Archive for June 2010

Hangin’ with Barefoot Ken Bob, the Grandfather of Shoeless Running

June 14, 2010

Running with Ken Bob Saxton was an eye-opener. I’d been thinking I had this stuff all figured out, but with his 1000s of miles of barefoot experience and ever thoughtful approach, BKB gave me a new perspective.  As a consequence, after a couple early evening hours up in Gloucester last week, I am trying a complete reset on my running technique.

Ken has run 76 marathons, 75 of them barefoot. His first barefoot marathon was in 1997, when he started his website, still the premier on-line resource for barefoot runners. In 2004, he ran one in each month plus an extra in April–his first Boston. Currently, he is about halfway thru the Summer 2010 Tour during which he running clinics in thirty locales from California to Camden, ME.

BKB doesn’t think of himself a hippie, though he gives the impression. He just lost his VW Bug for a Jetta, but features a flowing gray beard and pony tail. The clinic began with Ken Bob’s (slightly longwinded) stream of consciousness (more…)


Stepping out on the Boardwalk

June 8, 2010

I am spending a few days at a conference in Orlando and this morning set out from the Dolphin Hotel for a run. The boardwalk turns out to be a good test of one’s stride.

I wore my VFF Bikilas, mostly because I feel a little self-conscious striding through the lobby of a fancy hotel in bare feet, especially with a lot of customers and partners about. Part of my run took me to the Boardwalk and the shoes came in handy as they are required there. I’m sure the concern is for splinters and it’s probably a legitimate one.

The boards on the walk are not all so tightly screwed down and they tend to clunk if you aren’t hitting lightly, so it was good practice to run as quietly as possible. It was towards the end of my run and I find that when I’m tired I get a little further back on my heels, so this exercise kept me on my toes, if you will. When I get back to Boston I’m planning/hoping to meet up with Barefoot Ken Bob, so will be glad to have my form in good order.

A touch of glass

June 4, 2010

Everybody’s first reaction to barefoot running is the concern about broken glass. I’ve argued before that there’s just not that much of it out there. Well, I’ll soften my position slightly after my last couple of runs on which I’ve seen stuff that could cut a foot.

Generally I run through suburban neighborhoods. I think I’ve literally never seen broken glass running in Lincoln which is rather rural. In Waltham, I’ve probably seen glass on one in four runs. Recently, though, I’ve upped my lunchtime mileage and  have been running on a road in Waltham where I’ve seen glass. I didn’t come near to stepping on any, but I am now extra cautious on that road.

The road in question is Lexington Street which is more of a road than I typically run on. It’s a two lane highway with a 35 or 40 mph speed limit and it runs through a mix of residences and strip malls. I’ve been paying some attention to similar roads, and I think they are worth extra caution. I guess people drop or throw bottles out of cars. And, unlike in a neighborhood where someone might clean up such a problem, there seems to be less of that on these types of roads.

If there’s something unappealing about barefoot running, it’s that it really does require one to look down more than I’d like. Often when I find myself distracted from what’s in front of me, I end up stepping on a little stone or something. My advice is: Know your road. If it’s at all glass prone, be especially careful.