HOME | FORUM | COACHING | CONTACT | EVENTS | SHOP

One foot at a time | One sole at a time | One hell of a good time

HOME | CONTACT | FORUM | COACHING | SHOP

Thursday, April 29, 2010

So, you wanna start running barefoot?

Firstly, before you begin, you want to evaluate what it is that is leading you to even accept the logic behind the concept of barefoot running. We all know that barefoot running has gotten a lot of attention lately. Much of it is valid and deserves your attention.

Yet, one must still ask: is this a viable option for me?

Before you answer that question, let me explain why I think barefoot or minimal footwear running may not be good for you. It is not good if you are thinking it is some sort of cure-all that only requires taking off your shoes and starting to run injury free without radical changes in the way you may have been thinking of running up to now. If your running strategy has been about very specific time or distance goals, and you have been willing to push through pain to injury, then I would caution you: your bare feet will not allow you to continue this way.

Alas, the hallmark of my barefoot running philosophy is regaining connectedness, mindfulness, and presence in your running and in your body.

Barefoot running is not about blocking or pushing through pain, or at least it shouldn't be. Rather it is about tuning-in to your own body's highly sophisticated set of integrated awareness systems, systems that communicate through feelings and senses that are being collected in real-time as you move. From my perspective, learning how to run well means learning how to tap into the feeling of running well, which more often than not requires baring the foot to get the full feel of what happens when you move.

However, even if you decide that barefoot is the route for you, take one step backward and realize you are most likely in the process of rehabilitating your feet and legs from years of being differently-abled, shoed, and cast. Atrophy, loss of range of motion, weakness, neglect, the foot has not been treated well lately. All the padding and support and protection has not led to stronger feet...sadly.

So, the first key is to start slowly, incrementally and avoid over-exuberance, avoid being driven by your ego. Think orchard growing, not fast food. Think lifetime of development and growth. Think joy.

So, what are my secrets, what is it I share with clients who take my Introduction to Barefoot Running Clinic?

My goal is to get people to learn how to feel what good running feels like. I want them to develop a feeling for it. One of the primary feelings becomes an awareness of the texture and hardness of terrain and of impact. This awareness is the beginning.

To master this awareness, I have clients learn to move on hard surfaces first. Not focusing on distance or speed, I have my clients first walk and then trot on hard, fairly smooth surfaces. I work with them to focus on and begin to master three goals: quiet, quick, in balance.

The Three Goals

1. Master gentle, quiet, forefoot-centric landings, silent and smooth.

Learn to move with no hard edges, no pounding, by learning how to have the impact of landing flow through the entire foot, starting in the forefoot and quickly spreading through the legs smoothly. Notice how silent your movement becomes. Imagine the movement of a big cat. Watch your dogs trot. Let them be models for tuned-in, flowing movement that wastes little energy on pound or sound.

2. Quicken your cadence: Running in bare feet encourages this naturally.

Some shoe runners are plodders. You can hear them coming. Lots of wasted energy on poorly timed impact. Quicker cadence ends up making sense when you realize that your ability to absorb and recoil energy through elasticity in your body dissipates quickly and is lost if not used. Learning how to get back in touch with the sweet spot of optimal recoil efficiency is easier to find when you can feel your feet, feeling that encourages a landing phase with foot more in line with your center of gravity (thinking about how you land if you jump down onto a hard surface in barefeet, not on your heels!). Overstriding is discouraged, nearly impossible barefooted.

3. Stable upright posture: balanced head, core engaged, unbent torso, the feeling of balance, relaxed, yet strong.

I think that good running can be judged aesthetically. It should look good, not painful. When you see someone moving or running well, it looks smooth and fluid and graceful and efficient. The opposite looks painful, when someone is hunched and stiff, robotic and plodding. Indeed efficient running is tall and stable, the upper body acting as the fulcrum from which the legs and arms can move freely with a serious lack of bouncing or swaying of the head.

Ultimately my coaching goal is to help people perfect what I call a persistent hunt trot...a gait not purely about speed, but about smooth, flowing, efficient, sustainable movement, movement that leaves you ready to hunt or play another day.

Barefooting itself is all about mindfulness and presence. Running like an upright Primate, not like a Robot. Aware of your body and your environment AT ALL TIMES.

Listen to your body...learn to hear what it is telling you. Adjust accordingly. Advance accordingly.

Best Regards, Barefoot Ted

Labels:

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Way of Barefoot Running

Here is the working text for my Op-Ed piece in Monday's Christian Science Monitor, titled by the paper as "Boston Marathon and beyond: Running is ready for a barefoot revolution" (read online here)

The Way of Barefoot Running: One Step at a Time

Our ancestors moved over the earth...and found their way into nearly every nook and cranny of the planet...with their bare or minimally clad feet.  The foot has been the primary vehicle of our success as a species, allowing us to fulfill our desire to explore, discover, achieve and eat. Yet, most people these days have come to see their feet as broken appendages, unfit for the real world, sickly and weak, prone to injury, in need of support and padding, doomed to suffer.  Why? 

Good question.  What did happen?  What made our feet sick?  Did we devolve?  Perhaps it has something to do with the shoes we wear?

Well, arguably, we are the first generation of runners who have worked with the hypothesis that more cushioning and support equals safer running and reduced impact.  We have concluded that modern surfaces, hard and unforgiving, require ever-thickening sole padding to help counter the shocks of landing, but is that true?

It is counter-intuitive, but the truth is, and studies back this up, that the more you block out the feeling of impact in your feet, the more impact you are likely to put into your body, at the wrong time in your stride, by moving and landing differently than you would if you actually felt what you were doing. 

All those nerves on the bottom of your feet have a purpose after all.  Dulling them from sensing seems to be a bad idea...and the dulling seems to set in motion a series of unfortunate events that ultimately leads to movement patterns unknown to our preeminently capable ancestors...patterns that seem to lead to inefficient movement and injury.

By taking off your shoes, you give your body a chance to reuse some amazingly useful, built-in systems that help you move in a way that need not be jarring nor pounding regardless of the hardness of the terrain, a way of movement that more effectively captures and re-releases stored energy through elasticity in our bodies: the splaying of our forefoot, the arch in our foot, tendons in the lower legs, calves and quads, and form, all positioned ideally to absorb and recoil the energy of movement, smoothly and efficiently, operating in real-time, on the move, a kind of primordial physical intelligence, a birthright of Homo sapiens.  This built in recoil system puts to shame the claims of the marshmallow soft, spring loaded shoes that capture the imagination of so many.

So, what went wrong?

My hunch is that we got unplugged...detached...from our own bodies, from our own feet.  That disconnect has led to gait patterns and running styles that are unique to a generation of runners...we the first cohort in the history of the world to run distance with cushioned, high-heeled shoes.  I think it is a case of the cure becoming worse than the ailment, the ailment being hard surfaces and tired bodies, trying to continue moving when the safe form of moving has exhausted itself and the feet and legs would normally protest about continuing...unless you could give it a little relief, i.e., block pain brought on by less-than-best landing patterns, but once become a habit ends up being a fundamental change in running form...and in my opinion, a dying branch of cultural evolutionary experimentation.

Does it have to be this way? 

Nope.  Learning how to master the fundamental human capacity of running, sans shoes, is a lot easier than you think...and does not require a purchase.  Simply take off your shoes...and start listening to your feet, listening to your body, moving without internal hard edges, with flow.  Focus on incrementally redeveloping your feet and lower legs...one step at a time, giving them a chance to feel the world and grow from interacting with it, learning from it.  And become a student of your own body and of movement, share your experiences, learn and be inspired by others.  Crack the nut of joyful movement in your own body, your own unique vehicle.  The resources are available unlike at any other time for our generation.  Google it.

The paradigm shift away from the over-engineered shoe is connected with other shifts in thinking about our bodies and being human.  In your barefeet you are more connected to your body, better balanced, more aware, mindful, present.  Those characteristics are good qualities to mimic in your mental life.  There is a relationship between the two.

Becoming healthy in mind and body is an incredibly effective way to experience happiness it seems, and all my research into this topic leads me to feel confident that if you follow these insights to their logical conclusion, you too will become a happy, healthy and free thinking individual, comfortable and satisfied with the awesome inheritance your feet and body represent.

BFT

PS.  More on my barefoot running philosophy with tips here:

http://barefootted.com/coach/philosophy.html

-------

Labels:

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

PrimalCon 2010

Yes, it's true, I am speaking and presenting at this year's inaugural PrimalCon convention...and very much looking forward to it. I have read Mark Sisson's book "The Primal Blueprint" and think that it has some incredible insights that help us rediscover and reapply some of the life practices of our most ancient ancestors.

Below is my write up for my presentation at PrimalCon 2010 which is being held April 23-25 in Sourthern California (learn more here)

-------------------

The friendly and flowing savage, who is he? Is he waiting for civilization, or is he past it, and mastering it? --Walt Whitman

All this talk about barefoot running lately…what’s up with that?

Well, think about Grok (your primal ancestor). Think about his footwear. Do you think he needed supportive, cushioned, orthopedic shoe-boots in order to make it through his day? Nope. He was born with the best footwear money could buy…his own bare feet.

Grok’s footwear = self-nourishing, self-healing, get-stronger-and-smarter-with-use material, directly connected to the brain, proprioceptive. Good news, you have the same.

Fast forward to today. A world where most people are completely disconnected from their own feet and the marvelous capacity they contain. So disconnected that an entire generation of Americans have grown up thinking that they could not move without shoes. But is that the case?

My own personal journey for finding an answer to this question is best outlined in Christopher McDougall’s best-selling book “Born to Run”. If you haven’t read it, you should. It is perhaps the best evidence available to help understand why humans are the premiere endurance animal on the planet. Our success as a species is connected to an amazing human capacity called persistence hunting.

Our need for meat is directly connected to our growing brain and our fabulous trotting abilities. Grok can out trot just about any other land animal when you add distance to the equation. That ability along with burgeoning brain power turned Grok into an amazing hunter, even before he had mastered some of the weapons that would follow. Grok was able to literally run an animal to death. And some of our ancestors are still doing it today (search YouTube for persistence hunting to see).

Grok was a barefoot trotter. Super efficient movement: fluid, light and smooth…these are hallmarks of animals that can cover territory without waste. Grok was a master at this.

And indeed, my goal is to help you revive this skill sans traditional running shoes. I want to teach you how to reconnect to the very best tools you were ever given for learning how to move well…and it's all about reconnecting with your own body…not blocking out the feeling of the world, but rather tuning in to it…like Grok and all other animals that move with grace and fluidity.

By taking off your shoes or wearing some minimal, non-cushioned shoes, you give your body a chance to reuse some amazing systems to help you move in a way that is not jarring, not pounding. It is counter-intuitive, but the truth is, and studies back this up, the more you block out the feeling of impact in your feet, the more impact you can put into your body. The typical shoe ad has made you think you need more padding to protect your body…and all that padding has often led to more injuries and more pain. Why?

My Introduction to Barefoot Running Clinic is designed to help answer this question. I have had the opportunity to teach 1000s of folks how to move in a way that is joyful and smooth. I have developed a methodology that gets people to tune into the feeling of running well…which has nothing to do with enduring pain, but rather is all about finding and maintaining a sweet spot of efficient movement that is addictive and primal.

My clinic will leave you with the tools you need to self-analyze your own barefoot trotting progress. Indeed, my goal is to teach you what I call the persistence hunt trot, a trot that once mastered gives the Grok in you the ability to cover large distances efficiently and smoothly when needed.

I look forward to sharing with you.

Barefoot Ted

PS. Remind me to tell the story of the photo above. It contains an allegory.

Labels: , ,

Friday, March 19, 2010

Google Talk on "Born to Run" and Barefoot Running


Had the pleasure of giving a Google Talk recently and would like to share the video with you.  When I look back on videos of me talking, the sentence below always comes to mind...Christopher's description of me in Born to Run:

"Barefoot Ted talked the way Charlie Parker played the sax: he’d pick up on any cue and cut loose with a truly astonishing torrent of improvisation, seeming to breathe in through his nose while maintaining an endless flow of sound out of his mouth."

In the end, I truly love telling the story of my barefoot journey, primarily because I think that it is a journey worth taking for any sophisticated, 21st century, highly evolved primate with human ancestors.  Done well, running makes us happy and fit...and if done thoughtfully and presently, running reconnects us both to one of our greatest fundamental physical capacities and to the earth.  We are ultimately rewarded with joy.

I say don't obsess about distance and speed...rather seek out that sweet spot of joy in running and let that be your guide.  In the end, joy is a great teacher...of both your mind and body.

BFT

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon 2010


Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon CUMM 2007 (the second year for me)

Tomorrow, March 7, 2010, will be the start of the running of the 2010 Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon.  I ask all of you to send good energy to all the participants this year. 

To have been blessed to be part of this event has been life changing.  To have gotten a chance to come to know and love the Raramuri people and all the friends of the Tarahumara has been a true honor...a major blessing for me, adding richness and insight to my life in doses so large that it continuously boggles my mind and leaves me with a deep sense of gratitude and thankfulness.

Indeed the Raramuri culture of korima is something that touches all of us with its simple beauty and trust in the human-divine spirit of sharing and mutual love.  Let that spirit live on in all of us as we recognize it in our own lives and in our own circles of friends, family and colleagues...and other co-inhabitants on this incredible planet.

Someday, you too may be blessed to run in the Canyons, to meet Caballo Blanco and touch fingertips with Arnulfo or some of the other local legends.  In the meantime, you can always try and book a trek in the canyons with the ole' Caballo himself (see: www.caballoblanco.com) or support the Norwas de Raramuri - Friends of the Running People - non-profit founded by Caballo (see: www.norawas.org).

May the Raramuri continue to run free and strong...and you too.

BFT

PS.  The photo montage above I made in 2007 shortly after returning from my second year of participating, the year after McDougall came down, the year following the year covered in the book "Born to Run".  It is an amazing tribute to the beauty of the experience.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

RUNNING AS AN EXERCISE - 1895 report

I have been looking for the oldest article on running for health.  Here is the oldest I could find that was about running and wasn't focused entirely on sports competitions... Bold GOLD highlights must reads below - BFT

RUNNING AS AN EXERCISE

By Dr. J. William Lloyd

Published in 1895 in the Journal of Hygiene and Herald of Health, Volume 45
_____

We have in running, as I shall proceed to show, one of the most perfect exercises which a man may take without apparatus or assistance from others.

The first great merit of running is that it applies exercise mainly to those parts and organs used least — toes, feet, legs, lungs and heart. It exercises least the arms and back most used in ordinary work. Therefore it serves the first great purpose of any remedy, it balances the circulation and equalizes the functional energy.

To keep the head cool and feet warm is the great desideratum [something desired as essential] because the head is so near to the heart, the large blood vessels reach it so directly, the tendency of our civilization is so to overwork the brain, that the least deficiency in the circulation of the extremities is sure to be avenged by a congested head, leading by repetition to headache and insomnia. Running secures a cool head and warm feet. Can you imagine a frequent runner troubled with insomnia?

BETTER THAN WALKING

Walking is dull work. There is scant pleasure in the exercise for its own sake. You must always be going somewhere, and if you cannot continually go to some new spot you are bored. The pleasantest walking is a quiet, contemplative stroll, but that is of little value for exercise, and rapid walking is almost always forced. But there is a spirit and verve about even the shortest little dog-trot which the most vigorous walking altogether lacks. Start running and the breath quickens, the pulse leaps, the brain brightens, as the freshly oxygenated, purified blood begins to bound through it, the eye sparkles and the charm of your boyhood has returned once more.

How much of the exhilaration of our childhood was owing to the fact that we then were ever running? And if adults ran more would they mourn so much for the lost illusions of early years?

The blows which the sole of the foot receives in running are of real value in improving the circulation in the feet. Those who have studied the merits of muscle beating do not need to be told this. These sharp vigorous strokes running up through the great sciatic nerve to the spinal cord and brain are stimulative and tonic in a high degree; and the quickening goes all through the body. Every nerve fibril feels it, the liver is shaken and jarred into action, the stomach grinds merrily away at its welcome grist, the bowels start their weird serpentine peristaltic action, the capillaries flush with blood, the pores open, and all is vigor and motion. Not a terminal fibre, not a corpuscle of blood but shares in the jubilee and revival. Running is “the universal alternative.”

OBJECTIONS

“Do not run; it is too violent an exercise for your health!” How often is that advice given; wisely enough, perhaps, to those with organic heart disease, but foolishly enough to the majority who need precisely this exercise to strengthen their hearts against sloth and luxurious living. For the heart is muscle, and suitable exercise is the one thing which every muscle must have, or it atrophies.

Very rapid and vigorous walking is good for the heart, but it takes vastly more will power to walk hard than to run easily and the running will do the heart more good. Of course, men with weak and fatty hearts should take this exercise with caution; a few yards only should be the extent of the run at first, and when this grows easy and pleasant, a few more and so on; working very gradually until a quarter of a mile becomes a bagatelle [something of little value or importance; a trifle].

When a quarter of a mile causes no distress that heart may cease to be solicitous about its safety. If adults ran as freely and frequently as children—I do not hesitate to say it—heart disease would be rare. But when I praise running for the heart, competitive racing is always excluded. That has ruined many a heart. Health and pleasure is the only prize for which to run.

I lately conversed with an athlete, an ex-champion in the Caledonian games, and he told me of the physical condition of some famous runners he had once examined. “The muscles on their abdomens were so hard that when I tapped them with my finger it was like tapping a board,” he said.

Observe the flabby sac which retains the bowels of the average sedentary man and think what this difference must mean in absence of abdominal obesity, constipation, prolapsed bowels, piles and hernia, to say nothing of a host of other pelvic weaknesses. Fine vigorous abdominal muscles mean healthy viscera and pelvic contents in a normal position. What would this be worth to our women? A woman who had avoided corsets and heavy skirts, and had taken a quarter of a mile vigorous run daily since childhood, would be wagered upon by an enlightened physician as perfectly free from “female weakness” or malpositions.

AS A REMEDY OF CONSUMPTION [tuberculosis]

Consumption is a dread scourge. Over and over it has been shown that nothing is so healing to sick lungs as pure air taken freely; and in no other way can it be taken so freely, and so purely, as when running in the open air. As a breathing exercise alone running is priceless, as a preventive of consumption nothing can excel it, and he is a dull hygienist, indeed, who cannot see how very valuable an agent it might become wisely employed in checking lung disease. Were I to start a “consumption cure,” running would be my sheet anchor. Indeed, running would be my chief resource in treating those chronic diseases in which the patient has the use of the lower extremities.

We hear so much of the medical use of oxygen, nowadays, but there is no better oxygen than that which Mother Nature has provided in the open fields, and if we fill ourselves with this, feasting on it as we run, every drop of our blood will thank us for the treat. Running furnishes oxygen more rapidly an abundantly than any other spontaneous exercise.

PERSPIRATION. MELANCHOLY.

When you run you perspire. Thousands upon thousands of little pores begin to drain off impurities, and thus relieve the other excretory organs of overwork. No Turkish bath can excel a run, no sudorific [causing or inducing sweat] will produce a more thorough sweat. In the corporation of man running means clean streets, good drainage, perfect water-works, and public sanitation.

Running is pleasant and inspiring. It enlivens the mind and dispels melancholy. It exercises every muscle in the body, and chiefly those not commonly much used. It cools the head and draws blood to the lower extremities. It cures rheumatism, corns, cold feet, headaches, insomnia; prevents stiffness, varicose veins, apoplexy, consumption, hernia. It stimulates and tones up the nervous system. It shakes and arouses to action all torpid viscera. It insures appetite, digestion, assimilation, excretion. It will certainly cure obesity, for nobody ever yet saw a hard runner who was fat. It requires no apparatus. Taken all in all is the most perfect single exercise known for health, pleasure, and all-round development.

DRESS, ETC.

If you feel the need of running have the courage to do it, and you can soon persuade others to join you if you must have company. Children at least will be always glad to accompany you. The dress should be appropriate. The cap should be very light and close, so as not to blow off easily. Much of the time when you run fast you will carry it in your hand, anyway.

Let all the clothing be woolen, so that the perspiration quickly passes off, and chills are avoided. Have no flapping skirts, coat-tails, or other loose ends. Wear knee-breeches, woolen stockings, and low running-shoes, or, better still, wear no stocking and no shoes whenever the weather will permit.

There is wonderful comfort in a bare foot, as everyone knows. Contact with the earth is healthful. And in summer, after a rain, or in the dewy morning, how refreshing a running foot-bath through wet grass! Even in winter a short run, barefooted, through the loose snow may be made perfectly safe for those who have taken the right training, producing a warmth and glow in the feet which will last for hours.

PRIZES.

Never race for prizes, or run against time, or compete for anything. Avoid over-strain. Don’t make work of your sport. Leap and bound down hill, and you will find it jar you much less than straight running.

Run up hill zigzag. Stop whenever you feel any discomfort, get your wind, and then run again.

By constant practice a man could run as long as he could walk. In some places in the Orient outrunners and footmen accompany carriages and keep up with the horses. In the bardic chronicles of Ireland we read of the horse-boys running all day by the side of the tourist, ready to be at the bridle whenever the master halted. And wonderful tales travelers tell us to-day of runners in Mexico, Japan, Africa.

But such running, if wonderful, is not perhaps desirable, and is hardly to be attained without too much expense to other faculties. The runs I recommend are through the dewy meadows of morning, over the hills of afternoon, or through the aisles of forest temples—runs with an easy breath, a light foot, and a gay heart.

You may not, like Selkirk [inspiration for Robinson Crusoe], become able to run down wild goats, but you can at least run down your avoirdupois [weight], run up your spirits, and run out, if not outrun, your doctor.

 
Alexander Selkirk inspired the character Robinson Crusoe

_____________

This article was in the The Journal Of Hygiene And Herald Of Health V45 published in 1895.  The entire journal can be downloaded as a PDF via Google Books. (352 pages)

Before the article index is the following quote, attributed to Grant Allen which I want to uphold in my own practice:
“Health culture is an aim for all; an aim which will make each stronger, and saner, and wiser, and healthier, and better. It will make each in the end more helpful to all. To be sound in wind and limb; to be healthy in body and mind; to be educated, to be emancipated, to be free, to be beautiful—these things are ends toward which we should all strive, and by attaining which all are happier in themselves, and more useful to others.”

Labels: ,

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Runner's World Interviews Me: Ted's Great Adventures

You might enjoy reading this interview online at Runner's World.

Per usual, I enjoy sharing stories about running and life and coaching and just-about-anything with anyone willing to listen and share back. I love stories. Humans are among the best story making beings in the universe. Make'em, share'em and celebrate together.

Interview topics include: my post-Born-to-Run-life, barefoot running, trail running, coaching, 2010 schedule, running 100 miles, my skateboard world record and MovNat. Enjoy.

To read interview online at the Runner's World website, click here.

Barefoot Ted

 The Orange Curtain 100K, 2008.  Photo by Barefoot Ken Bob Saxton

Labels: ,

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My Barefoot Running Partners: Edgar & Hiko

Hiko, me and Edgar

I've been busy. The last month has been an amazing adventure for me.

In November, Leah and I adopted another Siberian Husky (and Samoyed mix?) from the Seattle Purebred Dog Rescue organization. His name is Hiko (a name that means ice in the Inuit language). He was a dog slated for euthanasia.

The Boys: Edgar & Hiko

He had some problems in Oregon...killing chickens and also is on medication for epilepsy. Not a big selling point for most adopters. We would be his third owner in his short 3 year lifetime. But, we knew we would all get along just fine, that he would quickly fit in with our pack and get what he needed most: lots of love and lots of exercise. He got it and he's now thriving!

Urban Mushing in Volunteer Park

I am fascinated by the co-evolution of humans and dogs. I have become an urban musher taking the dogs out on running adventures every afternoon. Leah runs them every morning and then another walk before bed. Lots of movement. Lots of play. Lots of sleeping. Lots of happy dogs and humans!

Barefoot Running!

Hiko has become a permanent member of our little tribe. I am amazed by his intelligence and charm...his depth of soul...and his running strength. 6 weeks ago he was a dog with an uncertain future. Now he is a strong and happy dog, full of life and radiating good cheer to all whom he encounters...with a little help from his friends. Amazing how the universe works.






The new year and decade are upon us all. It has been an amazing year for me. I look forward to sharing my adventures with all of you and hearing your stories as they unfold in 2010. Be well...and see you next year.

Barefoot Ted


Order Vibram FiveFingers KSO Treks by clicking here. Thanks.




Labels: , ,

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Paradigm Shifting Trojan Horses - Vibram Five Fingers

So, it has been nearly 4 years since I got my first pair of Vibram Fivefingers...several months before they were launched to the public in March 2006. I have been testing the next generation prototypes ever since then...and it has been amazing to watch as they have grown in popularity, and greatly satisfying and validating to be playing a role in their popularization.

(photo to right, Boston Marathon 2006)

I remember how excited I was to get my first pair...they were the first shoes that I felt came close to a true barefoot feel and would also allow me to run more comfortably on tough mountain trails. Furthermore, they were the first minimal shoe that I tested that didn't fall apart after 20 miles of hard trail running.

My progress with the FiveFingers came fast and furious, but keep in mind, I had already been running for nearly 2 years barefoot, and had already completed several road marathons barefoot.

Some of the firsts I was privileged to do wearing Vibram Fivefingers include the first marathon, first Boston marathon and Boston qualifying marathon, first ultra marathon and first 100 mile trail race in VFFs.

I really felt that I was playing a small part in facilitating a stretching of our collective imaginative boundaries of what is possible and looked forward to seeing others stretch their own boundaries, carrying our fundamental human capacity, to run, further along while at the same time more closely mimicking the way our ancestors moved...on foot.

(photo left Los Angeles Marathon 2006)

I still think that barefoot is best, but barefoot is free..., and I always knew that the only way barefooting was going to become a true, mainstream hit was that there was going to have to be a product...something people could buy. And the VFF is that product..., or from my perspective, Trojan Horse.

The Vibram Fivefinger is a foot glove. No support, no real cushioning. Yet, it is a thing I can buy. A solution that can be purchased. Consumer cultures feel comfortable with it. But what is its real message? It seems the real message of the VFF is that your foot is just fine AS IT IS! That regaining strength and range of motion in your foot is a worthy goal. That you are not broken by default.

Furthermore, I wanted to see the concept of barefoot running enter into the dialogue of contemporary popular culture. The publishing of McDougall's book "Born to Run", from my point of view, was a pivotal, paradigm shifting moment in the re-awakening of the American consciousness about barefooting and our capacities as humans...before the addition of the padded shoe.

So run free if you wish, or buy a pair of VFFs or other minimal shoe, but always remember, you already have the best pair of shoes you will ever own...and they are the only ones that are self-nourishing, self-healing and get stronger and smarter with use...the only ones you can grow...by eating.

(photo left by Luis Escobar, 2006 Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon)

Viva barefoot.

Barefoot Ted

PS.
Order Vibram FiveFingers from here and smile :-)




Labels: ,

Friday, September 18, 2009

Living Barefoot Show Interview


From the www.LivingBarefoot.info website: We Interview Barefoot Ted: An avid barefooter, Barefoot Ted tells us the story about how he became a barefooter, started his own line of huarache running sandals, and was featured in the best selling book, Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.

Duration: 60 minutes


Powered by Podbean.com

Labels: , , ,

Monday, August 31, 2009

Leadville Trail 100 - 2009

Order Vibram FiveFingers KSO Treks by clicking here. Thanks.

What an amazing experience...running 100 miles in 25 hours and 54 minutes up in the Colorado Rockies in the town of Leadville, Colorado, 10,000 feet above sea level.

From my point of view, this year's race was blessed from the beginning...sporting my new Vibram FiveFinger KSO Treks (to be released this month)...and some sponsorship money to pay for the race and some travel...thank you Vibram...I was also blessed with a fantastic crew and pacers...a luxury I did not have last year...made all the difference being part of a team! Thanks!

(Please click on image to right to read Michael Sandler's excellent report on the race.)
Boulder Barefoot Running Club Report
This was my third summer in Leadville: 2007 crewed Caballo Blanco and paced Chris Labbe from Mayqueen to Tabor. 2008 my first LT 100 in 28:33. Each year I stayed part of the time at the (in)famous Labbe Compound...Mas Loco Chris "Cabro" Labbe's family's Leadville vacation house. Lots of stories being made and shared there. Thank you!

My crew was headed up by Dave "Rem" Remy of Mercer Island, WA. Dave was one of my Introduction to Barefoot Running clients who got the itch to see what an ultramarathon looks like. When he asked me if he could help, my first inclination was to say no, just seemed to logistics oriented and more trouble than it would be worth, but I thought about it for a moment and realized that it would be an excellent way to share my experience...expanding all our boundaries...for the better. So, I agreed to have him crew. Did he know what he was getting into?

I left Seattle on the 14th and headed to Boulder. Michael Sandler of the Boulder Barefoot Running Club picked me up at the airport. He hosted me on Friday and on Saturday morning I Nick Lang and BFT on Hope Passhad a blast giving a on-the-fly barefoot running workshop to the members of the club. At this meeting, I was lucky enough to meet a bunch of great folks and share what I had learned about barefooting. The next day, Sunday, a group of us headed for Leadville and a day hike up the famous Hope Pass...barefoot! What an experience...and great training.

(Click image to left to see my Facebook race report entry. Image on right is me with Nick Lang on Hope Pass)

Lucky for me, several of the hikers up Hope decided to come back to Leadville the following week to pace and crew with Dave. Wow!

I spent the week hanging out at the Labbe Compound and acclimatizing...eating Buffalo burgers (you heard me right...free range, grass fed, live-free-until-the-end critters...thank you!) and making sandals.

Dave showed up on Thursday, took a tour of the course with Senor Labbe on Friday and was ready to play by 4am on Saturday morning, start of the race. Thanks to Cabro, I had a spreadsheet with all the cutoff times at all the aid stations that I would need to get to in order to run under 25 hours and get a big silver buckle :) Thanks Cabro! I really wasn't training for speed or anything...just trying to maintain good overall fitness...and running well within myself and with excellent form. Perfect practice makes perfect.

Boulder Barefoot Running Club Members Scott, Dennis and Joey joined Dave on Saturday to divide up crew duties and get ready to start pacing me after the 50 mile point at Winfield. We agreed to have Dennis take me back over Hope Pass and Scott to take me to wherever it would be that Michael would catch up after giving a book presentation in Boulder. The race was on.

Started out by chatting with Ladislav Lettovsky who happened to be THE last out of Winfield last year who made it to the finish in time...after me. It was a coincidence that he had just read "Born to Run" so we had a great conversation.

Met my crew for the first time at Hagerman, and was running a bit too fast...after all I saw Cabro there...and he should have been way ahead, so I walked up Sugarloaf and took it fairly easy coming down. Was about 15 minutes ahead of schedule at Powerline, but the heat was starting.

Got to Treeline in good form, got my cap and bandana and headed out through the new course section heading to Box Canyon instead of Half Moon due to a military helicopter crash. It was a hot section and I found myself filling up my bottles in streams as I found them.

Got into Twin Lakes feeling good and ready for my big climb. Felt good to "baptize" myself in the river crossing. Headed up Hope Pass with just one bottle with the idea of filling it up in the streams as I went...a great plan until the bottom of the other side where I had to run the entire 3 mile dusty road, in the heat, with just a swiggle left in my bottle and no streams. Ouch! This was a mistake that I would pay a little upon my return climb...feeling a little dehydrated.

Got into Winfield in good time, still on schedule and left with Dennis as my pacer/mule. Dennis tried to keep me amused climbing the backside of Hope, but it was taking a lot out of me and I could only answer with forced and not very energetic one-word grunts. But we finally got to the top and started running down. Dennis stuck it out and helped me a bunch. Great experience.

Got into Twin Lakes inbound feeling ready to run 40 more miles. Picked up my pacer Scott who was sporting red VFF Sprints...and off we went. Just before we took off, I downed a Chili Chocolate Mocha from Proven Grounds in Leadville...it was delicious...but it didn't mix well with the other stuff I crammed down my throat, so Scott's first taste of ultra nastiness was me upchucking the coffee just after climbing out of Twin Peaks. Vomiting while walking-running is a ultramarathon skill. Scott was a bit taken aback, but we soon got in stride making our way to the finish.

Scott ended up staying with me all the way to Powerline...25 plus miles on his first pacing adventure. What an amazing job. Excellent company the whole way. Thank you!

At Powerline I picked up Michael who had spent the afternoon in Boulder giving a presentation on Adult Attention Deficit Disorder...only to follow it with a run/walk into the night of the last 25 miles of the Leadville 100. Tragedy struck us after we reached the top of Sugarloaf...ready to run down the steep, rocky backside...our lights were dimming...and we did not have backups with us.

The aburdity of not having enough lights is big...I had been sent 20! lights from Princeton Tec...all excellent, bright lights, but we only had two...one dying, one dim...and it really hit me like a ton of bricks...I was not going to be able to run down...and I was most likely, therefore, not going to make the 25 hour, big-silver-buckle cutoff. Crap! Took me a bit of time to adjust to the new reality. It is amazing how hope can keep wind in sails...and hopeless...not so much.

After getting to Mayqueen and pretty much resigned to my over 25 hour destiny, Michael and I had 3+ hours to hobble our way to the finish...and having Michael there started paying off. He is a very interesting person with a lot of great stories and we shared and walked and hobbled our way to the never ending finishing line....which seemed so far away...the last 12 miles.

Finally we found ourselves climbing the last stretch of the rocky "Boulevard"...two miles that seems more like 6 at this stage of the race, but alas the asphalt road leading to the finish came into view...1 mile to go...uphill.

As we ran the final stretch, Michael had the presence of mind to suggest I pick up the pace to finish under 26 hours. He stretched the truth a little when he said there were 7 minutes left and I had to pick it up. There actually were 9+ minutes. And I picked up the pace big time...running the last 1/4 mile and finishing in 25 hours and 54 minutes. Wow!

Ended up in the medical tent getting checked and souped up on chicken noodle soup! Did I mention how AWESOME the volunteers in the race are...well they are!

All said and done a big team effort...a success.

Barefoot Ted

PS. I want to thank ProBar for sending me some of their latest organic fruit bars that have both black and white chia seeds in them. They definitely helped. Also, thanks to Amanda McIntosh for sending me Hammer Gels...I love them too. When I ran out, it sucked sucking on the PowerBar gels...YUCK! Can't handle sweet like that. Also, thanks to Princeton Tec and Extreme Outfitters for providing me with lights...if I had only had some extra with me at the top of Sugarloaf. Next year!

WE made it!
My crew: Dennis, Joey, Rem, me, Scott, Michael and Jessie! Thank you!

Labels: ,

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Denver Post Barefoot Running Debate

The Denver Post has been printing some interesting articles on barefoot running...stirring the debate about barefooting...pro and con.

It turns out that the biggest opponent of barefoot running is Mark Plaatjes, the owner of the Boulder Running Company. He makes the argument that running barefoot is not for Americans because "98 percent of the U.S. do not grow up barefoot, walking barefoot" and that "If you do not grow up barefoot, it is a really difficult thing to do."

Granted, Mr. Plaatjes is correct that many if not most Americans did not grow up barefoot..., but making the case that since they did not, they should not, is not the kind of argument one should make without a lot of evidence backing it up. And that evidence is not there.

My experience tells me that you can regain use of your feet, one thoughtful step at a time. For many, the foot has atrophied and become weak from years of wearing shoe casts. Constantly supporting the foot leads to weakness. Strengthening the foot requires patience and care, but the results are so well worth it. Your foot is an amazing and beautiful piece of magical equipment that you've inherited from a long line of successful movement. Self-healing and self-nourishing, your feet get stronger with use...the best shoes you'll ever own.

Michael Sandler of Boulder is the article's main barefoot running proponent. Sandler says that "When you are barefoot, you are forced to run the way ancient man ran, which is a soft dance," and I agree. He further points out that even his upper body is getting stronger from barefooting. I understand this too.

One of the other proponents, Ivo Waerlop, suggests that
barefoot running allows muscles to strengthen and work in different ways than they are familiar with while in shoes. Runners experience a more natural stride when they are barefoot, he says, and I agree. Further, he points out that when in training shoes, runners are more likely to land on their heel before rocking through to the toes, and that is not a good thing.

They also quote me in the article thus:

"When you take away the feeling of the impact of your feet hitting the ground, you end up putting much more impact into your body than if you felt it and adjusted your stride," said Barefoot Ted, perhaps the most well-known barefoot running enthusiast. He lives in Washington and has spread the gospel of barefoot running for five years.

"The more padded the shoe has become, the more impact people are putting into their body," Barefoot Ted said.

No shoes = bigger smiles

Further in the article, it suggests that we (Sandler and me) are on the extreme side of the barefoot spectrum..., but is that exactly true? We are just showing what is possible and suggesting that barefoot and minimal running be included in the dialogue of mainstream's understanding of running rather than resorting to scare tactics to make people shy away from being barefoot. We are living proof that it can be done...and that it is joyful.

I suggest you give barefooting a try. Start slow and build slow. Be thoughtful, mindful and gentle. The rewards seem very high, and I have been receiving a lot of emails with amazing success reports.

If you live near Boulder and you may be interested in meeting up with the Boulder Barefoot Running Club. It is an enthusiastic group of folks proving that the foot is just fine as it is.

If you are near Seattle, I do coach barefoot running technique in an introduction to barefoot running workshop which I like to do one-on-one or with small groups. See my coaching page here.

I plan on starting a Seattle (Capitol Hill) Barefoot Running Club in the near future using Volunteer Park and the Arboretum as the club running grounds. Should be fun.

For the original Denver Post article, click here.

Barefoot Ted


Labels:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Radio Interview about Barefoot Running with Barefoot Ted

Please enjoy listening to this radio interview with me and Cody Stoots of 1560 AM The Game, a sports radio station in the glorious city of Houston, Texas, where my grandfather graduated from high school with Walter Cronkite in the 1930s.

In this interview, you will learn about how I came to start running barefoot, how I found Vibram Fivefingers and how Christopher McDougall's book "Born to Run" has helped facilitate a paradigm shift in the running world...suggesting we are not broken by design.

Duration: 30 minutes


Powered by Podbean.com

PS. Cody it was great talking with you today! However, I must protest the description of me as "the Michael Jordon of barefoot running"...as flattering as it sounds. I feel more like the little kid who pointed out that the king has no clothes in the classic tale.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, July 18, 2009

FiveFingers KSO Trek – New for Fall ’09


Order Vibram FiveFingers KSO Treks by clicking here. Thanks.



BFT running with the new Treks in the Dalles

From the upcoming Vibram trade catalog:

The Men’s KSO Trek is a more rugged version of our popular KSO. The Kangaroo leather upper and sock liner are soft against the foot, yet strong and tear resistant, with outstanding breathability.

A 4mm EVA midsole offers plating protection from stone bruising, and a lightly cleated 4mm Vibram performance rubber outsole delivers improved traction on trails and over more rugged terrain.

KSO Trek is best for: Light Trekking, Trail Running, Fitness Walking, & Travel.

Vibram Five Finger Treks...trail running shoes...bitchen!!!

My experience:

When I first put these shoes on, I knew that I had finally felt the most comfortable VFF yet. The kangaroo skin's soft side is INSIDE the shoe...so your foot is encased in smoothness. Under 6 ounces. Rugged. Breathable. Thank you Gawd!

These are the shoes that I am going to use for this year's Leadville 100 mile trail race. As many of you know, I have done trail ultras in FiveFinger Classics, Sprints and KSOs, but this seems destined to be my favorite 100 mile trail shoe. Thank you Vibram!

My favorite footwear for everyday running? My bare feet.

My new favorite footwear for 100 mile trail running? VFF Treks

BFT

NOTE: Two most asked questions in the comments section...answered:

From Tony Post, President of Vibram USA

To answer the questions for your website:

Suggested retail in the US is $125 for the KSO Trek. Premium Kangaroo hide is not cheap.

The shoes can be machine washed (be careful here as the leather can bleed, so wash alone or with dark colors on a gentle cycle). The shoes should be air dried out of direct sun and away from a heat source (strong sun or drying near a heater source could cause the leather to shrink and pull away from the bottom, causing sole separation or de-lamination).


PS.
Order Vibram FiveFingers from here and smile :-)

Labels: ,

Friday, July 03, 2009

Minimalist Runner - Barefoot, Huaraches, FiveFingers...

Howdy Folks

You may have found your way to my blog after reading "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall. If so, welcome.

Many of you are probably looking for answers to the question how to run barefoot or with Vibram Fivefingers or with huarache sandals. You can learn from my experiences over the last 5 years recorded in this blog or participate in one of my coaching seminars.

However, to be up-to-date and part of a larger and growing community of footwear minimalists and barefoot explorers I suggest you check out the Minimalist Runner Google Group I started a couple years ago. You will find many like minded folks who are sharing their insights from a growing body of research and personal experience.

The mission of the Minimalist Runner Google Group is to share experiences running with minimalistic footwear, footwear that allows the foot to feel and to develop strength naturally, barefoot being the gold standard.

This group seeks to dispel the
myth that you need an overly supportive, cushioned, orthopedic shoe-boot in order to push the limits of human potential in running and exploring the world. As a matter of fact, many in the group like me suggest that not only do you not need them, you are better off without them.


Please feel free to join and share YOUR experiences and YOUR adventures, big or small.

BFT

PS. The photo above ALMOST became the cover of "Born to Run" but I did not have a high enough resolution photo of it...a kind of self-portrait taken in the Verdugo Mountains near Burbank.

Labels: , , , ,

 

HOME | BAREFOOT RUNNING COACH | CONTACT | SHOP
Copyrighted 2004-2010 Barefoot Ted's Adventures