I wanted to intriduce you to a place that is very important to me. It is about a mile from home and somewhere that I run to a lot. It is the trig point on Cheetham Close (sometimes known as Turton Heights).
A trig point is a triangulation station that is used when surveyig the region. They first started to appear in 1935 in the UK and are now an endangered species as new methods of surveying are being used, That would be a shame as many of them are old friends and they should receive listed status to protect them.
I have been meaning to do a ‘Tales from the Trig’ series of posts for a while and this is the first.
In this post, I introduce you to the West Pennine Moors where I do most of my running and also talk about building a barefoot community. (Sorry for the sound quality. It just shows that it gets windy up there.)
Most important, I encourage you to get involved with our Barefoot Beginner forum. It has never been easier to login. You can do that with facebook. Click the login button and then click the facebook icon. Simple.
As you will see in the video, I am creating a forum for people who don’t like forums.
I always seem to be trying out one pair of minimalist shoes or another and I must admit that my family are in a sort of barefoot running fatigue.
Trying to stir up a bit of interest can be tricky.
……that was until they heard that I was expecting a pair of chainmail shoes.
I had been chatting with Jorg from GoSt Barefootabout the PaleoBarefoot shoes for a while and was fascinated when Ian Hicks reviewed a pair for Barefoot Running Magazine.
I have lots of shoe boxes all over the house but the Paleos arrived in a shoe ‘tin’. They were sparkly and new and the whole family could not wait to get their hands on them.
They are light and flexible and feel incredibly smooth. Jorg included the winter kit which includes a selection of fabric and neoprene that sits on top of the foot but leaves the underside bare.
I went out for a couple of miles in conditions that were wet and just above zero. For my first run, I left the winter kit at home and went barefoot to metal. They did well and I was surprised at how much I could feel the ground. I got a swish at first with each step as the chainmail flicked forward from my toes but that sort of settled down after a while.
It is nice to feel the elements and you get wet, muddy feet if you run in wet muddy conditions.
Next was a 7 mile run early one morning wearing my headtorch. After about 3 miles, the light came up enough to make a quick video of my first impressions. You can see the neoprene winter kit holding in some of the warmth.
They are extremely comfortable and hug the feet. I like that feeling although my running friend Anne thought that they looked too tight. She was worried that my toes would not be able to spread. I don’t find that a problem. The liner is clever. It makes them extra comfortable and does seem to hold some of the warmth in.
On muddy slopes they performed well and I was secure and didn’t slide around. I will get them up of the fells at some point soon. I think that they will do well.
My next run after the video was a group run with the Northwest Barefooters. We did about 5 and a half miles and again they were excellent. I can see why Ian was making a fuss.
These shoes are the real deal and not a gimmick.
Although not feather light, they are not heavy.
They are the most flexible shoes I have.
They give excellent grip off road.
Ground feel is good and they still expose the feet to the elements.
They are surprisingly comfortable – My second run in them was 7 miles and there was hint of abrasion anywhere.
The new Xero Sensori Venturehas long been anticipated and I was delighted to get a pair to try out. I have had them about 10 days and have run in them a couple of times. In my video, I wanted to let you know my first impressions and compare them against my original 4mm Xeros and my original Lunas.
The sole is noticeably thicker than the 4mm version and is stiffer because of that. I ran with a group of barefooters last weekend and for part of the run a couple were in their 4mm Xeros. They were silent and they looked so secure on their feet. I was in the Sensori Venture and was loud and flappy in comaprison. I know that I didn’t have the tension in the lacing right but it was like elves against dwarves.
They certainly look good and my first thoughts are that Xero have produces a really good shoe that is going to be enormously successful. They are right about the price point. There isn’t anything sitting in the middle of the Xero kit and the Luna for those wanting a huarache style sandal.
I love the lightness and flexibility of my original Xeros and the Lunas although much stiffer are a joy to run in. The Xero Sensori Venture does sit right in the middle in terms of sole and flexibility and will be perfect for some runners but the first thought of those running with me in the 4mm version was whether there was going to be a 4mm version of the Sensori Venture. Not at the moment. The recess for the underside of the toepost means that there wouldn’t be much left if the sole was only 4mm thick.
They love the look but I guess that is just honest feedback from committed Xero wearers.
My first impressions are that it is going to take a little time to get the lacing right but when I do then they are going to suit me well.
I have been running quite a few miles in my Sockwas over the past few weeks. This is because I have been out early in the morning before it has become light. I thought that it was about time that I did a quick video to let you know how the Sockwa is performing in my quest to be an injury free runner.
When Chris asked me to write for this site, it took me two seconds to decide on the first topic – posture. Every runner should focus on posture and correct alignment of the body to create strong, fluid, balanced movement and a natural, relaxed mid-foot landing.
At the gym today I saw an amazing feat of athleticism. Picture four ViPRs (hollow rubber tubes used for strength and movement training about 1m long) standing on end, spaced about 2m apart. A guy squats on a platform, drops off, lands and springs over each ViPR in turn. Absolutely stunning to watch – effortless, elegant movement.
The power comes from the alignment of his body combined with appropriate relaxation. There is no forced pushing or over-tense muscles. A natural ‘spring’ creates the efficient forward momentum – think sweet spot on a tennis racquet as the ball hits then fires off with minimal effort. Every part of his body is correctly aligned to create power with the least muscular effort.
Correct vertical alignment of the body with the shoulder, hip and ankle in line creating our column. When correctly aligned the column is leaned forward from the dantien (energy centre) to help create forward momentum.
So how does this translate to running? Well, each step you take as you run is in essence the same as what this guy is doing. Your body is at optimal efficiency when aligned vertically, directionally and symmetrically as you run. During the support phase of your stride your body weight needs to be supported by your structure (bones, ligaments and tendons). If there is any misalignment (chink in the wall) such as feet splaying out, knees twisting, hips dropping, bending at the waist, chin jutting, muscles are overworked and the return force from the ground is blocked at that point creating resistance to momentum (think heel strike). Common running injuries often occur where the ‘chinks’ appear – ankle, knee, hip, lower back, shoulders. Due to the repetitive nature of running, at some point the weak link in the chain will give if your body is consistently out of alignment.
Perry (1992) describes good posture as ‘quiet standing’ and suggests that during perfect alignment the only required muscular activity is that needed to accommodate the pulsatile surge of the circulation.
Here are a couple of simple posture drills:
stand with your heels a couple of inches away from a vertical wall
place the small of your back, shoulders and nape of your neck against the wall
engage your dantien and gently try to flatten your lower back against the wall and level your pelvis (In Tai Chi the dantien is your energy centre. It is also your centre of mass and a focus for engaging the core muscles. It is located three finger widths down from the belly button and 2” in towards the spine)
visualise lengthening the spine up the wall
keep the glutes, leg muscles and shoulders relaxed, focus on the engagement of the lower core muscles
Stand face on in front of a mirror balancing on one leg with knee soft (not locked out) and check your posture. If you find difficulty balancing use your trail leg the keep steady by lightly resting the ball of the foot on the floor behind you, keeping the majority of weight on the support leg.
Points to look out for:
foot should be pointing directly forward
knee should be directly over the second toe
hips should be horizontal
shoulders should be horizontal
arms should be dangling by the side and relaxed
visualise a strong central line running vertically through the body
Movement patterns are drawn towards your dominant postural position so it’s imperative to good running form that you first address your static posture. The great thing is you can practice this all the time – sitting, standing, at work, in the supermarket queue. Your body learns by repetition so the more you practice the better your posture will become and it follows that your running will become more effortless and pain free.
I was up very early last week for a run with Greg before work. He has been worried about his form and I filmed him using my handy little camera. It is ot the best in the world but it has enabled Greg to get lots of advice from lots of runners out there.
Rebecca then slowed the footage down for us and posted it. This is what Greg is like in slow motion.
This was also very useful. I have summarised the comments so far. For the full facebook thread see here.
Steve Bailey Why? Does it hurt when you run? If not, you’re doing it right…….
Christian Haarala Björnberg After having a look at that I completely agree with Anne Rosbottom‘s latter comments in the original post. It looks a lot like a heel strike but on closer inspection you DO set it down for a mid-foot strike, for the most. Occasionally your heel hits the ground first but it is not that often that I’d call you a heel striker. I also agree with Anne that you set your feet down slightly in front of your centre of gravity which is causing the appearance of heel strike. If I were you, I’d shorten my stride and maybe increase the cadence a bit to fix these points.
Greg Dimelow Ill give it a go next time I’m out. These are the tips I’m after
Colin Pape I agree, I would bet you’re not doing a cadence of 180. The EVA in those shoes may be shielding any shock that would be coming through when you’re on hard surfaces. Michael Sandler’s book recommends keeping the arms in tight (like chicken wings) and moving them at a high rate to drive up your cadence as the legs will follow the arms. It great you’re paying attention!
Greg Dimelow My cadence is up around 190 when running . I’m not sure about in the vids. I didn’t know VFF trek sports had EVA in the bottom ?
Colin Pape Wow then you’re moving! If you’re still working on form you might consider slowing down your ground speed but keeping the high cadence. One lady I’ve run with made a point of keeping to a 12 minute mile until she was completely comfortable that her form was were she wanted it, i.e. that she could cover many miles with naked feet and feel no wear, see no blisters, and not scuffing up her feet.
Greg Dimelow My usual pace at the moment is around the 9 – 9.30 min mile pace.
Jason P DiPane I watched it a few times, and it seems that your form improves greatly towards the end of the video. In the first two clips, it appears that you are over-striding and compensating for the added impact with your knees which can = excessive vertical travel. The shot of you on tarmac looks like you should pick your arms up and shorten your stride a bit, but your foot strike is better…more towards the forefoot then the mid-foot. The Treksport model VFF is my favorite for hiking, because the heel cup is much more cushioned then the KSO…I don’t like to run in the TrekSport often because of the same…I tend to heel strike when I wear them…do you run barefoot? If not, I would suggest throwing a few naked foot runs into your training. There’s nothing better to correct your form then feeling the pain of running incorrectly.
Steve Bailey I can run a 1h42m half marathon (last October in conventional shoes), but I am now running at 11m30 pace for 14 miles. Low and slow. Keep the heartbeat low (primal blueprint philosophy)…..
Greg Dimelow Call me a wuss but its too cold to go barefoot here in Oldham ! Lol my half Pb is 2:03 and stupidly my marathon Pb is 3:46 in conventional shoes. This year I want to stuff my half Pb at least in my vff’s .
Greg Dimelow The realty is I have no intention to become a barefoot runner. I like my shoes too much. But I will incorporate some barefoot running when it warms up.
Jason P DiPane I am on the flip side of that…I don’t even like WALKING in shoes…I do wear VFF’s to cycle… I am not sure how well my foot would hold up if I had to put it down on pavement 30mph
Jason P DiPane You don’t need to run on a rough surface to get the form correction… I tell people to run BF on the Hardest surfaces they can find to improve their form…
Greg Dimelow When I get chance I wear my vff’s as much as possible. Last week I wore them for 4 days solid then ran in them too. The day after I put on my really low heel drop wide toe box shoes on ……and my feet hurt after about 10 mins lol I’m in trouble !
Lee Firman I must say, this whole analysis of Greg’s running has been a really good topic to follow. It will be good to see a few other similar analyses in future… In the meantime, keep up the training Greg mate!
Greg Dimelow The more the merrier I say lee get filming and posting so we can all benefit from peer reviews
Anne Rosbottom Your foot plant is a product of your cadence and your body alignment. If you are running at about 180 and your posture is good and you are balanced over your centre of gravity you don’t need to worry about much else. Tips on posture and balance on vivobarefoot website. My posture is rubbish, but getting better!
Anne Rosbottom Just been anal-ising myself on the treadmill, maybe it’s not that simple afterall…
Phil Wyatt Looks good Greg – left, right, left, right – try to stay out of the canal. Would have liked to see you run straight through the front door of the local saloon.
Dave Norman Kinovea I think it’s called is what I use to analyse video it’s free too let’s you do side by side slow mo screen grabs and annotate video
I didn’t want to lose all your good advice in the facebook black hole so have posted this here for posterity and further comments. I agree with Lee, it has been really good fun to look at someones form. Rebecca has also just posted a short clip of herself. That will be next up.
Friday morning saw me out running in a new pair of Walsh’s. I was really looking forward to it and put on my head-torch to run round the trails near home.
My first impressions were that they feel just right on my feet. If they had a road outsole, I would wear them all the time.
I have been reading Pete Larson’s post about choosing shoes this week. They do all of the five things that he lists: They vanish on my feet, I want to run fast in them. They allow me to run with good form and I am looking forward to running in them again. I forget what the last one is but these shoes are living up to the promise. I am so relieved because I really want them to be good.
Sunday morning saw me out on the moors in them. I have put together a quick photostory of my run with a video that I shot whilst out.
I am rather proud of myself for running without any tehnology this month.
Have I blown it if I use technology to video myself running without technology? Discuss.
The bottom line is that I really like these shoes. Not a twinge in either calf and a really good running style. I just wish that I had taken a few pictures of them before I went up to my knees in mud!
I was surprised at how tender my core muscles were. I am taking this as a sign of good technique. It has been a while since a ran that well and that hard.
I was up nice and early on Tuesday morning determined to get out using a mixture of barefoot and Lunas.
Lunas also make me want to run fast. I did notice this morning that my right sandal is a little more loose than the left. It takes a bit of getting used to but I think that I prefer it that way. When I run in Lunas all the tension goes out of my legs although I do have a bit of a niggle in the outside of my left leg, between my calf and my shin. It feels bony rather than muscular. I used to roller on it the night before and it was sore.
I really opened up on a shallow downhill and had no pain between my toes in the Lunas which is different from when I walk. They are much more comfortable when running.
I followed the RunBare advice and warmed up with a walk before setting off on my run. I also used the chicken wing thing to speed up and slow down. I played with it for a while, good fun.
I slipped off my Lunas after a mile and although being barefoot was sore at first, I quickly became accustomed. I stood on a sharp rock with my heel but continued with no problem. I had a bit of tension in my legs but then just relaxed into it.
Last time I ran this section, I went over a section that was very rough. It was worse this time because it was covered in Autumnal detritus. I managed it easily this time which must be progress. I used the RunBare monkey run technique over a particularly tough section. That also works surprisingly well.
It is funny how my soles are OK now that my calf is fine. I have speculated that the sensitivity in my soles is linked to the calf injury with my soles being overly tender in order to discourage me from running. A natural safety valve.
I ran a steep uphill in total darkness. It is on a rough track between houses. I had to use my sense of touch and just rolled with what the ground gave me. It was like the drill I have been doing recently where I close my eyes, run and feel the ground.
I got home with my Lunas in my hand day dreaming about whether I could handle my local Parkrun barefoot. It is rough but seems much more within my grasp. I felt like I could have gone on for quite a while.
It would be nice to get out with some other barefooters. I am looking forward to the Running show this weekend and I am also heading to Hull on sunday for a Chi Running day with Gray Caws. I will let you know how I went on.
Last week we took delivery of 3 pairs of Xero shoes, courtesy of Simon at Xero shoesUK.
I have had a pair of 6mm Xeros for while and so was keen to compare them with the 4mm whilst my two kids were just keen to be like dad and experiment with some of the new colours available.
Making our Xero shoes
Kid number 1 (11yrs old – girl) opted for 4mm Boulder Blue soles with pink laces and kid number 2 (9yrs old – boy) went for 6mm Mint Green soles with blue laces. I went for blue soles and laces.
A sunny Sunday arrived and we had a family making day. It was great to get the kids involved and you can see by the photo story that they threw themselves into it. I am so glad we did it. It has made them part of the whole barefoot thing that their dad seems to have got himself involved in.
Drawing round our feet was good fun and they were keen to get cutting. My son’s were fine and needed no trimming.
The hole punch was a bonus and made it far simpler. The punch went through the 4mm pairs easily but the 6mm soles proved a bit of a challenge and he needed a bit of a hand.
Next we logged onto Xeroshoes.com and watched Stephen Sachen lacing his pair. I have done a few pairs now and it was a lot less trouble than I thought. We opted for the Pheonix flower method of handling the excess lace.
After a couple of false starts and a few slight adjustments we were off to give them a test run. The video you can see is myself and kid number 2 laughing our way towards the camera. The slapping you can hear was fixed with a bit of a tweak and then he was off gain.
My son wore his pair continuously and then I found them lying on the floor. He had taken them off to go and play. He really is a barefoot kid.