Dec 06

Running Log – December 16

Sat 2nd Dec 16

Park run this morning in 24 mins and 48 secs. Need to start closer to the front.

Tuesday 6th Dec 16

Now run every day for the last week and am eating better. 5 miles in Altras this morning  and feel OK for it. This runstreak started on 29th nov 16 and we will see how far it goes.

Thursday 7th Dec 16

Up early but raining hard so just did a mile. Then ran 4 in the evening whilst dan was training. I was looking forward to it. 20 mins out and 20 mins back in the dark. Not even out of breath. Left calf area tensed up near the end.

Friday 9th Dec 16

Ran a mile this morning and manged to ease the tension away a little. Still there though. interesting.

Saturday 10th Dec 16

Park Run this morning in 23mins 52secs.  Went for it. Coming down first hill, I felt light on my feet and like a runner. Then went for a 25 minute run afterwards. Could feel it in my legs all day.

Sunday 11th Dec 16

A quick mile before the market

Mon 12th Dec – Sun 18th Dec 16

A 20 mile week which included a 5 miler around the village, a 2.5 in the dark round Entwistle and 8.5 miles on Saturday morning. Legs tired at end of it.

Mon 19th Dec 16

A mile at 6am

Tuesday 20th Dec 16

2 mile warmup then 3x800m reps with 3 mins between. then 1.5 miles warm down. Ran them in about 3mins 39 secs. Couldn’t go any faster but had plenty left. I reckon that I am fit enough to go faster but am not used to running this fast in this style. Will need lots of practice and gradual improvement.

Wed 21st Dec 16 

A mile in the dark

Thursday 22nd Dec 16

Up early and ready to go. The run streak is good motivation for me. i am eating OK and losing a bit of weight. I have got rid of refined carbs from most of my diet apart from one main meal of day. Then it might be pasta or pizza or pitta bread. Nothing else. Eating fruit and cheese during the day mostly.

5 miles in Altras. started off slow but full of running. Felt good and strong up hills. Not a whisper of an injury anywhere.

Friday 23rd Dec 16

A mile early in the morning.

Sat 24th Dec 16

Park run this morning in 23 mins 42 secs. Another 10 secs off. Slow but steady progress. Santa whats and brass band. ran 1.5 miles in warm up and another in cool down so 6 miles in total.

Sun 25th Dec 16

A mile this morning. Bumped into an elderly gentleman shifting leaves out of the path. He was very smartly dressed. 97 years old and out for his daily walk. I ended up thinking about my talk to the cardiac support group. I think that it all about readiness and driving it yourself rather than handing over responsibility to someone else. You can’t buy your way out of this one. Beware of common sense. Be a self-experimentor.

Mon 26th Dec 16

7 miles this morning. Fitness is coming. Speed isn’t. Passed near the end by a guy who has overweight and with a little pitter-patter stride. He just moved away from me. I could have kept up but it would have been a struggle. He made it look easy. This is going to be a long road.

Tues 27th Dec 16

A mile this morning and good fun. Pushed hard up hills. ready Guy Martin’s latest book and it took me back to old pedal car days and 24 hr racing. Good times. I need to look up the British Human Powered Association.

Wed 28th Dec 16

A mile this morning. Cold enough to take the breath away. That makes a full month of running every day and I feel better for it. Catching up on sleep too which is good. No problems anywhere.

Thursday 29th Dec 16

7 miles with Phil around Rivington. Beautiful morning. He is pushing along faster than me. Leaning from ankles then straightening up top half of body whilst imagining being pulled along from the naval helps speed things up. Go figure.

Fri 30th Dec 16

A mile this morning. Stopped to pick up a glove for a chap who had dropped it. he was walking back up a hill to get it. He said it was over 50 years old. Good piece of kit. I chatted for a bit. It might be that I was the only person he spoke to today. It might not but something someone said to me a little while ago chimed in my head.

Sat 31st Dec 16

Rounded off 2016 with a Parkrun in 23 mins 34 secs. Another 10 seconds off. I might have got under 23 mins 30secs if I had set off in the right place. Getting quicker. Entered the Alderney Edge Bypass 10k on July 2nd. 6 months away. It would be good to be a stone lighter by Easter. Exactly 14 weeks away, I think so 14 pounds in 14 weeks whilst running properly. Should be doable. Also keep the speed work up. It would be interesting to find a 10k at Easter time to see how I am getting on.

Nov 01

Running Log – November 16

Tuesday 1st Nov 16

3 barefoot miles and it felt good. I was very wheezy this morning (too much Halloween sugar last night) and did not fancy running at all. I had no plans to barefoot and walked outside at 6am to get my shoes. The morning was so mild and ground was dry. the road felt very inviting for bare feet so off I set. After half a mile, I was whizzing along. My feet felt good and I could feel a couple of knotty lower leg things smoothing out. After 3 miles I arrived back home without breaking a sweat and my breathing much improved. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

After all that about running in shoes, it is nice to have the choice.  A bit of this and a bit of that.This feels a sustainable way to run.

Thursday 3rd November

5 miles this morning in Altras. Slight headache when I woke up and struggling to shake a bit of a cough. Things get worse when I eat sugar and refined carbs. Most noticeable things about running in shoes is that his are not as enjoyable. One of the best things about running barefoot is the way hills just seem to vanish and I am at the top before I know it. Not like that in the Altras. They are OK though although perhaps too much cushioning. i wanted to see what some zero drop cushioning was like. I can feel the bounce and myself losing the energy and working a bit harder. Not much but it there.

Sunday 6th November 16

3 miles in Altras this morning with an awful cold. I didn’t feel like going much further. Feel the need to concentrate when running in the Altras and get a little more upright with hips forward a bit. When I do that things feel more relaxed. it is all too easy to end up with tension in my legs. Little strides and relax.

Tuesday 8th November 16

Still got a bad cold but up early wanting to run and get fresh air into my lungs. Headlining up to the Entwistle for a head torch run. Cut the mileage back but still keeping things regular. 2.34 miles in Altra in 23 minutes which seems slow. wen through 2 mile point in 18mins 40 secs and didn’t slow down. maybe the distance is a bit wrong. I then stood looking out over reservoir drinking a cup of tea imagining how many other people are doing this sort of thing as the sun comes over the horizon. Always feel better for it. sets me up for the day.

Thursday 10th Nov 16

5 miles in Altras feeling tired and it was hard work. Feel a little better for doing it. Mind taken over after being asked to talk to a local cardiac support group early next year. It makes you think about the main message behind my running. There are so many things to share about us being a running animal and the fact that you don’t need to be Mexican and the sham of a running shoe industry. the main thing is that you need to be pragmatic and do what works. The work out why it works and go from there. Perhaps.

Sat 12th Nov 16

Rain meant canelled football and a chance to Parkrun for the first time in ages. Most of route under water and ran in Altras. 25 mins 25 secs and it was the fastest I could have gone. Tried to keep with 24 min pacer but just couldn’t. PB on this course is 20 mins and 59 secs. I need to lose 2 stones/

Tuesday 15th Nov 16

5 miles in Altras at 6am this morning. The morning was filthy. Dark, fog and drizzle. I love it. You run in your own little bubble. I was full of running this morning and ended up running quickly. The first 100 yards and my right calf felt like things were moving around in there and settling down. After that, i didn’t have a whisper of a problem. I concentrated on form and lifting rather than pushing off. My form when running slow is good but I think that I will need to really concentrate when running quickly. Good fun.

Thursday 17th Nov 16

Up and out by 6am this morning for another 5 miler in Altras. Felt that I need to do a few weeks of consistent smiling to get some sort of base. Started sluggish. That little niggle in calf happened at same place on run again and then went away completely. Found myself thinking about Chirunning quite a bit. Probably because I am shoes and I want to run faster. Was ensure core was steady and then leaning a little. Need to play with this and find a way that works for me. Chirunning or leaning a la Ken Bob. Felt good by the end. Not as good as Tuesday but still pretty good.

Saturday 19th November 16

Feels like a bit of a breakthrough. I ran Bolton park run again and was under 25 mins. 24 mins and 51 seconds in the Altras. Then I ran another 6.5 miles to get it out of my legs. This included the park run course again. I was just ticking along in the driving rain and sleet. Felt pretty good. It feels like a breakthrough because I have run all but one run this month in the Altras and my legs feel fresh and niggle free. I am not protecting anything whilst I run. I don’t feel fast but I certainly feel like a  runner.

I passed a woman early on in the run. She had a very unusual stiff style. everything was coming from the hip and she hardly bent her legs at all. Her top half was rolling around to create the momentum she needed to keep it going. I reckon that she was in her late 50s. I thought, ‘I can help you here. If you just bend your knees a bit more and increase your cadence then you would find things so much easier.’ At the top of the the first steep hill, she breezed passed me with her funny style and vanished into the distance. It made me smile.

Tuesday 22nd Nov 16

Up early but with a few stomach problems. Set off and it soon became clear that i wasn’t going to get far. 2 miles and glad to be back.

Thursday 24th Nov 16

Stomach feeling a bit better but struggling generally. Don’t want to run this morning. Just want to go back to bed. I am going to walk instead and see how that goes. Think the fresh air will do me good.

Tuesday 29th Nov 16 – Thursday 30th Nov 16

Recovered from illness and a run streak seems to have started. Ran a mile each day in shoes. Let’s see where it takes me. If I can run everyday for a year in shoes then it will have proved that my stride has improved considerably.

Oct 30

Barefoot mission accomplished… so what now?

Well…It’s been quite a journey. I started this blog to chronicle my attempts to run again. I was broken down and at the end of the road. In short, I was desperate. My whole social life, wellbeing and so much other stuff was wrapped up in my running and the thought of never being able to run again was not one I could contemplate.

I have had this mug since the start. It felt pie in the sky and very presumptuous to put ‘The road to injury free running’ on it. But…that was the goal. This blog was meant to track my journey from broken to injury free runner. 
bb-mug1 4 and a half years later and I am running again. Injury free and without the whispering words of panic that used to accompany every little niggle and twinge. In the course of things, I ran barefoot every day for over a year and ran a barefoot marathon but the big deal for me is that I am now able to run successfully in shoes again. Yes…shoes!!

Barefooting is not a religion to me. It is a pragmatic means to an end. It can be done. It is like a pro golfer taking apart their golf swing and putting it back together again. I needed to do the same with my running form. It took time and patience for my feet and lower legs to slowly strengthen and modify to be able to handle it. Now I am back in shoes (albeit Vivobarefoot and pair of zero drop Altras) and it feels good.

It has been busy time in lots of other ways to. It started with a crazy amount of blogging. I have a personality with a need to share and blogging is a wonderful thing. I think that it will be part of my life going forwards just not in the urgent, obsessive way that characterised things when I began.

I completed a postgrad diploma in coaching and mentoring which led into a Doctorate in education. I am now into the 3rd year of a 5 year doctoral programme. The first 2 years have been about learning to write for academic publication. The blogging helped immeasurably. My writer’s voice already felt well developed and those early days churning out blog post after blog post taught me lots about the writing process as did the discipline of writing for Barefoot Running magazine as their roving reporter.

I have moved from my job as headteacher of a primary school to being the lead of Bolton’s Pupil Referral Unit for primary aged pupils. We provide education for those pupils excluded from schools. They are amazing young people making their way in the world the best they can. My thinking has been flipped on its head. These children (some as young as 6yrs) need to feel like they are part of society and they belong. The working title for my thesis is: ‘Inclusion for the excluded: Promoting a sense of belonging in excluded primary school pupils and their families’. It should keep me busy and feed my need to write.

I found a bit of the good life and started a small brewery with a friend. I now set up and run a farmers’ market stall a couple of times a month and chat all day about beer. We sell to a few local pubs. That is the buzz for me. I don’t want our beer to go all over the world. I want to be a local producer, selling my wares to local people. There is a big craft beer scene at the moment but it is the local produce scene that I enjoy.

I worked with Bolton based shoe company Walsh (Local producer thing coming out again) to create a pair of minimal zero drop fell shoes and got quite a few repeat orders which must be a good sign. I am not sure that I will ever be a shoe salesman though.

I have come out of this a different person. Life is busy but in a good way. I am no longer frantically trying to get to a mythical point in my future where I can be free and happy. I felt like I was swimming hard under water, holding my breath until I could come up for air and be free. The obsessive blogging was part of that. I was on the headteachers’ conveyer belt to retirement but look a deep breath and jumped off. I now earn less but am more content. I am not counting the days until I retire. In fact, I am now the opposite and thinking that I won’t be able to fit in everything that I want to do. Life is full of possibilities.

So…what do I do with barefoot beginner now? Do I just shut it down? I could but then I meet people who are at the end of the line like I was. Not all of them runners. Some are struggling to get out and walk as much as they used to or someone who has a niggling lower back problem. My instinctive reaction is to say ‘Take off your shoes’.

I think that the combination of my experience to date means that I have something to offer. I have no generic programme to sell but I think that I may be able to help. Most people get stuck in a loop and end up doing the same old things and expecting a different result. I think think that I could help people understand where they are at and where they want to be. To help them understand how barefooting might be one option that they have not considered before and help them experiment with it (or other things. Barefooting is not a panacea). Coaching in the broader sense of the word using sound principles.

I have always fancied putting together an ebook on Amazon. I think that might be the next step. To share my experience alongside offering a possible way forward for those who may be at the end of the line. In the mean time, I would love to hear from anyone in this position who feels like they need a helping hand.

Come and join in the chat in our Facebook group and like our page. There is also a twitter feed for those of you who like that sort of thing. 

Oct 05

Barefoot running log October 16

I had lost my running mojo and so have mixed things up a bit. I did 3 800m reps in vivobarefoot evos yesterday. I was running. 3.33, 3,44 and 3.40. This is about a minute slower than when i last really did this 10 years ago. I feel better for it and my body has not reacted badly to the efforts so i will see how I go over the coming weeks.

Mon 10th Oct 16

Deep squats this morning for the first time in ages. I ran in a pair of Altra zero drop over weekend. Bouncy but good. 11 miles.

Tues 11th Oct 16

6.15am in the dark at the Entwistle. fast as I could in Altras. Ran it in 20mins and 14 secs which is considerably faster than last time. Alters feel good. a few little niggles but they smoothed out as I concentrated on form. kept swapping between Chirunning and upright and from hips a la Ken Bob. Getting quicker. & 48 at bridge and 16.30 at 3 mile marker.

Jul 30

Barefoot Running Log August 16

Sat 30th July

List of symptoms that I am noticing. Headaches,12st 4 lbs, wheezy, skin not great, bloating, wind, lethargy, ankle joints aching along with most other things. Irritable. Finding it hard to get motivated to run. I get like that when something big is coming up. I think that the marathon is weighing on my mind. I am not enjoying running with HRM. Need to eat properly and get the refined carbs out of my diet.

Jun 06

Barefoot Running Log June 16

Mon 6th Jun

Life is busy and I haven’t been blogging as much as I used too. That is fine. I just haven’t felt the need. It was compulsive for a while. This feels more natural. It is the same with my running. I am in a strange phase. I began to barefoot as a means to an end. It was so that I could run and now I can. Job done? Maybe…but maybe not. I am struggling for motivation. The thing that will get me out of the door.

I am planning on running the Bolton half marathon in 13 weeks and am 12 stone 1lb today. I feel like I need to get hold of things and get out there taking in everything that I have learnt. I plan to get my diet back to MAF principles and get out there and run. The biggest problem though is whether to run barefoot or not. It can dominate things and also whether to run every day. I enjoy that but it also seems a bit compulsive. I need structure and a flexible plan to lay on top of it. I have injured myself with training schedules too many times than to download one and stick to it.

Here is what feels good today:

Do the 2 week MAF test – Kick start the process and lose a bit.

Run 5 days per week. 4 barefoot and one shod. One day off either side of long run.

Stick to MAF HR of 134

Build to 2 x 5 milers plus a 2hr long run with 30 mins walking either side of it. Build to that pretty quickly.

Alternate long runs barefoot and shod.

Felt good to get HRM on and run a mile.

Plan for the week

M barefoot mile

T Barefoot 5 miles

Wed Barefoot mile

Thursday Shod 5 miler

Fri Rest

Sat Barefoot ihr 30 mins with 20 mins before and after walking

Sun rest.

Tues 7th June 16

5 barefoot miles in 56 mins 57 secs within MAF range of 124-134bpm. First MAF run in ages and felt good for it. This is starting perp for Chester Marathon in about 15 weeks. Also doing 2 week MAF test with pretty much zero carbs. Hardest thing is no milk in tea. I have got used to a drop of honey in my coffee but I am ready to do this and feel better already.

Wed 8th June 16

Already feeling better. I forgot to take food with me yesterday and wasn’t hungry all day. Slight headache later in evening but other than that fine. 11stone 12lbs. I am wondering if the honey is what is bringing me back for more.


May 09

Barefoot Running Log May 16

Sunday 8th May 16

I did something today which I have not done for ages. I drove somewhere for a run. I used to do that almost every time I ran but now almost always run from the front door,

I drove to the Entwistle reservoir and headed off down a bridleway in VFF Spyridons. I was watching a shepherd and dog bring in sheep when a young runner came flying past. I say flying but she was probably just going at a steady but quick pace. I set off after her for a mile down the rough and bumpy track and really enjoyed it.

I then got to the Entwistle and timed myself around its 2.34 route. 7 minutes dead for the first mile or so which is way faster than i am used to. I have running in MAF range at well over 10 minute miles. 15 mins 33sec at 2 mile point and then 19 mins 40 secs for the lap.

What do I call that? A start. This is the first time that I have timed myself around this route for 4 years. In fact, one of my first posts was about pulling my calf doing exactly this. My calves were fine but my right achilles was protesting.

Great fun and amazing that I am able to do it.

Chatted with a chap on Saturday night. His calves had gone and he was struggling to run. Physic giving him orthotics. Nightmare.

Wed 11th May

Running every day is easy to understand and I find it works for me. I am much better at absolutes than making negotiations with myself about which days I run and which days I don’t. It is the same with food. Once I start with things like eating differently one day a week, I then do 2 days and it is a slippery slope. I am back eating well and feel much better already.
Running barefoot has eased off my achilles. I think that I would still be limping around if I had not got out there and run a few barefoot miles. I am running with my daughter Em. Really good to do. We have a 6.30am morning date and head out for a bit of a run. Good to chat and have a laugh before the day starts. Hope it lasts.

Mon 23rd May 16

Went to watch the Great Manchester Run yesterday. I had forgotten how much fun a mass event can be. It has been years since I have been to watch something like this. The number of running styles and the effort on people’s faces. I  miss it. It reminds me that nobody owns running. At heart, running is a simple act and humans just love it. We complicate it and go deeper and deeper but there is nothing like just getting out with a big group of people and running. There were lots of individual stories and people running for a reason without making a fuss about it. McMillan vests with the words ‘Running mum’ on them. In times of distress, it seems like a very human reaction is to run. Fair play to every single one of the red faced runners out there yesterday. Bravo!

I came home and started looking at local running clubs. Not been a member since injuries kicked in. I have been a solitary runner for too long. I need to get out there with people again.

Apr 04

Barefoot Running Log April 16

Monday 4th April 16

I have run barefoot every day for the last couple of weeks and my feet are feeling robust again. I have noticed my pace picking up over the past couple of days and it is nice to be feeling like my old self again. Not quite there yet but well on the way. I didn’t run for about 5 weeks because I just didn’t feel like it and then it got into a habit and it took the first day of spring to get me back in action. I feel a bit heavy because my diet has been poor too over the past couple of weeks. Back in work this morning for an 8 week half term. It will be interesting to see where I am at the end of it.

Not surprising really. Other things have taken over over the past few months. A new job which made my brain leak out of its ears, doctoral studies and deadlines plus stepping up our commercial brewing so that we are now heading to our first beer festival and independent outlets. Something had to give. It isn’t usually running but it was this time.

Tues 5th April 16

A bit further this morning as I recondition my feet to berating again. Just over 2 miles in the pouring early morning rain. Feet got a bit cold but were fine. Ran the last very steep uphill on autopliot and enjoyed it. My biggest worry is taking the skin off the top of one of my toes again. It has healed up but feels vulnerable. maybe I will put a plaster on it so that I feel more protected. Feeling hot, out of breath and like a runner. Good!

Sat 9th April 16

Still running everyday. Very cold on Thursday morning but still ran 2.5 miles barefoot. I am losing the skin off the tip of the middle toe of my left foot. It is a while since that happened and a sign that I am back near the beginning. Of course, that is not properly the case. My foot and lower legs are strong and I just need to take things steadily and not rush coming back. I am going to run tomorrow and do a mile barefoot and then have a blast around the Entwistle in footwear of some sort. I have missed it. My MAF food intake this week has had an impact and I already feel better. I do seem to look for reasons to stop it though and then really go for it when I do. Need to change that and go back to the way I was before.

Mar 01

Barefoot Running Log – March 16

Tuesday 1st March 16

February has been a tricky month. I have now not run for over 2 weeks and just  don’t feel like it very much. The weather has been dreadful and whereas I would normally get out there anyway, I have been using it as a reason not to run.

I think that you can learn a lot from periods like this. A British winter like this one can get you down. It has rained incessantly for months. I have also being MAF methoding. I have lost my mojo and need to mix things up a bit. I have a couple of ideas. I think that I will now come out of this MAF base phase and add some quicker runs in as part of a planned blast and have some some. I think that I will run every day from March 20th. It will be the Spring Equinox and something about that is appealing. My dad used to wear shorts from Spring to Autumn. I might do the same.

I am also going to enter the Chester marathon and use MAF in the 12 weeks prior to get back into the base training. That should be good. I am going to limit my long run to 2 hrs (with 30 mins warmup and cool down) before the marathon and then run at my MAF rate plus or minus whatever the recommended is. My goal is to run a comfortable marathon where I don’t crash and burn.

My diet has been OK but I have felt a bit sluggish at times. I feel like I am coming out of that and start March at dead on 11 stone.

Here is to March. Bring on Spring.

Sunday 20th March

I am just about to head out for my first run for 5 weeks. I am 11 stone 6lbs this morning and have been waiting for this day for a little while. I can feel myself coming out of a slim. It sort of happened over the past few days and might coincide with the better sunny weather. We have needed it. This has been a very long and wet winter. My diet has suffered a bit but I don’t feel big and sluggish. I feel fine.

The mile felt goo too. This time of year has a feel all of its own. The air is still and quiet. It happens to me every year. We moved into this house over 20 years ago at Easter and when we moved in I was struck by the quietness and stillness of the mornings. I couldn’t believe anywhere could be so quiet. Every year, I walk out and a morning like this gets me and transports me back to those first days here. It is nice to have nothing to prove as a runner and just to go and and enjoy it.

Feb 25

Falling out of love with barefoot

Falling out of love with barefoot:

That was how I felt this morning as I was half way through my morning run. I have very little motivation at the moment and am in a real lull.

It has been coming on a while. I think it is all linked to this Oldham Way Ultra attempt next month and the MAF rate slowing down business. My routine has gone and last year’s running every day seems like a long way away.

I looked out of the window this morning and the road was iced up and I just didn’t want to go out there barefoot. I did all last year but today I couldn’t see the point. I ended up in a pair of ankle socks and Runamoks for a quick mile. I enjoyed it and as I was crunching over stones, a thought popped into my head. ‘I am falling out of love with barefoot.’

The thought of being on that stretch of road at that time was just very unappealing. However, I have this idea that I am going to run every day barefoot from Spring to Autumn Equinox and I might well do that. I think that it will be good and I am looking forward to it. Maybe I just need that kind of easy to understand challenge.

I think that I will end up running the Chester Marathon later in the year but also some shorter events too. Just the thought seems good to me. I like the idea of running the Yorkshire 3 peaks. That would be good. So…maybe I am not falling out of love with anything. Maybe I am just in a rut and feeling it. A change is as good as a rest. I think that I might mix everything up and run somewhere new this weekend…and not too far. I have done a period of MAF base training and stuck to it. i think that I might have a spell where I do a few races and then go into another aerobic base building phase before Chester.

Just typing this, I can feel my enthusiasm coming back. Nothing to do with barefoot or otherwise. The Ultra is feeling appealing too just as something to drop into without worrying or focussing on it too much.

Thanks for listening everyone. I feel better for that. I needed to articulate it and get it out of my system. It has been blocking things up and dragging me down. Upwards and onwards.

Happy running everyone.