barefoot

barefoot running, training, and racing

Making Sense of Barefoot Running

Making Sense of Barefoot Running

The above link will take you to an excellent overview of the case for barefoot running. It comes from barefoot/minimalist running guru Lee Saxby via the good folks at Vivobarefoot, and includes forwards by Prof. Daniel Lieberman (Harvard University Human Evolutionary Biology Lab) and Chris McDougall (author of Born to Run).

Highly recommended!

Barefoot Trail Running

The above is an excellent illustration of how to run barefoot on a trail. Not just that, but on a somewhat technical trail!

I’d like to be able to run like this on the Vulture Bait 50K on October 19. OK, I’ll have to admit, I’m not going to be as quick or as graceful. But this video has given me encouragement that I can do it. And, from what I’ve been able to learn about the Vulture Bait course, I think it’s barefoot-doable.

The Vulture Bait website describes the course terrain as varying, “with sections of wide, pine chip trail, rugged single-track sections, some grass and a few short paved sections.” There’s a cutoff time of 7 hours, which means, that, if I pace myself correctly, I’ll be able to run slowly, run carefully, and accomplish something truly remarkable – a barefoot trail ultra.

So now, it’s up to me to do two things in the 54 days remaining between now and the race. One is to build some barefoot trail running skills. I’ll be starting from zero on this one. The other is to build the confidence and mindset I’ll need to do the job. That’ll just be a continuation of what I do each time I go for a run, as each new run is an adventure and a learning in itself. I’m also going to drive to Fanshawe Conservation Area in London, Ontario (the location of the race) a few weeks before the event, and explore the course, so I can do some skin-to-ground testing of the concept.

Then, on October 19, I’ll have a go at running barefoot on stuff like this. (Both of these photos are from previous editions of the Vulture Bait.)

Vulture Bait trail

And this…

Vulture Bait water crossing

It’ll be fun. I think.

How to Run Barefoot

It’s always fun to find a new video about barefoot running. This one comes from a source I hadn’t expected – the Guardian (UK) website’s life style section.

In it, barefoot running expert Ben Le Vesconte talks to Adharanand Finn, author of Running With the Kenyans, and runner Kate Carter at the VivoBarefoot Clinic in Farringdon, central London. After analysing their current running techniques, Ben teaches them the basics of barefoot running, giving them simple exercises to help change their rhythm, posture, and overall style.

It’s a very informative video. A good explanation of why barefoot running works, and, better still, an excellent guide to how to achieve good running form. Highly recommended!

Check it out by clicking here.

Argh! The Cops!

Once again, I’ve run afoul of the law. Literally.

It happens three times or so each year. I’m out for a happy barefoot run, when, all of a sudden, a police car swoops to the side of the road beside me, lights flashing. A window is rolled down, and I hear the ominous words…

“Excuse me, sir.”

This morning (the first nice day we’ve had in a long time, I might add), I was enjoying a short, easy-paced barefoot run around my local ring road. About 2K from home, not one, but two, cop cars came to a rather sudden stop beside me. Flashing lights, cruisers angled against the curb so they were actually blocking traffic, and very quickly a cop standing on either side of me while I was questioned.

Yes, you’ve got the picture. A white-haired gent in running clothes (but no shoes!), and two young, well-muscled cops, complete with guns and flak jackets. Said older gent being questioned about why he’s running without shoes, where he lives, if he’s ever been injured. etc. Evidently, a “concerned citizen” had phoned in a report that he/she had seen “a man running without shoes,” and the cops had to come by to ensure the public’s safety.

One of the cops even called in an ID on his onboard laptop, I guess to make sure I wasn’t some sort of known criminal. While he did so, the other cop stood just off to my side, hand resting casually on his holstered gun. Maybe he was afraid I’d make a break for the nearest traffic light, or go berserk in the way that barefoot runners are known to. I’ll call the image to mind again – a 64 year-old, 144 lb. runner, barefoot, clad in tights, a long-sleeve running shirt, and a bandanna, in between two thirty-something, 180-or-so lb. cops in street armour, with weapons at the ready. Right, I’m so dangerous.

Other runners get waved at or chased by dogs – I get hassled by interfering busybodies and the state’s paramilitaries. This happens all too often – and I’m hugely, hugely pissed off by it. Just sayin’, that’s all.

Barefoot Running: The Movie

Running Bare: The MovieMichael Sandler of Run Bare, has been kind enough to send me a copy of Running Bare: The Movie, which he and his partner Jessica Lee have made as a sequel to their popular book Barefoot Running. The DVD is a combination documentary/how-to effort, filmed on the beautiful island of Maui. I’ve only checked it out quickly at this point, but it looks very good stuff indeed. (You can check out a trailer of the movie here.)

Better yet, Michael sent me two copies of the DVD. So I’m going to offer one of them as a giveaway to a lucky Barefoot Journey reader. I’ll post a review soon of the movie, and will tell you then about how you can enter to win the DVD. Stay tuned!

Barefoot Running Magazine

The summer issue of the Barefoot Running Magazine, from the good folks at Barefoot Running UK is available as a PDF-format download here.

There’s a wealth of good stuff in the issue, such as articles by Michael Sandler and Dr. James Stoxen, a piece about the Barefoot Runners Society – and my book review of Alex Hutchinson’s “Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights?”.

I think you’ll enjoy it!

Barefoot Running UK Newsletter

Barefoot Running UK

Once again, I have the pleasure of passing along to you the newsletter of Barefoot Running UK. As always, the newsletter, put together by Anna Toombs and David Robinson, offers excellent articles, news, and training tips for barefoot runners. This one, though, is a bumper edition, coming in at a full 32 full-colour pages. I urge you to read it!

You can download a PDF-format file of the newsletter by clicking here.

My thanks go (again) to Anna and David for offering this great resource to the barefoot running community.

Shorter, Faster

The Oakville Half Marathon is only two weeks away. That means I won’t do any more long runs or hill repeats for the next little while. Instead, I’ll concentrate on speed work (not my strength, so I have to make a conscious effort), pace, form, and breathing. With all the steady running I’ve been doing, my endurance is good, and I think I’ve got my head screwed on right for this one. Just need to nail down the speed thing.

As usual, I’ve got a full spectrum of goals for the race. Above all, I want to have fun. I’ve not done the Oakville Half before, but I know the town, and am reasonably familiar with the roads it’ll be run on. It’ll be a pretty route, most of it along the shore of Lake Ontario and through some fairly well-to-do neighbourhoods. The weather promises to be good, too. Secondly, I’d like to acquit myself honourably as far as a finishing time goes. My realistic goal is to finish somewhere between 2:10 and 2:15. My ideal goal is to get as close to two hours as I can. To put that spread in context, my PB for the half is 2:03:18. That was done at the Grimsby Half Marathon in 2009, when I was still a shod runner, in the middle of a training program I’d done with a bunch of runners who were 30 or so years younger than me, as well as much stronger and faster. They pushed me hard, and I responded in kind. Next down the timeline was a 2:07:45 finish at the Run for the Grapes Half, also in 2010, which I ran in my VFF KSOs. Thn came this May’s 2:17:14 finish at the Mississauga Half Marathon, which was my first barefoot half. I feel stronger physically and mentally than I did in May, so we’ll see how that plays out.

This morning, I had a very good barefoot tempo-paced run on neighbourhood streets. On the run, I focused on optimizing my form and breathing while keeping my cadence and pace high. Everything worked as it should, and I felt good about the run. Back to commutes and fartleks for the rest of the week.

Guest Posting

I have the honour of guest posting on Aaron T’s Barefoot Puffin blog today.

I urge you to visit Aaron’s blog. It’s a good one. In it, he writes about his journey toward “a more basic and primal lifestyle.” That includes both barefoot running and a paleo diet. If you’re new to barefooting, you might want to check out his blogroll, which features lots of good resources.

My thanks and a tip of the barefoot hat to Aaron for the opportunity to appear on his blog!