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:

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

May 6, 2011

Miscellaneous Updates

I prefer to write one blog post per subject but my 'Barefoot Adventures' have taken over my life recently, in a totally awesome and creative way. So here are some updates as to what's going on in my world:

I wrote my first Book Review for Living Barefoot. Al and I decided to venture into writing book reviews and I thought the first one should be for Born to Run. It's definitely a different writing style and process than writing shoe reviews. In fact, Al was so surprised with it he initially doubted that I wrote it. :) Here's the link:

My WOODWAY Treadmill Review was posted. I had so much fun at Stenia Health and talking with the owner, Kelsey Andries, that I had to write more about the WOODWAY treadmills. There was a bunch of material that I'd taken out of the Barefoot Running Treadmill Review that I felt still needed to be shared so I wrote the WOODWAY Treadmill Review for this material. If you're looking for a treadmill to run barefoot on, these were undoubtedly the best of the 20 treadmills I tried. Here's the link:

This past May 1 was International Barefoot Running Day! As I had run the day before (in my Evos), I celebrated by going for a barefoot walk with my family. I'm working up to barefoot running outside (after many barefoot runs indoors this winter) so decided to start this year's barefoot running program with some barefoot walking (as suggested in the Complete Idiot's Guide to Barefoot Running). I have a long way to go before I'm ready to run barefoot on concrete, my tender feet have some sole strengthening to do. But spring is here and the weather is warming up so I can look forward to many more barefoot walks, progressing to barefoot runs, in the coming months.

Living Barefoot Coaching has taken off! I have two clinics booked already and plan on looking for many more venues when I return from the VIVOBAREFOOT Coaching Program in New York. This is super exciting for me and I can't wait to share the joys of Natural Running with experienced runners and those looking to start or get back into running.

Stay tuned for stories from New York City! Off to pack...