December 22, 2012

'Toe Girl' Tina's Barefoot Alternative Adventures is Moving!

That's right! This blog is moving to a new home very soon. I've purchased a new domain and been working on a new website layout for some time. In addition to the new home for the blog, ALL my reviews are going to be on the same site, too!

In anticipation of the move, I've disabled commenting on this site.

Stay tuned for the new domain and website announcements soon...

September 25, 2012

Shoe Reviews for Fall/Winter 2012

I know I mention it a lot in my reviews but it is a great time to be a minimalist shoe reviewer. When I first started wearing minimalist footwear in 2008, there were not a lot of options for run specific, work appropriate or winter footwear but now, every season brings new models for a variety of purposes.

This year's shoe reviews have a little bit of everything. Here's a pic of some of this season's minimalist footwear reviews that are coming up:

Fall/Winter 2012 Shoe Reviews
Anyone want guess what they all are?

August 31, 2012

Introducing Speed

Until recently, I've been content with the speed at which I run. It's always been slow but it didn't bother me because I was happy just to be able to run. I've been running with Lee Saxby's running technique for a little over a year now and think I'm ready to introduce speed to my running. In Lee's method, speed taxes your running skill; so to run faster, you have to have good skill. I'm hoping that my skill is equal to the task.

I've done three speed interval running workouts in the last few weeks and I've learned quite a bit about my current running skill level: I can use more skill. I know this will always be the case because there's always some aspect of running form that I can improve on.

My speed interval workouts include a 10-minute warm-up at an easy pace (I have a pace min/km display on my Garmin FR60 for easy reference). My easy pace is about 6:00 min/km. I've been doing 4 or 5 faster pace intervals for about 100 metres or so. My faster pace is about 4:00 min/km. After my speed interval, I'll walk until my heart rate goes back down to 150 BPM then return to running my easy pace for a minute or two, then repeat a speed interval. Then I run home at my easy pace.

Here's an image from my Garmin data of my first speed interval workout:

Here are some observations I've made about running speed intervals (based on how I feel and a video I took of my last speed workout):
  • I need to focus on my landing more because I tend to land more on the lateral side of my foot when running faster
  • Running fast with the metronome at 180 BPM feels much less taxing on my cardio than running fast without the metronome
  • My posture still feels good at either speed
  • I could focus more on hamstrings than hip flexors when running faster
  • I don't overstride any more when running at speed than running easy (thankfully)
  • Running easy tends to be at a faster pace the next time I run after a speed workout
  • My cardio could use improvement (not a big surprise)
  • Running fast is FUN! (also not a big surprise :) )
For future runs, I want to keep my speed intervals at 4 or 5 and try running fast for a longer distance for the next few times.

If you do speed workouts, how do you incorporate them into your running?

July 31, 2012

Coaching Tour of Ontario & Quebec

Last week I was away on an epic, whirlwind Natural Running Coaching tour of Ontario & Quebec. The trip was awesome and entailed A LOT of talking. I coached staff from VIVOBAREFOOT retailers and minimalist shoe consumers in addition to having LONG conversations about the different offerings on the minimalist footwear market. I was hoarse for a good three days after the trip.

For more details, you can check out my recap at:

And here's a map of the route we took:

June 10, 2012

More Barefoot Time and Coaching Update

I've probably spent more time barefoot in the last two months than I have any other time in my life. The increased barefoot time is absolutely due to the increased time I've spent coaching. It's been a very busy couple of months for coaching events. Natural Running Coaching is sponsoring the 5 Peaks Trail Running Series in Alberta this year so I attended a promo table at the first two races. I've held 4 Introduction to Natural Running - Large Group Clinics in the last two months. I've personally coached dozens of people through One-on-One or Small Group Coaching and transformed them into Natural Runners. And most recently, attended the Footstock 2012 Race Expo where I shared Natural Running with countless people.

Coaching really has become my passion job and I am grateful every time I get to share Natural Running with anybody willing to learn. And the increased time being barefoot is an extra special added bonus. During Natural Running Coaching, we use being barefoot as a tool to better listen to your body and feel good running form. It's all about form, however, and not footwear. Once you understand what good running form feels like, it doesn't matter what you wear on your feet, although shoes that provide as much proprioception as possible definitely help to maintain good form.

Here are some pics from my recent coaching endeavours:

Me at the 5 Peaks Northern Alberta Series Terwillegar Race

Walking practice at a Small Group Coaching Session in Canmore, Alberta

Squatting practice in Canmore
Jumping practice in Canmore

A coaching client's BEFORE picture
And AFTER picture

Me at the Footstock 2012 Race Expo (with the NRC TV Extraordinaire)

In case my blogging frequency decreases further, don't worry, I'm still here. I'm just enjoying coaching! You can keep updated with NRC adventures at

May 3, 2012

Running Data

I haven't run with any kind of running technology for a LONG time. I stopped wearing a heart-rate monitor, timer, watch, etc. because I found they got in the way of having fun while running. I wasn't training for any races and didn't have any running goals in mind other than to practice good form all the time and to have as much fun as possible. Today, I think I found that running with tech can help maintain good form and be fun, too.

I ran today with a Garmin FR60 for the first time. While running, I had the display show heart rate (just to see where my fitness is at), timer (to establish a baseline for one of my most common short run routes), and cadence (for an accurate assessment of where my rhythm skill is at). I decided to run today with no walk breaks to see how my heart reacted and how long this run takes me now, which I'll compare to later in the season.

I discovered that my heart rate slowly creeps up during my run. I think intermittent walk breaks might help keep it lower throughout my run but I can test that now to see if that is actually the case.

I also discovered that my cadence is around 88-90 BPM (one foot) on flat and uphill, which is pretty good. The optimum cadence would be 90 so I'm happy at 88-90 for a first time out. My cadence goes up (to 103) going downhill, which is exactly what I would expect to see.

Overall, I'm happy with the results of my first run with running data. I do have some goals in mind for this summer of running longer and slightly faster while maintaining good form and being injury-free. Maybe the FR60 can be an added tool for me to accomplish those goals. I don't plan on running with it every time but seeing the results of my run was pretty cool and fun for me.

If you're interested, I downloaded the data and saved an image of the summary (you can click on it to view it larger).

Running Data for May 3, 2012

April 29, 2012

Patience Pays Off

I went for a short test run today and it was fantastic! I don't know if it's because I haven't run in four days (when I have been running every two or three days) or because I decided to go for a road run instead my usual trail run but running today felt FAST and EASY! If only every run could feel like that!

I decided my right foot was in good enough shape to test it out. I'm really glad I waited. I'm fairly certain that had I run on it on the days that it was feeling sore, I probably would have done additional damage. Listening to your body can be hard. Patience can be hard, too. In this case, patience definitely paid off.

April 28, 2012

Listening to Your Body

Sometimes, it's hard for me to have patience. Sometimes, I want to run but some part of my body is telling me not to run. It can be hard to listen to that body part when your brain says you should go for a run and your heart says it really wants to go for a run. This week, that body part telling me NOT to run is my foot, which I'm thinking, in this case, supercedes my brain and my heart.

In an effort to get my whole body stronger, and most especially my core stronger, I started going to TRX classes. TRX is suspension training that uses your body weight and your core in every exercise. I find that it has done wonders for my core and back strength (which was pretty limited due to my past back injuries). It took 4 months but I have finally just increased to 3 1-hour classes per week.

I've also been trying to increase how many times I run in a week from 2 to 3 times per week.

Probably unwisely, I'm also trying to increase the distance that I run for. Not a lot. Just a couple hundred metres more once per week.

I'm starting to think that the added TRX and the added running time and distance was a little too much for me and my right foot is telling me so. It doesn't hurt a lot but it is definitely uncomfortable with some steps more than others. So, although I REALLY wanted to run two days ago, I didn't and took a rest day instead.

Why would I write about NOT running? Because I know that sometimes it's hard to be patient and to listen to that body part that says maybe you shouldn't run. I also know how important it is to listen to said body part to avoid a worse injury. I thought I'd share this in case others are experiencing (or have experienced) a similar situation.

Hopefully my foot feels all better tomorrow and I'll go for a short test run. If it doesn't, I'll probably ride my bike and keep letting it heal. :)

March 28, 2012

Run Barefoot Girl Podcast Interview with Yours Truly

I recently had a lovely chat with my friend and fellow podcast host, Caity McCardell. The scary part was the interview for her wonderful podcast, Run Barefoot Girl, where we talked mostly about Natural Running Coaching. Even though the interview portion lasted maybe 30 minutes, Caity and I ended up chatting for 2 hours in total. How time flies when you're having fun.

Anyway, Caity recently posted the interview and it can be found as Episode #39 of RBG. I posted a little more about it on the NRC website as well. I haven't found the courage to listen to it yet so, if you do, let me know what you think. I was more than a little nervous being on the receiving end of interview questions instead of my usual giving end.

March 12, 2012

Snow Day at Bragg Creek in Neo Trails

Last week we had one of those mornings when you wake up and the world outside is covered in white: a SNOW DAY! We decided to go for a hike in nearby Bragg Creek. There was even more snow out there than there was at home! My spouse and I both decided to wear our VIVOBAREFOOT Neo Trails for the hike in the snow. We could definitely have worn snowshoes but actually feeling the ground is so much more fun!

We picked the snowshoe trail so the dogs wouldn't destroy the cross country ski tracks on the other trails (for which the skiers were probably very grateful). We hiked uphill for about 2 km. It was slow going with the dogs and the uphill and all the snow. Traction was awesome, however, even in the fresh new snow. We stopped for lots of pictures, of course.

Because we were wearing our lightweight Neo Trails, we decided to run down. It was super fast! Again, great traction on the corners, which was good because otherwise we would have landed on our faces in the snow or wrapped around a tree. After the run down, we went back home and had a pack nap.

Here are some pics:

Kiah and Cordie LOVE the snow!
A whole lot of new snow.

Taking a picture break #1

Taking a picture break #2

February 10, 2012

Announcing Natural Running Coaching!

Natural Running Coaching Officially Launches Today!

Angela Bee Hotz and I are proud to announce the creation of Natural Running Coaching. We teach the skills of running that maximize efficiency and minimize injury. We offer both Online and In-person Coaching. For more details, check out the new website at!

At the bottom of the site, you'll find our Facebook and Twitter pages, too!

February 9, 2012

VIVOBAREFOOT Boxing Boot Video

This post is for Jessica. In an earlier post, she asked if I had any pictures of me wearing the Boxing Boots. Instead of pictures, I thought I'd take a video. :)

For more information or actual pictures of the Boxing Boots, you can check out my review at Living Barefoot.

In other news, I'll be posting a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT tomorrow! Stay tuned...

January 10, 2012

New Barefoot and Minimalist Running Research

Two new papers have been ePublished ahead of printing in the Medicine & Science In Sports & Exercise journal out of Dr. Daniel Lieberman's lab at Harvard University.

Effects of Footwear and Strike Type on Running Economy concludes:
"Minimally shod runners are modestly but significantly more economical than traditionally shod runners regardless of strike type, after controlling for shoe mass and stride frequency. The likely cause of this difference is more elastic energy storage and release in the lower extremity during minimal shoe running."
Foot Strike and Injury Rates in Endurance Runners: a retrospective study concludes:
"...Runners who habitually rearfoot strike have significantly higher rates of repetitive stress injury than those who mostly forefoot strike... One hypothesis, which requires further research, is that the absence of a marked impact peak in the ground reaction force during a forefoot strike compared to a rearfoot strike may contribute to lower rates of injuries in habitual forefoot strikers."
Essentially, these two papers suggest that forefoot strikers have fewer injuries than heel strikers and that no matter your foot strike pattern, if you run in minimal shoes, your running is more efficient with improved running economy.

I'm taking away from these two conclusions that forefoot strikers who run in minimal shoes are more efficient and have fewer injuries compared to heel strikers who run in conventional shoes. Sounds to me like ingredients included in a recipe for maximized efficiency and minimized injury...

Speaking of running news, stay tuned for some EXCITING developments in the coaching related area. Announcements are coming soon!

January 5, 2012

Back at the Track

As all the sidewalks and paths have been icy where I live, I've returned to running at the indoor track.

The indoor track at Spray Lake Sawmill Family Sports Centre
To keep it from being too boring, I thought I'd try a variety of shoes and see which ones I like best for indoor track running. I always start out running a few laps barefoot. Then I put on some shoes (and socks if necessary), run a few more laps, switch shoes, and repeat. Below are the pics of the shoes I ran in my last time at the track and some thoughts for each model.

No shoes: best barefoot feel (hehe), not that grippy, felt like I was landing too far laterally on my forefoot (I haven't figured why that might be), very quiet landing, got quite a few looks from other runners.

VIVOBAREFOOT Lucy Lites: AWESOME track shoes, my preferred shoe for running on the track, excellent grip, felt like I was running super fast, no shock absorption (how I like it), felt like I was landing on the medial forefoot more easily than barefoot, not as quiet as barefoot, love the uniformity of the outsole, ADORE the width, no need for socks with their super soft inside, kind of hot even without socks.

New Balance Minimus Trail Zero: despite their being designed for trails, I like them for indoor track running because of their excellent flexibility, a little high in the stack height, outsole absorbs some impact making for a cushy run (which I don't particularly enjoy, I like no shock absorption whatsoever), love the width, need socks because the inside is kind of rough, good ventilation, not too loud on the track (in terms of sound but not colour).

Soft Star Moc3: soft inside, great width, really loud slappy sound, good ventilation, decent grip, surprisingly uncomfortably cushy on the track.

Vibram FiveFingers Performa Jane: great grip, very quiet, quite comfortable upper, no shock absorption, but I can feel the edges of the pods underfoot which is kind of distracting.
Switching shoes is a great way to make an indoor run more fun. I'm grateful to have the opportunity to do that. Winter makes me miss some of my great barefoot alternative or minimalist shoes so indoor running lets me wear them for a while. At least until Spring arrives. :)