale trail. Black, unpolished, tired out shoes for the office. Converse all stars or slippers at most other times, except when I’m in wellies on a walk with the dog.

One highlight from my low mileage month has included the Lakeland trails event in Keswick. What a great run. Beautiful views, well organised and a great mix of hills, bogs and sticky toffee pudding.

Jul 15

A barefoot mile a day (Well almost) – from barefoot runner Tim Hines

8734992546_34501cc1b1_mTim Hines is a member of our Barefoot Beginner facebook group and a founder member of the Northwest Barefooters running group. He is posting his barefoot adventures for us each month. Thanks Tim.

Another month goes by in a flash and it is with deep regret and a fair dose of shame that I admit that I have not run every day this month. I missed my run a couple of weeks ago on a Sunday after a great day out with my family. I’m embarrassed and will tender my resignation to the Facebook group “a barefoot mile a day”.

Apart from this one disgraceful transgression, or omission, I have managed to get out every day. How absurd. I genuinely cannot remember ever running for all but one day out of two months. I can remember sitting on a sofa playing PlayStation with that kind of dedication but not running.

At this point I am tempted to launch into the standard dialogue for us formerly injured shod runners who have found salvation in a less footwear-lead life, but I will resist the temptation. I shall resist the urge to point out that I could never have managed this before I started barefooting. Then, of course, running “a barefoot mile a day” would definitely have been impossible in the days before I ran barefoot.

My favourite barefoot run this month was dancing along the cliffs of Whitsand Bay in Cornwall, for a rapid mile after a bit of kayaking in the surf. The kayaking having been ended prematurely by an RNLI boat with two very polite men in it asking me to leave the military exclusion zone as there was a live firing exercise about to start. That was a real shame as the waves were much better there, but probably not worth risking getting arrested or shot. Close, but not quite worth it. So I returned to my car and packed up, before seeing the little coast path sign and feeling obliged to hit the trail barefoot. What a great way to spend a morning.

Other barefoot travels this month have led me to consider the North South divide in a barefoot context.

Now before I start on such a divisive subject, let me set out my credentials for commenting on it. I’m from the South West, which, although not explicitly stated in the official documentation on the NS divide, is clearly not included. Anything west of Bristol is in a different divide, whereby we just think anyone on the other side is either northern, Scottish or cockney. Similarly, both northerners and southerners seek to think that the South West is just full of farmers and people who make cream teas (not far from the truth, if you exclude all of the people who’ve relocated for a “change of pace”).

In addition to being from an excluded territory, I have lived for a reasonable period in the South East and in the North West, with a few years in between living in the Caribbean as a palate cleanser.

Anyway, what struck me this weekend as I ran around in Greater London, barefoot and soaking up the sun, was the lack of comments. I ran past so many people, unsurprisingly given what a glorious day it was, and only one person made a comment. They said something along the lines of “you’re brave”. Which made it quite clear that they had no idea how I feel in the night when I hear a strange noise. On a sunny day in Greater Manchester, I am confident I would have attracted more comments from strangers.

So are they less willing to comment about the strange bloke with no shoes, sunburnt forearms and a tattoo because they’re scared? Or less friendly? Or are they more used to seeing progress in the world around them and therefore less inclined to exclaim at the sight of a barefoot runner as they’ve seen it all before?

As well as leaving a comment for Tim in our facebook group, you can also visit and like our facebook page and follow us on twitter.

Jun 17

Tim Hines – I am a barefoot runner and I’m proud.

There is something I have felt I should be honest about for a long time and finally I feel that I am able to admit it publicly.  My wife has known for ages and it has taken her a long time to come to terms with it but she has been supportive and understanding, despite the way other people might react to my “preferences”. I have known deep down for some months but I have been too embarrassed to be loud and proud about it.

I’m not going to hide in the shadows and fear the shame any more, I am a barefoot runner and I’m proud.

Let me explain, before you take any offence at that remark. In the past I have really struggled with telling people that I’m into barefoot, I think that it is because my total barefoot mileage was actually pretty low and, despite being a dedicated natural runner and keen to do more barefoot, I didn’t really feel like a proper barefoot runner. I could have said a minimalist runner, but I think that most people think that you mean you keep your running to a minimum.  I could have said natural runner, but I think that most people think naturist runner and start imagining me naked, if they weren’t already. So I’ve tended to end up saying some garbled passage along the lines of “I run barefoot, well I’m a natural runner, barefoot style, in minimalist shoes or sandals,” by which point they are bored, confused and think I’m nuts.  Now though I feel I’ve reached a point where I am a barefoot runner.  I’ve run a lot of things barefoot. I’ve completed a 10k on the road, barefoot. I’ve done a parkrun barefoot. I’ve run every day for a month, barefoot.  Now I can say, “I’m a barefoot runner” to people without blurting gibberish at them by way of explanation.  My life has again become simpler, as is the barefoot way.

Has it really been a month? Apparently so.  I’m very pleased to be able to say that I have somehow managed to keep up the barefoot streak. I’m very pleased with myself.  There were a couple of days when I thought I might not manage to get out, but I did.  Well done me.  Admittedly my mileage has been LOW.  Most days I’ve only done a mile or two, with the occasional 3 miler.  I have managed a couple of slightly longer runs too though and when I have the difference has been really noticeable. My feet are definitely getting tougher.  Since most of the miles have been on the street, I now declare myself street tough.

I’ve struggled with timing a lot this month, well really with time.  My only real way of fitting in a run a day is to go out first thing with the dog.  I love running first thing but I am not entirely sure that barefoot is best in the early hours.  My feet seem so much more tender at that time of day and it has meant that I am often avoiding taking the more scenic routes as I know that they’ll hurt, whereas the road is perfectly runnable. I do think though, that these early runs are toughening me up.  Tonight I managed to maintain a pretty decent pace running straight across a patch of nasty jagged gravel.  In runs of the past I would have walked it, today I barely slowed. So something is definitely working and making this whole barefoot caper easier.


A few weeks ago I ran the Great Manchester Run.  I carried my sandals around with me but kept them off. The road was rough and I was tempted to sandal up but the support from the crowd and the runners around me kept me going, well maybe a little bit of stubbornness was in there too. I have never had so much support on a run. The atmosphere is always great at that event, but this year I had people patting me on the back as they passed me, saying all sorts of encouraging things and supportive things and also pointing out that I was nuts. The nuts bit was expected, the support, particularly from the runners, was a really pleasant surprise.

A barefoot run in front of thousands of people was bound to attract some comments.  I was supported/heckled by countless people, including one who was holding a megaphone and standing by a double decker bus full of supporters, asking where my shoes were.  I heard a ridiculous number of people saying “that man had no shoes” as I ran past.  A friend of ours heard the person next to her say, “well I cannot believe what I’ve just seen.  That man had no shoes on.”  This prompted our friend to contact my wife and ask if I’d run the race barefoot.  I don’t know why she immediately assumed it was me, surely there were lots of us out there barefoot?  My wife was very excited when I got home and was asking if I’d spoken to the BBC.  She’d been on Facebook trying to find out who had told them that “Tim Hines is running in homemade shoes!” A notice that had appeared right at the start of the TV coverage at the bottom of the screen. She was slightly disappointed to discover that I’d put it on my application form in the “is there anything interesting about your entry” bit.  Of course, it wasn’t even true, I ran carrying my homemade shoes and just wore them on the tram.

What does the next month have in store? Well, there’s the daily run and there must be other stuff too.  I remember now, I’m off to an evening with Barefoot Ted.  That should be good. I’m also due to be going to Poland with work for a couple of days, which will make the mile-a-day challenge even more challenging!  If I manage it though I may well have some Polish shouting that I need to have translated when I get back.  What is the Polish for “Why are you running in flip flops?”

May 20

Tim Hines – Welcome to Barefoot Beginner

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Barefoot in the park

Tim Hines is a barefoot runner from Sale near Manchester. He is a founder member of the Northest Barefooters and will be giving us his thoughts each month. Thanks Tim and welcome.

I am a runner. Of late I have been doing much of my running barefoot. A good few years ago I was a broken runner. I had foot pain, knee pain, a foot flaring out at about 70 degrees off straight and back pain. If you are reading barefoot beginner then I am sure there is a strong chance that you have suffered with some of these problems too and that is what has brought you to minimalist running.

My doctor told me to stop running and go to see the chiropractor. The chiro told me not to run anymore and that I would need orthotics from now on. I explained that I would run again. He told me I was crazy. I agreed.

With my new orthotics I found a whole new pleasure in running. I was feeling strong and enjoying some pain free miles. For a while at least. After a couple of years I found that I was falling apart again, as were my orthotics.

I needed a new plan.

After much internet research I purchased some Newtons. I switched to a forefoot strike and a decent running form and everything changed. Suddenly I could run again. I could run faster. I could smile when I ran.

In time the Newtons were replaced with VFFs, Trail Gloves and Lunas, along with several generations of homemade sandals. The sandal making culminated in my crazy conveyor belt huaraches, which are my favourite form of footwear and are now being used by a couple of other members of our Northwest Barefooters group.

Natural progression took over and I ditched the shoes. Now I would say that I’m predominantly barefoot with sandals and Merrells available when needed.

One of the things that I have been enjoying the most about running barefoot is the social aspect.  In the past when I have run with groups, it has generally been about times, places and rivalries.  Conversation always seems to revolve around performance.  The Northwest Barefooters group as well as the other online groups (mostly centred around Facebook) are much more concerned with enjoying a run and running than with beating each other.  Maybe it is because there is such a wide range of abilities that a race would be silly, but I prefer to believe that it is because we have come together through a love of the act of running.  For many of us it was a love which we thought had been taken from us and has only been given back to us by barefoot.

I used to run along thinking about the different niggles that I had and whether or not they were getting worse.  The biggest concern I have right now is how I will get hold of more conveyor belt for more sandals.

This coming weekend is the Great Manchester Run. I will be there. I will be bare. I look forward to hearing the exclamations that always accompany a barefoot run in public, something which I’ve started to track as a separate category on my blog,, as they seem to be getting more regular and more amusing. My favourite one from the last couple of weeks was the kind lady who stopped next to me near the Mersey as I was putting my sandals on.  She had a concerned look on her face as she asked, “are you ok?”  I believe that she was referring to my mental state, as I don’t think there was anything about me that suggested I was anything other than fine physically.

Right now, after two years of running properly, well over a year committed to minimalism and a growing number of months building up my barefoot mileage, I now finally feel like I can run barefoot. I’m not trying to anymore. I’m not struggling anymore. I’m not wincing with every step. I’m just running and enjoying it. Thanks to Chris, I am now enjoying it every day.

Chris challenged me to sign up to do a barefoot runstreak.  It turns out that he was not aware of the dual meaning of streak.  He is not challenging me to run naked. We, along with others, are trying to run every day.  You don’t have to run miles, just run.  The motivation to get out and not break the streak is enormous.  The satisfaction of another day done is brilliant.  The annoyance that Chris is 31 days ahead of me is something I will have to learn to deal with.  Right now I am only up to day 7, hopefully when I write my next update for Barefoot Beginner I will be at a significantly higher number, 35 ish I think.

Next month I also hope to give an update on the state of my soles.  I have always been over eager.  I push too hard too soon.  I am often damaged as a result.  Right now the soles of my feet look like I let my kids loose on them with some black and red marker pens.  I have blisters, blood blisters and dead skin all over them.  It doesn’t hurt, not now anyway.  It is entirely my own fault.  I ran too fast on a BBB (See the Barefoot Beginner barefoot route ratings guide) route a couple of weeks ago on my way to a 20:44 parkrun.  It was great fun and I’m happy with the time, but my feet suffered.  I’m hoping that a more sensible approach and daily runs will help me to toughen my feet and that they will look more like feet again soon.  The Great Manchester Run may well set me back to square one though!


As for my soul, I think that’s in considerably better shape.

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.

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