Archive for July, 2012

Turns out that a shabby end to a shabby day is just the thing to get you moving – who’d have thought.

I’ve been doing lots of little short runs recently, as the family have got in on the act, so we’ve started working through the 13 week programme that got me where I am today (in a vest and shorts being buffeted by the North East coastal zephyrs and loving every moment of it). Because of that, I’ve ended up doing shorter runs after those sessions, usually a couple of miles or so just to make sure my legs still work and in a hopeful continuation of my transition to wearing barefoot shoes. Also, due to bruising the bone on my left foot while wearing said barefoot shoes on an especially spiky/stony path, a shorter run was good recuperation for my feet.

In an earlier post I broke out of that position and ran a jolly five miles – it was fab. However today was one of the darker, wilder runs when you know you just need to get out there and run in the hope that it will stop the top of your head exploding. Not literally, as that might be a bit scary, but sometimes running really is “The Percolator of the Soul”.

So, after the 13-week session tonight, I entrusted Mrs Angrybees with the keys to the mansion and gamely headed off up the coast. I initially planned on maybe going to the lighthouse and back, another five miles or so, figuring that was more than plenty, but also knowing that the calm that comes from a good long run sometimes hides until later on in the mileage.

Along the promenade, and the weather was pretty good, my little brain was rumbling away and I was concentrating on keeping my cadence up while monitoring for limbs dropping off. Luckily the count of jettisoned extremities was none, so on I went. Off along the trail to the lighthouse, and it was a little rocky for the barefoot road shoes – it may be my neophyte barefoot running style, but I haven’t got the hang of pointy rocks on trails yet – maybe the barefoot trail shoes are what I need?

Up to the top of that path, and the internal monologue is still underway, so I headed off up the trail to Seaton Sluice – heading the opposite way around the loop to normal, just to confuse myself. Feet still holding up well, not twingy pains and my knees were having their own little party it was all going so well.

I arrived on the road at Seaton Sluice, avoided being knocked over and had to make a decision – turn back toward Whitley Bay and make a 6 mile run of it, or turn to the far end of Seaton Sluice and add on the distance. I headed further out, along the road and to the pub on the headland, then onto the headland, then to the end of the headland. There’s a channel that runs through, and a beach on the other side, with a good 10′ drop to the sand. Some children on the other side started shouting “ee’s gonna jump“, though they may not have been quite that cockney. I assured them I wasn’t going to jump, had a good think about jumping and decided it would end in two broken legs, so plodded back up the hill.

The return journey tends to be where the aches and pains arrive, and the knees get properly on with their sorry tale of woe. However, in my barefoot shoes it didn’t really happen. Yes, my feet were feeling a little sore, but nothing terrible, so I plodded back. Around six miles in, the light struck, I felt calmer and balanced.

Ran home, got a bit wet in the rain and felt pretty good.

See, when I say “running makes me a better person”, it’s true, just not always in the way you might think.


  • Distance: 7.34 miles
  • Time: 1’11″21
  • Average pace: 9’43” – I seem to run faster when I’m frothing… the very idea…

Did you watch the Olympic opening ceremony? You must have watched it, right? I watched it. It was fantastic – a bit mad, a bit funny, a bit scary, and it included the Queen jumping out of a helicopter. What more could you ask for?

On that basis, we stayed up until after 1am this morning to watch the end, and considered it well worth the effort. That was until the alarm went off this morning to get up and go to our local Parkrun. J was planning to volunteer (as she’s not up to a 5km yet on the walk/run programme) and I was going to run despite my bruised foot bone from last week. Faced with the joint problems of a sleepy wife and an achy foot, I decided to head down and help out, leaving J to have a bit of a lie-in.

I turned up and got the job of scanning tags at the end of the race – mildly terrifying as I’ve never done it before. However, after working through the possible options of person number / position number and got / not got / won’t scan, I was happy that I had the eventualities pinned down.

It’s a nice, warm feeling volunteering at a race, especially a Parkrun, where you get to know the people – I can heartily recommend it to anyone who might be thinking of giving it a go. Also, if you have a hurty foot, then it means you get the morning off to rest said foot.

As the first runners arrived, I finally realised how much they were putting into what is, for me, a nice 5km Saturday morning jaunt. These folk were dripping sweat unable to speak can’t quite focus on the matter at hand kind of worn out. The queue built up, and I spent then next twenty five minutes repeating the mantra “person number : position number” and scanning my little heart out.

Following the Parkrun, a lot of Olympic-watching commenced, with a bit of other things mixed into the mix. Roll forward to half eight, and I was feeling pretty worn out, maybe due to the late night the evening before.

However, I was feeling restless, my foot wasn’t hurting (no idea when that happened), so I figured I’d go out – I stuck on my old cushioned shoes in the theory that that might spare my bruised foot a little (it’s the soft bit between the ball and the heel that hurts, so there is actual method to that madness). Out the door, and off for what turned out to be a surprisingly fun five miles – all the way to the Lighthouse, where I noticed the tide was out and the causeway was dry, so I ran over the causeway and around the Lighthouse. Which made me laugh – maybe just a little too loud, as I got some funny looks from the handful of people on the causeway with me.  A quick search of my memory and I couldn’t recall a film called “Stuck on a Causeway”, so I couldn’t see what cultural reference they had to feel uneasy.

Anyway, suffice to say it was nice to get out and run a little distance, even if it was quite a short distance – perhaps I will add the odd cushioned-shoe-LSR into the mix again…


  • Distance: 5.00 miles
  • Time: 50’04″26
  • Average pace: 10’10” per mile


Posted: 26/07/2012 in Barefoot, Injury, Journal, Parkrun, Running, Transition

A big thank you to anyone who has read my blog, hope you’ve liked it – at some point last night it passed the 5,000 views mark. Not bad considering I only started in November to keep a quick journal of how my “Beginning to Run” progress was going… I especially like that there’s people from around 50 countries seen this – maybe half of them were thinking it would be something else entirely, but looking at the map of hits still amazes me.

And what an auspicious time to be reaching 5,000 views, just as I’m effectively laid up with a bruised foot. I think it’s bruised, and I don’t think it’s fractured for the fact that it doesn’t make me scream when I put pressure on it, and also because it hurts less when I run that when I walk.

Last Saturday’s Parkrun was great, but I think I went a bit overboard on being the barefoot neanderthal runner, and maybe should have stayed off the nasty-pointy-sticky rocks… I think standing on them has bruised the soft bits of my feet. There’s no mark of a bruise, but then I’m not a doctor, so what do I know?

A doctor (via Facebook) suggested that a tuning fork would settle the matter once and for all – if it was a fracture, then I would hit the roof when the fork was pressed against the bone, if not then I’d simply hum pleasantly.

Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find a tuning fork? Three days and no luck so far.

I ran a quick two miles yesterday – bit achy in the joints and muscles, but the offending foot was relatively OK – it’s a bit sore this morning, but still (I reckon) on the mend.

Not that I’m a sucker for punishment, but reckon it’s the Parkrun again on Saturday…

This is my second pair of Vivobarefoot shoes, the other being the Breatho Trails I picked up when I saw them on offer. Now I’ve only just started using the Breathos on the trail, so I need to update the wee review on those in a while.

However, I got a pair of Neos a couple of weeks ago – after my wife decided to give running a go, and that she wanted to start with barefoot shoes. I’ve been planning to start transitioning for a while, but was holding off for a half marathon that got rescheduled to September. So now seemed like the perfect time. The fab folk at Start Fitness had the Neos in, and after a bit of comparative-size malarky, I ended up with a 45, one size bigger than in the Breatho Trails. A little tip – if you go on the American Vivobarefoot site, they have a comparison where you can say what size you take in another shoe (there’s quite a choice) and it will tell you what size to go for in one of their models – very handy, and it got the size for my Breathos and Neos spot on.

Anyway, on to the shoes – they’ve a lovely retro black plimsole affair, with the slightly wider toe box that’s a hallmark of barefoot shoes. Made of a woven material, with some slight-but-good padding around the top of the shoe where your foot goes in. The soles are white, which looks a bit odd at first, but I guess I’ve gotten used to it pretty swiftly. The regular Vivo hexagon design on the sole, these are not quite as thin a sole as my VFF Classics but thin enough to feel the ground very nicely.


I’ve been using them on very short transition runs to get my legs used to the change, in fact I’ve been using them with my family as they work their way through a 13-week walk/run programme. And on the shorter distances they’ve done very well. Sometimes I’ve run a further 1-2 miles after to get a bit more consistency in the runs, and they’ve been an absolute dream. My left knee, source of much angst in my running has been absolutely fine – my calves have been a little sore, but I’m clear this is only from them getting used to the new form, rather than a creeping injury.

Today I ran my local Parkrun in them, and a bit before, and a bit after – maybe a total of four miles. Again they were fine, the only odd thing being that the left insole worked its way out from under my foot and appeared at my heel. Easy solution was to pull it out and keep going, and I do believe it felt even better after doing that – odd, but true. The shoes feel fab, like socks rather than shoes, and they’re don’t slide around, while your toes have space to go where they please. I nearly got the next size down because I was thinking there was too much room in the toe box, but don’t be fooled – it’s a bit more than you’d be used to in a normal pair of shoes.

What next? Well, my half marathon plan for September / marathon plan for October is currently out of the window – if I can transition and build up distance, then I’d be doing the Hadrian’s Wall Half Marathon and Kielder Marathon, both trail races, in barefoot shoes. At this moment in time, I can’t imagine putting my regular cushioned shoes back on again.

Will it work out? You’ll have to come back an see… 🙂

Well, by now you know that when I say ‘Barefoot’, I mean barefoot shoes, right?

I was on the roster to marshall at the Whitley Bay Parkrun this morning, but as luck would have it J was keen to come along, take my place and allow me to run. Huzzah, and a big thank you. We signed her up last night and I sorted a barcode for her, and off we headed this morning.

It was a stunningly good morning to run, warm, sunny but with a little bit of breeze off the sea. Just about bloomin’ perfect. Turning up at Parkrun HQ, we explained the Switch’n’Run plan and figured out where J had to stand – just before the Golden Bridge (not sure where the name comes from, but it’s the wee bridge at the stream where the promenade ends. Her job was to direct people down the rough track to the bridge.

Because she wasn’t 100% where that was, I walked down with her and Jane, another of the Parkrun Marshalls – however, as we got close I realised I had only a couple of minutes to get back to the start. With some last minute checking of positions, I was off!

So, to recap, I’ve run up to 2.2 miles in my barefoot shoes so far. The Parkrun is 3.1 miles, so a bit of an increase, but I’m now running back to the start point, which I figure adds around another half a mile in to the run. Let’s say we’re up to 3.6 miles by this point once I’ve done the run.

As I headed back, a little faster than normal, I was a couple of hundred metres away when I saw the race begin. Bum. Still, I gamely kept on, through the gaggle of organisers at the start with a cheery “I’d better catch up”, and off in hot pursuit of the tail marker runner in her fluo bib to mark the end of the race.

Past the war memorial, along the links, then down onto the promenade at the top of the beach, and I’ve caught up – feeling a bit knackered now, but pleased to be officially back in the run. As we go along the promenade, I notice the runners right up at the front have headed up onto the top again – that’s not the route, but maybe it’s a different group of runners out for a morning jog, who’ve been carried along by the flow?

Continue on, and the runners after that first dozen or so are running the right way, so things seem fine. I reach the end of the promenade, up the hill and there’s J, smiling as people file down towards the bridge. Good job, and I’m glad she looks like she’s enjoying it.

Over the bridge, up the other side, back onto the road and I’ve got a funny feeling in my heel – no idea what, can’t see anything, so I keep on truckin’. Back along the links and towards the start of the second lap, and I realise it’s the insole in my shoe, trying to escape from my shoe. Fair enough, they’re removable, but i hadn’t expected that – and I stop at the crossing over the Panama Dip cafe to take my shoe off, retrieve the insole and keep going. Sounds simple, but because of the lack of a third hand, at one point I had to hold the insole between my teeth. It. Did. Not. Smell. Good.

Back off again, and the second lap was much like the first, only without the ground to make up – I kept my tempo up, and tried to be very aware of the feeling in my feet from the ground – the sharp rocks on the trail can wake you up if you’re not careful. Off to the finish, and I get my number – 78 – WHAT? I’ve never finished below 200 before, what’s going on? I check the person behind, 79 and the one in front 77, so it must be a lowish turnout. Also discovered that the chap in front, Jason, is the bloke we ran past while out on Thursday night – he’s had calf trouble and was stretching an amazing amount, we were doing the walk/run thing along the parade, so I guess we must have stuck in the respective minds. Anyway, we got talking a bit about injuries and shoes, and whatever else, and I’m sure our paths will cross again.

After getting scanned, I ran back along to J where the last marker had just come through – that’s about another 0.5 miles, so I’m saying around 4 miles in total. Basically twice my current longest distance.

I feel a little bit sore in the calf area, but other than that, I’m feeling great. Roll on more joint Parkrun fun…


  • Distance: 5km – that’ll be the Parkrun bit, more like 4 miles in total, but my GPS was having a bad day
  • Time: 27’30” – again, official time for the Parkrun – not a PB, but I did run a bit to get to the start once the race had got underway…
  • Av. pace: Lord only knows – hang on, just calculated – 8’51” per mile – not bad!

Single mile joys

Posted: 19/07/2012 in Uncategorized

Short post, just the mile today – lots of fun and bit more on the transitioning path. About 9’40” pace, I think.

Fancying the Parkrun in my barefoots on Saturday. Reckon it could be mint.

Funny thing, walking feels a bit …erm… easier the last couple of days. Is it possible that this is part of my gait changing? Whatever it is, it seems pretty groovy.


Another two miles…

Posted: 17/07/2012 in Uncategorized

The transition continues – another two mile run along the front in my barefoot shoes.

Again, it went pretty well, but this time I didn’t hold my pace back as much as previously – I tried to run easy, and found I was hitting my 9’20” pace without feeling much effort – granted with a higher number of foot strikes  per minute, and probably therefore a shorter stride.

Consider the marathon training plan officially out the window – I’m aiming to run more often, shorter distances and build up from there. I reckon I can catch up the distance as I go, especially seeing as how Lefty Knee seems happy. I’m still getting some aches in my left calf, but again I think this is from use and adaptation, rather than overuse or bad form.

I’ve found an excellent Facebook page that’s just started up, Northumbria Barefoot Running, run by a lecturer at Northumbria University. There’s an event on tomorrow night talking about barefoot running, but I found out too late to get a place. I’m hoping it will take off and there may be more, maybe even the opportunity for a barefoot running group.

Put together a plan for a spot of running at lunchtime at work – there’s a hill over the road from the office, so I may be able to fit in some hill training for short periods when my diary allows. Just need to pick up some shower gel and deodorant so I can clean myself up afterwards…


  • Distance: 2.20 miles
  • Pace: 9’44” per mile – didn’t pick up the time…

In other news, I’m entering Rat Race’s “The Wall’ next June, 69 miles from Carlisle to Newcastle along Hadrian’s Wall. Stopping off overnight at Vindolanda for a camp, it sounds ace. In a stroke of good look, my mate from work, Jon, is up for it too, so I may have a running buddy for the event (and hopefully some of the training). The biggest task is a team name, we’re currently working on “The Dashing Accountants”…