December 14, 2011

Gift from VIVOBAREFOOT

The holidays arrived a little early for me! VIVOBAREFOOT sent me a beautiful gift that I wanted to share because it's so neat! They sent specially made VIVOBAREFOOT cookies from Eleni's New York, a hard copy of Lee Saxby's Proprioception: Making Sense of Barefoot Running, and a thoughtful card. Thanks Michelle and Lizzie, you're the best and I wish you both a happy New Year to come!




And the cookies are VERY yummy!

Hiking with the Dogs

My family decided to have a bit of a snow day yesterday. We drove out to Bragg Creek with the idea that we'd do some snow shoeing. Turns out that the snow wasn't all that deep out there and most of the trails had been groomed. We decided to hike with just our boots instead.

Again, I had the dilemma of which boots to bring. I decided to bring my old pair of hiking boots from the pre-minimalist footwear days. I don't have a pair of minimalist boots that would work well with snow shoes. I think it's one of those few times when you probably want a rigid sole beneath your foot.

It was the first walk I think I've done in conventional footwear in over three years! Here are some observations I made:
  • I missed feeling the ground
  • The boots were surprisingly wide enough for my feet
  • My feet were warm the whole time
  • They are so heavy!
  • Walking on snow and soft ground wasn't so bad
  • Walking on asphalt felt like I was walking on a wedge despite the miniscule heel rise the boots have
  • There are times when a conventional shoe isn't a bad idea (ie, snow shoeing)
Here are some pics from the hike. Snow days are great! :)

Take 1: With dogs

Take 2: Without dogs

Icy Neo Trails

It's often a dilemma for me to pick which shoes to wear for a walk with the dogs (I know, such a rough dilemma to have but, believe me, I'm grateful at this point because it wasn't always this way). The other day, we went for a walk and it had snowed quite a bit and was icy on all the sidewalks and paths. I chose to wear the Neo Trails and am so grateful I did for this particular walk.

We ended up walking along the snow covered paths around our neighbourhood and it was beautiful. We decided to cut across the frozen creek to the other side instead of walking all the way down to the bridge and back. The creek is usually QUITE frozen by this time of year. Apparently, this is not the case this year.

Much to my surprise, one of my steps made my foot fall through the ice into the water below. Thankfully the creek is not deep this time of year and there was only enough water to go up to my ankle (the rest was frozen).

This post is about how grateful I am that the upper in the Neo Trail is hydrophobic. Most of the cold creek water beaded away from my foot and didn't soak it through. The only part of me that got wet was just above the throat of the shoe. Had I not been wearing water resistant footwear, I might have been in big trouble getting home in the cold and snow with a soaking wet foot. Because most of my foot was dry, I easily made it home before the cold set in too deep in my ankle.

In addition to their fantastic water repellant properties, they also have incredible grip in the snow and they're warm enough for temperatures down to -10C (with socks, of course).

Can you tell which shoe fell through the ice?

November 21, 2011

Road Tripping

My spouse and I just returned from an 8-day road trip to the U.S. and back. We drove south through Alberta, crossed the border into Montana, drove through Idaho, Nevada, and reached California. We stayed in Auberry, CA for three nights where we learned how to ride dirt bikes through Rich Oliver's Mystery School (if you've ever wanted to try dirt biking, I would highly recommend going to Mystery School, Rich and his wife, Karin are wonderful hosts and teachers). We drove back up through California, along the coastal highway in Oregon, across Washington, a little ways through Idaho again, across the border into British Columbia, and then back home to Alberta.

It was a trip of three seasons: we drove through snowstorms on the way down as well as beautiful fall colours and experienced summer again in California. On the way back, it was the reverse until we reached winter again in northern Washington.

Why would I write about my road trip on a blog about being barefoot (or it's alternative of minimalist footwear)? Because sometimes it's hard to pick the best shoes for travelling. I often find it a dilemma picking which shoes to pack before going on a trip; I'm often limited in space. This trip I brought my Soft Star Moc3s, the VIVOBAREFOOT Evo, and the VIVOBAREFOOT Boxing Boot (they just arrived to review).

So what did I wear? Mostly the Moc3s. I find they are really very comfortable for road tripping. They feel like slippers and have plenty of room to wiggle my toes wide. On the occasions where we got out of the car to see up close what we usually drove by at 70 m/hr, I enjoy the extremely minimal sole and their amazing ground feel. I loved being able to feel the squishy ground at the Redwood National Forest in Oregon and the beach beneath my feet at the ocean. They were even fine in the snow as long as I didn't need too much traction. :)

And here are some pics of our trip:

Yes, I'm actually barefoot! The ocean is a little cold this time of year but I did manage to run along the beach and into the cold water. This picture was taken after the dip.

A little further along the coast from the dip. The Soft Star Moc3s are perfect travelling shoes.
You can't tell, because I'm so small in the picture compared to the enormous redwood tree, but I'm wearing the Moc3s. The ground covered in redwood needles was wonderful to feel through the minimalist soles.



November 11, 2011

Introducing Barefoot Banter

Al and I decided to try something new with The Living Barefoot Show recently. I had such a great time talking with Caity McCardell at Run Barefoot Girl (check out the link for her interview of me here), that I wanted to include Caity more in The Living Barefoot Show. Therefore, the idea for Barefoot Banter was born. It's a new format of show where Al, Caity, and me talk about interesting topics in the barefoot world. It's not investigative reporting by any stretch, it's more three friends chatting about topics that interest us. If you've ever wanted to hear me try not to sound like an idiot, check out the first of our Barefoot Banter episodes. There are plenty more to come.


October 29, 2011

VIVOBAREFOOT Evos Coming to their Inevitable End

I am sad to say that my VIVOBAREFOOT Evos are starting to fail. Although, I have to say that I am VERY happy with how well they've lasted and performed over the year and half that I've owned them.

These have been my go-to shoes ever since they arrived in the mail. Because I write reviews for Living Barefoot, I get a lot of shoes in the mail, some are winners and some definitely are not. The Evos quickly became my favourite pair of minimalist footwear for errands, walking the dogs, and most especially running. I even wore them on several hikes in the mountains. They are one of the most comfortable pairs of shoes I have EVER worn. I don't know how many kilometres I've put on them but quite a few of them have been in rocky, rooty, muddy, thorny, and downright difficult conditions for any shoe, let alone a minimalist shoe.

How are they failing, you might ask? The mesh on the upper is starting to rip and become holey. I hit a rock pretty hard once recently with the very top of the shoe (I was surprised and grateful I didn't break a toe on that one) and it tore the mesh open there as well. I'm totally impressed that the TPU cage is holding fast so I'll probably continue to wear them despite my pinky toes starting to poke through the mesh on the sides.

The sole is holding up well also. These are my favourite road running shoes as well and the sole, although definitely showing wear, still has a lot of life in them yet.

Despite their beginning to fail, I know that if I had abused a pair of conventional shoes this way, they probably would have failed a long time ago. I have other minimalist footwear whose uppers have not lasted so well so long. And I have other minimalist shoes whose soles have not lasted so well with far fewer kilometres on them than these. These Evos have been well-loved and brutally abused (at least compared to any pair of shoes that I have ever owned).

Because I love them so much, I'll probably keep wearing them but I think it's time to buy another pair soon...

Here are some pics of my beloved and abused year and half-old Evos:










Beloved Injinjis

I have loved Injinji Toe Socks since I received my first pair as a race souvenir at a 5 Peaks race several years ago. Since then, I've been slowly growing my collection and have come to realize I wear them probably over 95% of the time now. Why would I write about toe socks on a 'barefoot alternative blog'? Because I think they are a healthy product for our feet as they allow absolute freedom of ALL the toes. I find whenever I wear regular socks now, my toes feel squished and constricted. I wiggle my toes a lot and stretch them out after standing for a long time (which I do a lot because I have a standing desk to work at) so love that I can stretch all my toes out as far as they can go when wearing Injinjis.

A friend recently asked me what kind she should buy so I thought I'd write a post about the different kinds I have so she can decide which pair (or pairs) will work best for her. What better way to do that than with pictures? So here are some pictures and captions of the different models of Injinjis I have. Keep in mind, these socks aren't new and are well loved. :)

Performance Series Original Weight Mini-Crew Black. Just above the ankle, mid-weight toe sock great for running and hiking in minimalist shoes or just wearing around the house.

Outdoor Series Mini-Crew Slate. Wool toe socks which are the thickest and warmest Injinjis I have. They are quite warm around the house but don't fit well in tight shoes. They are great for cooler temperature walks or hikes with boots or a wider shoe. The wool doesn't conform to the feet as well as the synthetic material does but they are definitely not itchy against the skin.

Performance Series Eco Mini-Crew Rainbow Black. These have become my favourite Injinjis, mostly because of their colours. :) They are mid-weight synthetic socks but come in funky rainbow colours. They are the same thickness as the Original Weight Mini-Crew Black toe socks above so are also great for running and hiking but mostly I wear them for more casual outings as I don't want them to get stained with dirt.

Performance Series Lightweight No-Show Grey. The thinnest and smallest of my Injinjis. They really don't show much while wearing any minimalist shoe. Because they are so thin, they fit very well in tighter shoes. They probably won't last as long as the mid-weight socks, however, and don't provide that much warmth, which isn't really the point of them. They are a thin interface between your skin and your shoes and do a great job preventing blisters.

Performance Series Lightweight Mini-Crew Black. I've folded down the top edge in the picture to show that, if you want, you can have Injinjis that don't show any brand markings, not that Injinjis' are obtrusive in any way. Still a thin interface between your skin and your shoes but won't show any stains.

Performance Series Lightweight Mini-Crew Grey. I ran a muddy trail with these and, although they performed beautifully, I haven't quite gotten the dirt stain out of them yet. These have become my go-to toe socks for trail running. :)

Performance Series Lightweight Crew Black. These fit great under boots! A thin interface between your skin and your footwear that go up mid-calf. I wear these a lot with my motorcycle boots.
That's my current collection. They are all well-loved and worn much.

When do I go back to wearing conventional socks? The only time I've found I wear regular socks is riding my motorcycle when it's cold (between 0-5C). Because Injinjis have separate toe pockets, they're like gloves for your feet. Regular socks are like mittens; they keep the heat in a little better and the warmth evenly distributed across your toes. Although I can wiggle my toes in my motorcycle boots, the lack of activity doesn't allow me to create enough body heat to keep my toes warm enough in such cold weather with separate toe pockets. But my toes are definitely NOT as happy in regular socks as they are in toe socks!


NUUN Addiction

Back in May, whilst in New York for the VIVOBAREFOOT Coaching Program, my dear and lovely friend Barefoot Angie Bee introduced me to NUUN. I've been hopelessly addicted ever since.

To begin the tale, I should probably talk about what happened in New York. At the time, Angie was a regional rep for NUUN so had brought a bunch of samples to share with the attendees of the coaching program. I was a little skeptical at first because I had only ever tried Gatorade powder in water and I liked that quite a bit at the time. The day before the coaching program started, Angie and a friend of ours from VIVOBAREFOOT had a lovely day touring New York City. We walked all over Manhattan and across the Brooklyn Bridge, sight-seeing all day long. It was a gorgeous day and we all had a great time. We finished the day with dinner at a Brooklyn Pub, which was great, until we all got home. All three of us had a touch of food poisoning. The next day, the first day of the coaching program, Angie and I were still feeling the previous night's effects and I didn't think I could keep any kind of breakfast in. Angie suggested I try some of the NUUN she brought so I could at least get in some electrolytes.

So I tried it.

And it was wonderful.

I don't even remember what flavour it was but it tasted great and it stayed in. My belly actually stopped hurting. And I was hooked. I drank NUUN in my water the rest of the trip. And now I drink a lot of NUUN at home, too, and especially when I exercise.

Here are some things I've learned about NUUN since my initial hit in New York:
  • I enjoy all the flavours I've tried and my favourite is probably Strawberry Lemonade
  • Kona Cola is the only flavour with caffeine (that I know of and that I've tried) and it tastes a lot like Coke but without the sugar
  • I drink a lot of NUUN while travelling to stay hydrated and have taken it on every trip I've been on since New York
  • It's super easy to pack in their little tubes and (if I remember) easy to mix and match flavours in one tube
  • I'm convinced that drinking NUUN keeps me from getting 'travel headaches' (which I used to get a lot and was probably due to being dehydrated in an effort to keep from having to find a bathroom in a strange place)
  • While drinking straight water at home, I often find it goes right through me and I have to pee every 20 minutes (I know, a bit of TMI) but if I add some NUUN to my water, over-peeing issues resolve immediately (they're probably due to some kind of electrolyte imbalance, I think)
  • I LOVE that NUUN has no sugar! Not only can I drink it all the time without worrying about calories but I don't have to worry about washing my water bottle out with soap every time I drink it because it doesn't grow bacteria (this is especially nice when travelling where I've found international water alone can make my bottle smelly after only a couple of days)
  • If I have NUUN available while exercising, I tend to drink A LOT (because it tastes so good) so for short hikes or run, I"ll leave the NUUN in the car and bring water so I don't run out on the course
  • I like NUUN so much better than Gatorade now because I can control how many calories I take in separately from my water and electrolytes
  • I don't have any sorbitol issues but have found that some people can have sorbitol intolerance problems (which are apparently no fun at all)
I am grateful to Angie every day that she introduced me to NUUN (thank you so much, Angie!). If you haven't tried it and want to, it's available at a number of sport-related stores or online, of course.

NUUN flavours I've tried

Long Time No Post Update

I dislike leaving blog posting for over a month but I have spent the last month writing a lot for Living Barefoot and quite a bit of coaching for Living Barefoot Coaching. On to the details...

I've been trying to catch up on writing shoe reviews for Living Barefoot. With the increased popularity of minimalist shoes, Al and I found ourselves somewhat swamped (but in a totally good way) with shoe reviews this summer and fall. In the last month, I've written four reviews (which will all be going online in the next couple of weeks) and I still have four to go. Then another three shoes are currently in the mail for fall reviews. It's been a bit of a hectic writing schedule. I love that there is so much choice in the minimalist shoe market now. What a change from two years ago!

Living Barefoot Coaching is picking up as well. I've spent the last four Fridays coaching at Dynastream Innovations Inc. in Cochrane with Natural Running Lunch & Learn sessions. They've been so much fun and I've learned a lot. I really do believe that 'You teach what you want to learn' and with every client I coach or every presentation I give, I'm learning something, too. The people at Dynastream have all been great sports and I hope to continue coaching some of the wonderful people I met there.

In other coaching news, I've started 'running' form check-in runs with past clients. We start with a couple warm-up exercises and then head out on my favourite nearby trail, through the Cochrane Ranche. We focus on form on the way out and usually run to the 180 BPM cadence beeping out of the metronome. On the way back, we just have fun and enjoy the scenery.

Here are a couple pics of yesterday's group run:

Warming up

Heading out on the trail

In other coaching news, I'll be attending the 5 Peaks Central Alberta Mountain Equipment Co-op Night on November 6 from 6-8 PM. I'm hoping to have a lovely poster presentation (which is this weekend's assignment to get finished) and have more of a Q&A type of set-up then a formal talk. So if you're in the Calgary area and want to see what Living Barefoot Coaching is about in addition to learning something about the biomechanics of running, come on down to MEC November 6.

On to some catch-up blog posting...

September 23, 2011

Ghosting the Second 5 Peaks Canmore Race

Back in June, I ran the first 5 Peaks Canmore race. Last weekend, I ran the second 5 Peaks Canmore race. I ghosted the race again, meaning I ran the race without a race number. I find it really takes the pressure off and makes the 'race' more enjoyable for me. I'm out there to run a fun course on my own terms at my own comfortable speed and don't have to worry about times and categories and all that jazz.

I woke up super early again for the race because I was volunteering at registration (as always). But this time, I rode my motorcycle to the race! My motorcycle is a relatively new acquisition and activity for me and I was super excited to ride by myself the 80 km to Canmore from home (and then back again after the race!). Despite the small amount of rain on the way there, it was a glorious ride.

Anyway, back to the race.

After I finished my volunteer duties, I had about 10 minutes to change and get ready to run. I could have taken as long as I wanted, I suppose, but it didn't end up taking me very long to get ready. My friend that was there racing even commented on how fast I was. :)

I started the race very shortly after the last of the racing pack left. It didn't take me very long to catch up to them. And then I started passing people. And pretty much kept passing people. This year is the first year I've been fast enough to pass anybody (thanks Lee!) so I still get a kick out of how much faster I run this year over previous years. I'd say I'm a middle-of-the-packer now instead of finishing very close to last.

The course was some rocky hills and some wide paths but mostly dirty, rooty, evergreen needle-covered single track. In other words: my favourite type of trail! I chose to wear the new VIVOBAREFOOT Neo Trails for the course to test them out for my upcoming review. They had amazing traction on the slick rocks, roots, and occasional mud. They were very comfortable on the flats, downhills, and not steep downhills due to their glorious wideness. On steep, technical downhills, however, my feet tended to slide to the top of the shoe because I couldn't tie them tight enough to keep my foot from slipping forward. Other than that, I would say they are the most comfortable trail shoes I've tried yet.

By the end of the 6th km, I was feeling like I would be happy to be finished running. There was one more km to go, though. I know when my body is tired because my form starts to fail: I start to lean forward instead of straight up and my trail leg gets longer instead of as close to my centre of gravity as possible. I stuck it out and ran the last km.

The Canmore Nordic Centre is a gorgeous place to run and has awesome trails!

That's it for the 5 Peaks Trail Running Series this year in Southern Alberta. I hope all the runners had great races and hope to see you all next year!

At the end of the race. Happy to be done...

Tired form could definitely be better :)

ENDURE Review - Inspiring Athletic Theatrical Experience

I recently had the pleasure and honour of participating in a presentation of ENDURE. The show is an athletic theatrical experience where the audience is as much a part of the production as the outdoor scenery in which it's set. I say 'participate in' rather than 'watch' because, as the audience, you flow with the show as a part of it rather than a bystander seeing it pass by.

ENDURE is a 50-minute walking/running theatre production set outside, conceived and written by my friend Melanie Jones. I believe that Melanie's original idea for ENDURE was to produce a piece of theatre that reflected her experience leading up to and including her first marathon. What she created was an emotion inducing, inspiration evolving, life reflective journey composed of sound, action, movement, and nature.

I had the singularly humbling experience to help Melanie choose the path for the production of ENDURE in Cochrane. When I attended the performance, even though I knew where we were GOING, I had no idea WHERE we were going. Melanie lead us on a journey through her thoughts, feelings, and life during moments of elation, desperation, despair, and epiphany that can reach ANY audience member on an emotional level.

The theme of the production might be getting through a marathon but it really parallels the challenges and journey of life.

ENDURE is starting it's fall production run this weekend in Brooklyn, NY. If you need a little inspiration or want to experience a wholly different kind of theatre, check out http://www.runwomanshow.com/ for details or to buy tickets.

#ENDURE

August 25, 2011

VIVOBAREFOOT Training Clinic Site has Launched

The VIVOBAREFOOT Training Clinic site has launched and is THE location to learn how to 'Master the Skill of Barefoot Running'.


The site includes a link to Lee Saxby's ebook Proprioception: Making Sense of Barefoot Running, which explains why proprioception is so important for human locomotion, how to run barefoot correctly, and exercises to improve the skills of running.

The site also includes a vast Resources section with a huge library of Training Videos to help you with your exercise technique and a Research section for those who want to learn the science behind barefoot running.

And my personal favourite section: the Find a Coach page that can direct you to the nearest VIVOBAREFOOT Certified Coach, which includes yours truly.

There's also a section where you can book a course to Become a VIVOBAREFOOT Certified Coach yourself and details on how the course and certification works.

Check out the new site to start your journey to mastering the skill of barefoot running!

August 21, 2011

Living Barefoot Coaching Clinics Coming Up in Alberta

Calling all Alberta Barefoot/Minimalist Runners!

I have a couple of Living Barefoot Coaching Introduction to Natural Running Clinics coming up this week in Calgary and Edmonton:

MEC in Calgary on August 23, 2011 at 6:30 PM

Fast Trax Run & Ski Shop in Edmonton on August 27, 2011 at 10:00 AM

Check out the Living Barefoot Coaching site for the details and to register!

Email me at: coaching[at]livingbarefoot.info for promo codes for significant savings from the regular-priced registration fees!

Trail Running/Hiking the Sibbald Ole Buck Loop Trail

I recently ran/hiked the Sibbald Ole Buck Loop Trail with a dear and lovely friend. She is just getting into trail running so I thought I'd take her on an easy trail near where we live. It was a lovely 1-hour run from the Sibbald Viewpoint parking lot and a lot of fun!

It had just finished raining so I decided to wear my Inov-8 Bare Grip 200s and it was a wise choice with all the mud. The way out was overcast and dry but on the way back it started to pour. In Alberta, we have a saying, "If you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes." It was an apt saying for the day. :)

The beginning of the trail was wide and a little rocky through the trees. There is a lovely view from the top of the cliff to the flats below. Then we crossed the road, ran back into some woods, and over a bridge. The creek below was flowing nicely from the recent rain. Then we came upon a meadow with chin-high grass (it was chin-high on me anyway, it was over my friend's head). We both got covered in grass seed. Then we started uphill. There's quite the little climb on this trail at the beginning of the loop on the Ole Buck Trail. We walked up the hill and stopped a few times to enjoy the view (because what's trail running if you don't stop to look around at the scenery?). Then it started to rain. We thought we'd missed it but another cloud came rolling in at our farthest point out. By then we were soaked from the wet grass and muddy trail so it wasn't a big deal. We ran back down the hill over a lot of downed trees until we reached the grassy meadow again. We stopped at the creek on the way back to wash the second round of grass seed from our skin and clothes. The water was blissfully cool to stand in. Then we high-tailed it back to the car in the downpour that hit us.

After the run, I took some pics of the view and trail. It was a great day and made us both feel grateful for the laid back lifestyle we lead that allows us to go trail running in the middle of the day every once in a while. :)









August 7, 2011

Living Barefoot Coaching Clinic in Las Vegas

Earlier this week, I held my first ever international Living Barefoot Coaching Clinic in Las Vegas, USA. The staff at REI Las Vegas-Boca Park were fantastic: so friendly and helpful. The clinic was a small group of four VERY enthusiastic individuals. Audience participation is always welcome and these guys were incredible with their willingness to try the exercises. They asked great, well-thought out questions. I've even heard back from two of the attendees with additional comments and questions.

This clinic exemplified for me the saying, "You teach what you want to learn." I hope I never stop learning new things about people, delivery, myself, and most importantly how to run naturally.

Thanks Las Vegas!

July 27, 2011

The Sweat Collective Workout #4

Some time ago, The Sweat Collective Workout #4 was issued and it's been sitting on my t0-do list ever since. This one has been a real struggle for me. The introduction for said workout looked like this:
"Imperfection is okay, and often its acceptance is the key to having fun, to innovation, and to recognizing your worth and success."
I can honestly admit to being accused of being a perfectionist. In fact, Lee Saxby looked right at me during the VIVOBAREFOOT Coaching Program when he said, "For all you perfectionists in the class, the best you can hope to achieve with this level of training is to help 80% of the people out there." He's a strong proponent of the 80/20 rule and for very good reasons (which we learned all about during the course).

Melanie Jones faced the challenge of reaching perfection and wrote about it in How to be Better Than Perfect, which I highly recommend reading. This post was also the inspiration behind the latest Sweat Collective Workout, which is:

How have you reacted when you have ventured off the path to perfection? How do you handle the effort to try again? How has this affected you in your training, creativity, in your life?
My struggle with perfection (at the moment) has to do with my running form. For my natural running form clinics, I've videoed myself running on a treadmill several times now. I analyze my form the same way that I analyze my clients' form. It is definitely NOT perfect. I would like it to be perfect. I want to be able to demonstrate what perfect form is to my clients. Sadly, this cannot be the case. It's hard for me to admit that after two months of running with the new form, it's still not where I want it to be. I just have to work at it harder.

This assignment, though, made me realize that it's okay that I'm not perfect (no matter how badly I may want to be). I have something to work towards. I think if I didn't have details to work on, running might be kind of boring. I currently have the excitement and anticipation of seeing my running form evolve through future videos. Despite the irksome deficient details of my running form, it is FAR superior to what it used to be (thanks Lee!). All I can strive for is to do the best that I can do every time I run out the door. It seems, what is true of running, is also true of life. :)

Thanks Melanie for the eye opener!

By the way, if you are in the Calgary or Cochrane areas, ENDURE is coming to town. For show dates, times and to buy tickets, check out: http://www.runwomanshow.com/dates/. I've already bought my tickets and I can't wait! #ENDURE

July 24, 2011

Link Updates

I've been kind of lax lately in updating my review links but I've finally caught up. I've updated the 'Products & Reviews' page with all the latest product reviews I've written and their links. I've updated the 'Barefoot Resources' page with new videos of Lee Saxby and Dr. Daniel Lieberman. And I've updated the 'Barefoot Blogroll' page with one of my new favourite bloggers: Caity McCardell who writes RunBarefootGirl.com.

Check out the new link updates via the page links above!

July 14, 2011

Living Barefoot Coaching coming to Las Vegas

What better way to travel is there than mixing business with pleasure? I'm going to Las Vegas in a few weeks for a friend's wedding and thought it would be great if I could present a clinic while I'm there. And now it's going to happen!

Living Barefoot Coaching (yours truly) will be presenting an Introduction to Natural Running clinic at REI Las Vegas-Boca Park on August 1, 2011 from 6:30 - 8:30 PM. For more information (or to register), check out http://www.livingbarefoot.info/coaching/.

I can't wait!

**Update** The clinic has been added to the REI calendar. You can check out the REI page at: http://www.rei.com/event/28422/session/35035.

June 24, 2011

Run Barefoot Girl Interview

I had the pleasure and honour of being interviewed by Run Barefoot Girl's Caity McCardell a little while ago. Caity has completed her editing magic and posted the interview recently. It was definitely weird for me being on the other end of the microphone questions. I probably could have gone on and on, however, as we were talking about my favourite subjects: minimalist footwear and natural running.

Here's the link to RBG Episode #6.

For those not familiar with Run Barefoot Girl, it's a website and podcast dedicated to 'celebrating women who run barefoot.' It's DEFINITELY worth checking out!

June 23, 2011

Long Review - Inov-8 Bare-Grip 200

Seeing as my last post mentioned that I ran the 5 Peaks race in Inov-8 Bare-Grip 200s, I thought I'd link to the long review I recently wrote for these shoes.

Here's the link: http://www.livingbarefoot.info/2011/06/review-inov-8-bare-grip-200/.

It's so great to finally have a pair of minimalist shoes with phenomenal grip. I have literally landed on my butt several times in either mud or snow because the shoes I had didn't have enough traction on slippery surfaces. The Bare-Grips are fantastic for traction. I have yet to find mud too slippery to slide in with these shoes and I've gone looking for it! It rained here for a week solid and I still couldn't find mud to slip in.

After the initial disaster of running in them without socks (and, oh yes, I still have the scars), they've been totally awesome. Running in the rain is such a pleasure again. And passing people on the race course who couldn't get traction: AWESOME!

June 21, 2011

Ghosting the 5 Peaks Canmore Sport Race

I've been volunteering at almost every 5 Peaks Trail Running Series race in Southern Alberta (although the website calls it 'Central') for the last 7 years (I took a few races off during 'the year of pain' aka 2009). This past weekend was the Canmore Nordic Centre Race #1 and I was volunteering again at the registration table.

Some years I run some races, some races I don't run any and just volunteer. Although I wasn't sure about being able to race the almost 6 km loop, I thought I'd ghost the race (run the course without a race number). I'm so glad I did because it was such an awesome course with amazing weather!

I started the course two minutes after the last people passed the start line. I was at registration until after the first wave of runners went through and then I got to use the washroom (finally :) ) and change for the race, hence the late start. I ran in my inov-8 Bare-Grip 200s because I knew the course was muddy in sections (my spouse had set the course markers the day before the race).

I couldn't see anyone ahead of me when I started so I was all alone in the beginning. After the first dip and corner, I saw my spouse course marshalling, I gave him a quick kiss and went in search of other runners. It wasn't long before I caught up to some race walkers and passed them. Then it wasn't long before I caught up to the tail end of the last wave of runners. We were in the trees by this point so I called, "On your left" and passed them, too, and finished with a "Thank you." Then I repeated these words for a good 10 minutes straight dodging trees and runners. I thought I passed about 50 people during the course of the race but it was closer to 100!

I very recently started wearing a heart-rate monitor again when I'm running. I found that with the new running form, my heart rate goes pretty high and I've been trying to keep it between 155-170 BPM on training runs. I wore it for the race for my time and to keep an eye on my heart rate. Sometimes it goes into the 190s when I'm racing and I didn't want to run THAT hard this time.

Turns out I ran the course in exactly 41 minutes. According to the results, that would have placed me 135th overall out of 238 runners. The only reason why I was curious about where my standing would have been is because when I used to run these races (back in 2008 and earlier), I placed no better than 5th to last EVER. Therefore, my conclusions are thus: either I can run faster now (kudos to Lee Saxby for teaching me the new running form) or the racing crowd at 5 Peaks has grown much bigger and therefore there is a broader range of runner speeds, or both. I don't care which, really. It was AWESOME to run that course and very motivating passing people as it really hasn't happened to me that often in my racing experience.

In addition, the Bare-Grips were an AWESOME shoe for the race. I had absolutely NO problems with grip or traction on even the slipperiest, thickest mud. One guy even said to me, "Those like like cleats, they're performance enhancing." To which I replied, "No, they're just shoes." I saw another racer wearing the same shoes and I asked her how she likes them and she said, "They're fantastic." I couldn't agree more.

So it was an incredible day overall. Long but still incredible. We woke up at 4:30 AM and wasn't done race stuff until 5:30 PM. It was a great course. Running was amazing fun and I had a smile on my face the whole time!

June 15, 2011

Powderface Creek Trail Hike and Run

Yesterday I hiked/ran my first mountain trail of the season. My spouse, my dogs, and I ran the 12 kilometre Prairie Creek and Powderface Creek Trail Loop.

There was a lot of uphill walking but tons of flat and downhill running. I wore my VB Evos with only 4 mm of sole and it was awesome! (I can't imagine hiking in conventional hiking boots anymore.) The Evos had just enough grip for all the uphills and flats, although a little more might have made me feel better about bombing down some of the steep downhill sections (bring on the Neo Trails coming this fall!). But there were no falls or slips so YAY! There was a ton of mud and creek crossings, too. The trail reminded me of my Death Racing days.

I'm only mildly sore today, mostly in the quads, and not at all in my feet. I'm pleasantly surprised by how strong my feet felt yesterday and how great they feel today.

Here are some pics:

June 7, 2011

My First Living Barefoot Coaching Clinic

Yesterday, I hosted my first ever Living Barefoot Coaching clinic. It was an Introduction to Natural Running clinic and was held at Trailblazers in Cochrane, Alberta. The format was a two-hour lecture on the biomechanics and skills of running, motor skill milestones for natural running, and exercises to improve the skills of running. I worked on the slides for about a week before I was happy with the presentation. I provided demonstrations of most of the exercises (and I do all of them almost daily) as well as videos of my current running form (it's not perfect but it's a good starting point).

I think the clinic went well. My audience seemed enthusiastic at the end about what they'd learned. I was a little nervous at first; it was my first presentation to an audience in six years. I videoed the clinic so that I can work on its delivery for future presentations. I also made a little movie (my first movie ever) of the introduction to the clinic. I'm a little nervous about sharing it but here it is anyway:


video

The Sweat Collective Workout #3

The latest Sweat Collective Workout asks the question: What fuels you?

For me, that answer is both simple and yet complex, that being: PASSION.

It's my passion for the quest of pain-free movement that fuels pretty much everything I do. After being so broken in body as to be horizontal for the better part of a year with motor and sensory nerve dysfunction and a great deal of pain, the drive to become pain-free in general and to move again pain-free was not only necessary for my physical health but my mental health as well. That drive is fueled by passion. That passion translated into a near obsession (using the word 'near' might not entirely be necessary in that statement) of minimalist footwear because I can move in them without the pain I used to feel while wearing conventionally heeled footwear. It's the obsession for the minimalist footwear that brought me to write this blog and writing for Living Barefoot. It's researching for writing for these websites that brought me to learn about the VIVOBAREFOOT Coaching Program and learning about appropriate biomechanics of movement. It's attending the Coaching Program that has taught me how to achieve good posture, what the skills of running are, how to improve these skills, and (most importantly) how to coach it to others. Now I have a new passion that fuels me: sharing this knowledge with others so that they too can be pain-free. #ENDURE

New Standing Desk

I like to keep this blog dedicated to 'barefoot adventures' but I think this piece of news qualifies: I (and my spouse) built a platform to convert my sitting desk to a standing desk. I think it qualifies because I'm barefoot most of the time while standing (unless the house is cold and then I'll wear socks :) ).

Why would I want a standing desk, you may ask? After learning the plethora of information on biomechanics, I learned how bad sitting is for humans. I have had bad back issues in the past (if you know me well, you might laugh at the understatement) so sitting has been a big problem for me. Standing just seemed like common sense.

Why didn't I convert to a standing desk sooner? Standing has a lot to do with good posture and I have had terrible posture most of my life. Therefore, standing was not very comfortable for me either. But after learning a plethora about posture and HOW to achieve good posture easily and without thinking about it (but feeling it), I now know how to stand properly (at least I think so).

So far the results have been a much happier back (and happier me as a by-product of the lack of pain) and somewhat more tired legs. I'm working on reducing the muscle action required for standing and balancing better but it is a process. My feet are a little more sore after standing for a long time but they are adjusting, too.

Here's a pic of the new setup (old desk, new platform):

VIVOBAREFOOT Ultra and Jazz Long Reviews

I've been crazy busy with Living Barefoot Coaching lately and have been lax whttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifith blog posts. I have finished writing the full-length reviews of both the VIVOBAREFOOT Ultra and Jazz, and they are both online on Living Barefoot.

Here is the link for the Ultra: http://www.livingbarefoot.info/2011/05/review-vivobarefoot-ultra/

I've pretty much been living in my Ultras since I got them. They are so comfortable to wear. I usually don't like wearing shoes without socks (a habit forced by my climate) but these are so comfy to wear without socks. I've gone running in them several times without socks and love them.

Here's the review for the Jazz: http://www.livingbarefoot.info/2011/05/review-vivobarefoot-jazz/


I love the casual look of the Jazz. Finally, I have a pair of comfy minimalist shoes that look good with or without socks!

My First Book Review - Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

Not surprisingly, the first book review I chose to write was for Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. In addition to being a great read, it's also incredibly inspirational, and been called a great 'impetus for the barefoot movement'. I (and the other participants of the VIVOBAREFOOT Coaching Program) received signed copies of the book. :)

Here's the link for the full-length book review: http://www.livingbarefoot.info/2011/04/book-review-born-to-run-by-christopher-mcdougall/

May 27, 2011

My First Coaching Review

My friend Julie was gracious and generous to accept being my second case study 'client', and my second coaching experience ever, on my road to becoming a VIVOBAREFOOT Certified Coach. I actually called her from Manhattan before I left to tell her about the course and to ask if she'd be one of my case studies. She was excited (to say the least). :)

She was so easy to coach. She listened intently to my presentation and practically predicted where I was going next with it. She easily took to the exercises I gave her and incorporated the 'feeling' of them into her running.

Julie wrote a review of the coaching session on her blog and you can check it out at: http://runningwithdoggies.blogspot.com/2011/05/run-skills.html.

Thanks Julie for being such a great sport, an enthusiastic athlete, one of my guinea pigs, and for the kind review. :)

May 25, 2011

VIVOBAREFOOT Certified Coach

I am officially a VIVOBAREFOOT Certified Coach! I just got the email from Lee Saxby, the VB Coaching Program Director (and genius coach extraordinaire).

Let the coaching officially begin...

For details, check out the Living Barefoot Coaching website. I've added One-on-One Natural Running Coaching Sessions and a Natural Running in a Day clinic to the list of clinics I now offer.

May 17, 2011

Definition of the Perfect Minimalist Shoe

During the VIVOBAREFOOT Coaching Program course, Lee Saxby, the participants, and I decided on the definition the perfect minimalist shoe. This is what we came up with in my own words:

1) Allows for maximum proprioception for the intended purpose. The purpose defines the trade-offs necessary for thermal and puncture protection.
2) Allows for appropriate shifts in the body’s centre of gravity in terms of sole thickness and heel to toe differential.
3) Allows for complete natural movement of the foot in terms of room and flexibility for bone structure and elasticity as well as proper heat dissipation.

My shoe reviews from now on will include how well the shoe satisfies this criteria.

It's important to keep in mind that the purpose of the shoe is incredibly important in this definition. For example, the puncture protection necessary for a trail running shoe is going to be much greater than that necessary for a casual or work appropriate shoe. A winter shoe is going to reduce proprioception because of the extra insulation required for thermal protection.

The Sweat Collective Workout #2

The latest Sweet Collective Workout (for which I deeply apologize for being late in accomplishing) for #ENDURE asks the questions: How did others react when you began sharing your experience? What do you ENDURE that you feel you can easily share with and explain to others, or do you find it difficult to share your journey? How do you approach talking about commitments to change or improve your life? Do you feel others are accepting of your commitment to change, or find your ideas "crazy"? So without further adieu, here are my answers:

How did others react when you began sharing your experience? If we're talking about making the switch from conventional, padded, high-heeled shoes to minimalist shoes, most people were skeptical and baffled. Most people at the time didn't understand why I thought minimalist shoes were such a good idea for me. They were baffled at the appearance of shoes with toes for sure. (Although many people are still occasionally confounded with the look of VFFs.) There were many questions as to why, which I tried to answer with the best reasons that I had: Because they strengthen your feet. They're good for your posture. They make you walk/run better. Because my back no longer hurts when I walk while wearing them!

What do you ENDURE that you feel you can easily share with and explain to others, or do you find it difficult to share your journey? I do not find it difficult in the least to share my journey. I love to share my story. I lived with a lot of pain before I switched to minimalist footwear. My feet hurt with plantar fasciitis and my back hurt with every step when I walked in conventional shoes with a positive heel. When I switched to minimalist footwear, my feet got stronger and the PF finally had a chance to heal. My back stopped hurting with every step. Because my heels were level with my forefoot, my posture straightened out and my back wasn't carrying any unnecessary load. I thought they were miraculous!

How do you approach talking about commitments to change or improve your life? Very simply: conventional shoes hurt me, minimalist footwear does not. When the choice is living with pain or without it, it's a very simple choice for me.

Do you feel others are accepting of your commitment to change, or find your ideas "crazy"? Some people still find wearing minimalist footwear difficult to accept because they don't 'look' like regular shoes. Whether or not other people accept my choice doesn't really bother me. I know what works for me and realize that it may not work for everybody. Ultimately, it's my choice and I wholeheartedly believe it was one of the best things I have ever done to improve my life.

May 16, 2011

Tales from New York City

My trip to New York was utterly amazing in every way. I learned so much about biomechanics, coaching and people in general that I will undoubtedly be processing for quite some time. In short, it was truly life-changing for me.

I arrived at Newark on Saturday after an uneventful flight (other than a lovely conversation with a local Calgarian and a plane-shifting wind close to landing), followed by an easy and direct shuttle ride to the Chelsea International Hostel (which I highly recommend for low-budget travellers). It was late when I arrived so I hung out at the Hostel to prepare for the following day of sight-seeing. (I ended up moving to the Gershwin Hotel on Thursday night, which was totally awesome and would recommend to any New York tourist no matter the budget as they have a wide range of rooms available.)

On Sunday, Angie Bee Hotz (super mom and barefoot runner), Sabra Ellingson (Operations Director for VIVOBAREFOOT), and I walked all over Manhattan soaking in the sights. We met at the Chelsea Piers Sports Centre, where the VB Coaching Program was going to take place, and then walked and rode the subway around Manhattan checking out Central Park, the American Museum of Natural History, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Rockefeller Center, Grand Central Terminal, the Chrysler Building, Battery Park, and ended the tour with a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. We managed to squeeze in quite a number of sights in a short time. It was so much fun hanging out with Angie and Sabra! We ended the day with a late supper at the Brooklyn Public House and I headed back to Chelsea to get some rest and recharge for the beginning of the VB Coaching Program course.

Me and Angie Bee at the American Museum of Natural History

I don't want to go into detail about the course, it would take me a week. It was outstanding! I feel incredibly honoured to have participated and been given the opportunity to learn from Lee Saxby and meet the wonderful people who also participated in the course with me. Congratulations need to be given to Lee for the incredible success of the event. Not only does he possess a profound depth of knowledge in human movement but also the skill to share that knowledge clearly and effectively to his students with a wide range of backgrounds. Thanks must be given also to Michelle Hinsvark, the VB U.S. In House Marketing Executive; she was completely invaluable to the running (haha) of the course.

Basically, we were taught the biomechanics of human locomotion, how to diagnose inefficient and/or injurious running form, and how to coach correct form using video analysis and drills. I am excited to apply what I learned to not only improve my own form but that of any runner interested in becoming a more efficient and potentially uninjured runner.

The basics are already available to anyone who wants to learn. I highly recommend Lee Saxby's ebook Proprioception - Making Sense of Barefoot Running. It outlines the concepts and exercises important in the evolution of a not only a barefoot runner but anyone who wants to develop their sense of proprioception, the most important sense that humans have in developing good biomechanics.

Me and Angie Bee after the course

Me and (genius coach extraordinaire) Lee Saxby