Sunday, April 24, 2011

Journey of 1,000 Barefoot Miles - Week Ending April 23, 2011

Well this has been an exciting week for me, not only have I had the good fortune to run almost everyday (just missed Tuesday) this week. I have had the chance to run with some great friends, surprise myself a little bit with some good time intervals and experience some new running routes to boot.

On top of all this, I have had some other great happenings as well, and to create some unnecessary suspense, bum-bum-pada, I will make you wait until later to find out what exactly that was. Believe me its exciting, at least I am excited, and a little nervous as well. Anyway, a quote from one of my favourite bands, "On With The Show", here is how my week has broken down.

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

Barefoot: 5.88 miles

Vibrams: 4.92 miles

Total: 10.80 miles

This was an interesting run, the weather was cool, off and on gusting wind, and I was really not sure how my feet were going to react. Started out with the Vibrams until my feet warmed up, not sure why, but I had a gut feeling this was the way to go. Started out fast, really fast for me, the first mile was a 8:49 pace, I had to force myself to slow down I felt so good, but I knew I was trying for at least 10 miles, so I didn't want to burn myself out. It was hard to slow down, I had to focus really hard, and I kept looking down at my Garmin, to try to regulate my pace. If I could keep that pace for 13.1 miles, that would be under a 1:56 half marathon, I just remembered telling myself. Then reality set in, I'm just not ready for that yet. Anyway I was able to get my pace down to a modest 9:28 min/mile over the next couple of intervals, I was very happy to maintain that pace.

I decided I would run in the Vibrams till I got to Assiniboine Park, then once I crossed the foot bridge and reached the duck pond I would shed the shoes. That would be not quite 5.0 miles with the Vibrams, then I would run the balance back barefoot utilizing a different route. Remember when I mentioned, I had a gut feeling that I should wear the Vibrams to start? Well I was glad I did, I rounded a corner of a building and ended up right in the middle of a big pile of freshly broken glass. There would of been no way to avoid it and I would of filleted my feet, without the Vibrams, I still had to pick some pieces out of my shoes once I crossed the area. Whoever said, listen to your gut, I owe you one.

I finished at the duck pond with a distance of 4.92 miles in under 45:00, not to bad. After a quick drink of water, the shoes came off and I started thru the park towards the Moray Bridge. Running gravelled asphalt roads and paths, chip and seal roads, concrete sidewalks and dirt paths barefoot is like a concoction of different senses for the feet, this is the best way I find to build up the layer of skin on the sole of your foot. But note, beginners should not start with the amount I do, I am a bit of a sadist, building up slowly is the way to go.

Finished the balance of the run up to Portage Ave and headed west towards home. Finished up with 10.80 miles in just under 1 hour 45 minutes for a average pace of 9:45. I cannot wait till all the winter gravel (small and pointy) gets cleaned up, my pace slowed accordingly while trying to avoid the majority of this with my bare feet. But overall, a good run none the less.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Barefoot: 5.35 miles

Vibrams: 2.10 miles

Total: 7.45 miles

Monday was a two run day, I completed a quick barefoot 5 mile plus route during lunch hour, concentrating on rougher terrain to help condition the feet. Ran by 3 construction sites and thru all the limestone and gravel that was spilled all over the roads from the dump trucks. Also did not avoid all the winter gravel on the sidewalks this time by plowing thru the majority of it the rest of the route. I have a 50km ultra marathon trail run in a couple of weeks and the intent is to complete it Au Natural, so this abuse is necessary so my feet are prepared. Needless to say my feet were seriously tender once I got back to the office.

The second run consisted of my HHH run, and since my feet were still a little tender, I did this in my Vibrams. I am finding that I need about a day, to have my feet rebound from a abusive run like I did at lunch. It was a good short run, perfect to loosen up my stiffening muscles, and of course there is beer at the end, what more could you ask for.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Barefoot: 0.00

Vibrams: 0.00

Total: 0.00

Tuesday was a rest day for me, I had a very important appointment in the afternoon, and I figured my leg would be a little to sore to go for a run. My niece, who works out of Living Canvas Tattoo in Winnipeg, was scheduled to put a new piece of art on my lower right leg (barefoot theme of course).

The script reads, "I RUN" and as I finish my Barefoot Events I will be adding the Mileage to the Feet Starting With 13.1 Miles at the WPS Half Marathon next week.

I will say I have had a few tattoos done over the years (this was number 9), but the top 2 bare feet and the script hurt like a son-of-a-gun being right on that muscle. My muscle was doing involuntary convulsions while Candace was inking, it was kind of interesting.

The second part of my day was a trip to City Park Runners, Nicole has been complaining that I have been stealing all her running jackets, so she felt it was time I got my own. I had seen this great jacket that City Park has that I really liked that also advertised the store that I have become so fond of. So by the end of the trip I was up a tattoo and a very cool jacket, that I will be proud to wear. Thanks honey, for all your support and I love the jacket.

Front View

Back View

Wednesday April 20, 2011
Barefoot: 6.76 miles
Vibrams: 0.00 miles
Total: 6.76 miles

This was another run at lunch, decided to take a different route, further into the heart of Transcona (insert erie sound effects here). Headed down a major route, before encountering a big accident which made me turn around and head back and devise a new route. I didn't think, the emergency crews would appreciate me running by the overturned truck that was partially blocking the sidewalk. I could imagine the expressions on their faces as this barefooted runner sprints past them as they clean up the mess. I do hope everybody was ok, I did see some ambulances scream by earlier, but I know they are good hands. Our cities front line emergency workers (all our Firefighters, Police Officers and EMT's) are fantastic and should be applauded and thanked for the great job that they do on a day to day basis.

Once I turned around and headed back I veered into the residential area of Transcona to get some additional mileage in, I might of spooked a couple of senior citizens, but I also got a lot of waves and a couple of "Wow, that is impressive" and one "Don't step on anything I wouldn't", that one make me chuckle. On the way back, I knew it was bound to happen sometime I got stopped by a train (it being Transcona and all). Very interesting feeling to be standing there with bare feet with all the vehicles waiting for a train to clear the road. All in all a great run, with a average pace of a 9:25 min/mile.

Thursday April 21, 2011
Barefoot: 6.25 miles
Vibrams: 0.00 miles
Total: 6.25 miles

Thursday night was my run with City Park Runners, always a good time, lots of great conservation and of course a good run as well. This was suppose to be a easy 10km run, of course that would usually mean about a 10:00 min/mile pace, and considering the conditions, I was ok with that. It was very wet, and this would be officially my first completely wet run of the season. Running barefoot on wet asphalt and concrete poses it own unique challenges, because if your form is not perfect, this will cause friction thru rubbing that you do not want. Also with the wetness, this will also soften up your skin layer that little bit allowing the blisters to be created easier. One other issue with wet asphalt and darkening skies is it is harder to pick up the rocks and gravel that you want to avoid. Not impossible, but one or two usually slip through. Anyway, in short I ended up with a couple of blisters by the end of the run, one on each foot (a matching pair). The one thing that amazes me is that blisters now are nothing, I just drain them, add some antibiotic cream, and they are gone the next day, like they weren't there at all.

Friday, April 22, 2011 (Good Friday)
Barefoot: 6.01 miles
Vibrams: 0.00 miles
Total: 6.01 miles

I want to start off this day report with a big congratulations to Nicole and Gail who left very early Friday morning for a small run from Westwood in Winnipeg to Oak Hammock Marsh. This small accomplishment consisted of just under 30.0 miles, Nicole was using her Vibrams and Gail was using a pair of running shoes that would of been considered new in 1985 and have travelled some serious miles. I am proud of you both for setting this goal and accomplishing it with flying colours, and no worse for the wear. The 50km trail ultra on May 14th will be no issue for either of you at all. A big Woohoo goes out to the both of you.

Friday's run was alot of fun for a couple of reasons. First of all, I got to go out with a very close friend, Gail E. (another Gail), and for the first time the both of us were able to beat another good friend's time by a whole minute. Now, there is the point that he just had major dental surgery and this was his first real run in a week, but I'm going to gloat anyway. Also we had a great time in my books, I believe running with Gail pushes the both of us to go just that little bit faster and harder. I am going to miss not having her to run with at the half marathon next week, to help spur me on. Anyway it was a great run as I said, we ran thru the Wolseley area, then over the train bridge to Wellington Crescent back towards the Miss, back into Wolseley prior to heading back. Even with my slightly tender feet from the night before, we had a great run and time of under 57 minutes for 6 miles. Thanks again Gail, we must make a habit of this, because I had a blast.

Week Totals
Barefoot: 30.25 miles
Vibrams:7.02 miles
Total: 37.27 miles

Year To Date
Barefoot: 57.16 miles
Vibrams: 21.83 miles
Total: 78.99 miles

I am a little lower in mileage that I would of preferred but I have some big races coming up in the next couple of weeks, so I do not want to go crazy with mileage and either hurt myself or burn myself out. But once summer hits, my mileage will be increasing as my feet get stronger again.

Oh yes, I almost forgot about the exciting news. Our running group was contacted by Shaw Cable last week about doing a piece on 'Barefoot Running' and my '1,000 mile challenge'. I was honoured and humbled that anyone would be interested in this, and with some thought and a lot of encouragement from friends, I have decided to go ahead and 'run with it' so to speak. So next Wednesday, they will be coming out to do the interview and film shoot to introduce Winnipeg to the Crazy Guy Who Runs With No Shoes! Wish me luck, I will probably need it.

Until next week,

On On.


  1. Bob, I'll be wearing a "no meat athlete" (front), "runs on plants" (rear) tee-shirt on race day and a black hat. Like to talk to you. Let's try to hook up. Great post! Mike

  2. Don't know how much "spurring on" I'll be doing, but I'll be there tomorrow. Couldn't sell the bib and I'm not going to let it go to waste. See you in the morning!