December 30, 2009

Almost a Runner

I've always said that I consider myself a runner when I can run for 20 minutes straight. Today I ran 20 minutes... but not quite straight. I'm still at 1 minute running, 30 seconds walking, repeat. But I did run 20 intervals, and completely barefoot at that (at the track, of course). Now I'll work on lengthening the duration of my running intervals until I can run without walking breaks and without tiring my back.

On another note, there was another barefoot runner at the track today!!! I was completely surprised. I hadn't thought the barefoot movement had caught on that well in the little town that I live in. I was extremely happy to see a fellow barefooter. She had great running form, too. All I can say is, "Carry on barefoot revolution!"

Barefoot Resources

Barefoot Websites

Barefoot Forums

Just my favourites, there are many, many more.


Barefoot Alternative Products

Here's a list of some barefoot alternative products that I own and enjoy, including links to full-length reviews I've written:

Barefoot Blogroll

Here are some of the blogs that I enjoy reading (in no particular order):

December 22, 2009

Template Change

The template change is complete (at least for now). All the page tabs are working now. Hope you enjoy the new look.


Barefoot Running Observations

While running barefoot at the track today, I observed a number of new things about barefoot running that had not occurred to me before:

1) Running barefoot REALLY fast is REALLY FUN! (This is of course relative, my fast is not what others might consider fast.)

2) Running with a smile (the reason being the previous observation) is a lot easier than running without a smile.

3) Running really fast is MUCH harder on the calves (go figure, but seeing as I hadn't run fast without shoes on before today, it's a new observation).

4) Pain-free running makes one think they can go farther than maybe they should (I skipped ahead in my intervals today because running was feeling really good. I wonder if I'll really feel it tomorrow); I guess that's why Ken Bob Saxton calls it Running Barefoot Exuberance Syndrome (RBES).

In short, my barefoot run today was fantastic. Hopefully my skipping ahead in intervals and my short interval of barefoot speed doesn't hurt too much tomorrow. However, I don't think self-induced pain feels as bad as the other kind of pain.

December 19, 2009

The Living Barefoot Podcast Show - Episode 8 Released

The latest episode of the Living Barefoot Show has gone online! Episode 8 features an interview with Anemone from Vancouver, BC talking about her experiences going barefoot in and out of the city.

Check it out at:

Run in Kuuvas

The other day, I went for a run in my Feelmax Kuuvas. It was above 0oC but the sidewalks had not been cleared yet so they were full of snow, slush,and ice. I didn't want to risk slipping or falling while wearing my absolutely-no-grip VFF Flows, so I wore my super grippy Kuuvas. It was fabulous.

I only laced them to the end of the lace holes and didn't tie them into the hooks. I didn't want the boot to be tight around my lower leg and this lacing seemed to work well for that. The boots did not feel too tight or too loose anywhere on my feet, ankles, or legs.

I was amazed at the grip I had on the slippery sidewalks. I could run at my normal pace (which admittedly is pretty slow) comfortably and with no fear of slipping.

Even though it was above 0oC, my feet were never too warm, either.

I think the Kuuvas are a great winter running option when it's not too cold and the terrain is slippery with snow and ice.

December 7, 2009

Long Review - Feelmax Kuuva

My latest review has gone online on the Living Barefoot website - for the Feelmax Kuuva boot.

Check it out at:

In short, these boots are incredible! I love their style, comfort, and barefoot feel. They are a great addition to any minimalist footwear collection that is missing something for colder temperatures and/or wet conditions. They are excellent for temperatures dropping to about -10oC, beyond that, you're definitely going to feel the cold from the ground through the bottom of your feet.

December 2, 2009

Barefoot Running

I went for my first completely barefoot run today. It was about -20oC outside so I went to the indoor track. Today's run was stellar: effortless and painless. I was surprised that I had absolutely no hot spots on the bottom of my feet. There was, unsurprising, no pain in any of my joints, too. Whenever the weather is too cold or the sidewalks too slippery, I'm going to the track to run more without any shoes.

Now that I've run completely barefoot, I have a better idea of the difference between running barefoot and with VFFs. There really isn't much difference in how it feels and there was no difference in form. On a completely smooth surface (like the track here), running in VFFs feels slightly more cushioned than with absolutely nothing on my feet. My cadence and running form were otherwise unchanged between today's run and my last run in Flows on the sidewalks outside.

A note on cadence, I've timed how many times my right foot hits the ground during one minute of running, and it is consistently 84 steps/minute. I was surprised that the number was unchanged between running in VFFs and completely barefoot, but it's probably because my form didn't change at all.

The only difference I noticed today while running was that I felt that my feet spread out a little more on impact with the ground without any shoes. Maybe the Flows constrict this natural movement, maybe I just never noticed the feeling before, I don't really know.

I liked the feeling of smooth track beneath my feet. I'm definitely going to run barefoot at the track whenever I go there to run. I do like my VFFs for running outside, though. In the spring and summer, I'll work on strengthening and toughening up my pansy feet, but until then, there's always the track.

November 20, 2009

Running Update

It's been a while since I updated anything here. Running is going well. Still going with my running buddy, Kiah, outside. There's still no snow here. This being Alberta and the end of November, that is noteworthy.

I'm running for a whole minute now. I'm running 1 minute intervals times 10 (with 30 seconds of walking in between) at the moment. I've run this length about three times now. I've decided to plateau here for a little while to let my feet and leg muscles catch up to the increase in time. I've been trying to avoid 'Running Barefoot Exuberance Syndrome' or 'RBES' (as coined by Barefoot Ken Bob from Although, seeing as I've been running in VFF Flows, he'd probably call it something else.

I've had no pain other than a little top-of-foot pain, and that only bothers me when I'm not running. It's probably from too much walking in minimalist footwear and not enough foot strength. After several months of laying down (from the sore back), I guess my feet lost a bunch of muscle and now I have to work on getting it back (along with all the other muscle I lost from inactivity). I've been trying to walk and run with very relaxed feet and that seems to help; tension in my feet tends to make it worse.

The back has been feeling great while running, though. I'm very happy about that. I think I'll run one or two more times at 1 minute times 10 intervals and then start ramping up by one interval each run up to 20 intervals and then plateau there again for a bit. It's nice to be able to run more consistently though, I'm happy with once or twice a week for now. Now that I'm running a little longer, I realize how much I missed it.

November 2, 2009

Running with My Running Buddy

Yesterday, I FINALLY got to run with my running buddy. It was awesome! I ran 16 intervals of 30 seconds with no pain. I didn't realize it until yesterday how much I missed running with a partner. I was afraid to do it before now because I'm still quite 'breakable' when I run and I didn't want to set myself back at all. My running buddy must have known this because she was great the whole time. Here's a picture of my running buddy.

Running buddy, Kiah, with her tongue hanging out

Running is going well. I try for two days of running and two days of swimming per week. Sometimes my back still gives me problems so I don't get them all in but it doesn't bother me too much.

I'm still running outside in my VFF Flows with Injiji socks on. This combination is good to about 0 degrees Celsius. Thankfully, I can wait until the day is at its hottest to run, whenever that may be. So as long as there's no snow and ice, and it's slightly above 0, I'll be outside with my running buddy. Thanks Kiah!

October 31, 2009

The Living Barefoot Podcast Show - Episode 7 Released

The latest episode of the Living Barefoot Show went online (I know I'm a little late, been busy). Episode 7 features an interview with Sabra, Damien, and Ben from Vivo Barefoot. They were so much fun to interview! Good luck to Damien and Ben tomorrow in the New York City Marathon.

Here's the link:

October 18, 2009

Review - Vibram FiveFingers Performa

I didn't have time to write a short review for the VFF Performa but I've finished the long review for these shoes for the Living Barefoot website.

Check it out at:

In case you've ever wondered what I sound like, there's also an audio version of the review. This is something we're going to continue with for future reviews. It's available for download on the site above or through iTunes via The Living Barefoot Show.

In (very) short, the Performa is an outstanding addition to the VFF lineup. It is definitely my choice for an indoor minimalist shoe. They are surprisingly warm, extremely comfortable, weigh a scant 50 grams, and have the best barefoot feel of any shoes I've tried so far.

October 13, 2009

Feelmax Kuuvas Arrived in Time for Winter

The Feelmax Kuuvas arrived this past weekend. So far, I think they're awesome boots! They are incredibly comfortable and warm. I went for a walk today in -6C with a windchill of -14C with 2 cm of snow and slush and my feet were warm and dry the whole time. I don't have a lot of time to write about them today but I thought I'd add some pictures for people to see what I'm talking about. I'm so glad that there are options for minimalist footwear for winter.

October 5, 2009

Run in VFF Flows

The other day, I ran my 10 times 30-second intervals in my VFF Flows (instead of my KSOs) with a pair of Injiji toe socks. It was 2 degrees Celsius. It was a really good choice of footwear.

I noticed some differences between my KSOs and Flows: The Flows are MUCH warmer (which is a good thing because I forgot how cold 2oC feels like). They feel like they have a thicker sole (although that could have been the socks, too). They are less flexible, probably because of the neoprene as opposed to the thinner synthetic material of the KSOs. And they were more wind-resistant.

I also noticed that my running gait is exactly the same between the two VFF models.

Another thing I noticed during this run, unrelated to the shoes I chose to wear, is that my right leg is much weaker than my left leg. My right leg tended to hit the ground louder/harder than the left, which is very noticeable with a springy, midfoot running gait. Guess that right leg has some catching up to do now that (hopefully all) the nerves are awake now.

The snow hasn't stuck around yet so I can continue to run outside in my VFFs. When the snow stays, though, it's off to the indoor track to run without shoes.

Living Barefoot Show Podcast - Episode 6 Released

The latest episode of the Living Barefoot Show went online last night. Episode 6 features interviews with Barefoot Moe and Georgia Shaw from Vibram FiveFingers.

Here's the link:

October 2, 2009

Changed 'Barefoot Running' Category to 'Minimalist Running'

I have decided to change my recent posts about running from 'Barefoot Running' to 'Minimalist Running'. When I first started this blog, I chose not to make a distinction between running completely barefoot and running in minimalist footwear (eg, in VFFs). I changed my mind on that thought. So, unless I'm running completely barefoot, which is still the plan to start doing on the indoor track once it gets too slippery for me to run outdoors, anytime I'm wearing VFFs or any other type of minimalist footwear, my posts will be in the 'Minimalist Running' category.

Maybe I'm becoming more barefoot enlightened, maybe not. But now I think that there is a difference between running in barefoot alternative shoes and running completely barefoot. Now that I can run again, I can't wait to try it out completely barefoot. This is Alberta, it shouldn't take too much longer for ice and snow to come. ;)

October 1, 2009

Still Running

I went for another run today. I figure that consistency will be key to getting my body back post-back injury.

Today was nine intervals of 30 seconds. I'm trying for one more interval every time I go out. It probably won't happen every day but it's good to have goals.

I realized this week that I still have bad pain days. Now that I'm running again (and swimming too) it's hard to not be able to do the exercise that I have plans (and hopes) of doing. I'm grateful for being able to run on the days I can and will have to settle for walking on days I can't (because walk I will regardless).

I also realized how incredibly weak my legs have become after not running for about eight months. My calves and feet have such a long way to go before they're even close to resembling the state they were in last fall. Hopefully slow, consistent, gradual building will get them there eventually. And did I mention pain-free?

My spouse and two dogs ran with me today. It was wonderful having company. Not that my runs are very long at the moment, but it was so much fun dodging jumpy dog obstacles. The moral support was also wonderful!

On to 5 whole minutes of running next time...

September 22, 2009

Officially Running Again

I didn't want to write anything about running until I thought I would be able to run consistently again. I think I'm finally there!

I ran last Thursday, Saturday, and today. I started with four 30-second intervals and added one more interval each time. I'm up to 3 minutes of running now. It's not much, but starting from scratch shouldn't be.

All my runs so far have been in my favourite pair of Vibram KSOs with no socks. When my runs are longer, or it gets colder, I'll have to wear socks again.

When the weather here turns more wintery, I'm going to try running on the indoor track completely barefoot. Hopefully I won't have to reduce my running time by switching from VFFs to completely barefoot if I do it on the smooth track.

My goal, as always, is to run pain-free. I'm doing that and hope to continue doing that throughout the fall and beyond.

September 18, 2009

Living Barefoot Show Podcast - Episode 5 Released

The latest Living Barefoot Show Podcast was released last night. It includes an interview with, famous barefooter, Barefoot Ted.

Check it out at:

September 15, 2009

Lethbridge, Alberta in Slippers

I spent this past weekend in Lethbridge, Alberta. It is a lovely city. The coulees are beautiful and extend through the whole city. Here's a picture for an idea of the terrain.

I spent the whole weekend wearing Mountain Equipment Co-op Rastro Thermostat Fleece Slippers. They have a fleece upper, a little bit of foam padding for a midsole, and a suede outsole. I wanted to wear a shoe with a minimal, soft, and flexible sole and these turned out to be perfect! I was really impressed with the durability and traction of the suede sole, too. After spending all weekend on hard-packed dirt, rocks, concrete and asphalt, there are no scuff marks in the suede at all.

My feet were warm (instead of hot) and not sweaty in 28-30 degrees Celsius weather. My feet had lots of room to move around inside the slippers and yet didn't slip around too much on the hills.

I used to think of these slippers as inside shoes when my house is cold in the winter but they turned out to be great outside shoes in dry weather, too.

September 5, 2009

Feet Changes After a Year of the Barefoot Alternative

This post has been a long time in coming, over a year in coming actually. I switched to the barefoot alternative in May 2008 and have been wearing barefoot alternative/minimalist footwear as often as possible ever since. I wish I had taken some 'before' pictures of my feet last year, but I didn't think there would be that much of a change. I was very wrong. I thought I would share some of the observations of how my feet have changed after a year of minimalist footwear (and more recently going completely barefoot) and what makes me think these changes are real and not 'wishful thinking'.

1. My feet are stronger.
I know this because I suffered from chronic plantar fasciitis before the switch. Every run and every morning stepping out of bed, my right arch would scream in pain. Now, I have no arch pain, ever. I attribute this healing to stronger arches.

In addition, when I first started working on switching to wearing VFFs running, I noticed that my arches were very tired very quickly, and they would tell me so with pain (although not the same pain as the plantar fasciitis). I transitioned slowly and eventually worked up to over an hour running with no pain. I also attribute this to stronger arches.

2. My feet are wider.
I know this because the running shoes I used to wear no longer fit my feet because my feet are too wide for them. I tried them on once a few months ago just to see if they would be comfortable for me after switching to the barefoot alternative; they were not. Not only did my back hurt with every step because of the raised heel, but they were too tight for my newly expanded in width feet. I don't feel too bad that I can't wear them anymore, though.

3. My feet are longer.
From what I've read in VFF forums and blogs, most people's feet shorten in length after wearing VFFs for an extended period of time. Not mine. I know this because my VFF Classics used to be SO comfortable, every toe pocket fit perfectly. Not anymore. My Classics are somewhat binding and have started hurting my pinky and next-to-last toes when I wear them for too long. (I know that they have not shrunk, too. Although the material could possibly shrink in the wash, the rubber would not.) Time to get the next size up in Classics, I think (although I'm really looking forward to trying out the new Performas).

4. My toes are straighter.
I really wish I had a picture of my feet from last year. My outside toes used to all curl inward toward my big toes. I am extremely happy to report that most of my toes have straightened out and only my pinky toes have a little bit of twist left in them. Hopefully, that will resolve as well, but if it doesn't, I'm really impressed with the change in my toes already.

5. My feet are warmer.
I used to have excessively cold feet ALL the time. Although I still enjoy wearing socks, my feet are so much warmer than they used to be. My thoughts are that this is due to increased muscles in my feet and increased circulation, but I don't know for sure. I just know that warm feet are better than cold feet.

6. My feet are more dexterous.
This is not exactly quantifiable, but I've noticed that my feet are more agile and move more finely than before being freed from foot casts. Perhaps all the 'working out' for my feet being barefoot and nearly barefoot have improved fine motor control in the muscles in my feet.

7. My feet FEEL better.
This last change has two meanings: they feel like they have improved sensory perception and they just feel better than they used to. It's probably due to going completely barefoot, which I don't do all that often but strive to do more of in the future, but I think my feet feel the ground better than before. Kind of like the sensory nerve endings have 'woken up' after being asleep in shoes for so long. In addition, with the lack of pain and increased warmth, dexterity, and sensory perception, they just FEEL so much better than before I freed them from conventional shoes.

I don't know that everyone who frees their feet with the barefoot alternative/minimalist footwear will experience the changes I have, but I think the improvements were definitely worth the switch.

August 30, 2009

Long Review - Vivo Barefoot Lucy

The long review that I wrote for the Vivo Barefoot Lucy shoes for theLiving Barefoot website has just been posted. You can check it out at Living Barefoot Review - Vivo Barefoot Lucy Shoes.

This was my first attempt at an in-depth shoe review. I learned some things from writing this one that I can use for writing subsequent reviews. Hopefully, I'll have the opportunity to write many more.

August 21, 2009

New 'Born to Run' Website

Christopher McDougall and Barefoot Ted have launched the official 'Born to Run' website. You can check it out at It's preliminary at the moment but I can't wait for the whole site to come online.

There's also a new article/interview with Christopher McDougall talking about the book and barefoot running. It's called 'Do fancy running shoes do more harm than good?'

August 16, 2009

Barefoot Guy Spotted in my Neighbourhood!

I was walking my dogs yesterday through my neighbourhood when I spotted a definite first for me: a guy walking with NO SHOES on (who wasn't my spouse). It was amazing!

My thoughts at this marvelous site included:

1) Does this guy often go barefoot in Cochrane?
2) Has this guy seen me and my spouse walking around the neighbourhood without shoes on and wanted to try it?
3) Did this guy read the article about me and Al in the local paper and think it would be cool to try barefooting?
4) Did this guy simply forget his shoes?
5) Is the barefoot revolution gaining more momentum?

I don't know the answers to these questions but I'm going to keep hoping that the barefoot revolution is gaining more ground.

August 14, 2009

Newly Impressed with Vivo Barefoot Lucy Shoes

Last night, I went for a walk (with my dogs) in the pouring rain on soaking wet grass while wearing my Vivo Barefoot Lucy shoes. I was amazed, and newly impressed with the shoes, that my socks were completely dry after. I thought for sure I was going to have soaking wet feet when I got home but that was not the case. The Lucy shoes are the only pair of minimalist footwear that I own at the moment that could remotely pass as being appropriate to wear in the rain (if your intention is not get soaked through). I am extremely pleased with the construction, and new role as 'rain wear', of my Lucy shoes.

August 13, 2009

Miscellaneous Updates

I thought I'd post some miscellaneous updates:

In case you've been wondering about my running progress, there hasn't been any... Yet. After my last running experiment, I did a bunch of travelling which turned out to be pretty hard on my back injury so I'm laying off the running for now and will probably try again in September. I am walking everyday (in minimalist footwear only) and started swimming a bit to try to gain back some core strength (in the hopes that running will be easier when I start that again).

I have a pair of Soft Star moccasins that I'm trying out to review for the Living Barefoot site. So far, they are very comfortable (although my spouse isn't very keen on the look of them).

Hopefully I'll get to try out some other barefoot alternative footwear for review as well. I'm hoping for some Sockwas and Feelmax shoes to try.

Al and I are working on the Living Barefoot Podcast Show Episode 4 and hope to have it released by the end of August.

That's all for now. I'll update more as it develops.

August 6, 2009

Short Review - Vivo Barefoot Lucy

I have finally finished writing my full-length shoe review of the Vivo Barefoot Lucy for the Living Barefoot website. It will be posted in a few weeks there but I thought I'd write about them here too but in a shorter format. In short, I love my Lucy shoes!

I find the Lucy shoes incredibly comfortable to wear walking around. With socks on they feel a lot like slippers. I haven't worn them without socks on much because I don't want them to acquire any unseemly foot odours as these shoes cannot be thrown in the wash (just like conventional shoes).

With only a 3 mm puncture-resistant sole and no other support or cushioning, you can really feel the ground with them. The sole is not quite as flexible as the VFFs but that is probably due to their sturdy, full-shoe construction. My gait does not seem to be affected by the shoe and feels a lot like when I'm barefoot. You definitely cannot heel strike in these like you can in conventional, cushioned shoes: it would hurt too much. My back does not hurt when walking in them, either.

They are extremely lightweight, weighing in at 182 g or 6 3/8 ounces each shoe. You can barely feel them on your feet.

I LOVE the black leather with red accents. I think the Black Nappa Leather Lucy looks incredibly sharp for a barefoot alternative shoe, or a regular shoe for that matter.

They are really warm, too. I've worn them in cooler temperatures and in the rain and my feet have always been warm and dry. I plan on wearing them a lot come the cooler temperatures of fall because I can wear regular socks in them (as opposed to strictly toe socks).

In summary, I am thoroughly impressed with the Vivo Barefoot Lucy shoe. They are comfortable, light, warm, and completely inconspicuous as a barefoot alternative shoe. I would recommend the Lucy shoe for any casual outing or work environment. I also hope to try out other shoes in the Vivo Barefoot line as I am so encouraged by this model.

To purchase these shoes, visit the women's section of the Vivo Barefoot area of the Terra Plana website.

July 30, 2009

The Living Barefoot Podcast Show - Episode 3

The latest episode of the Living Barefoot Show has been released! Al and I had the immense pleasure of interviewing Michael Martin, National Sales Manager at Vibram USA, to discuss the world of Vibram FiveFingers. Check it out here!

July 29, 2009

Cochrane Eagle Article

The Cochrane Eagle article that Al and I interviewed for last week has just come online. It's called 'Sick of Shoes? Back pain? Try living the barefoot life.'

Thanks Rachel!

July 28, 2009

The Running Experiment Worked!

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about wanting to run. My theory was that maybe running would 'wake up' some nerves that have been slightly dysfunctional of late causing some muscle tone imbalances in my legs. I am extremely happy to report that my experiment worked!

I had a massage today by my genius massage therapist who's been working hard to get me all the way back to normal. He is, unfortunately, not a fan of running. I told him about my running experiment while he was working on the leg with the muscle imbalances and he said that my medial hamstring is working now whereas the last time he saw me, it was not. He grudgingly admitted that it might have been the running that woke up that particular nerve and made my muscle work again.

It might have been the running, it might not have been the running. Either way, I'll take the improvement! And keep running! For now I'll stick to short, less than a minute intervals and of course, only in my VFFs. (I'll work on completely barefoot running later.)

July 25, 2009

Interviewed for the Cochrane Eagle

Yesterday, Al Gauthier (my Living Barefoot Show podcast co-host, who is visiting from Vancouver!) and I were interviewed for an article on barefooting for the local paper, the Cochrane Eagle, by their new editor, Rachel Maclean. The article should be in next week's paper and I'll post a link when it's available.

Thanks Rachel, it was a pleasure being interviewed.

July 21, 2009

Interview with CHQR AM 770 Calgary Radio

In case anyone in the Calgary area is interested, I'll be interviewed on CHQR AM 770 radio this afternoon at 5:45 PM MST about my barefoot endeavours and the Living Barefoot Show podcast. There's an online stream available, too, in case you're not in the Calgary area.

July 15, 2009

Yours Truly (and Other Barefooters of Note) in the Globe and Mail

The Globe and Mail article that I interviewed for just came out! It's called "No Shoes? No Problem!"

Is a barefoot revolution on its way?

We can hope!

The Living Barefoot Podcast Show - Episode 2

The first full-length Living Barefoot Podcast Show is online! Episode 2 features interviews with yours truly, Al Gauthier, and Damien Tougas (from ADVENTUREinPROGRESS) is now available. Listen to it online, download it to your computer, or subscribe via iTunes!

Check it out at:

July 13, 2009

I Want to Run!

I've decided to believe, and take to heart, a quote by Dr. Daniel Lieberman from Harvard University in Christopher McDougall's book 'Born to Run':
If there's a magic bullet to make human beings healthy, it's to run.

I'm tired of not running anymore. I still have some sensory and muscle tone issues related to my recently reinjured low back but I have some new thoughts regarding these: maybe running will make my nerves 'wake up'. Maybe it won't. But at the very least, I know that it will improve my mental state if not the nerve issues. If I wait around for all my nerve function to come back before I start running again, and it never does, that's too long of a wait for me.

So yesterday, I RAN.

It wasn't much. I ran for 1o whole seconds times 3 intervals. And that was enough for me. I didn't encounter any problems running but it is really hard to find good form if running for only 10 seconds. I did notice a huge smile on my face while I was running, though.

I ran on grass in a nearby soccer field, to try to reduce any jarring impacts. I decided it was too squishy for me and next time I'm going to try running on the path instead where the ground is more solid.

I ran in my favourite pair of VFF KSOs. They are truly the best pair of running shoes I have ever owned.

Next time, I'll try 15 whole seconds times 3 intervals and see how it goes. This is my 'off the couch' program. I've done it before but never quite this slowly. After my kind of injury, I have to start somewhere and slow is where it's going to have to be.

July 7, 2009

New Vivo Barefoot Shoes!

(Last post for the day, I felt like I needed to catch up after this eventful weekend).

When I got home yesterday, I checked my mail and was ecstatic to have finally received my new Vivo Barefoot Shoes. They're black leather Lucys and I love them already. I wanted a pair of barefoot alternative shoes that I could wear regular socks in during cooler temperatures and these will definitely work out for that purpose.

My first impressions of them include: how surprisingly light they are, they're incredibly comfortable and feel like slippers, they're very insconspicuous, they feel like 'too much' shoe with the insole in but are much thinner in the sole without it, the total lack of arch support is perfect, there's a lot of wiggle room in the toe box, the heels don't slip at all, my gait is very similar to that with the VFFs.

I'm really looking forward to wearing them around town and will post more about them as I wear them more. Until then, here's some pics.

Interview for the Globe and Mail

Yesterday, after returning from my weekend camping trip, I was contacted by a writer with the Globe and Mail! She wanted to interview me regarding barefooting!

It was really exciting for me. We talked about why I started barefooting, what kind of barefoot alternative shoes I wear, what kinds of activities I do in them, my experiences going completely barefoot, my perspectives as a female barefooter (apparently they're hard to find in Canada), and my future plans with barefooting.

I'm really looking forward to the article. My thoughts are that it's about barefooting in general and I'm really proud to be a part of it (if my 2 cents get included). Thanks, Jennifer, for the opportunity to share my views on barefooting.

Camping in VFFs

This passed weekend, I was in Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, for the Sinister 7. In short, it's a 146 km trail race divided into 7 legs, which can be run solo or in a relay team of between 2-7 people. I was supporting my spouse for the race, who successfully completed it solo (so proud!). It was a great weekend.

I spent the whole weekend in VFFs: KSOs and Flows. I can't imagine a more versatile camping shoe than the VFF. The KSOs were awesome during the day, with or without socks. In the morning they got soaking wet from the dew on the grass and after 2 hours of sitting in sun, they were completely dry. They were covered in wet dirt at one point and after they dried, they looked perfectly clean, and I didn't even rinse them off. They were most comfortable and I enjoyed feeling the gravel, grass, and concrete that I walked on most of the day.

At night, the Flows (with Injijis) were great and my feet were warm enough throughout the whole night. I was outside in transition from 2-4 AM and my toes were warm the whole time.

I even ventured a short run in my KSOs: across a baseball diamond. It was a very short run (considering the venue that I was at) but my first attempt at any type of running in 2 months (due to my current back issues). I felt light on my feet, landed on the balls of feet, and felt no pain with my steps. It was a good test for me to see where my back is at and I'm happy that it worked out for me.

I can't say enough good things about VFFs and if you ever need a pair of all-around great camping shoes, they certainly fit the bill.

June 30, 2009

First Barefoot in a Store Experience

I've been so busy with the podcast that I haven't had time to tell the story about my first barefoot in a store experience. It was a few days ago, on a trip into Calgary. I had been wearing my VFF Classics all morning and decided to take them off in the car between errands. I like my Classics but barefoot is better sometimes.

We arrived at the health food store and I didn't feel like putting my Classics back on, so I went in the store without them! I was a little apprehensive because this store sells groceries and I didn't know how they'd feel about a customer with no shoes on, but I thought I'd try it out anyway.

I walked around the whole store looking for the items I had come to get. Several staff and customers walked passed me. I'm sure that at least two staff members noticed that I was barefoot and neither said anything. In fact, the staff member that helped me with my purchases was unbelievably nice to me.

My first impressions of being barefoot in a store: the floors were very smooth and cold compared to outside (and particularly clean at this store), the floor is much colder near the refrigerator section, I made no sound with my footfalls, anxiety/self-consciousness is tempered by friendly staff, maybe I should do this more often?

I know that there are a few barefoot-friendly stores in Calgary. Maybe the next time I go to them, I'll have the guts to go barefoot now that I've tried it once and liked it.

(In case you're near the Calgary area, the health food store is Amaranth Whole Foods Market.)

June 24, 2009

Happy Trails = Happy Feet

I thought that I'd share some pictures of the trails around my house. I'm very fortunate to live in a town where there are such wonderful walking paths and trails all over town. I enjoy walking them in my VFFs. Someday, I'll have tough enough feet to walk them completely barefoot, but not quite yet. Enjoy.

The famous red shale path

The Bow River and Jumping Pound Creek

Happy feet in VFFs on the trails

Trail in the trees

Washed out path with smooth river rocks

Path to the river

Path beside the river

I remember when I first wore my VFFs on the trails, my feet used to get tired quickly and have a tough time on the rougher terrain. Since then, my feet have become much stronger and even the rough gravel in some sections no longer bothers me. I've learned that the key is to relax your feet and you can walk on pretty much anything. I walk these trails almost every day and love the diversity in the terrain and the beautiful scenery. It's a great workout for the feet.

June 20, 2009

Announcing The Living Barefoot Podcast Show!

Yours truly will be co-hosting The Living Barefoot Podcast Show!!!

My co-host, Al Gauthier, and I are currently setting up interviews from members of the Living Barefoot community, businesses involved in providing barefoot alternative products, and other barefoot personalities.

We are also looking for ideas or suggestions for the show from other barefooters. If you have a show idea, please go to The Living Barefoot Podcast Show to find out how to submit your ideas as well as to stay updated on news about the show including airing times.

I'm extremely excited and honoured to be involved in the show and can't wait for the first show to air.

Excellent Minimalist Footwear Blog Series

Damien Tougas, of the blog ADVENTUREinPROGRESS, has just completed his excellent blog series on "The Case for Minimalist Footwear".

You can find the whole series at the following link:

I found it an incredibly enjoyable read, very informative, and must have taken Damien A LOT of work. I highly recommend the time to read it for any barefooter or anyone thinking of switching to the barefoot alternative.

Thanks Damien for all your hard work.

June 17, 2009

New VFF Models!

Robert (allawayr) from the forum made my day yesterday (more accurately, my whole week!) by posting pics of the new VFF models from a website in Germany. I think Vibram has outdone themselves with these two models and my hope is that they expand the barefoot alternative market even further.

The Vibram FiveFinger 'Glove'

The Glove looks like the most minimalist VFF yet! With no sole under the arch and between the joints of the toes, there is probably a lot more flexibility and minimalism than ever before. For people (myself included) who think the existing VFF models are 'cushy' after a while of going barefoot, the Glove will probably help with this when you can't go completely barefoot.

The Vibram FiveFinger 'Trek'

The Trek looks like the VFF answer to a trail shoe! After slipping in the mud running on trails last year, I can't wait for this shoe to become available. Also, if it's warmer than the Flow, maybe it's my answer to the perfect barefoot shoe?

The pictures are sourced from:

For the English translation of the German website, please visit:

Thanks Robert for sharing the news of the new discoveries. And thanks Justin for the edit on the Google translation.

Now all I need is patience to wait for them to come to North America!

June 15, 2009

VFF Collection

I was asked by Justin from to send in a picture of my VFF Collection. I thought that I'd show it here, too.

VFF Collection

I'm covered for VFFs with regards to weather: Classics for hot, KSOs for moderate, Flows or Surges for cold.

I've never been one to wear matching shoes for my outfits, but now that VFFs come in new cool colours, maybe I could get some more?

Maybe I have enough...for now.

For the whole story on my VFF collection, please see this post from Thanks Justin!

June 12, 2009

Barefoot on Grass

Today's barefooting on grass was far more successful than my last attempt. My faith has been renewed in going completely barefoot.

I left the house in VFF KSOs and we decided to walk around the soccer fields near our house. The grass is healthier now with less dry, dead grass. I took off my shoes at our turnaround, so about half of our walk was completely barefoot.

I noticed several things while barefoot today:
  1. I step much more lighly, even on grass, completely barefoot than in VFFs.
  2. I could feel a bit of jarring in my back (it was particularly sensitive today) with the VFFs and none barefoot.
  3. My knees also come up higher, maybe because they're more bent barefoot?
  4. The skin on the bottom of my feet felt tougher today than the last time.
  5. My feet and legs react faster to uncomfortable things I step on (eg, the odd rock in the field) barefoot than in VFFs.
  6. I really wanted to stop and enjoy the feel of the occassional tuft of soft grass beneath my feet.
  7. I look down at the ground a lot more when barefoot than in VFFs, probably because I care more about what I step on without any protection.
  8. I did not get the urge to run like I normally get when I'm outside walking in my VFFs. (I wonder why that is?)
  9. Absolutely no burning feeling on the bottom of my feet when I got home. (YAY!)
Well, I noticed a lot of things on today's walk: some good, some not so good, depending on your perspective. Today's walk was far more pleasant than the last time I went barefoot on grass. I'll probably keep working on it and see if my feet can still get tougher.

June 9, 2009

Barefoot Walking Experiment

I go for a walk around my neighbourhood almost every day. Today I was thinking of skipping it because my back hurt more than usual. I'm glad I went.

I went out with my KSO VFFs and Injijis on. I immediately noticed how much more cushioning there is with the toe socks on because I've been walking lately without any socks. I don't think I stepped any harder on the ground because of the extra cushioning, but you never know.

The experiment part: I thought I'd try landing on my forefoot while walking today to see what it feels like. I find that I usually walk this way when walking on gravel or other sharp surfaces; my step naturally changes to this way of landing. Today, I thought I'd try it on the sidewalk and compare it to the way I normally walk, which is landing on the outside of my heel first.

It is definitely not a natural way for me to step on a hard, even surface. It took a lot more energy and thought to walk this way. I noticed my footfalls were much quieter, though. But I also noticed how tired my back muscles got very quickly. I don't have a lot of back muscles at the moment (due to my current back injury) but I certainly felt them walking today. I wonder how it would feel to walk barefoot (or in barefoot shoes) with a forefoot landing for an extended period of time? My guess is it's probably a good workout, considering how tired my back muscles were after a short time. None of my leg muscles got tired so quickly, though.

When the back muscle fatigue started getting uncomfortable (not painful, though), I relaxed more into my normal walking stride. The outside of my heels would naturally hit the ground first, although very lightly. You can't really step hard in minimal footwear. My footfalls were louder than before. And most importantly, all the back muscle fatigue disappeared. I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but it definitely felt better to me. When I'm not consciously thinking about how I'm walking, I'll walk this way and without pain.

After walking for 20 minutes, the more-than-usual back pain that I'd felt all day was gone. I think I should have gone for my daily walk earlier in the day, I probably would have felt better sooner. Maybe I'll try forefoot landing a little more each day and see if my back muscles get stronger...

June 8, 2009

The Perfect Pair of Barefoot Shoes

In recognition of this weekend's snow (that's right, it is June, and this is Alberta), I thought that I'd share my idea of the perfect pair of barefoot shoes:

The perfect pair of barefoot shoes would accommodate those of us barefooters who live in climates with cold, wet winter conditions (it doesn't even have to be winter if you live in Canada). They would be lightweight, comfortable to the skin with or without socks, and come up above the ankles for deeper snow/puddles without interfering with natural ankle and achilles movements. They would prevent moisture from entering the shoes while still wicking moisture away from skin on the inside.

They would have a wide enough forefoot area to accommodate wiggling toes and the typically wider feet of those who are frequently unshod. They would have a thin, flat, flexible sole that would protect the wearer’s feet from sharp ice or rocks and crusty snow while still allowing the feeling of the contours of the ground beneath.

To protect against the extreme cold of winter (or spring, or fall for that matter), they would ideally have a removable insole of soft, insulating material that could be inserted or removed as the outside temperature and that of the ground dictated (although not a requirement as this may change the fit of the shoes).

They would be made from environmentally conscious materials in an environmentally sustainable way.

If only these shoes existed, I would have happy feet all year round, and not just when it was above 0C and dry outside.

June 3, 2009

Completely Barefoot Attempt #4 - Pansy Feet Strike Again

Today's attempt at completely barefoot was more of an attempt than an actual occurrence. After walking on the hot pavement for less than 5 minutes (and crossing a particularly rocky bit of sidewalk), I donned my KSOs. The combination of the heat and rocks was too much for my pansy feet today. I'm not giving up yet, though, there are future attempts in me still.

My spouse, however, is a barefoot superstar! He walked the entire distance in bare feet (we were out for a little over 30 minutes). He didn't even bring shoes to put on 'just in case'! He walked on hot pavement, sharp rocks, glass, poplar stickies, and barely missed a smoldering cigarette, all while holding the leashes of our two pulling puppies. He's amazing (I'm not biased in the least ;) ) and he has much tougher fee than I have.

In response to Ryan's comment from my last attempt, "You should try running a few steps next time".... I'm not quite ready for running yet. I'm recovering from complications from a herniated disc in my low back. It's been a slow recovery but it's coming along. From completely bedridden for a month, I can now walk over an hour (as long as it's in VFFs and not regular shoes) and today I walked up a nearby hill (my town is famous for its hills).

I've noticed since starting walking again that regular shoes aggravate my back pain. But, as long as I'm in VFFs, I don't seem to have any pain. In fact, on more painful days, I find that a walk around the neighbourhood in my VFFs makes me feel a whole lot better. So, I'm going to barefoot my way back to health.

Although there are no races for me this season, running or triathlon, I'm going to run again. And hopefully soon. I can't wait, though, to start running in my VFFs again. My feet are itching to get back at it. There may even be some completely barefoot running attempts.

June 1, 2009

TIME Magazine Interview of Christopher McDougall

Here's a link to a TIME Magazine interview of Christopher McDougall by Claire Suddath:

Q&A: The Myth of the Lonely Long-Distance Runner

He talks about some things that are included in the book and gives his opinion of running shoes and running.

May 31, 2009

Completely Barefoot Attempt #3

Yesterday's completely barefoot sidewalk excursion went better than the last one...feeling wise anyway.

I started out in my VFF Classics, but after 20 minutes, decided to take them off. I think because I started out in VFFs and switched to barefoot, I realized that I do step differently between the two. I noticed that my step starts with my heel in the VFFs and rolls forward, whereas while completely barefoot, I step more on the middle of my foot with barely any heel involvement at all. I always thought that I walk with a very barefoot gait in the VFFs, apparently not.

Either I didn't notice little rocks sticking to the bottom of my feet this time, or it didn't bother me. I only stopped one or twice to wipe the bottom of my feet on my pant legs.

I felt less conspicuous this time than last time, even though I was carrying my VFFs in my hand.

Two things I look forward to with the coming summer with regards to going barefoot:
  1. The end of poplar-sticky season (they are not fun stuck on the bottom of one's feet).
  2. The end of lawn fertilizer season (I don't even want to know what chemicals were absorbed through the bottom of my feet from stepping on little fertilizer bits).
I'm definitely going to keep trying going completely barefoot, especially now that I realized my gait really is different between barefoot and barefoot alternative.

May 29, 2009

Review - Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall is, without a doubt, the best non-fiction book I have ever read. It's an exciting, educational, humourous, heart-warming tale about the human condition and human evolution.

I enjoyed every minute of reading about the Tarahumara tribe in northern Mexico (the Running People) and the entire cast of characters including Caballo Blanco, Barefoot Ted, Scott Jurek, and especially Christopher McDougall's story of overcoming injurious adversity to become an ultramarathoner.

The book is the journey and culmination of the author's quest to answer one question:
How come my foot hurts?
It includes eye-opening revelations about running shoe marketing and the current state of running injuries.

It includes anthropological evidence supporting the Running Man theory of human evolution as well as the story about the origins of the theory itself. As a scientist myself, I found these chapters particularly captivating.

The book is filled with facts and statistics on the past and present history of running and why it is a fundamental necessity for humans to run not only for health but for happiness. Throughout its pages, one can find personal as well as general inspirational quotes including:
Ask nothing from your running...and you'll get more than you ever imagined. (byJoe Vigil)
If there's a magic bullet to make human beings healthy, it's to run. (by Dr. Daniel Lieberman from Harvard University)
You don't stop running because you get old. You get old because you stop running. (by Jack Kirk, the "Dipsea Demon" who ran the Dipsea Race at the age of 96)
I've shared my joy of reading this book with many people already, including runners and non-runners. It is a truly inspirational read and I highly recommend it to anyone. Thank you, Christopher McDougall for compiling an impressive and inspirational array of running facts and stories, and sharing your own story of personal triumph and victory.

May 26, 2009

Video for BORN TO RUN

I've been reading Christopher McDougall's new book, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, for a little over a week now (I'm a slow reader). It's absolutely phenomenal! I'll be posting my favourite quotes from the book soon (only 30 pages to go before I finish the book).

In the meantime, I thought that I'd post this video of Christopher McDougall telling his story. Enjoy.

Christopher McDougall on why he was BORN TO RUN

May 25, 2009

Completely Barefoot Attempt #2

This weekend it was over 20C again so I thought I'd try going completely barefoot again. This time, on sidewalk, not grass. It went...better.

I stepped out my front door and discovered how cold concrete can be in 20C in the shade. It was cool. I actually felt the coolness of the concrete, which I've never felt before.

Then I stepped onto concrete that was in the sun. It was totally different. Warm. It's amazing the temperature changes of the ground we never feel while wearing shoes.

Off I went down my driveway. I thought I'd have trouble with the hard concrete and asphalt of the road at the end of the driveway but my feet had no problems with the hard surface. It was easy to walk on the flat surfaces.

I didn't feel like I had as bad of pansy feet, either. It didn't hurt at all to walk completely barefoot down the road or down the sidewalk. I found that my stride was very similar to when I walk in VFFs. I might have stepped a little lighter on my feet (in unconscious concern of my pansy feet).

I do remember feeling very conspicuous not wearing any shoes. How odd that I feel more conspicuous in public wearing nothing on my feet compared to wearing VFFs.

Another thing I remember is having to stop every few metres to wipe my feet on my pant leg to remove the small pebbles that had lodged themselves in my flesh. It didn't hurt, it was just annoying. I wonder how you keep that from happening? Tougher feet?

Completely barefoot attempt #2 was far more successful and enjoyable than #1. Now, to solve the rocks-stuck-on-bottom-of-foot problem...

May 21, 2009

Review - Vibram FiveFingers Classic

I don't have much to write about the VFF Classic that has not been included in two already posted reviews of these barefoot alternative shoes by Living Barefoot and They are both thorough and enjoyable reviews.

I have two pairs of Classics: the mauve/sand upper, grey bottom and the black on black.

I find them to be my favourite VFFs for walking around town if I want a shoe for warmer weather, like sandals. They are incredibly easy to slip on, have never fallen off my feet, and I love the look of them. I love the look of them so much that I have been known to wear the all black pair while wearing a cocktail dress to a New Year's Eve party as well as a beach party in the middle of winter (in a heated tent).

These were the shoes that I competed my second sprint triathlon in and found them to be a wonderful transition as well as running shoe (although I recommend Vaseline on your toes if you're going to run a reasonable distance).

I find the Classics slightly less comfortable than my KSOs for longer durations of wear because the toes are a little tighter, which helps them stay on, but makes them less comfortable at the same time.

I have recently discovered a modification that makes the upper more comfortable for me too: I removed the elastic cord. I found that I didn't need to tighten it at all for the shoe to stay on my foot, and it could dig on the top of my foot when worn for a long time, so I cut it out. I've worm both of my pairs of Classics like this and enjoy them even more than before.

I don't find that the high back on the achilles tendon is irritating in any way, which is what I thought I'd find when first seeing them.

They are comfortable enough that I have forgotten that I'm wearing them, until someone sees them and stares or asks a question about them, which happens about every second time I wear them in public. Now that it is finally getting warmer here, I'll be wearing the Classics a lot more often.

May 17, 2009

Pansy Feet :(

In celebration of the over 20C weather today, I decided to go for a walk completely barefoot. I had high hopes for this walk. I was not expecting the degree of pansy feet that I experienced...

I left my house with my spouse and two dogs with a pair of KSOs on my feet. It was warm and humid this morning, a rare combination for this area. We walked to the nearby soccer fields that have a large expanse of grass surrounding them.

Just before reaching the soccer fields, I decided to take my shoes off. I thought that the grass was growing enough by now to be soft and thought that it would still be cool from the night before.

The first thing I noticed was that my feet were bending more. I don't know how else to explain it but they would bend to the contours in the ground much more than when wearing VFFs. I liked it, I felt like my feet were getting an excellent workout.

The second thing I noticed was that the grass was not soft. It was prickly. I guess there was not enough new grass yet to cover up the rough dead grass underneath (spring starts late here in southern Alberta). I chose a path next to the soccer fields that is trampled down from soccer players running around the field, which ended up being softer than the grass further from the fields. It started feeling less prickly on my feet.

I enjoyed the feeling of stretching my feet, completely free of any shoe. I enjoyed the way my feet bent around the contours of the ground. I enjoyed the feeling of the warm new grass (when there was patches of mostly new and not old grass).

As we left the soccer fields, the new grass was more sparse and the old grass was prickly again so I decided to put my shoes back on. I was grateful when we reached a part of the park that had recently been aerated and had hard chunks of dirt which would have probably hurt my tender feet to step on without the protection of the KSOs.

When we got home, I laid on the couch for a little while and noticed something odd. The bottoms of my feet were burning. When I looked at them, they were covered in blotchy red spots. Apparently, I'm allergic to something that I stepped on whilst experiencing complete barefootedness :(

I'm not overly surprised as my skin often gets hives from laying on dry grass. I soaked my feet in cool water and washed them thoroughly with soap. They started to feel better.

So until the new grass grows a little thicker, I'll stick to my VFFs on grass. I really want to try going completely barefoot more. Next time, I'll try shoelessness on the sidewalk.

May 15, 2009

Barefoot Triathlon

I felt particular inspired by my triathlon buddies today (thanks Richelle, Susi, and Julie), so I thought that I'd write today about barefoot triathlon.

I had the extreme pleasure of participating in the Strathmore Women's Triathlon this passed August . It was my second sprint triathlon that season, and ever. It was my first (and so far only) triathlon running in VFFs. I ran the 5 km in my Classics and it was brilliant (sorry, no pictures, apparently my feet were camera shy that day).

I arrived at the venue in a pair of VFF KSOs. I received a lot of stares from other participants and spectators. I was asked several times if I was doing the triathlon in these shoes. I said I was running the race in a pair of barefoot shoes similar to the ones I had on. Many people asked me if I was swimming and biking in these barefoot shoes, to which I replied that I was not. I think that any shoes, barefoot shoes or not, would cause drag in the pool and I prefer to wear clip-in bike shoes on the bike. But for the run, they're awesome.

The swim and bike went very well for me for this race but this is a post about running triathlon in barefoot shoes. Coming off the bike, I was feeling a little winded (I had pushed pretty hard on the last half of the bike going uphill most of the way) so was a little worried about how I might feel starting off on the run. I got off my bike and while putting my bike gloves on, I slipped on both my VFF Classics. I bent over to adjust my pinky toes slightly and off I was on the run. No socks, no laces, no other adjustments. I don't know what my time was in T2, but it felt super fast and was definitely WAY faster than my T2 time from my last sprint tri (when I opted for socks and shoes with laces).

During my first sprint tri, I had had a bad experience on the run: my legs felt extremely heavy the whole time, my leg joints and arches ached, and I had a stitch in my side for over half of it. I decided to try this tri in the VFFs and see if it would be different. Everything about this tri run was different and more enjoyable than my first.

The run on a sprint triathlon is 5 km. Not once during the run did my legs feel heavy, it really felt like there was nothing on my feet, the VFFs are that light. I was a little worried about running on pavement because I tend not to do that in training runs but there were no problems for me on the hard surface. I felt no pain in my legs or arches during the entire run. I had no stich in my side and my run time ended up being slightly faster than my first tri run (there could have been a lot of reasons for that, but I'm saying it was because my shoes made me feel so good). Amazingly, I found another gear at the 3 km mark (meaning I found some more speed in me), which NEVER happens to me during a race. And most amazing of all, was that there was even one more gear at the 4 km mark. I am not a fast runner, but for me to find additional speed that I can sustain (even for a short distance) was incredible for me. I'm going to say that "it's gotta be the shoes" (see video in the sidebar for clarification :) ).

I was extremely impressed with the feel of the VFFs during this triathlon. When I participate in more, I will always run them in barefoot alternative shoes (or maybe really barefoot someday). One of my goals for every race I did last year was to complete it pain-free. During my first triathlon, I was not successful; for my second, I was. I credit the VFFs on the run for most of that.

The only thing I'm changing on the run for my next triathlon, is to try to quickly apply some vaseline to my feet before slipping them into my Classics. Because my Classics fit a little loose in some toes, they were a little chafed in some places (as many body parts get chafed during triathlon). I think it was because I wasn't used to running as fast in the VFFs as I ran that day. All skin discomfort was gone the next day but I thought I'd try it anyway (even though it'll slow my T2 time a little bit).

To summarize, I think the VFFs Classics are a brilliant barefoot alternative triathlon shoe and I can't wait to try them out again.

May 13, 2009

No Shoes, No Service?!

I had to go to a mall today. (As a rule, I try to avoid such places but it couldn't be helped today.) Of course, I wore a pair of VFFs. If I have to go to crowded places, I like to at least have happy feet.

Anyway, as I walked in the front door, I noticed a lot of little symbols at the bottom of the door on the glass. What caught my attention today was the following symbol at the end of a long row of other symbols:

I was completely taken aback upon seeing that little symbol! My first thought was: What's wrong with barefeet?! Additional thoughts included: Are barefeet too dirty for this mall? Are barefeet too unsanitary for this mall? Are barefeet not fashionable enough for this mall? Are barefeet not allowed because of some liability issue? What if I step in something wet and leave barefoot foot prints behind me? Is mall security going to follow those foot prints in order to throw out the customer without shoes?

I can understand some of the other symbols in that row, including:

I can understand not allowing smoking, dogs (much to my dismay, I'd love to take my furry family into the mall with me), and bikes into a mall. All of the above can harm other people. I don't think barefeet has ever harmed any person but the person without shoes (except maybe transmissible plantar's warts but one would think that such an afflicted individual would wear socks).

I think that I was insulted by that symbol on the door. Going barefoot is a perfectly healthy way to walk, run, shop, etc. Maybe I'll send the mall management company an email asking why barefeet are not allowed in their establishment...

I guess until the rest of the world sees barefeet as beautiful, we'll have to deal with barefoot alternative shoes...while shopping at least.

May 12, 2009

Reasons people have said they could never barefoot

Number 7 of my last post (Memorable Comments while Barefooting) reminds me of many of the reasons people have said they could never barefoot or never wear VFFs. I thought I'd share some of them and what my response was (or wish had been):

1) My plantar fasciitis is so bad - I had plantar fasciitis for 4 years before I switched to barefoot shoes, and now it's completely healed. My arches are stronger than they ever were because I wear barefoot shoes.
2) I have so many foot problems that I need my orthotics and supportive shoes - I know that my feet have gotten much stronger since switching to barefoot shoes. Without supportive shoes, your own muscles and ligaments support your foot and gain strength and flexibility.
3) I'd be afraid of stepping on something sharp and cutting the bottom of my foot - I've found that my neuromuscular pathways and biomechanics have improved; if I walk on something sharp, my foot automatically removes pressure from the object, without thinking about it. I also wear the VFFs to keep from getting cut, the thin rubber sole allows for significant sensory perception while still being protective enough to not get cut.
4) I wouldn't want to step on something gross with my bare foot - Me neither, that's why I wear barefoot shoes.
5) There's stuff between your toes! - Only in the VFFS. If you were truly barefoot there would be nothing between your toes. There are also barefoot alternatives that don't have anything between your toes (eg, Vivo Barefoot and Feelmax).
6) I could never sacrifice my fashionable shoes - You got me there. I'm one to choose function over fashion, but I know that's not for everyone.

That's all the reasons people have said they could never barefoot or wear barefoot shoes that I can think of for now. When more come to me (or people tell me new ones), I'll write more.

May 9, 2009

Memorable Comments while Barefooting

I get a lot of strange questions/comments and strange looks from people when I'm outside in my VFFs. I thought I'd share a few (and my usual response):

1) Are those things comfortable? (Of course, why would I wear them otherwise?)
2) Does it hurt when you step on rocks? (Not usually, although sharp gravel isn't that much fun)
3) Are those socks or shoes? (Shoes. I wear toe socks inside of them)
4) Why are you wearing those instead of regular shoes? (Regular shoes hurt my feet, legs, and back)
5) Are those good for your feet? (They're awesome for your feet, they're like walking barefoot, the way we were built to walk)
6) Do you run in those? (Of course)
7) I could never wear those because of.... (insert any one of numerous excuses here without being prompted for any explanation) (I generally raise my eyebrows and say nothing to this because I prefer to talk to the open-minded when approached by strangers)
8) What's supporting your arch? (My foot)
9) (While walking at university campus through puddles) OMG! LOOK, someone's footprints are bare!!! (My personal favourite)
10) Where do you buy 'em? (My second favourite :) )

May 6, 2009

An Awesome Review of VFFs

In case you've ever wanted to read a thorough and enjoyable review of Vibram FiveFingers, go to the following link from Living Barefoot:

Review - Vibram FiveFingers: Classic, Sprint & KSO

Enjoy the read.

May 5, 2009

The Living Barefoot Forums

I recently discovered an online barefoot community at the Living Barefoot Forums. It was that discovery, in part, which lead to this blog.

I've read amazing stories about favourite barefoot moments, memorable comments while barefooting, and others' general experiences barefooting. There are topics for general discussions, barefoot running, barefoot hiking, foot care, legal issues & myths, and even a contest to win free Vivo Barefoot shoes!

I recommend the site and the forum for long-time barefooters, those just starting out, or those thinking about switching to the barefoot alternative.

May 3, 2009

VFF KSO - Race Report

Last July (I did mention this blog is catching up from last May), I ran a trail race for the first time ever in VFFs. (It was actually my first season back racing after a 4-year hiatus due to a back injury.) I ran the Sprint distance at the Sundre, Alberta 5 Peaks Trail Running Series.

I remember being incredibly apprehensive about running in the VFFs. Would the trail be too rocky for my pansy feet? Would I have any grip in the mud? Would I have any grip going uphill on slippery terrain? Would my arches start hurting because I haven't strengthened them enough to run this distance on trail?

Turns out that most of my fears did not come to pass as reality. It was a beautiful day for a trail race: perfect temperature, sunshine, and a much drier trail than the year before (even though I didn't race the 5 Peaks before, I have volunteered at their races for 5 years now). The trail was mostly grass for the 6 km race course as it's a popular cross-country ski trail in the winter. There was one big mud puddle near the beginning of the race that I had a little trouble getting through but not too difficult. I just went slow and tried not to fall in the mud (I'm a bit of a klutz). The hills were no problem and my arches didn't have a single twinge in them the whole race.

The things I remember most about wearing the VFFs for that race are the weightlessness of my feet and FEELING the terrain. I find that trail runners feel heavy after a short time, whether it's from lack of leg strength or water/mud weight, I don't know. There was no such heaviness to my feet that day. I also discovered that trail races are much more fun when you can feel the roots, pine needles, leaves, mud, grass, puddles, dirt, and pebbles (although gravel isn't that much fun for me). If you've run barefoot, you know what I mean; if you haven't run barefoot, you probably don't. It is a completely different experience.

I finished the 6 km race with no pain in my feet, legs or back, which was my goal going in. I'm not about the time that it takes to finish a race but more about how I feel while I'm running it. I was proud of myself for attempting the run in my VFFs and happy that I accomplished my goals for the day.

I also finished the race with soaking wet, extremely muddy KSOs. I was relieved when they came out of the washing machine the next day looking brand new again.

My wet and muddy KSOs after the race on the right and another runner in clean, black KSOs on the left (note the muddy legs above the sock line :) )

I also remember that there were two other runners in VFFs after the race, neither had run the race in them as they are both extremely competitive trail runners, but they both chose VFFs as their after-race footwear. I was practically giddy to see other people enjoying VFFs as much as I do.

May 2, 2009

Review: Vibram FiveFingers KSOs

I'm not a professional writer nor am I a professional photographer. This is my first shoe review. I wanted to share my thoughts on the VFF KSO after a year of owning them.

My first pair of KSOs when I first bought them

My first pair of KSOs are W38 grey/palm upper, grey bottom . When I first put them on, they were tight around my foot and hard to get on. They've stretched/conformed to the size of my foot and are easy to slide on and off. It took some getting used to placing my toes in each of the toe pockets properly but now my toes slide into the right place every time.

I still find the KSOs weightless on my feet and still occasionally forget that they're on my feet (usually until someone mentions them, which still happens almost every day). They are the most comfortable pair of shoes I own.

The strap shows almost no wear. There are some bits of material in the Velcro after a year but it still works perfectly with or without toe socks on. There is plenty of room for toe socks in them and they don't affect the fit much other than the strap has to be a little looser than normal.

These particular shoes have been soaked through with mud and yet they will still come perfectly clean in the washing machine. I think they still look new even after a year.

My first pair of KSOs after a year

After wearing them everyday for a week without socks (when they were my only pair of VFFs), they did hold in the smell. I sprayed some Oxy cleaner (has hydrogen peroxide in it) on them, let them sit for half an hour, washed them in the washing machine and found that they didn't smell after that.

When I first bought them I was concerned about how long the sole would last as it is so thin. The only part of the sole that shows wear on my KSOs are on the toes, the ridges have been ground down. There are no bare/ground down areas anywhere else on the shoes that I can tell.

Bottom of original KSOs after a year

Toe bottoms on original KSOs after a year

The KSO is my favourite style of VFFs. I bought a pair of black KSOs to be a little less conspicuous and people seem to comment about them less.

Black KSOs

Between the Classics, Flows, and Surges, I find the KSOs are the most comfortable on my toes and most versatile for moderate weather (Canadian spring, summer, and fall weather that is). My next pair will be the blue/grey upper, camo bottom and I can't wait to get them.

For a more in-depth review of the KSOs, go to:
Keith-In-Training: The Vibram FiveFinger KSO's - Part I
RunningSoules: Vibram FiveFinger Review

April 28, 2009

Running Barefoot

I started running about nine years ago. In that time, I think I've suffered from a variety of running injuries: first metatarsal joint pain, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, patellar femoral pain, IT band tightness, hip pain, and back pain (not all at once but one or two afflictions most of the time). I started wondering why I was running.

I trained for and completed a few trail races like this, all through the pain. I could never run further than 25 km because training past that would hurt too much.

Last year, I discovered barefoot running (in my VFFs). Running is a completely different activity for me now. It's fun!!! I couldn't believe how fun it could be.

What makes running barefoot different than running in regular shoes? My gait is completely different: absolutely no heel striking, gentle steps, no bouncing, short strides, faster turnover, mid-food landing, and NO pain. This all changed without even thinking. For me, these changes just happened naturally.

When I started switching to barefoot running, I had to start out slow. My first attempt lasted 5 minutes before my arches exclaimed that they had had enough. I wouldn't call it a pain in my arches, more like a sensation of overusing a part of your body you don't normally use. I had extremely weak arches from many years of pampering them with orthotics due to plantar fasciitis. I added 2.5 to 5 minutes more to every run after that. My arches, feet, and legs (especially calves) eventually got strong enough to run barefoot for an hour non-stop. It was glorious! I had never before been able to run for an hour without something hurting.

A few weeks after being able to run in VFFs without switching to regular shoes for some time during a run, I thought I'd try a run in just regular shoes (I think it was muddy out that day). It was horrid! After running for 20 minutes, my ankles, shins, and knees hurt horribly. I don't want to blame the shoes, I think it has more to do with my gait while wearing the shoes. What I do know is that my feet and my body prefer to run barefoot so that is how I will run.

Why I Barefoot

First, a little bit about my life before barefooting. I severely injured my back six years ago and have suffered from back and sacroiliac (SI) joint pain ever since to varying degrees. I tried everything I could think of to relieve the pain.

Last April, I read an article online called 'You Walk Wrong' by Adam Sternbergh. The premise of the article is:
"It took 4 million years of evolution to perfect the human foot. But we're wrecking it with every step we take."
Basically, with our shoes. This article has profound revelations in it (at least for me). So I thought I'd try one of the barefoot alternative shoes mentioned in the article: the Vibram FiveFingers (VFFs).

I drove down to my nearest retailer and tried them on. It's hard to describe the feeling of putting them on and walking for the first time. It was a completely eye-opening experience. I didn't realize until that moment that every step I took in shoes with a positive heel (a shoe with a heel higher than the forefoot) causes pressure pain in my SI joints. You'd think I would have realized this when just taking off my shoes but I never did until my first steps in the VFFs.

I wear my VFFs as often as I can. I own six pairs now. I still feel those same pressure pains whenever I have to wear regular shoes, which I do reluctantly and mostly because of winter weather conditions.

So, why I barefoot? Because it's healthy, comfortable, freeing, natural, pain-free, gives me a greater connection with the ground I walk on, and it's the way my feet evolved to be used.