Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Along Comes A New Barefoot Runner

I decided it was about time that I added to this thought process, since I understand, I have officially been deemed a member of the Winnipeg Barefoot Runners. Let me introduce myself and give everybody a little background on how events unfolded and how I became intertwined in this little group.

First of all I will be going by B (short for Bob), N or Nicole is my lovely but slightly nutty better half, and G is well Gail (also slightly nutty but I like to call a friend). Anyway I digress.

I am a, I guess you can say middle aged (but young at heart) guy with 2 younger sons (9 and 3), who has had major knee issues in the past, leading to numerous surgeries throughout the years. I would guess I am in good shape and fairly active, but running was always an issue for fear of my knees giving out.
I know what you are thinking if I was concerned about my knees giving out what could of possibly got me starting to run? I can answer that question quite easily with one word:


My wife, N, and some friends went to check out this running group last summer that they thought was interesting, the group was called the Hash House Harriers or H3 for short. Basically they are a drinking club with a running problem, they are comprised of a mixed group of professionals that like to run (or walk), sing some very interesting songs, generally have a good time and did I mention they drink


Anyway the Beer part peeked my interest and I thought what the hell, lets check it out. Not sure how my knees would respond, I went and enjoyed myself enough, the pain and swelling in my knees could be tolerated from week to week. Anyway after a while, I found that I actually enjoyed the running part a little more than I thought I would, and the BEER had become just a bonus.

This is where things got interesting, my knees hurt like crazy after a run and for usually a couple of days following. I was running in a old pair of running shoes, which most people would of thrown out years prior but my old rule of thumb was until the shoes are actually falling apart they can still be used. Anyway, at this point N was really entrenched in the barefoot running concept, and after a couple of months of poking and prodding me to give it a try, I went for a run in a pair of her water shoes.

Typically the Hash runs are between 2 to 3 miles and I am pretty much done by the time I finish, and the end beers are welcomed with open arms (or mouth if you will). Well the first run with the water shoes and I ran about 3 miles and a funny thing happened my knees did not hurt, and I felt I could keep going if I wanted too. Strange, I thought it was a oddity and the usual pain I felt would show up a little later, but funny thing it didn't. I did not know what to think, could it be the shoes (no support) that changed how my feet hit the ground or was it just wishful thinking. With this in mind I went for another run, this time around 5 miles, nothing, no pain, and once again I felt like I could go further.

Hmmmm, I think N and G are onto something here. At this point, I carried on with the water shoes and was running 2 to 3 times a week, extending the time and distance each time and still no pain but with some minor swelling if I pushed it to hard. I started a running clinic with the Running Room on the whim that I might try a half marathon (I got some interesting looks from the instructors as well as the other participants in my water shoes, and some even more interesting looks later on but I digress), but realistically I still was not convinced I would be able to pull off 13.1 miles. I was determined to give it a go, and see if I could get the milage up to 13 miles so I could be confident that I could finish what I started.

To carry on I went to Assinoboine Park one sunday morning in early April and decided to run for as long as possible, after 2 laps of the park about 10 kms, I decided what the hell, I am going to really go BAREFOOT, and took off the shoes, I continued to run another 10 kms on a combination of asphalt and grass and could not believe how much quicker I was going and how much I enjoyed the freedom of being shoeless. At this point I knew I was hooked with the barefoot thing, now BARE (no pun intended... well maybe...) in mind, I did have some issues with small cuts, and bruises from stepping on rocks, and I was definitely worried about glass.

Enter the Vibrams, my wife ordered and got a pair of Vibram Five Fingers KOS shoes for each of us, low and behold the one's she or ordered for me do not fit. Lucky for me (not so lucky for her) our feet sizes are very similar, and mine (I mean her's, no I really mean mine) fit me perfectly. I was so excited to try them out, I went for a quick uuuummm 12 mile jaunt (note they say you should not run more than 2 miles the first time with these to build you feet up, but the feet felt so good, I just kept going). From that point it was hook, line and sinker, I was not going to go back to shoes, who needs stinkin' shoes, I run barefoot.

So a quick recap,

I started running November of last year with WH3 so I can drink beer.

Run the Resolution Run in Edmonton on Jan. 1 in my running shoes, struggle to finish but I finish

Continue to run with the WH3 every week and continue to drink beer.

Start running in water shoes and am amazed at the difference (no pain and still get to drink beer).

Run the 10 km Polar Bear run at the zoo, about 2 kms barefoot (got quite a few looks).

Start running barefoot (no shoes of any type) and enjoy it in April

Start running with Running Room to prep for a possible half marathon.

Continue to run with WH3 every week and continue to drink beer.

Steal, I mean borrow N's vibrams and run 12 miles (this still amazes me), this makes me think I can indeed run a half marathon, so I sign up for the WPS half marathon on May 2.

May 2 comes along and I run the WPS half and finish in 2 hours 19 minutes and 43 seconds, and yes I finished this in MY vibrams.

Run the 5km Physio fit run with my son, the majority barefoot, once again numerous looks of, ARE YOU CRAZY!!!!!!

Start running with Road Kill running group, and they are called this for a good reason, to try to increase my speed and endurance.

Run the Airforce half on May 30, and finish with a 2 hour 12 minutes and 42 second time, and other than a sore left foot, felt fine. On On!!! Also in my vibrams (Note I am officially calling them mine now, sorry N, you have your own now), that was a 7 minute improvement over first half marathon.

Complete my 25th run (officially) with the WH3, all I have to say is, bring on 50!!! On On.

Finally I am looking forward to possibly running a 30 km or maybe a 50 km in the fall with N and G if they will let me.

In short, I am having a blast doing something that I did not think was possible a year ago, and if somebody would of said I would run 2 half marathons before June last year, I would of fell over laughing.

Thanks N and G for introducing me to this addictive pasttime, you do know you have released a monster that cannot be stopped.

On On,



  1. I think I saw you at the Airforce Run. I was at the finish waiting for some buddies to cross when I saw you cross the line. I couldn't help but notice the Vibrams. Congratulations on your race. Mike

  2. Thanks for the congrats Mike, it sounds like you finished with a good time, hopefully what you were shooting for. Anyway there was another guy with Vibrams running as well that I ran into while I was there, starting to see a few more of them or Nike Free's being used. Also if you are running the Manitoba Marathon, you will see at least one guy going completely barefoot (not me by the way, I will be missing that race, to bad).

  3. Barefoot... wow! I'm reading Born To Run as an inspirational lead up to the slow dance on Sunday. Now there's some crazy runners. It's a great read about the purity of running. Mike