Archive for the ‘Experience’ category

Barefoot running may not be the whole answer

July 5, 2011

Ok, here’s a little secret: My knees still bug me a little. Like many barefooters, I shed the shoes for health reasons, among with others. In my case there we no acute issues, but I did have the sense that my knees and hips could impede my running one day. I can unequivocally state that I don’t even think about the hips any more.  And, I’ve definitely improved on the knee front, but more, maybe, from shedding pounds than shoes. So, I’m broadening the discussion here to diet and general health, as that’s where my research and attention have been going of late…still doing 15 miles of barefoot running per week.

Sadly, casual running alone is no longer sufficient to keep my weight in check. I have difficulty not consuming large volumes of food, perhaps in part due to being active, and my metabolism ain’t burning the cals it did when I was a younger man. Most guys I know observe that the ol’ bod  significantly downshifts at 40. No doubt getting exercise is a net positive, but nonetheless, last December 31, I found myself weighing 228. For context, I’m 6’2″ and over 50 (uggh) and that weight was 30 lbs over my soccer/rugby, in-shape weight, 25 lbs over my unstated goal, (more…)


Barefoot running’s big questions after a year

May 17, 2011

I am now well past the one-year mark.  Perhaps my perspective on some of these questions will evolve over time but I suspect my views on the big questions about afoot running are pretty well settled in. So here we go:

Metro Boston Barefoot Crew (me on left)


For me it’s mostly about the fun, but also the ease on the knees and hips. Running feels better when you are barefoot.

Don’t your feet hurt?

Running on smooth concrete feels great. Great! Hitting a small pebble wrong can provide a quick ouch, but it only lasts for a few steps. A surface of one-inch chunks of gravel surface is doable. I’ve seen Barefoot Ken Bob glide across a really gnarly parking area, and I followed (more…)

Born to Run with Barefoot Rockstars…Naked

April 17, 2011

Barefoot Preston and the New England Barefoot Runners organized a tremendous  pre-Marathon fun run with Chris McDougall and other barefoot rockstars. Chris was in town with Born to Run: The Naked Tour, “a nationwide celebration of running’s bare essentials” and promo for the paperback version of the book that started me and most other barefoot runners.

The weather was less than stellar, but cool for running. We gathered at Marathon central on the steps of the Boston Public Library. Two days before the big event, the town, particularly the Back Bay, was buzzin’ with runnin’ fever.

Chris blew in with a bang, just before noon. At 6 foot 4ish with shaved pate and Hollywood smile, he’s not hard to spot.  He’s about the most positive, engaging guy in the world and quickly whipped the crowd into a barefoot froth. After a little time with reporters and cameras, he pulled everyone together and introduced a number of other notables from the community: Tony Post, the Vibram CEO. Michael Sandler, the amazing (more…)

Another question from another buddy

August 4, 2010

It’s been rewarding to have old friends get interested and try barefoot running based on my writings. Here’s and inquiry from Mike who I’ve not seen since high school. He’s a very active guy and was running a lot until he broke his leg a few months ago:

I am contemplating returning to running with VFF or Bikila after I get over this broken fibula. I’m not so keen on the idea of going completely barefoot however I do like the idea. (more…)

Barefoot Q&A for Rookie Murph the Pirate

August 3, 2010

My buddy Murph (who is a pirate) has been following the blog. He started running a little over a month ago. I think he told me he’d done a few miles already. Murph just came back to Barefoot Phil with a few questions. I thought I’d share my answers.

How quickly did you ramp up your running? I don’t want to rush it but I am anxious to add time/mileage to the routine.
It took me about two months before I could do 3 miles. It was hard to hold myself back as I’d been doing 3-5 a day for a number of years. I actually did 3 miles once by accident about a month into it and got a bloody toe, so I sound it back a bit.

Did you experience blisters due to ramping up too quickly or bad form? Ok perhaps I ramped up too quickly (I don’t think so) or perhaps I am using bad form (more likely) but I have blisters between the balls of my feet.  Blisters are on the front part of foot, between the two front pads or balls of feet. Situated between the 2nd and 3rd toe. I think I am pushing off instead of lifting and I need to stretch my toes before I land. Based on BKB blog it is likely form (step lighter, lift, lift, lift, relax, relax, relax)
I did get a few blisters. the bloody toe mentioned started as a blister. A couple other times I got blood blisters on the outside ball off my foot at least one of which I attributed to very hot streets. Although I’ve not had blisters in the location (more…)

Big barefoot questions…6 months in

July 20, 2010

I took a shot at this after three months of foray into the crazy world of barefoot running and it’s time for an update at the 6 month mark.

Cause it’s fun is what I said from the outset and I’m still there. That’s my bottom line. Some of my barefoot colleagues are about a barefoot lifestyle. Barefoot Jason just dumped his TV and started wearing kilts. For me it’s about running and being able to continue doing so as long as possible (although I admit being pleased with myself for not once putting on a shoe the last two weekends at the Cape…and without trying by the way; it just happened that way.)

Don’t your feet hurt?
Three months in, I had concluded that barefoot running, while delightful on smooth asphalt, did not lend itself to trail running and rougher roads. A clinic with Barefoot Ken Bob has lead me to reconsider to say the least. If you do it right you can run on most anything. Right means bending getting low and bending the knees more than I previously thought necessary when the road gets rough. He really amazed me and had a profound impact on the way I think about running.

Does it hurt? I may write a longer blog on this, but for now suffice it to say, I think you get so you perceive the sensation differently. You know that you are stepping on uneven surfaces but it doesn’t bother you so much. Here’s a secret: I find it (more…)

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…)