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 birthdayshoes.com 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 birthdayshoes.com 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 birthdayshoes.com. 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.