Monday, November 28, 2011

Candace Sutherland

Back 2010 I blogged about this girl who was running across Canada  (see June 3/2010 post) to raise money for SA, Heart & Stroke Foundation, Canadian Diabetes Association  and Cancer Society.   The Winnipeg Barefoot Runners are suckers for runners with spirit.  This girl has a ton of it so we couldn't help but cheer her on and cross our fingers that she would accomplish her goal.  Not only did she succeed but she recently travelled to  Parliament in Ottawa to be recognized for her efforts. Congratulations, Candace!

Click on the link....

My million-dollar cousin

Saturday, November 26, 2011

November 27th, Sunday morning run

Sunday morning, We are meeting at Unicity Tim Hortons for 7am. Again we will decide time and distance on who arrives and what every one would like to run. Have a great evening.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Keeping Your Feet Barefoot Running Ready Thru The Winter

As winter sets in, I have been asked quite frequently how I keep my feet ready for running in the spring. Further to this, there has been a lot of questions and conversation pertaining to this topic on what to do on the Barefoot Runners Society forum as well as on the Facebook group Minimalist & Barefoot Running. So I figured this would be a good topic to write about based on my personal experience as well as from the experiences of some other barefoot runners out there.

I do want to add a big disclaimer to this as my experiences are what worked for me and may not work for everybody out there, so take all that I say with a grain of salt or a missed tree root along your favorite trail running route. You must tread lightly or 'dip a toe' into all types of transitions into realms that you have not previously ventured.

We will start with my personal experiences over the winter last year which was the first one that I had this potential issue (or non-worry because at the time I really wasn't concerned about it).:

Living in Winnipeg, which can see temperatures consistently in the -20's (Celsius) and occasionally down to the -40's in January and February it really is not feasible to run barefoot all year (although I did get some mileage in including a 2 km jaunt at -29 degrees), especially if you want any distance runs completed. I also want to note that the most enjoyable winter barefoot run is the Virgin Snow Run, to clarify this means the first snow run of the year where the city has not had a chance to spread that nasty crap called ice melt all over the roads or sidewalks (can you say meat tenderizer, I knew you could). Therefore there definitely is opportunity to get some 'barefootin' in during the winter months to help keep that good layer of built up skin intact. But that being said, this is a quick list of things that I did to help that transition back to the blessed bare soles of the road in the spring.
  1. I took every opportunity I could to go barefoot at home or the office, or indoors in general. Every bit of flesh contact to floor counts, the less cushion the better. For example if you have concrete floors in your basement, or tile floor in your kitchen utilize it, go barefoot, even hardwood floor strutin counts. I always hear people mention that 'there floors are to cold to go barefoot' well I say to that, hmmm, opportunity to help condition your feet to cooler temps too, perfect.
  2. In running in minimalistic shoes outside help keep that conditioning up, by mixing up the terrain. You see a snow pile, run up it then down, and repeat. The more uneven surfaces the better, this will also help your stability and form as well. Don't just run on sidewalks and clear roads, run on trails and paths, make it fun. For that matter run across a frozen lake (see this post), it all counts. With a low drop shoe or mukluk with no foot padding you will still get some conditioning of your sole.
  3. Avoid overheating your feet by wearing to many layers of socks, sweat will turn your soles soft and promote peeling of your skin layer.
  4. If you do go barefoot running in the snow, know your limits and don't push it, frost bite will destroy the bottom of your foot and the built up layer that you had previously developed. It will also make them more sensitive to the cold and harm your tolerance level overall for sharp pointy stuff running. The old adage of 'Run Smart' definitely applies here. The development of frost bite and or frost nip will result in a major amount of time off for healing if it ever completely does and could seriously affect your overall barefooting experience.
  5. This one is a important one as well, go spend sometime with your favorite foot care provider (no I do not mean a podiatrist), if you are from Winnipeg or passing thru I recommend Leyla's Skin Care, she is fantastic and she holds no punches. She will tell you like it is and do what is required to fix your feet.
With the above items in mind, when I was able to completely remove the shoes again for the year, it took   me less than 2 weeks to be up to 17 miles and about a month after that I was up over 30 miles of barefoot running at a time. No issues, my feet were not sore, nor tender and my rebound after the run was literally hours.

Here are some other ideas that have been used with success by other barefoot runners, please note, I have not used any of these personally, but what ever floats your boat, I guess.

Gravel Bucket Training.

This was developed by Todd Ragsdale,
Interesting Concept and I can see this working.

Putting Sandpaper in Your Shoes

This one I am still a little, shall I say hesitant about. I cannot say I know of anyone actually trying this and what the results were but to me this is not a very good idea. Typically you are trying to build up your skin layer and subsequently toughen it up. The whole point of sandpaper is to either smooth a surface or remove/wear it down. Not sure how this will help you, also rubbing sandpaper over any surface creates friction which creates heat, I am personally not thinking this is a very good idea. I kind of do not like to burn my feet, but that is just my preference. But I am open to other thoughts and perspectives on this so if anyone out there has attempted this, please chime in, because I am a little curious about it.

Check This One Out

Really has nothing to do with foot conditioning but
 just because I thought it was kind of neat.

Hopefully this will give you some ideas to help keep those most valuable soles ready for next spring, but the most important thing to remember is keep thinking up and trying new things, you might just stumble onto the next great idea in this regard.

Happy running.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

First Below Zero Run of the Season

Been meaning to get this post out quicker but that's just the way the cookie crumbles sometimes, and after Gail's comment about my cold weather running I figured it was time to get er done so to speak. So here it is,

Finally got my first below zero run of the winter season a couple of Thursday night's ago with a base temperature of -0.2 Celsius with a wind chill dropping it to -5 degrees. It was good to get it out of the way, as there is always the hesitancy of how the bare feet will react to the cold the first time you go out. I have found that no matter what amount of preparation you do will take those thoughts away until you just get out there and start running. I think it also solidified some of the opinions of my fellow group runners at City Park, that I am indeed a little quirky as well. But it was kind of funny, it wasn't the bare feet that got their attention (I guess they are used to it now), but the fact that I was also still wearing shorts. What can I say, I don't like overheating. The following information is something that I cannot stress enough, the number one rule of running barefoot in the winter is to keep your core warm, as long as your core is warm you will stay warm so layering is very important.

It was a good run, I went out with Elaine and Harold for a chance to catch up on the events of the last few weeks. For I hadn't been out and also because I knew they would be running at a comfortable pace and I would not have to push myself to hard to keep up with the likes of the 'quicker' group. The plan was just to do a loop of the park, so a quick 5km run which suited me just fine as I have not ran in almost 2 weeks due to one thing or another.

As we headed out into the darkness, we all realized that none of us had a headlamp to light the way through the unlit park. Oh well, form and a light step would be very critical for this barefoot runner tonight, not that it isn't at any point.  As we waited to cross Portage to get over to the park, for some reason I was getting more odd looks than normal, yes I was bare from the bottom of the shorts down, is that really that strange, its only November in Winnipeg.

The concrete sidewalk was a little bit cool on my feet, but I knew once I got going that would change fairly quickly. We headed across the bridge and decided to stay on the roads to try to take advantage of the limited lighting that was available to help guide our way. This was a good choice, as when I looked over at the pathway as it hit the tree canopy vision would of definitely been a big problem. Traffic was limited so we were able to pretty much take up the entire road which was kind of nice. Not having to worry about traffic is quite the bonus when you really have to concentrate where you are planting your feet.

As predicted my feet warmed up quite quickly once we hit our stride, it was interesting my gloved hands were colder than the lower portion of my body, funny how that happens. It was a good run overall, it still amazes me how the body adapts to the situation at hand and provides you with what you require when you need it. No issues along the way, I did end up stepping on one fairly sharp rock that I did not see but that is the advantage of a light and quick step, I wasn't on it long enough to cause little more than a 'Whoops' reaction.

I did get some looks and finger pointing from traffic as we waited to go across Portage, but I guess that would be expected, yup it's the crazy guy from Winnipeg out again.

Also got out for 3 more runs that weekend before the snow started to fly, so I totalled about  25km of barefoot running in temps around the -6 degrees range. Unfortunately, I was not able to get out last week with the fresh snow, but I expect there will be lots of opportunities in the upcoming weeks.

Stay true to your running and enjoy every minute of it like it is your last..

On on


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Quieting the Naysayers - Zola Budd Kicking Some Barefoot A$$

One of my favorite barefoot runners of all time, a lot of people doubted her ability to run with the elite runners. This was her first televised race in the UK, how I would love to run like that.

Minimus Vs. Zems

These are too tight with a thicker sock now that the colder weather has arrived. Time to say goodbye to the Minimus until next spring. This caused a bit of panic as I didn't want to go back to the old running shoes. I did that last year and found I reverted back to my old stride when it came time to change shoes in the Spring.

These are the zems from last year. Not impressed that the bottoms wore through after a few outside runs. These were made to be used in the sand so I shouldn't have been surprised.

Here is the newer running version. It accomodated a thicker sock without any discomfort. The bottom has a durable rubber so I took them for a run....

..and HOLY GEEZ WOW these are great! The tops provide much more freedom and this led to an all together better running experience. I did not realize how confined my feet were until wearing these. Zems are not going to cut it when the weather gets even colder but for now I am having much fun discovering the freedom of movement again!

Note: I have feet that get cold easily. Some of you more hearty footed people may not have to switch footwear for awhile yet. Especially Bob as I expect he will be running 'naked' until Decemer!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Barefoot Running, Blogging In General and New Avenues of Pursuit

It's kind of funny, I hi-jacked Nicole and Gail's blog last year with the intent only of having an outlet or place per say to get some of the thoughts that are constantly running through my head on a run out. I was also kind of using it as personal log of my runs, including both highs and lows along my journey, so one day when I was old and feeble I could look back and see what I was up to when I was in my late  30's and early 40's.

I have been at this for a little over a year now, and it appears that as this blog approaches 15,000 page views there are people out there that not only read it, but also appear to enjoy reading it. This is honestly very intriguing to me, as I really don't consider myself that interesting of a person, and there are a number of Barefoot Running Blogs out there to choose from, so thanks to everyone who has been tuning in with me for this ride.

But that being said, I am having the time of my life, not only the running portion but also the getting healthy and trying new things aspect. In the last post, I mentioned I had ran with a bunch of triathletes who run various Ironman events, listening to them talk about the races and how much of a community feeling the participants experience has peeked my interest in maybe trying one of these in the next couple of years. I seem to be drawn to this type of environment, the barefoot runners community is very much about this, everybody is willing to share their experiences (both good and bad), and are quick to provide advise to any that ask for help. This I like, and has become my philosophy, I make a point to answer any questions that anybody presents to me to the best of my ability, because the sharing of knowledge is powerful and if I can help someone avoid making a mistake I will. This also true of the Ultra marathon community as well, I believe this is why I am being drawn to these activities as much as I am.

To further this I was sent a link to one of the most inspiring clips I have ever seen, if it doesn't bring a tear to your eye, I don't know what will.

One day a son asks his father:
"Daddy, will you run the marathon with me?"
The father answers yes and both run their first marathon together.
One day, the son asks his father if he wants to run the marathon with him again and the father answers yes. They both run the marathon together again.
Then one day the son asks his father:
"Daddy, will you run the Ironman with me?" (the Ironman is the requires a 4km swim, 180km biking and 42km running).
The father says yes again.
This all sounds easy...but check this video.

To think what this man did for his son, has made me believe that you can do anything as long as in your heart you believe you can. So with this I will pushing forward with some of my goals in the new year and commence training for the Ultra marathons and start learning how to swim (yes, I do not know how to swim) and start looking into the biking thing a little more seriously. More things to write about for next year. Also I will be continuing to run barefoot as much as possible, because it is my bliss.

Until next time,

Keep smiling because life is to short not to. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Great Day For A Run - The Innagural Scoob and Sonia Trail Half Marathon

A group shot before the run. Everybody present and accounted for
except the photographer/race director extraordinaire Scott (Scoob) S.,
Sherri and a couple of pups (Bella and Patsy)
(left to right: Ted, Sherry, Sonia, Perry, Dawn, Sue, Murray, Me, Doug and Blue right out front)

What do you have when you get a combination of triathletes (Ironman junkies), ultra marathoners and a barefoot runner together on a chilly late October afternoon in Riding Mountain National Park for a run? A crazy great time had by all of course, would you expect anything less.

It was a run organized by a fantastic couple from Dauphin, Scoob and Sonia who took it upon themselves to organize a half marathon / 10 km fun trail adventure for their friends. Not a easy task at the best of times, but Scoob and Sonia are not ordinary people. The both of them are avid triathletes who have competed in Ironman events across North America, and do so for the love of the sport and no other reason. Both are active in the community and will work tirelessly for a cause or a event they believe is worth while. I have known Scoob for not quite 2 years and Sonia for much less but I can say with much certainty that it is a honour to know them both and to consider them my friends. Enough said on this let us move on.

When Scoob mentioned a couple of months back that he and Sonia were planning to organize a 'little' event in Riding Mountain National Park for his friends, the first thing that popped into my head was, I'm all in. This was going to be a blast, because everything that Scoob gets involved in turns into a great time (case in point their wedding this summer). I also thought it would be a lot of fun to run the trails up there as well especially with it being late fall with all the colours and hidden surprises that usually occur on a trail run. I decided early that I was not going to miss it, and thanks to my wife making arrangements on Saturday, I was able to make my way up. It was interesting other than Scoob and Sonia, I knew no one else who was going to be there. Sure I met a couple of the others at the wedding this summer, but really this was an opportunity to meet some new people and just have a good time. I honestly was a little nervous, here I am a guy who has been running for a total of 2 years and barefoot to boot, going to join some accomplished triathletes and ultra marathoners for a little run through the bush. Can we say intimidating, I was hoping that I would just keep up with them for a little while so I could pick up some pointers and not look to much like a idiot.

The day started with me jumping into the truck and heading three and a half hours northwest to Dauphin, of course I left later than I originally intended so I may have been going slightly faster than I should of but I was still getting passed left right and centre. This also included a semi that must of been doing at least 130 because he flew by me like I was standing still, and I really think the guy that was coming towards me was not really amused. The drive up was quite uneventful until I entered the park, as I got to about half way through I saw one of those highway signs that tell you to watch out for a particular animal for the next so many kms. You know the one, where you never actually see the animal, well this was a sign for moose. Well low and behold, not even 20 feet beyond the sign there was a bull moose standing in the ditch, it was almost like it was posing and everything because it was in the exact same stance as the sign. I really wish I had my camera so I could take a picture but unfortunately it was in the back of the truck and I wasn't stopping to find it, oh well, se la vie.

I pulled into Dauphin and got to Scoob's house at about 11:15, just enough time to throw some bags in the house, get introduced to Dawn and hop on to the bus to head back to Riding Mountain and the run. The bus, how can I explain the bus, well take a old school bus, let a bunch of kids paint and write all over the exterior of it and convert the interior into a really cool camper with all the amenities. It was called travelling in style, kind of felt like the Partridge Family without the corny music. So here we were heading up the highway riding in 'The Bus' towards the park at warp speed, bouncing along to meet the rest of the runners at the Beach Ridge Trail Head, definitely the start of a great day. We arrived at the trail head just before the approximate start time of 12:00 noon or there-abouts.

The weather was perfect for the run, a decent 4 degrees with a overcast sky and a slight wind was going to be apparent when we got into the open areas. After everybody got themselves ready to go, and some introductions were completed, Scoob went over the details of the trail and the route that both the half marathoners and the 10 k'ers were going to complete. In all there was 4 of us running the half mary (Sonia, Murray, Doug and myself), the balance were taking on the 10 km. The trail consisted of a loop around the Beach Ridges Trail Head Loop then out to Highway 10 north to the gate then south to Crawford Creek and up to the end of the trail and return back to Beach Ridges and another loop and wham, bam your done, 13.1 miles plus a little in the books. The 10 km was slightly modified but still consisted of the 2 loops of Beach Ridges and an out and back to Crawford Creek parking lot. My only concern was being able to keep up with the big dogs who I was going to be running with (and I don't mean Scoob and Sonia's canine runners though I would be really hard pressed to keep up with them for sure).

This was the map that we were provided, if nothing less 
Scoob is very thorough and the running people are 

As I looked around a smile broke onto my face, Sonia was in costume dressed as a either a light snow storm or a blizzard, she hadn't quite decided yet, as it would depend on how fast she was running at the time.

Sonia in Costume as a Blizzard
(No Minor Snow Storm Here)

Everybody was all decked out to run including myself not really knowing what to expect regarding the weather or the temperature, I layered up a little more than I would normally. I ended up with a long sleeve tech shirt with a short sleeve over top and my wind breaking North face jacket and wearing a pair of running tights under my shorts to keep my legs warmer. I cannot for any reason run with just my running tights, I am a little consciensious of people seeing my ass and junk that clearly, lets just say I am a little modest (yet I have not issue with running like a true Scot in a kilt, go figure).I was even going to experiment with Nic's running pack to carry the camera and some extra gear just in case, this was something new for me as I am really not accustomed to running with a backpack. I was still wearing my VFF's at the time, because I wasn't sure how the trail was going to be, and I think I might of been concerned about freaking everybody out right off the start, so I decided to leave them on for at least a little while.

The trail head lots of interesting surprises
under all that leave coverage
We gathered at the trail head and Scoob with a final instruction of ,"Good luck and have fun", set us on our merry way. Sonia was off with a bang with all three dogs in tow, and I was following right behind. The trail had just been cleared of debris the previous week so the build up of leaves covering what was underneath was the only real concern. The trail overall for the first 2 plus mile loop was in great condition and even I or Gail (just kidding G) would not be able to get lost with a easy turn to the right at the fork and again to the right as you come out, easy peasy. I was keeping a moderate pace, as I was unsure of the trail, and I really am slower when I wear shoes of any type, with my foot freedom being restricted and all.

The boardwalk
I lost sight of Sonia fairly quickly as she glided along with the dogs in tow, by the time I reached the wooden boardwalk they were long gone and Ted was quickly catching up. I scampered over the
boardwalk as quickly as possible and I couldn't believe how loud I was being, I felt like I would scare any possible animal around away for miles, hmmm maybe that was not a bad thing. As I hit the trail again on the return to trail head, Ted caught up and we talked for a couple of minutes prior to Sue ever so stealthy catching us and politely sliding by, with that Ted was off and we parted way.
The rest of the trail back to the Trail Head was pretty much standard, lots of leaves, a few roots, the odd tree branch down across the trail to create either a hurdle or a limbo pole (I have discovered I am not so good at the limbo, as I fell on my ass trying to go under, my body is just not meant to bend like that). My comfort level was good, plus if I ever came across a PO'ed bear or moose, I know I am faster without the shoes then with, so it was decided the shoes would be gone by the time I hit the road. As I turned the corner towards the parking lot, there was Scoob, playing the role of photographer extraordinaire with the camera on a tripod, and all you could hear was click, click, click in rapid fire succession. With a quick high five, I headed out into the gravel parking lot towards Highway 10 and the turn towards the north gate.
All I could think of was, "must stop at the road and lose the shoes", it was a great feeling to get the VFF's off, a smile breached my face as my warm toes felt the cool gravel on the edge of the asphalt. I quickly slipped my VFF's into the backpack (I knew it would come in handy), and I happily went on my way up the road towards the gate house. There was a brisk wind coming from the south helping push me along, so my pace was pretty good and it felt like I was burning up the road (at least for me). A couple of cars and trucks passed me on the road, it was interesting to see the brake lights go on after they passed me to take another look to confirm what they saw. Yes, yes you did see a barefoot guy running down the highway, and no he was not scared out of his shoes by a bear and your lucky I wasn't wearing my kilt. I sometimes would really like to be a fly on the wall to hear some of the conversations that go on after the break lights go on, maybe something like this:
"Did you just see what I saw?"
"I did, I did, I did gosh darn see a barefoot runner, I really did!"
or maybe,
"Holy crap that guy must of been running fast, he ran right out of his shoes!"
or maybe,
"Man that looks like a whole lot of fun, maybe we should try running without shoes!" Well there is always hope isn't there.

As I made the turn through the gate parking lot and back onto the highway heading south, I hit the crazy wind that was swirling earlier. Needless to say my speed fell quicker than a newborn filling it's nappy after sucking back a bottle. I'm glad it wasn't summer still, if I left my mouth open I'm sure I would of been picking bugs out of my teeth for days the way the wind was hitting me in the face. I continued to chug along south towards the Crawford Creek trail head which was about a mile down the road when Murray and Doug caught up to me and eventually passed me. They did hang back with me for a couple of minutes to ask some questions of the crazy ass barefoot guy, which I of course tried to answer with my witty charm. As they slowly started to pull away, I figured it was the opportune time to pick up the pace to try to stay up with them as long as possible. So I kept pace but back a little bit, the asphalt surface was ok but not great, there were some areas that were pretty beat up but after some of the crappy surfaces that I have run on in the last 18 months it was really nothing to write home about. We passed by the 10km runners heading back towards the start with a wave and smile as they were on the last half of their run, everybody looked like they were having a great time.

As we pulled off of the highway and into the gravel parking lot at Crawford Creek we quickly looked around to find the trail head which was just off to the right running beside the highway before it heads off into the woods. Figuring it was the right way, the three of us headed out. The trail was quite level for the first bit then it hit a good uphill as it went deeper into the trees. We came across a couple of ladies walking back from the trail and Murray mentioned something about him being a bear, which in turn the ladies laughed. Just to ensure we were on the right trail, I stopped to ask one of the ladies if she had seen a runner (Sonia) go by, in which she replied no. That caught me of guard and made me think we were on the wrong trail, but then I thought afterwards, they were probably coming off a another trail and missed her. Or I should of asked if they had seen a blizzard fly by, as Sonia was covered in snowflakes, but she was probably going so fast they just didn't see her, yeah that's it. As we carried on, we knew we were on the right trail because we found some abandoned snow flakes that have apparently committed suicide from Sonia's costume along the way.

The trail was great all the way up to the Warming Shack at the top of the hill which pretty much had a continuous climb all the way. Murray slowly pulled away from Doug and I as we went along. It was really interesting, there was a lot of different sounds coming from the bush, Doug told me it was just the trees making noises in the wind, I know I live in a city but I have never heard a tree bray before. It's really weird hearing a noise and not being able to figure out where it was coming from. We kept a consistent but slower pace up to the top, with the occasional walk on the steeper upgrades, all part of the plan I kept telling myself, just look out when we come down. By the time we were half way up the trail, Murray was no where to be seen ahead of us, but that was ok I was having a blast. I was able to find a little bit of mud to run through, cool squishy mud nothing like it, well sort of squishy, it was cooler out. The trail was awesome with variation of terrain and elevation but clear enough that nothing was a major surprise, just the occasional hidden rock to deal with.  As we got close to the top, we ran into Sonia and Murray running the other way back down, they both had huge smiles on their faces like they were having the time of their lives. It was great to see.

As we hit the top, we took a quick breather to catch our breath and started heading back down. I just let myself go, let my legs just go with the momentum carry me down. It was a great feeling, plus it was the only way I could keep up with Doug and his long legs. As we made our way down we passed a couple of hikers and a bike rider with his dogs, a couple of comments about my barefeet but nothing to crazy. I slowly started to pull away from Doug, as he was getting some grief from his hamstring, so with a see you at the end. I made it down the hill and onto the approaching path to the parking lot and decided I would stop for some water at the unmanned water station that was set up. Of course, I was as clumsy as ever and dropped my full cup 2 times before it made it finally to my mouth. Oh well, third times a charm I guess. After a quick drink (or not so quick drink) I headed back out to the highway and just enjoyed the feel of the asphalt on my feet as the wind helped push me along. Got to like it when you run about 10 miles and you feel fresh and full of energy, it just made that smile get bigger and bigger (once again thankfully there was no bugs).

As I turned onto the dirt road to the parking area and the final loop around the trail head, all I could hear was hooping and hollering as everybody was cheering me on. Some no shoe comments were blerted out and a couple of holy craps, etc. I just smiled and kept running, as I really like a good gravel run it gets all the nerve ending firing on all cylinders which is the best in my honest opinion. With a quick high five from Scoob I was on the trail for the last 2 plus miles, the finish and a big cup of coffee (home brewed, Dauphin style). As I reached the trail split I passed Murray and Sonia and the dogs finishing off their run, my first thought was wow, I'm not that far behind them, cool. With this in mind, I started stopping along the last loop and taking some pictures of what caught my eye. I hit the boardwalk and stopped to take in the scenery and snap a few shots, took a few more pictures on the last half of the loop, including a picture of my foot next to a nice present that I just missed. Also got a cool picture of a tree with one lonely leaf on it, still hanging in there. As I got closer to the finish, the dogs came ripping and roaring up the trail to lead me in, which I thought was really cool, my own barefooted posse' leading me to the finish line and a big cup of freshly brewed coffee. What's not to smile about.

Some pictures taken along the way and of course the finishing photos:

Me heading up the gravel road to the parking lot

A shot looking out into the marsh from the

Ewe look what I just missed. This is one of the
only unpleasant things about running barefoot. 
But at least feet are easier to wash then shoes. 

The limbo tree, how low can you go?
The last leaf standing or hanging if you will

Ted crossing the finish line after 10km

 Sue crossing the finish line after 10 km

Sherri crossing the finish line after 10 km

Dawn crossing the finish line after the 10 km

Sherry and Perry Finishing it up
Like those tights Perry!

Doug finishing up his run at 17 plus km

Sonia and Murray and entourage bringing
er' home after a strong half marathon

Me and my barefooting posse'
bringing it home

The event was a great success and I personally think this could turn into something great and I can't wait till next year, as I will be patiently waiting for the next email announcing the 2nd annual Scoob and Sonia Half Marathon.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

My First Published Article

I was asked a while back to write a article on barefoot running by the Manitoba Runner's Association for their newsletter, and of course I jumped all over the opportunity. Here is the outcome. Please check it out and let me know what you think. I value all opinions.

I apologize for the formatting I was trying to link to the actual article publication but I was unable to so I had to copy it in this way. If you want to see the original copy leave me a note and I will send a copy of the pdf.

Why Do I Run Barefoot? Bob Nicol

Have you ever run down the streets of
Winnipeg and or driving in your car and you look over and or down and you see this guy running happily along with no shoes? Were you concerned that a mental patient has escaped the local psyche ward and was currently heading to your neighborhood or if that poor sole was robbed of his shoes and he had no other way to get home? If you have ever thought either of those, then you have probably seen either myself or one of the other growing number of local runners who are shedding their foot coverings for a more natural running style and hopefully a more enjoyable and healthy experience.

Since I started this journey 18 months ago, I have been asked numerous times why I run this way. Well, there is no real simple answer to that question as there are many reasons why I lost the shoes and prefer to hit the trails with my soles bared to the world. Some reasons are typical of the average barefoot runner some are my personal ones that I am willing to share so you can have a perspective from my point of view.

The following are some of the reasons the average barefoot runner notes:

The most common for a lot of runners is injury prevention: This may seem a little strange but I can tell you from my own personal experience, other than a pulled groin due to a barefoot ultra trail run last year I have been injury free. Sure I have had some bumps and bruises from experimenting with longer distances and different terrain types, but for the most part nothing has kept me from amassing well over 1,000 km barefoot since mid April of this year. My explanation for this is as follows, your feet are one of the strongest parts of your body (think about the weight they have to carry around all day), and they were designed to be used not coddled in a pair of over padded shoes. Now I must also note this with a big disclaimer, you cannot just take the shoes off and assume you can run like you do with shoes. Just like when you are developing any other part of your body or if you try a new sport, you have to learn how to do it right. Can you put on a pair of skates and just start skating like a pro, not likely, baby steps - you have to learn how to walk before you can run.

A strong and healthy body: The majority of shod runners are not utilizing their feet to their full potential. It is my belief and many others share as well, that your feet were designed as shock absorbers and if used properly they distribute the force of your foot landing on the ground to your entire lower body not just isolated locations like your knees or hips. This allows you to run longer with less effort and in my books more enjoyment.

Enjoyment of the Run Experience: I have not met an individu- al yet who has seriously tried barefoot or minimalistic running who has not enjoyed the experience. It is hard to explain, but the freedom you feel and the sensations that your feet partake in are absolutely exhilarating. The biggest issue that I hear about after that initial experience is they felt so good and were enjoying the run so much they didn’t want to stop. This of course is not a good idea, once again baby steps, Too Much Too Soon (TMTS) is an acronym that I use a lot and it is a very important one. You have to build up slowly.

A couple of personal reasons why I run the way I do:

I started running about 2 years ago, and like most I was using a pair of running shoes.  I found that I was only able to go for about a mile before my knees started to ache (I have had seven procedures on my left knee due to various medical issues) and I was not having any fun. That was when my wife, as a suggestion, bought me a pair of $7.00 water shoes and told me to go for a run. I was surprised, it felt more natural, my stride turned into a midfoot strike, my step got lighter, and the biggest shocker no pain. I got home and started doing some research and low and behold I was not the only one who had discovered this, there was a whole forum on the internet specifically geared to this type of running called The Barefoot Runners Society ( ). I was intrigued so I started experimenting and off came the shoes, and the rest is history.

To Be One With Nature: this one may seem a little silly to some, but there is no other way to explain it. When I run barefoot, I just seem to go into this zone, I notice things that I normally dont, and every sensation just seems to pop. To me going out for a run, every run is an experience and an adventure, be- cause you just don’t know what will be laid out in front of you.

I like the attention, I never would have said this a couple of years ago, I was happy to be in the background going about my business more of an observer than out front and centre type of guy. But I will admit I enjoy when people come up to me and start asking me questions, or make comments about my running style. Have you ever had random strangers take pictures of you as you run by, or stop you for a picture, it is an odd feeling but kind of fun all the same. I am a firm believer that this is the right way to go, and if someone is interested I will share my experiences and knowledge with anyone who wants to know more. On the other hand, I will not force my opinion on anyone, because this is a choice and I believe everybody has the right to choose what is best for them.

I like the challenge to see exactly how far I push the limits and to see exactly what the foot is capable of doing. So far I can tell you this, I have finished two marathons (including the Manitoba and Bismarck Marathons), ran the Treherne Half Marathon (about 12 miles of good gravel road) completed a 50km Trail Ultra Marathon and ran sporadically through the winter last year including a 2km jaunt at -29 degrees C. It’s amazing what the foot can do, and I believe we are just tapping the surface of the full potential that is available to us.

As I noted above there are a lot of great resources out there to learn more about Barefoot and Minimalistic Running, including the Barefoot Running Society, The Barefoot Running University, The Run Smiley Collective and so on. There are also some great books that can be used to start you on your path to enlightenment. You can also follow my adventures and experiences on our blog at The most important piece of advice that I can give to someone who wants to try it out is to ‘Go Slow and Easy’, you will not want to miss a step. OTR

Published in the November, 2011 Issue of On The Run