Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Early morning

Distance 9.5km [total: minimalist 44km: Barefoot 171km]

On the Monday evening I trotted off to the sports field across the road from my place to test the calf out to see if it was good to run on.
I was also going to practice the Pose style on these few laps to see how it felt.
This was the first time I had run barefoot around this field, I remember walking around it a few months ago to strengthen my feet and standing on all the seed cases dropped by the trees and how it hurt.
Big difference this time with tougher feet, it felt like soft carpet and I don't recall even feeling the bits and pieces that had fallen from the trees.
I think I had the correct form in that I concentrated on using the hamstrings to pull the leg from the ground rather than the quads.
I know this is the case as today I can feel the tightness in the hamstrings where they were being used.
I ran 6 laps around the field and the calf was fine.

I'd arranged to go on a run with a friend today, when I go on an early run, my idea of an early run is between 8.30am and 9.30am. He wanted to go at 7am, this would mean no breakfast before and I am no good without food in the morning. So I got out the GlucEvol and had a glass of that, it really is the best sports drink I have come across in that it causes no stomach problems at all and I can run without feeling like I'm going to fall over from lack of energy.
So, after a much interrupted nights sleep with various noisy neighbours letting off fireworks at midnight and beyond, talking loudly, a chorus of dogs barking etc I probably got a few hours sleep.

We got to the beach at 7.10am, there were plenty of people down there already to do their morning walks before the heat of the day kicks in (35C today).
Running with another person stops you from taking the little breaks you get accustomed to taking and makes you run a bit harder which is good.
The sand was cold at that time of day and the tide was out, a good running surface. My training partner ran in shoes and has worn orthotics for years, apparently he has about 8 pairs, must cost a fortune.
I showed him was you can do once you take that risk and throw the orthotics and shoes in the cupboard.
Learn to run correctly and you don't need them, you just have to overcome the dependency and fear.
We covered 7km today, feet were a bit tender underneath as I was running a bit faster than usual but they will be fine by the end of the day.
I think he was impressed with how it is possible to run without shoes but might be a bit conservative to take that next step.

On the Sunday I went to check out the open racing at the Bay-Sheffield held at Glenelg S.A between Christmas and New Year.
I was interested in taking photos so I could analyse whether the competitive runners were heel strikers or forefoot landers, from the series of photos taken it seems like the majority are forefoot landers.

Spectators on the first day of the Bay-Sheffield, the large crowd turns up for the finals the following day


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas day

Distance 10.5km [total: minimalist 44km: Barefoot 162.5km]

Isn't it great to be able to get up on a Christmas day and to go to the beach for a run with a perfect temperature of 21C.
There was enough cloud around to keep the sun from burning me as quickly but it can still penetrate the clouds.
I ran 7km today (Friday), concentrating on keeping the heels light and most of the weight bearing pressure on the forefoot.
The tendons seemed to be ok, the soreness I was feeling over the last few days eased off and felt better for the rest of the day.

Out again on a sunny morning, back at the beach for a slightly longer run. I had a go at practising the pose stance for a while before setting off.
I am going to try to learn a different aspect of the pose style each month if I can, give it plenty of time to sink in.
I set off running from Grange to Henley and then to the Torrens River outlet. The stretch from Grange to Henley jetty I ran at a fast pace and was quite breathless for most of the distance.
The thing I find interesting is the almost subconscious way you seem to be able to avoid sharp stones along the shoreline, there were plenty of big and small stones around but I am not aware of ever feeling any of them beneath my feet.
On the return run I had to stop half way as I could feel either a muscle cramp in the calf of the beginnings of a pull.
It may have been because I was running faster than usual at the beginning and put more of a strain on the muscles.
I stopped immediately and gave it a light massage them walked the rest of the way back.
From past experience when the muscle is warm it doesn't hurt as much as when it has cooled down that is why stopping immediately is the best course of action.
I think I managed to avoid doing too much damage but I shall rest a day to see how it feels.
I got back and had some GlucEvol to get a bit of energy back into the muscles followed by a protein drink and then some L-Glutamine.
I'll see if this has helped at all in the next few days.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Calf strength

Distance 0km [total: minimalist 44km: Barefoot 152km]

After my beach run on Monday it has taken until today for my lower legs and tendons to recover.
As I was emphasising the landing on the forefoot at each step and was running at a faster pace than before it put quite a bit of stress on the muscles and tendons.
They were sore as hell on the Tuesday, improved on the Wednesday but not fully and now today they are almost back to normal.
I'll leave it until tomorrow until I venture out again on the beach to give them 3 full days to recover.
I thinking of sending of for the Romanov Pose running DVD to see if I can improve my form and efficiency.
I'm pleased with my progress so far and I should set a goal for next year such as to participate in one of the races.
The big one in Adelaide is the City-Bay run, a 12km run from the city centre to Glenelg by the beach. It is one of the big runs of the year which most people use as a target for their training.


Monday, December 21, 2009


Distance 8km [total: minimalist 44km: Barefoot 152km]

Finishing work by 4.20pm and at the beach by 5pm, it was a warm day of about 30C, slightly cooler at the beach.
The tide was out so there was a nice firm surface to run on. Only light breezes today rather than the strong southerly I've been pitted against on several occasions.

I tried to concentrate on how my feet contact the ground, emphasizing the forefoot but not toe running as that strains the tendons too much and you lose the power needed to get a good speed.

It is now almost 4 months since I first ran barefoot on the beach and now I feel far more comfortable.
The heel only contacts after the forefoot and then only lightly, the calves still are not strong enough to give me complete even contact and I am still aware of the tendons being worked hard.
I ran relatively fast over the 8km today, stopping briefly to catch my breath at the jetties.
I think it was this extra speed that made my feet a bit tender on the underside. They will be ok tomorrow.
I really need someone to look at my running style to tell me if I am running correctly, it feels natural but that is not objective enough.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Getting better

Distance 20km [total: minimalist 44km: Barefoot 144km]

Thursday was a windy day after the early morning rain cleared up. The hot weather that we had earlier in the week when the temperature touched 40C broke on the Wednesday night with rain and thunderstorms leaving Thursday cool and wet.

I ran 8km along the beach and road on my circuit that takes me up and down the beach. The outbound part was into strong south westerly winds that whipped sand up and blasted it at my legs, I needed sunglasses to keep the wind and sand out of my eyes.

I recently came across a book that was written by English 50's & 60's runner Gordon Pirie.
It is long out of print but is available on the internet for free (legally). It is eye opening in that he was trying to promote correct running style for years and was saddened to see how the running shoe industry has made shoes that make that proper running style all but impossible. He blamed them for the millions of runners that end up injured each year.
One of his tips to correct running is to stand on your tip toes and lean forward, your leg will automatically move to a position to stop you falling and you will land on your forefoot. From there you just continue to keep moving and landing on the forefoot, but not, he emphasises on the toes.
The book is called "Running Fast and Injury Free' and I can recommend it.

Putting this into practice on my beach run it feels like you are gliding along, even running into strong wind it seems like you expend so little energy that I don't need to stop and catch my breath. What a contrast to when I had my runners on, they suck the energy out of you.
On the return journey the wind was blowing me along the beach but I actually preferred it when I had the headwind as I could control my stride length better.

I am far lighter on my feet now, running along the stony beach path is easier. A woman running the other way said "I must be a sucker for punishment", I just told her to tread lightly.
My feet no longer seem to get as much abrasive damage as they did a couple of months ago mainly due to the way my foot contacts the ground.

I missed my Friday run as I forgot some vital equipment, namely running shorts, I was also a bit pushed for time due to having a party on that evening.
So, Saturday morning, the sky is overcast but not cold, maybe 20C, good running weather.
I headed back to the beach but this time ran a longer course that took me north from the Jetty at Grange to Esplanade at Semaphore a distance of 6km, the beach is quieter up this way. I ran the entire distance without stopping then turned around and ran back.
When I set off I didn't feel that good, breakfast was only an hour earlier, and my tendons ached a bit from standing up all yesterday evening.
By the time I got back to Grange, I felt almost like I could go at racing speed. My legs and body are really responding well to shoeless running. If I ever buy any kind of running shoe again it must only be a lightweight racer with minimal padding. The only thing is that when you go into a sports store these days all you will find his heavily padded runners as people believe all the hype about the shock absorbing capability. Lets hope the enlightenment spreads.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Weekly Km

Distance 24.5km [total: minimalist 44km: Barefoot 124km]

A little late in posting an update due to a lack of time.
I had two longer runs during the week and a shorter run of 4km on the beach on Monday.
The Thursday run was about 8km again along the beach during the evening.
It was a good run but the calves were a bit tight by the end of the beach section which just shows that it will take a while to get to full strength in both tendons and muscles.
On the Friday it was the longer run of the week from the city to home, the 12.5km distance.
Once again I used the VFF's for the city section as the place is littered with glass fragments.
I wasn't aware of any blisters this time in the VFF's by the time I got to take them off.
I was aware this time that my feet felt much more sensitive to the road surface. Maybe I was still recovering from the previous day but I didn't feel as fluid and I had a few pains around the ankle.
When I moved onto a rougher bitumen surface I had to take much smaller steps as my feet felt quite sore. I ran along the concrete gutter along the road as that was gentler on the feet.
In surveying the damage at the end of the run I did have a cut on the left foot, I wasn't aware of what had caused it but it was a bit sore. I covered it in iodine solution and now it seems to be on its way to healing.
I gave the calves a massage during the evening as they were tight, it did the trick and they felt much better after.
I postponed the Saturday run to let the legs and feet recover.
I shall venture out again on Monday for a short easy run.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

The new day

Distance 7km [total: minimalist 40km: Barefoot 103.5km]

After a early night and a good sleep the feet have basically recovered, not 100% but maybe 80%.
The funny thing is I actually want to go out for a run, not like before when I was so exhausted from the long run the previous day I would usually want a rest.

It did take a bit of getting going once I got to the beach but after 1km I was back into a good stride and enjoying the cool water on the shoreline.

I covered 7km today with the feet feeling a bit sore by the end.
I can now give them a rest for a couple of days.

I shall have to consider how I run back on subsequent weeks, depending on the temperature it may not be practical to run barefoot because the road temperature may be too high.
I shall have to set a cut off point of say 28C for a max daytime temperature beyond which I keep the Vibrams on.
I am a bit concerned about the blister on the toe caused by the VFF's, that is the second time I have rubbed one up wearing shoes.
Maybe the great advocate of totally barefoot running Barefoot Ken Bob is correct in saying that any kind of shoes modifies your running to the detriment.
I am coming down more on this side after my 2+ months of experimenting.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Barefoot 8.5km

Distance 12.5km [total: minimalist 40km: Barefoot 96.5km]

Today was the day I planned to try a longer distance barefoot run.
It was perfect running weather, bright, sunny and about 23C.
After a full day at work and an early start to the day it can sometimes be quite tiring to then run about 12.5km home.

At just after 4pm I donned the Vibram FF so I could run through the city centre without attracting too much attention. There area also too many hazards in the city centre, plenty of glass and other sharp debris.
Last time I covered a longer distance in the VFF's I got some quite bad blisters due to the feet rubbing inside the shoes. This time I put some anti blister powder in to counter this.

I ran the 2km to the river then another 2km to take me past the South Road underpass.
At about half that distance I was aware of by right big toe rubbing inside the shoes so I took them off ad added a little more powder. By 4km I was sure It had given me a blister so the shoes came off and put in the backpack.
The path along the river is good quality bitumen mostly but in some places where it is older it gets a bit rough.

I had to adjust my running after taking the shoes off then settled back to an even pace, I soon began to forget I was running without shoes.
I did occasionally step on a sharp stone but nothing that caused any problem.
After about 5km my feet were feeling a bit tender and were starting to get a bit tired.

By 8km the spring had gone from my step and I couldn't land to heavily on the forefoot as it was getting more sensitive to the abrasive surface.
I ran along the road gutter when the road surface became the stone chip in tar finish as that is really hard on the feet.
I walked the last 200m and it felt good to get back. The feet were tired, sore and dirty.
I thought I'd take a photo of what 10km's does to the bottom of the feet. As you can see only one small blister on the right toe but even that was caused by the shoes.

I think a nights rest will help the recovery and we will see if I am up for a 7km run along the beach tomorrow. At the moment I don't feel that much up to it but tomorrow is a new day.

The feet look a lot better after being cleaned up, no cuts or punctures which is good.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Breezy Day

Distance 8km [total: minimalist 36km: Barefoot 88km]

My usual Friday run was abandoned as the weather deteriorated during the afternoon from a warm 32C day into a heavy rain with gusty winds.
It was a good excuse for a rest, it would probably do me good.

Saturday morning and the high winds and intermittent rain were still with us. This weather can be quite exhilarating to run in as well as a good test of mental resolve.
I got to the beach by 8am and the wind was blowing 35km/h from the north, it wasn't particularly cold as the north of the country will be warmer.

With the wind pushing me on the outbound leg it was hard to slow down to a regular pace. There were very few people out on the beach today as the waves crashed in and created big clouds of foam on the beach.
It was great running in and out of the water whenever I wanted to without panicking about getting shoes wet.

I turned around at the river then headed back straight into the wind. Here is the strange thing, I could run into it and I didn't feel that tired. With no dead weights on my feet it gave me more energy or at least didn't sap my energy to the same extent.
Usually if I am running into the wind I find myself stopping to catch my breath but this time I was fine.

I have taken a couple of photos of my new very comfortable Terra Plana shoes, one pair are the Aqua trainer that I can wear at the gym without attracting the attention of the gym police, the other pair are Oaks which are a more casual pair of shoes.
The only problem I have so far is that my jeans are now too long and have to be turned up and also the feeling of having to look up to people.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sandy 8km

Distance 8km [total: minimalist 36km: Barefoot 80km]

Thursday evening and I was down at the beach after work at about 6pm.
The temperature was a pleasant 26C, the tide was out leaving a good amount of beach to run on.
I gave my calves a good workout, they felt pretty tight by the time I had run the 3.5km to the river exit.
The tendons at the back and around the ankle were also worked hard on the way back when I changed surfaces from hard wet sand to soft dry sand.
The more km's I can get under my belt the more the strength the lower leg should gain.
I am looking forward to reading beginning of the blog in 6 months time so I can get a picture of progress.

On my way back, running carefully down the gravel beach path, I passed a runner going in the other direction and got my first wisecrack, the not very original "You should try shoes".
I need to have a quick come back line such as "I've got them on, they are a new lightweight model".
My feet feel a little tender after tonight run but I'm sure they will be ok by tomorrow. They are starting to thicken up on the forefoot but I still need to take care to run correctly and relax, sometimes harder done than said.

My new Terra Plana shoes arrived last week and I have been wearing them at work during the week.
One thing I have noticed immediately is that I feel smaller.
As everyone else has heels of some kind I feel like I am looking up to everyone.
Another thing is that they are one of the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn.
In my other shoes, if I stand up for an hour my back stars to ache and I need to sit down, yesterday I stood up for 4 hours watching a band and not once did my back ache.

It almost feels like a new discovery, which it is for me, shoes with heels are not good for your back, plain and simple.
What I don't understand is why has there not been more of a backlash against heeled shoes that cause weaker backs and future problems.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Welcome Rain

Distance 8km [total: minimalist 36km: Barefoot 72km]

Saturday morning I was greeted by grey sky and fine rain and much cooler weather than what we have been experiencing over the last couple of weeks.

I was feeling not the best after a late night and a few drinks in the city with work colleagues.
The best way of shaking a hangover off is fresh air and the best place for that is at the beach.
It was a great change to be driving to the beach with the cars windscreen wipers going.
It was good to feel the difference when your feet hit the floor and it is wet instead of dry and hot.
There was still warmth in the pavement despite the rain.
I covered about 8km today in light rain and low cloud, the sea was calm and far fewer people out on the beach.
I ran across the stony path alongside the beach towards the end before hitting the road for 500m. I was still a bit hesitant about running across the sharp stones but I was faster than the previous week.
So far I think I am covering about 20km/week barefoot which I am amazed at considering 4 months ago I had not even started.
I shall stay around this level for the next few months before going any further.
Thirty years of running in shoes that weaken your feet are not reversed in 3 months.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Heat is on!

Distance 7km [total: minimalist 36km: Barefoot 64km]

The weather warnings today were at level 'catastrophic' with temperatures of 43C and strong winds from the north, ideal conditions for a run!
I used to call the wind 'The Hairdryer' as if you have wet hair it would be completely dry in about 5 minutes.
I did find out that this northerly wind does have a name, it is called The Brickfielder, it usually heralds a change on the way.
If it rains it will coat the cars in a mud and grime that has been picked up from the deserts and fields north of the city.

I ran about 7km, it was tough on the return leg as I had to run directly into that Brickfielder wind.
I would say that it was a little cooler at the beach, maybe 39C.
Because the humidity is so low you use a large amount of water during a run.
You sweat but it dries almost instantly in the wind
I mainly drink water through the day and had a 600ml bottle before the run.
Still by the end the throat feels dry and constricted.
I had a second 600ml bottle in the car for when I got back, nothing can quench your thirst like water, not Coke, Juice or beer.
I felt that running barefoot actually helped in the heat as I ran with less weight to carry and I could run in the water whenever I needed to.
I'll keep on drinking water all through the evening to rehydrate, I also had a glass of GlucEvol when I got back to get a bit of energy back into the muscles.

Hopefully the next run will be a bit cooler.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Saturday Morning

Distance 8km [total: minimalist 36km: Barefoot 57km]

Usually on a Saturday, by time I get out of the door to go for a run it can be from 10.30am onwards, but with this bout of hot weather it was prudent to make the effort to get out earlier.
I got down to the beach at 8am and already parking was scarce, the beach can get pretty crowded from first light.
The temperature was already 27C and heading up, its high for the day was about 39C.

I ran down the beach, a distance of about 3km, the turnaround point was the river then back for 4km and 1km on the road back to the car.

After running without shoes now for about 2 months I don't think I want to go back to put my feet in the prison of running shoes.
In the past it is not something I have spent much time considering, I just had not made the connection between all the injuries and the shoes.

My calves are feeling much stronger these days and I am looking forward to trying a bit of speed work over Christmas.

On the last kilometre I chose to run down a path alongside the beach, this path is stony gravel, it was an interesting test.
I ran with short strides fairly gingerly, the stones do press into your feet but not too badly.
Half the job is mental, it's the fear of stepping on sharp stones that makes it more likely that you will step wrong.
It was like the fear I had when I first took my shoes off to run, mainly because I hadn't done it before so had no idea what to expect. I had visions of Achilles tendons snapping, it didn't happen.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

At the beach

Distance 7km [total: minimalist 36km: Barefoot 49km]

Another hot day, I will be getting used to them soon.
I headed down to the beach where there is a little relief provided by a light sea breeze.
I ran 7km with a few rests in between to catch my breath.
I was concentrating on my form.
The last time I was out I got some shin tightness as my stride was too wide, it eased off after I adjusted.
This time I set off with a shortened stride and as fast a leg speed as I could manage. I have read that the perfect cadence is 180 (total for both legs)per minute. I think I must have been going quite a bit faster than that as I got tired after 1km.
I concentrated on a short stride and higher knee lift.
Wow it really worked my calves, at one point I almost got cramp so walked for a short distance to recover.
The road felt hot on that 1km stretch even trying to move the legs faster so the feet spent more time off the ground.
I got back in one piece, feet were a bit worn looking but they will recover.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Hot Week

Distance 4km [total: minimalist 36km: Barefoot 42km]

Just thought I'd post an image of the weather forecast for the week.
This is our spring weather and already it getting up into the steaming region.
Running in this temperature can get very hazardous.

I did about 4km at the beach this evening, the sand was soft and so gave my ankles a good workout.
I still find that it takes me a while to get into the right style and that I get some lower leg tightness at the front of the left leg.
I think it is because I am trying to consciously get my feet to land in a certain way rather than let them work it out on their own, does that make sense?

If the Friday forecast is correct I will postpone the Friday run and go on the bike instead.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Warm start

Distance 7km [total: minimalist 36km: Barefoot 38km]

I tried some special blister plasters out on my foot last night, they did quite a good job of cushioning the blister so I could walk around quite easily.

Normally after a day when I have run home I take it easy the next day as I'm still a bit worn out, this time though, no problem.
It was a warm day today, even at 8.30am the temperature was 26C, it would be going up to 33C today.
I headed to the beach and ran 7km barefoot, I hardly felt the blisters even though the plaster came off in the water and sand.
I can really feel the stretch in my Achilles when I hit soft patches of sand, this is good as I was always nervous when I first tried no shoes as the tendon would complain noticeably.
I think I was the only one running without shoes today except for the surf life savers that were doing barefoot sprint drills up near their club. That was quite interesting watching that.
I shall have to do some sprinting in a couple of months once I have got more barefoot miles in my legs.
Here is photo of Henley Beach jetty where I do much of my running.


Friday, November 6, 2009

Home run

Distance 12.5km [total: minimalist 36km: Barefoot 31km]

Friday is the day I catch the bus into work the make my way back home on foot.
I packed my VFF's in my backpack and they stay there most of the day as I am not allowed to wear them at work.
I set off for my run at 4pm, weather was perfect, bright sunny, about 27C.

Last week I wore my Asics to run through the city (about 2km) to the river, then changed into the VFF's. I then ran about 8km before walking as my Achilles was a bit tender.
This time I ran the entire distance (12.5km)with short breaks for a drink along the way.
I did get a bit of shin tightness at first caused by not being relaxed in my running style, after about 4km the everything was fine.
About halfway I could feel the underside of my foot getting a little warm from rubbing on the shoes, would this be a blister or not.
I tried to land a bit more neutral and not push off as much with the toes.
I did have a blister on the ball of the right foot when I got back, not a really bad one but a blister non the less.
Next time I must remember to bring some talc to dust in my shoes to soak up any sweat and stop the friction.

I remember many years ago while doing a cross country race with spikes, I made the mistake of wearing no socks and putting some Vaseline on my toes with the idea that it would stop friction. Big mistake.
What happened was that the shoes had a great grip on the ground but my feet slid around inside the shoe and by the end I had a blister about 4 cm across.
To top that I had to run another race the next day. Not very pleasant. I think it would have been better if I had used talc.

Other than that the legs, knees and back feel good.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

They got me again

Distance 4km [total: minimalist 23.5km: Barefoot 31km]

Well, yet again the gym police were buzzing all over me.
What misdemeanour's had I carried out this time.
Well, last time you will remember they said the VFF's were a no no in the 'gym', they could be dangerous, maybe they frighten people.
Ok, so I don't wear them now.
This time I work my Asics in, I went to the cardio area, took the shoes and socks off and dared running a couple of km on the running machine.
The intention was, as soon as I had finished to put the shoes back on and go and do a workout.
Soon the sirens were sounding and lights flashing, a foot had been spotted, this cry for freedom must be suppressed as soon as possible.

I did explain that I get shin and knee pain when I run in shoes, all to no avail.
Maybe the gym police are all get kickbacks from the shoes companies, while pretending the rule is for my own safety, can't trust those feet, might fall over.

After a brief workout I went for a run along the beach to cheer myself up, I wonder how long it will be before there is a beach police that bans barefoot people on the beach in case they hurt their feet on a stone or a shell.
After all I might sue the council responsible for not having sifted soft sand.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Distance 0km [total: minimalist 23.5km: Barefoot 27km]

Here is the information on the sort of temperatures to expect on various running surfaces on a warm day.
Much to my surprise, the surface which I expected to be the hottest wasn't.
With an ambient temperature of 37C when the measurements were taken I found the average temperatures to be in the following order.
Bitumen road was 41.9C
Concrete pavement 44.0C
Brick paving 48.6C
Bitumen path Black 49.3C

The theory I have on why the brick paving is hotter than the bitumen is that bitumen is a thin layer that distributes heat more evenly and quickly.
The brick retains the heat and can only dissipate it into the air above, the bricks are much thicker than bitumen.

So, if you are running barefoot in warmer weather stay on the bitumen rather than brick pavements.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Taking temperatures

Distance 3km [total: minimalist 23.5km: Barefoot 27km]

In yet another hot day when the temperature peaked at about 37C I decided to go out at lunch time to measure the temperatures of the surfaces that I would expect to encounter during running without shoes.

I used a professional digital temperature meter with thermocouple probe but I believe that the recorded temperatures would be slightly lower that actual due to not having full ground contact as the feet would.

The ambient temp at the time of measurement was 35C. The surfaces I measured were bitumen, concrete paving and brick. I was actually surprised which surface was the hottest.
I will post the figures tomorrow once I have done some analysis.

I had a short 3km run today along the beach and road, by the time I got to the beach the temperature had halved from its peak, it was now 18C and blustery as the change came through.
The pavements retained their warmth though and that was actually quite welcome.
I'm enjoying the extra senses that the feet bring of texture and temperature, all these are masked when wearing shoes.
My feet have repaired themselves from the hot bricks pavements of yesterday, the padding on the heels is getting thicker I have noticed.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Bindii Hazard

Distance 0km [total: minimalist 23.5km: Barefoot 24km]

Just had a walk down to the local shops, shoeless to get the feet accustomed to the hotter surfaces.
There was a nice grass verge alongside so as the feet were getting a bit hot I walked along there as an alternative, it was cool and refreshing until I stood on a patch of Bindii.
These are small weeds that grow in the winter amongst the grass, they flower and seed in the spring/summer. The seeds are small and sharply barbed.
I must have had about 50 of the things in my foot, I hopped around on the hot pavement and slowly pulled them all out, ouch.
You can see some of the seeds from Bindii weeds below, not nice customers

I don't know if thicker pads on the feet would help, maybe with some but not others.
I'm assuming that the bane of cyclists the "Three cornered jack" is of the same family. They are like natures equivalent of the police road spikes.
Which ever way they land they always have a sharp spike pointing upwards, standing on one would not be nice.
Here is a pic of my poor feet after a 1km walk on the pavements during this warm weather, maybe the VFF's might bes the best option after all.



Distance 0km [total: minimalist 23.5km: Barefoot 24km]

Just thought I'd post a photo of my favourite (and only) VFF's.
I'm sure I'm going to add more to the collection in the future.
I still think back to how scary it was to wear them the first time, but as with all things, confidence is the trick.
I cycled to the gym this morning in them and did a workout too, including lunges.
Interestingly the first time I tried lunges (with 30kg weight) I found it hard balancing as my feet were not strong enough to keep me steady.
In just three weeks that has changes, the lunges were no problem in fact I could balance on my toe tips for the front leg.

I have been keeping up the debate about whether to call yourself a barefoot runner if you wear shoes like this.
There are practicalities that need to be addressed with being completely barefoot.
One such is that here in Adelaide we are heading into the hot period of the year and the pavements get up to quite high temperatures under the sun.
From my 30 minute walk during the week when I blistered my feet from the heat I wondered if the feet can toughen up to walk on hot surfaces.
I need to do some temperature measurements to get some hard data on how hot the pavements get.
This will vary depending upon what the pavement is made from, we have Bitumen, Brick and Concrete.
At a guess I would think that the temperatures would follow in the same order from hottest to coolest.
I'll try to get some figures and post during the week.


Saturday, October 31, 2009


Distance 0km [total: minimalist 23.5km: Barefoot 24km]

The feet seem to have amazing powers of recuperation.
Sore and tired yesterday and today ready for another day of walking around.
I resisted the temptation to run again as my tendons gave me little twinges, not the sort that signals tendonitis but more of muscles that haven't been used in a long time.

I did a few barefoot walking laps around the local rugby oval nice and gentle, no straining.

I returned my Vivo Barefoot Aqua shoes earlier in the week as I'd ordered a size too small. I find all these sizes in different countries very confusing.
In my old Asics runners I would always buy a US 10 size, which according to the charts translates to a UK 9, that is what I ordered.
I did come across a website that advised ordering a size bigger than your accustomed size.
As soon as I get a refund I'll order the next size up.
I hope I can get them before Christmas.


Friday, October 30, 2009

Poor tired feet

Distance 12.5km [total: minimalist 23.5km: Barefoot 24km]

Luckily the afternoon turned out to be cooler than what was forecast.
A slight cool change came in and took the temperature down from 33C to 27C which was much better.
I was going to cover 12.5km today in my Vibrams, I had an idea that I wasn't going to push it too hard and that I would walk any time I felt any pain.

I walked from work to the River Torrens liner park which follows the river from the city to the sea.
I had my Asics on for the walk through the city then changed out of them and into the Vibrams when I got onto the river.

Each time I run in the flat shoes it takes about 10 minutes getting used to stride on the surface. The surface for most of the way is smooth bitumen undulating around the river.
I ran for about 8km before going back to a walk. My Achilles was starting to tire so walking took the pressure off it.
Walking though meant a longer time on my feet and more pressure on my forefoot which was starting to ache after 10km.

In the last km of my run section I was kept company by a cyclist who wanted to know more about the shoes. I described the problems I got when wearing corrective shoes and how I was trying to strengthen my feet.
It seems the problems I described were the very same ones that he had, so it looks like another person is about to take the plunge.

By the time I got back my feet were a bit tender but not any more than they would have been if I'd have worn my Asics the entire way. Running the distance is actually easier than walking purely because of the shorter length of time on foot.
I think my feet deserve a golf ball massage for the rest of the evening.
I think I may have a rest now from running for a few days just to allow some recovery time.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Foot burn

Distance 5km [total: minimalist 11km: Barefoot 24km]

One of those hot spring days hit Adelaide today and by the sound of it we have more of the same for the next few days.
It hit 33C (91.5F) today.

I usually go for a walk at lunch time around the south Parklands which are just around the corner from where I work.
To make it a bit more interesting I thought, shall I try it barefoot. I had a pair of light shoes on to get me across the road then took them off as I hit the bitumen pathways. They felt pretty hot under the afternoon sun.

I managed to walk about 1km before the heat and burning in my feet got too much, I found some nice cool grass that helped but by now I think my feet had been pushed a little too far.
I put the shoes back on and made my way back to work with burned soles.
By the end of the afternoon it felt a bit better, just a couple of small blisters.
I think maybe the lesson learned is not to run barefoot in hot weather and on dark surfaces.
As an aside. Yesterday, while at the gym, in an exercise in avoiding the gym police when it comes to footwear or my VFF's which they won't allow, I put my runners on loosely, checked around and when the coast was clear took them off and ran on the running machine in just socks.
Umm not a good idea I found. The foot must slip around in the sock while the sock doesn't move much against the rubber belt, this all rubbed up blisters again ouch!
Ok forget the running machine from now on.

After work headed down to the beach, it was still 32C at 5.30pm, lots of people down here as well, all escaping the heat.
I ran about 5km, got a bit of muscle tightness in left leg, probably due to running style adjustment to cope with blisters. It cleared up by the end by just adding a bit more bending to the knees.

These are some of the best runs I have had in ages, no serious pains at all.
I can't believe how many years I have put up with this with the wrong shoes and orthotics that weaken the feet.

Four weeks ago I tried an exercise where I place a golf ball on the floor and try to pick it up with the toes on both the right and left feet.
I could just about manage it with the right but not with the left.
Four weeks later and it is no problem with either foot, the right still stronger than the left though.
It is a great massage tool for the underside of the feet as well.

Tomorrow I attempt the 14km run/walk home from work in the VFF's, it's going to be another hot 33C.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Close call

Distance 5km [total: minimalist 11km: Barefoot 19km]

After a day stuck behind the desk it was good to get back home, get the work shoes off and back to feet on the ground.
It was a sunny evening so went for a shoeless run along the beach.
The tide was way out and there was one of the strong southerly winds blowing up the beach, the ones that are common at this time of year in Adelaide.

Running into it is hard work and with the tide right out there were many banks of exposed ground shells.
My feet are getting better at running over the sharp pieces but after about 4km they do tend to get a bit sore so running in the water cools them off.
I managed about 5km today, didn't want to push too quickly into running barefoot so will keep the distances short.

On the way back, running along the road, even got a cheer a runner going in the opposite direction shout "go on barefoot, you can do it".
I was following a white line down the road as the paint made the road slightly less rough.
100m from the end I almost came unstuck, I glanced broken glass just ahead luckily jumped the right way, if I'd gone the other way I would have been in a glass minefield. The road was littered with broken glass, probably done by the local youth with brains like amoebas.

Feet felt sore by the time I got back, I had a thorough check to make sure I had no glass embedded in the feet, seems ok.
I cleaned them up and put antiseptic cream on all the small abrasions, feel fine now.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Distance 6km [total: minimalist 11km: Barefoot 14km]

Saturday morning, the sun is out it's 8.30am and 21 degrees centigrade.
I headed the short distance down to the beach in the car (ok I know it is bad)

The tide was quite high but receding which left a few meters of nice firm sand to run on.
This was another barefoot run and I was planning just to do 3-4km again but something happened.
Its like a metamorphosis, I seemed to be running as well if not better than when I had shoes on. Gone are the hesitant small footsteps I took about 3 weeks ago, unsure if I was going to hurt my feet on the sand.
I am actually running normally and faster and its great just to wander off into the water any time I want rather than avoiding it like I used to when I wore shoes.

When I ran with my Asics 2140's along with the orthotics prescribed by the podiatrist I mentioned before about the shin pains, as well as those I also got pains in the hip area, like something was out of place.
I actually think the orthotics were modifying my running style and causing me problems rather than solving them.

I am trying to be objective about all this and not get swept in in some kind of evangelistic zeal.
Obviously the drawbacks of barefoot running is that the hard surfaces tend to wear away at your feet especially the concrete footpaths that are the norm around here.
I think that the process of toughening the feet up takes longer than the muscle adaptation in the feet.

Interestingly, on my run, which I extended out to 6km I think it was a 50/50 split between barefoot and shod runners.
I have not had any new blisters since I first ran on the beach, that one is now healing up.
At the moment it feels like I have had a vigorous foot scrub.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Beach run

Distance 4km [total: minimalist 11km: Barefoot 8km]

Tuesday after work and the temperature was a nice warm 25C.
It was very tempting to go for a run along the beach and that is what I did.
A short barefoot run of 4km with the last 800m on the concrete and brick.
The feet were good this time, no blisters, must be getting a bit tougher.

I did notice the other day while walking around barefoot that I had a clicking somewhere around the ankle on the left leg.
It always makes me a bit nervous when I can't work out where or what is causing the sound.
I'm assuming it is because the lower leg and feet are still in the early stages of gaining more strength.
I'll keep monitoring it to see if it persists or fades away over the next few weeks.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Mount Lofty, Sunday

Distance 7km [total minimalist 11km: Barefoot 4km]

A beautiful day today, bright and sunny and going up to 20C, very inspiring for a run.
A bit of a spur of the moment decision was that I should head out to Waterfall Gully to walk (or run) up the trail to Mount Lofty that looks out over Adelaide.

It's about a 30 minute drive from where I live and Sunday morning at just after 9am the roads were still fairly quiet.

Waterfall Gully is a popular destination for the Sunday walkers. The climb to the top is about 3.5km long and goes from a start height of 275m (916ft) up to 700m (2333ft)so it is quite a climb.

Managed to secure a car park close to the start.
The closer I got the more I felt like I wanted to try to run it up as much as I could manage. I put on the VFF's and walked up to the cafe at the bottom.
I started running up the steps into the park above the waterfall. The shoes felt great, so light.
The route starts steep then gives you some breathing space of about 100m before starting up steeply again for 200m.
Taking short steps helps when climbing the steep sections, the shoes have fantastic grip, you never feel that you will turn an ankle on rough ground.
Once over the second steep part there is relief when it flattens out and drops away into a small valley before climbing out and up the hill.

You get only one more short distance to recover from the climb before you start on the hardest part which would be about 1km of steep climbing.
As it was about 5 years ago since I last ran around here my fitness is way off so I was reduced to a walk by halfway up.
The shoes got plenty of attention from the stream of people walking up and down the mountain, I think they were pretty unique that day.

I reached the top in about 40 minutes about 8 minutes slower than my better climbs.
The view from the top is well worth it.
I replenished some lost energy with a drink of GlucEvol then headed back down along an alternate quieter trail.
You feel far more connected to the ground with the Vff's, they are much quieter than running shoes as well. I felt almost like I was floating along the trail as it skirted around the edge of the mountain.

I got down to the bottom with no aches or pains. The feet held up well, I didn't think they would at first, I thought maybe I was pushing the changeover too fast.
I'll rest up at the start of the new week.


More Bans!

Distance 0km [total minimalist 4km: Barefoot 4km]

Saturday went to the gym to do a bit of treadmill work and some leg strength on the machines as well as some more general training.

While leaving the gym I get gently pulled aside by one of the trainer and she looks at the VFF's and says "I don't think you can wear those in the gym, OH&S rules" What the hell is going one with these stupid people.

I should have asked for the test results to see how the standard soft topped trainers that are worn in gyms fare when a weight is dropped from a meter on their toe.
Somehow I don't think the results would be that glowing either.

Surely it my own responsibility if I hurt myself while wearing thin shoes, as opposed to say a wire snapping on a piece of gym equipment and it injuring me, in that case they gym would be at fault.

I wonder when I will get banned from the supermarket.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Distance 4km [total minimalist 4km: Barefoot 4km]

After searching about on the net to see if there was information on how to run correctly in unsupporting shoes or shoeless found plenty of tips, the best of which is that running on your toes is not the way to do it, especially after coming from a background of wearing shoes with a heel.

They way is to bend the knees more to make the heels lighter.
So, the amount of bending will depend on the surface you are running on, less bending for soft grass and quite a bit more for hard concrete.

I trialled this new knowledge last weekend and did another run along the beach with no shoes, a distance of about 4km, this was far easier, and it actually felt good to feel the cool sand beneath your feet.
I monitored the Achilles Tendons along the way and got no pain like the week previous. The only problem that did occur was a blister on the right big toe, umm.
It must be an unevenness in my running, more force on the right leg causing friction on the sand.
I guess these are what runners would call tuition fees.
The last part of the run was along a brick pathway, I ran along there with more bend in the legs and shorter strides and that was fine. The rough surface does act as a bit of a file and wears away at the skin on the forefoot.

Most animals walk around without any protection on their feet and think nothing of it, we are so far away from being natural that our feet can't cope with anything except nice cushioned floors. Isn't it strange.

The feet ache in places I have not ached in before, mainly around the ankles. Its the kind of ache a recognise from going to the gym, it's that good ache of muscles that have been exercised, I think I have just found a whole new set.

The weather during the was cold wet and blowy, typical spring weather in S.A. a good opportunity to take it easy and let the legs and feet recover.
Only exercise carried out was walking the VFF's about six laps of the rugby field near the house.

On the Wednesday did a few km on the treadmill, all in the cause of strengthening the lower legs.
The Vibram shoes are very comfortable and once you get over the fear of possible ridicule for the strange look they are great to walk around it. They do get a few heads turning in the supermarket but most of the time they go unnoticed as most people are not looking at the floor.

I have noticed that when I have to go back to wearing standard shoes I find them intensely irritation, heavy, inflexible just horrible.
I am going to spend more time and consideration when it comes to buying shoes the next time around.

Friday is casual day at work so I wear the VFF's while at my desk and walking around the office, with jeans on they are hardly noticeable except if someone sees them from a distance.
I then had one of the OHS people come up and say I shouldn't wear them, there had been complaints he said in a false sympathetic voice.
I just wondered what they thought I was going to drop on my foot, my keyboard, umm that computer mouse may cause some damage if it falls from a few meters.

Oh well, I have a reserve plan up my sleeve in the form of some of the Terra Plana Vivo Barefoot shoes that I am hoping are winging there way to my door.
They are disguised minimalist shoes that will fool even the stuffiest of bureaucratic dictators as long as I keep my mouth shut.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Distance 4km [Totals minimal 4km: barefoot 0]

Second week of trialling the VFF's.
Moving a bit quicker than the recommended slow break-in period, tried the shoes on the running machine at the gym.
Isn't it funny how when you ask people how to they would run in bare feet they just answer as if it is the simplest thing to do.
I actually think we all carry the memories of running without shoes from our childhood without realising that 30 or so years later our feet have forgotten how work correctly.

I started off by walking at a slow pace then increasing it as I warmed up, wow my calves began to burn. I increased my speed to a slow jog then faster.
Your feet land differently in these shoes but I was also forcing them to land differently by emphasising forefoot landing. This was probably a mistake.

It put a strain on the Achilles Tendon as it was taking all the weight as I avoided letting my heel touch the ground, believing that running on the toes/forefoot was the right method.
I stopped after a couple of km.
I realised that I was going to have to learn how to run again, like a beginner.

After a couple of days rest made the decision to take the VFF's to the beach for a 4km run.
Again, ran with the same toes/forefoot style and after 2km the Achilles was complaining once again.
Had a brief walk to recover then set off again with the soreness coming back to the tendon.
I left the beach frustrated and confused about what the problem was.

The next few days I spent limping around at work with a tender tendon, there is nothing worse than tendon pain, even as you try to force yourself into walking as normally as possible the pain reigns you back in.

Back to resting for a few days along with the strengthening exercises for the tendon. That worked very well and three days later the pain was gone.


New Beginning

Having been a runner for many years, at least 30, I have found that what was meant to be a simple sport or exercise, as some prefer to call it, that complexity had began to spoil it.

What do I mean by complexity, well, at one time I would just pull on some cheap running shoes and bolt out of the door.
There was not a huge array of choices in running shoes back then and I wouldn't pay much for shoes as money was short, running was a cheap pass-time and it got you into the outdoors and fresh air.

As in all endeavours, as you progress through and improve you want to improve more and so spend more on better shoes that will help you run with more comfort and faster.
Eventually you hit your peak then start to slow down due to injuries that stop you training and the consistency goes out of the window.
As I spent more on running shoes to stop injuries it seemed that the more injuries I got.

I came down with a knee injury back in 1999 that took may months of treatment to clear up. It was during this treatment that is was suggested that, as I was a pronator that I required orthotics and a stabilised running shoe, the Brooks Beast was the suggested shoe.
The Beasts cost about $250 at the time and the orthotics cost $400, so for something that was supposed to be a non expensive sport it was sure changing.

Well, did all this help you may ask, well, frankly no it didn't.
I can see why the Beasts got their name, they are a beast of a shoe. Along with the orthotics they took the pleasure out of running, I clomped along with these inflexible cushioned lumps on the bottom of my feet and the orthotics pushed up against my arches to 'support' them.

I got shin pains and all the weight on my feet tired me more quickly.
Then I started developing Achilles Tendon pains that I couldn't shift. They became so tender I could hardly touch them.

Back to the Podiatrist.

Umm, he says, well, I did tell you running was bad for you, this is a common response from most of the doctors I've seen when looking for help on an injury, if you didn't run then you wouldn't get injured.
Umm maybe obesity is a better alternative!
He sugested we ease the pressure on the Achilles by placing even more foam padding under the heel ro raise it up.
This sort of worked but made me feel very unstable, like running in platform shoes. I think I turned my ankle at least once during this elevated time and I pulled a calf muscle that took weeks to heal up.

It was not long after this that I began developing the notion that maybe, just maybe, doctors are not the experts they think they are.
While searching for Achilles Tendonitis cures I came across an interesting article from Sweden that said you had to strengthen the Calf and the ankles to to stop Tendonitis.
They had some exercises that you could do, I tried them and they worked.

The exercise was simple excentric strenthening of the calf. Find a step and balance on your toes on the edge, heel hanging over. On your good leg lift yourself onto the tips of toes, transfer the weight over to the other leg then gradually lower yourself.
Be careful with this as you will find that walking is near impossible a couple of days later.
If you do this for a month the tendoitis will be gone. I tried it and it was.

I threw out the foam pads from the shoes and the shoes themselves in favour of some lighter more flexible shoes, still with pronation control though, Asics 2140 (0r whatever they were back then).

That was about about 5 years ago.
I was still running with the orthotics (and getting reminder notices to go in for a checkup) and the Gel 2140's but I was still getting shin pains (numbness), pulling muscles. Maybe it was just old age, maybe the doctors are right in that you have to give it up over 40.

Jump forward to September of this year. I get an email from a friend of mine showing a pair of strange shoes with positions for all the toes. I just had to get a pair.

So, this is basically going to be a diary of a change in direction of my running, is it what I have been looking for all these years?
We never question the products that are sold to us or the doctors that give us advice as we assume that they are experts that know what they are talking about.
But why would you believe your doctor if he/she was not a runner? what credibility could they have.

The first week of wearning the Vibram shoes it felt like the underside of my feet had been beaten with a bat, this was the awakening of muscles that had lain dormant, not out of choice but by using devices that were purported to correct running styles and lead to less injuries.

I wore them as directed, around the house for a few hours, but I must admit, I did get a bit over enthusiastis and took them onto the treadmill at the gym.
My calves ached like nothing I have had for years, they were working harder, doing the job they were supposed to do before they were put out of action by elevated heels.
I'll continue later to fill in three weeks that have followed.