Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bare Feet!

Just a quick update on what I did today.  Baby boy #2, Liam, was born at 11:18 this morning.  He and mama are doing very well!

Welcome Liam!  We are glad you are finally here!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Educational Barefoot Running Videos

Well, maybe not so educational.  The two videos below have just been kicking around the barefoot running community the last week or so and I wanted to share them.  I hope you enjoy them!

This one's a little older, but still funny.

Do we all think like this?  Probably.  Now, I'm going to go keep being awesome.  You all have a good day.

Run on , Runners!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Running in Winter...It's Cold

Thanksgiving morning I went out and did 4 miles.  It was a nice morning to be barefoot!  About 45 degrees or so and sunny.  I figured it would be one of the last times I would be able to get out barefoot this year.  I was right!  About two days later I started to get a sore throat, and by the morning after I had the black plague in my lungs.  That was annoying since I bragged up that I would get at least 50 miles in between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I didn't get out again until today.  Nearly two weeks!  50 miles is going to be a little more difficult now, especially with the impending birth of offspring #2!

So, this is my first winter of running outside.  Last winter was all on the treadmill, with my trusty role model Jack Bauer saving the world on DVD.  Being that I was still deeply in hate with running it was really more of a run/walk/stand and watch TV sort of endeavor.

It was 17 degrees when I headed out tonight.  I was pretty unsure about how it was going to go.  Two weeks off, still a bit of a cough, 17 degrees out.  Yikes.  For those of you wondering, I did not go barefoot.  I'm crazy, not stupid.  There's a subtle difference.

Since I don't even get a coat out until the temp is below 30, I wasn't that worried about being cold, but I didn't want to freeze.  Here's what I wore, hoping it would be right:
  • UnderArmour compression shirt  (If you don't have one of these you need one.  They make you feel like a superhero when you wear them.)
  • Cotton thermal shirt
  • UnderArmour fleece pullover
  • fleece vest
  • UnderArmour compression shorts
  • Two pairs regular old gym shorts (down to knee)
  • Mittens (knit wool, snowflake motif)
  • Stocking hat (no poofball)
  • Merrell Trail Gloves (no socks)
Was I cold?  Nope.  My legs were a little chilly for the first quarter mile, but I didn't even notice that after a while.  My favorite part of tonight's run?  I ran past someone huddled and shivering on their porch having a smoke and she felt the urge to comment "Little cold for shorts, don't you think?"  I let that one go.  Apparently it's too cold to run in shorts, but shaking on your porch for long enough to burn down a heater is appropriate.  To each their own.

Like I said I still have a little cough so I didn't want to push it too hard today.  I did 1.6 miles at a 9:30 pace, so I may have gotten cold if I stayed out longer but who knows.

What did I learn on my first dead-of-winter run?
  1. It's cold, but not that cold.  I was kind of dreading this run, but it went just fine.  Keep the core warm, the legs will take care of themselves.
  2. Wear gloves.  I was out a few weeks ago at about 40 degrees and my hands suffered even though my feet were fine wearing Invisible Shoes.  The mittens tonight were awesome.
  3. Wondering about your running form?  Run on some ice!  That sounds crazy, but if you are over-striding or pushing off on ice you will slip.  Running on ice is instant feedback and great when you lose the barefoot sensations by putting on shoes to deal with the cold.
  4. The best part of winter running?  Ice on your facial hair!
You cant really see the ice under my nose, but trust me it was there.
Are you an experienced winter runner?  Leave your best tips in the comments so everyone can learn from you!  Are you an inexperienced winter runner?  Tell us what you have learned so far!

Run on, Runners!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Road ID Review and Giveaway!

Road ID is a company that began after a near miss and a good idea.  Edward, one of the owners, was nearly hit by a truck while out running.  His father had been bugging him to carry ID, but Edward didn't think he was in any danger while out running.  After the near miss, Road ID was born.

The concept is pretty simple.  You need ID, but you don't want to carry stuff while running.  Wear the ID.  Problem solved.  The other issue is that sure you can carry stuff around, but what if that stuff gets lost in the shuffle and you are unconscious?  A friend of mine who is a rescue diver for the county told me once (paraphrasing) that the only thing an EMS crew is sure to take with them when they pick you up is your body.  That's why it's a good idea to make sure that ID is coming with you.  It may just save your life.

I was firmly in the camp of not wanting to carry stuff around, including my driver's license.  I was more worried about losing my license than I was about getting hurt and needing ID.  However, my wife likes me and wants me around.  In fact, she prefers it that way.  I thought a Road ID would be a good way for us both to get what we wanted.

Like a lot of people, I was first exposed to the company at a race.  They sponsor races by providing number bibs and they sponsored the 5K I did last June.  I'm also proud to have them as a sponsor of the Turkey Trot we just hosted on November 19th!

"I need a Road ID.  This giant tag makes me look silly."
They offer 8 different styles of ID.  Three that are worn on the wrist, two that attach to your shoes, a chain/dogtag combo, an ankle ID, and one for your furry four-legged friend (or hairless cat).  Being a barefoot runner, I chose the ankle ID because it doubles as a holder for your timing chip during a race, solving a problem of the shoeless runner.  Double duty!  That's smart.

Besides their ID products, they also offer some night-time safety/visibility items, extra bands if you like to color coordinate your fancy purple shorts one day, and your fashionable yellow bike jersey the next day.  They have some apparel too, all at wicked low prices.  Buy some shirts and tell people you are a sponsored athlete.  They won't know that your main competitive sport is beer pong.

Here's a couple shots of my Road ID.  The band is neoprene and has a Velcro closure.  There is space to print six lines of text on the ID tag, and tags are interchangeable between different ID products.  There is a reflective strip that runs the length of the band to help with night-time visiblity.  The ID's are fresh and saltwater safe.  The neoprene band is very comfortable and the the thing is so light you don't even notice that it is on.  It fits above the laces when I wear it with Invisible Shoes.  There are lots of different color choices depending on the style of ID you choose, and some of the styles work great for kids.

I promised a give-away so here it comes.  I have three $15 gift certificates to the Road ID store!  One of them could be yours, and here's how you make that happen.  To enter, do one or more of the following things:
  1. Share this blog post on Facebook, Twitter, or Google +.
  2. "Like" Road ID and Barefoot Chiropractor on Facebook.
  3. Follow Road ID and Barefoot Chiropractor on Twitter.
  4. Follow this blog in the sidebar to the right and get all the knowledge you could want in a timely manner.
Leave a separate comment below for each thing you do.  I'll count them all up and pick three winners using  The more you do, the more chances you have to win!  The contest will be open until midnight December 2nd.  I'll pick three winners and let you know who won!  Check back to see if you are a big winner!  Have I used too many exclamation points!?!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Invisible Shoes on Sale! 25% Off!

You all know that I love my Invisible Shoes.  I anticipate them getting me through the winter easily, and I even did a run at 26* F last night with no problems.  My hands were actually cold, and my toes were just fine!

Steven and Lena are coming up on two years of business with Invisible Shoes and they are having a HUGE sale to celebrate.  From now until midnight, November 28th, you can get 25% off everything at the Invisible Shoes online store including Custom-Made Invisible Shoes, FeelTrue™ kits, extra laces, decorative add-ons, and even the limited edition Colored Vibram Cherry kits.  When I'm not barefoot I run in the Invisible Shoes 4mm Connect featuring the FeelTrue rubber and they are awesome!

Click on the banner below or the Invisible Shoes logo to the right to check out their products and Feel the World™!

Barefoot Running Sandals by Invisible Shoes

Sunday, November 20, 2011

4th Annual Gilman Memorial Turkey Trot Race Recap

The 4th Annual Gilman Memorial Turkey Trot was on Saturday, November 19th.  It's a 5K run/walk with all the proceeds donated to the Alzheimer's Association.  We named it for my grandfather Fred Gilman who suffered from Alzheimer's disease.

This year was certainly the best so far!  We had 54 runners/walkers not including a few pre-registered runners who ended up not being able to make it.  Due to the assistance of four awesome people (Terri, Brittany, Becca, and Becky) runner check-in and race day registration went perfect.  We had 30 runners register same-day.  We are pretty sure that because of the date and the unpredictable nature of Minnesota weather, people wait to register.  Not a huge deal, but it makes it a little hard to plan.
A few of the runners before the race.
I wanted to do this race barefoot and the temperature would have allowed it, but there is a stretch of old street that can only be described as tore up.  I knew it was bad but I was still planning on running it barefoot until I went out to mark the course before the race.  It was worse than I thought so I decided to use my Invisible Shoes instead.  I had some good conversations about them before and after the race and a few people seemed genuinely interested.  One runner (the eventual first place finisher, Mario) was wearing Vibram Five Fingers, and I also spotted someone wearing New Balance Minimus but I didn't get a chance to talk to him to see how he liked them.

I made a couple of announcements right at 9:00 am, then Race-master Terri got the runners going!  I started towards the back of the pack so I ended up winding my way through a few runners right at the start, but by the time we were just a few blocks in, I was comfortable with my pace and I settled in hoping for a good run.  I'm not really a morning runner, and I hadn't really had anything to eat so I was worried about getting tired too fast.  At 1.5 miles I checked my pace and found out I was running 8:35 minute miles!  That's about 40 seconds per mile faster than my usual runs so I was pretty psyched up.  The thrill of racing gives quite a boost to an amateur like me I guess.

I kept a steady pace through the rest of the course.  The course takes you on the "scenic route" through Dodge Center so there is a lot of turns to make sure the course ends up at 3.1 miles.  We had volunteers stationed throughout the route to make sure everyone stayed on course.  We have had at least one person go off course every year, but I'm happy to report that everyone made it through with no problems this year.  It really bugs me when people get lost because it makes me think I didn't do a good job marking the route and I really want people to enjoy the run and come back again next year.

Sara, Terri, and Brittany clocking the finishers.
I finished the race in a time of 27:05, which is a personal best for me so I was pleased about that.  The only thing I wasn't pleased about was that I wasn't really tired afterwards so I wish I had made a little more of a kick through the last mile.  Not a big deal since this is only my third race since I started running last Spring, and my fourth overall (I did the Bix 7 in Davenport, Iowa in 2000).  Every time I do a race I learn a little more so I hope that my PR's keep dropping.

The men's overall winner was Mario Minelli (Champion two years in a row!).  The women's first place finisher was Erin Erpelding.

Here's a list of the finishers in order with bib numbers and times:

Name           #           time
Mario Minelli 17 17:55
Jesse Delgado 31 18:27
Jack Mallmann 35 19:48
Paul Haase 18 21:16
Travis Turner 13 21:27
Jacob Chapman 33 21:55
Peter Tate 12 22:16
Gary Lovelace 44 22:19
Andrew Galbus 47 22:27
Jace Minelli 15 23:23
Erin Erpelding 49 23:25
Kelly Erpelding 50 23:42
Brad Schrader 45 24:05
Rodney Myer 48 24:12
Sarah Chapman 34 24:54
Lori Yokiel 32 24:56
Melissa Mergen 46 25:47
Jeffrey Haase 14 26:46
Jenny Delgado 30 26:56
Jordana Thompson 39 27:05
Andy Klein 62 27:05
Michelle Yankowiak 38 27:15
Colleen Keuten 37 27:30
Cherie Jensen 42 27:31
Al Keuten 36 27:37
Elizabeth Adamson 28 27:42
Samantha Porche 9 27:47
Chris McKrern 43 28:53
John Cook 1 29:14
Tracy Culbetson 27 30:13
Suzanne Norby 24 30:56
Jenano Delgado 29 32:14
Emily Billard 3 34:17
Tina Kasper 5 34:17
Carin Minelli 16 34:44
Amy Evans 51 36:09
Ann Greise 41 38:52
Teresa Walter 40 39:50
Tom Haase 19 45:27
Dennis Ross 21 45:27
Keara Ross 22 45:27
Amanda Ross 23 45:27
Susan Allen 56 45:27
Mary Haase 20 45:33
Gabriel Domask 52 46:37
Scott Stroh 55 46:37
Bob Sponsel 57 46:45
Davey Stroh 53 46:50
Lean Stroh 54 46:50
Phil Putratz 7 49:52
Veronika Spieker 58 49:52
Kathy Thielges 25 53:30
Jack Culbertson 26 53:30
Cheryl Gillard 4 53:36

We had a ton of sponsors for the run this year.  Many thanks to them!  Some of them have been with us since the first year!
Sponsor Banner with our wicked 2011 logo.  Visit the event page on Facebook to see a list of this year's sponsors.
Ready for a little more Gilman Memorial Turkey Trot action?  Visit Super Mario's race review for his perspective!

If you couldn't make it this year, don't worry!  The 5th Annual Gilman Memorial Turkey Trot will be held November 17th, 2012!  I already have it on my calendar, do you?

Run on, Runners!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Invisible Shoes - 4mm Connect Huarache Review

Invisble Shoes - the shoes for barefoot running, walking, hiking and... FUN

Ever since first hearing about huaraches I have wanted to try a pair.  What the heck are huaraches you say?  According to the Beach Boys, they are the footwear of choice for surfers.

Basically, a huarache (pronounced in my Spanglish as "whar AH gee") is a thin soled sandal that you tie on your feet to protect them from rough terrain.  Huarache translates directly to English as sandal, so there you go.  A quick Google search reveals all different types and styles of huarache sandals so I guess some further definition is in order.  To a runner, a huarache is a very thin, flat, flexible sole that is is lashed to the foot.  Historically they are leather, but now you see rubber as the more common soling material.  Laces are typically made out of leather or nylon.

Interestingly, there is a traditional Japanese sandal called a waraji that is constructed out of rope and lashed to the foot.  WarajiHuarache.  I don't speak Japanese, but it sure looks like the Japanese "waraji" is pronounced a lot like the Spanish "huarache".  I consider this definitive proof that aliens initially populated our planet allowing each specific culture to progress independently but maintaining a common language throughout the ancient peoples.  I eagerly await the return of our alien overlords through the Stargate.  Somebody better call Kurt Russell.  Whoa!  Went off on a tangent there!  Anyhow...

We're looking for James Spader.  Have you guys seen him?
(Note the sandals on the aliens!  Huaraches! Or, Waraji!)

Stephen Sashen from Invisible Shoes contacted me in a blog post and asked if I would like to try out a pair of his huaraches.  I never look a gift-Steven in the mouth so I jumped on the opportunity.  He gave me the option of a custom built pair or a do-it-yourself kit.  I chose the 4mm Connect sole made from Invisible Shoes' Feel True rubber, and of course I picked a DIY kit!

Invisible Shoes has been in business since November 2009 and up until very recently were using a 4 mm soling material from Vibram called Vibram Cherry.  They now offer their very own Feel True rubber in either 4 mm or 6 mm.  The DIY kits with Vibram Cherry soles come with a square sheet of soling material and laces, requiring you you cut out the soles and punch all the holes.  The Feel True kits are a little easier to make, since they come pre-cut in standard sizes.  All you have to do is measure your foot, send them the measurement, and they get you the correct sole along with your choice of lace color.  There is a video on the Invisible Shoes website that shows you how to measure your foot correctly.

I should also mention that there is a TON of other videos on the site that show you how to cut, punch, lace, and tie your Invisible Shoes.  Customer service is second to none with these folks. The Feel True soles have both ankle holes pre-punched and the ankle area is reinforced to prevent tearing.  You will need to punch the toe hole.

I resisted the urge to take a picture of the floor and try to convince you that the shoes were really invisible, so here they are from the top.  Yes, they really are that flat and thin!

Here is a picture of the tread pattern on the bottom.  The new Feel True soles were created along with two designers that were formerly with Nike and Reebok.  The tread pattern will help prevent slipping in less than perfect conditions.

Here are the laces that came with my kit.  I chose a stately and classy lime green.  If you are going to have crazy sandals to run in, you may as well have crazy colored laces to go with them.  You can also just barely see one of the legs of the bobby pin they include in the kits to help you lace them.  The pin makes them very easy to lace since the holes are just a bit smaller than the laces to help keep them in place.  You just stick the end of the cord in the pin, stick the pin in the lace hole, and pull through with a pliers.  Easy-peasy.

These babies are flexible!  I made a Shoe Roll-up to prove it.  I could have rolled it up tighter, but you get the idea.

Bottom of the sandals after lacing.

Close up shot of the figure-8 knot that anchors the lace.  It looks like it would constantly push on your foot but because of the position, it lies between your toes and you don't really feel it.

The basic lacing pattern.  From the toe hole, down through the outside ankle hole, back up and around to anchor the lace and create the heel strap, down through the inside ankle hole and back up inside the heel strap.

First attempt at tying.  Kind of messy, but I've refined it to be easier and distribute the extra lace more evenly.
Here's a post on my tying style.

I got them in the mail on a Thursday, laced them on Friday and played around with them a bit running a couple hundred yards outside my office, causing my new assistant to question her career choices.  I then wore them around most of the day on Saturday.

The first time tying them took about 10 minutes each.  Second time about three minutes each.  After just a few tries I can have them both on in under two minutes, just as fast as I can put on my Trail Gloves.  That is tying them toga style, not just slipping on.  From what I hear there is a "correct" way that huarache purists tie them on, but it pretty much just comes down to lashing them onto your feet snugly but not so tight that they irritate your skin.  End of story.

On my first run I did 1.8 miles at a 9:55 pace.  I really expected to get some hot spots between my toes, but no problems at all!  There wasn't even a line of redness between my toes.  I hope that says something about my form.  I did almost trip once stepping up onto a curb when the outside edge of my left huarache caught the concrete.

Running Overview
These are really nice to run in and I've put a lot of miles on them so far.  Since it is getting dark so early now and I don't really like going barefoot in the dark yet, all of my weekday runs have been using the sandals.  My Trail Gloves are getting lonely.  I like running in the Invisible Shoes way more than just wearing them around.  When I'm just walking around in them, the laces tend to be uncomfortable between my toes.  I think it's because I have the laces primed for running form, so when I start walking and landing on my heels, the laces pull funny between my toes.  They aren't showing any major signs of wear yet even though the rubber seems so soft.

I am definitely not silent in my Invisible Shoes, but when shortening my stride the noise diminished. The "sandal slap" isn't too bothersome though.  I'm left wondering if it is a problem with my form, a problem with the way I'm tying them, or if some amount of noise is inevitable.

While running on asphalt trails and sidewalks I went out of my way to step on some things and the groundfeel of the shoes is awesome!  They certainly diminish the intensity, but you can readily feel even small objects.  More on off-road groundfeel below.

Trail Running

I'm not yet an avid trail runner but to do a full review I felt the need to do some off-roading in these bad boys.  I went out to a park that is built on the site of an old limestone quarry, strangely enough called Quarry Hill Nature Center.  I've done some hiking here (pre-barefoot days, so wearing boots) and I knew the trails would be a good test for the Invisible Shoes.  Like I said above, groundfeel is superb with the thin soles.  Here's what I was running on:
This is the first hill off of the asphalt path, up to the quarry trail.  It looks like a nice dirt path covered in leaves.

It actually consists of large pointy rocks, covered in leaves!

These trails were a whole new experience as far as my running goes.  The little bit of gravel I encountered during the Warrior Dash doesn't compare.  These were big rocks and they were everywhere.  This was an awesome test for the Invisible Shoes, and they passed with flying colors.  Their job is to protect my feet and that is what they did.  I'm not going to tell you that they made this path comfortable because they didn't, and that isn't really the point.  They allowed me to run over the rocks and uneven ground without an undue amount of pain.  I couldn't attack these trails with abandon, but I could go at them with gusto and not worry quite as much.  I did hit a couple of pointy hidden stones that made me yelp with pain but no cuts or bruises.
This is the path at the top of the hill.  The bigger stones are about fist-sized, but are a little flatter in this area compared with the uphill trail.  You can see that there is no avoiding the rocks though!

The path eventually leads to this wall.  No trouble scaling it in my sandals!  The trails continue at the top.

I headed out of the quarry into the wooded trails for a while too.  The dirt/rock trail runs right up the middle of this photo along the creek bed, then off to the right.  The leaf covered trails were sometimes tricky but the outstanding groundfeel kept me stable and upright.  I also found that wearing the sandals made me concentrate a little more on where I was putting my feet and the flexibility made it easy to find a good grip on logs and rocks.
Final Thoughts
Since this is my first pair of huraches, I don't have a rating system or anything to compare them to.  I will say that I like them a lot.  They are super thin and are as close to barefoot as you can get without just taking them off.  Groundfeel is superb (better than my trail gloves), and you can pick laces in 10 different colors.  They will protect your feet under extreme conditions, including the cold day runs.  They are a conversation starter too!  People give you a confused and interested look as you run by!

They are quick to get on and off.  The Feel True DIY kits are easy to finish up and require little in the way of tools.  Don't be afraid to trail run in them either.  They will take the punishment and shouldn't let you down.  There was a couple hidden rocks that I expected did some physical damage to the soles, but they were just fine.  I did get some gravel bits between my feet and the sandal on the downhills, but nothing huge will get in there because the sole stays well in contact with your foot.

In the "cons" category, I've spent a bunch of time trying to get the laces to the right tension.  Too tight and they will rub, too loose and I've had the heel strap literally come off while running.  I've got them set now, so just take a little time to fiddle with them before you start running and don't expect to get it right the first time.  One other con is that just like any other foot covering, they do decrease some feedback and can cover up issues with form until it is too late.  I developed blood blisters at the ball of my foot on both sides when I went out for a run in a worn out state and my form was suffering.

There are any number of ways to tie huaraches.  In regards to tying my Invisible Shoes, I think I'm going to stick with the "Toga style" for now.  I just figure that you are already running in something that is going to blow most people's minds, why not use a bunch of lime green cord too? Anything that makes you feel like Maximus stepping into the Colosseum has to be a good thing, right?
"Why won't anyone give me a hug?"

Run on, Runners!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Minnesota Barefooters Unite to Form An Unstopable Group of Running Superheros

Ok, maybe it wasn't all the Minnesota barefooters, and we did stop a few times, but Superhero is certainly an apt description.

Sunday was my first official group run with the Minnesota Chapter of the Barefoot Runners Society.  What a great time!  Seven of us struck out from the Maplewood Community Center and headed down the Gateway trail.  It's a pretty flat route and was a nice run.  The trail was asphalt/chipseal and helped us "build character".

Here's an official recap from our fearless leader the Maple Grove Barefoot Guy.

At a distance of about 6 miles this was technically my second-longest barefoot run since my longest was the ill-fated 7 mile "get lost on a trail" run back in August.  The results of this one were much better!  I didn't end up in pain after this run and I probably could have squeezed out another mile if I had wanted.  The thing is, I'm trying to prevent those overuse injuries from ever happening again so I wouldn't have pushed it another mile.

All in all, it was a great time and I look forward to more group runs in the future.  I got some news from the MGBG that the Med-City Marathon in exotic Rochester, MN next May could turn into a real barefoot fest!  Looking forward to that in a big way!  I won't drop the names he did since I don't want to put anyone on the spot (not like they read this anyway, but still).  I'll just be doing the half-marathon, but that means I get to hit the after-party first!

If you are interested at all in barefoot running, I really encourage you to find a Barefoot Runners Society group near you.  Homebrewers and barefoot runners are the people I like to hang out with and both groups consist of the same laid-back people.  These group runs are a great place to get a little instruction, camaraderie, and confidence in your barefoot running endeavor.

Are you running the Med-City next May?  Are you going to run it barefoot?  Is anybody still reading?  Leave a comment below or on Facebook and tell me all your hopes and dreams!

Just so you don't think I've forgotten, the Invisible Shoe review is coming.  I'm hoping the snow holds off and I can go out and get some off-road running done in them on Sunday.  If not, I'll post the review with only road miles, and do a trail running review separately.  Here's a little spoiler for you:

Me, after my first run in my Invisible Shoes.  Before you ask, yes I am rocking a 1995 DHS Monarch Track and Field vintage long sleeve t-shirt.  That shirt is magical and I will never give it up.  In case you were wondering, I also have the 1994 edition at my disposal.  That's just how I roll.

Run on, Runners!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Eddie Izzard's Barefoot Running Adventure

Eddie Izzard is one of my favorite comedians.  Possibly even my most favorite.  Since most of the video I've seen of Eddie usually features some sort of stiletto heeled boot I was surprised to hear that he was a runner.  But not just a runner.  More like a freakin machine.  In 2009, he ran 43 marathons in 51 days.  After five weeks of training.  Five weeks of training.  Five.

Now, he is planning a barefoot run across Africa.  That's right an 1,100 mile barefoot run across Africa.  It is a charity fund-raiser for the British charity Sport Relief.  Eddie's first running stunt was also a fund-raiser for Sport Relief.  Sport Relief itself is a fund-raiser for Comedy Relief.  That is a lot of relief!  Anyway, they raise funds to help people who need help, which is a great reason to run!

Here's a quick story on Eddie's upcoming adventure.  There isn't a lot of details yet, but follow Eddie on Twitter and I'm sure he will be keeping us up to date on the run early next year.

Here's a little taste of Eddie's stand-up for your enjoyment.  My favorite clip of him on YouTube.  I will bet you can figure out why.  Enjoy!

Here's one more, just because you deserve it. Also because it's about Star Wars.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

How I Tie My Invisible Shoe Huaraches

There's lots of ways to tie huaraches.  I like to tie mine in the more traditional "toga" style, slightly adapted from Steven Sashen's instructions on the Invisible Shoes website.

Start with the basic lacing pattern.

Bring the lace around to the outside of your ankle, above the ankle bone itself, bring the lace
around to the front, then make one more pass around your leg.

Pass the lace under the toe strap.  Pull it snug so the toe strap moves more parallel with your foot.

Bring the lace back up and around the ankle in the opposite direction you were going before. You may require assistance from your cat.

Make a small loop under the doubled top of foot strap.

Make another loop with the loose end of the lace, and pass it through the first loop.  Tighten the hitch by holding the doubled top strap on either side, and pulling the second loop.


It's as simple as that!  There are lots of ways to tie huaraches, play around and come up with what works for you.

Invisble Shoes - the shoes for barefoot running, walking, hiking and... FUN

Friday, October 21, 2011

First "Cold" Barefoot Run

Last Saturday I set out about 7:30 am for a run.  I want to be barefoot as long as possible into the Fall and Winter so the chilly Saturday morning was my first test of my superhero abilities.  The temp was 41 degrees when I set out.

The pavement was cold but not crazy cold.  I could really only feel the cold for the first 1/2 block or so.  I set off on my normal path, expecting to only do a mile but I was ready to go further if I could.  It was nice to be barefoot again.  I have been using the Merrell Trail Gloves on my weekday runs because I'm always running at 8:30 or 9:00 PM and I was having trouble in the dark.  I wasn't relaxing my feet and I ended up with some top of foot pain that stopped me for about two weeks.  I let the foot pain resolve with some massage and time and the Trail Gloves have helped to prevent it returning.  I want to try some night-time barefooting again, but the trail I always run on has two areas with broken glass and I can't see it at night to avoid it.

Anyway, it was nice to be barefoot again.  It's like a foot massage the whole time you are running.  My feet even start to itch a little when I'm running barefoot and the scratching of the concrete and asphalt feels nice.

Around the corner from our house is a mulberry tree that hangs over the sidewalk.  I could see purple dots all over the sidewalk as I was getting closer and I remember thinking "oh, the berries are falling off".  Wishful thinking.  What eats berries?  Birds.  What do birds do?  Crap everywhere.  I realized that about halfway through the mess.  Nasty.  At least I was still running and wearing it off.

After about .7 miles my feet started to sting a little and I was worried about blisters.  I checked them out and no signs so I decided the chilly pavement was just starting to get to me.  The stinging wasn't that bad and by the time I hit one mile I couldn't feel it anymore, so I just kept going.

I ended up doing a full 5K and even avoided the bird crap on the way home.  It certainly wasn't a fast run, about 40 seconds/mile slower than I had been running, but it was a good run.  I'm hopeful that I can keep going to below freezing temps.  Keep the snow away!  My goal is to be able to run the Gilman Memorial Turkey Trot barefoot on November 19.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Gymboss Interval Timer - Gear Review

Isn't it about time you heard some more about what I think?  I thought so too.

I bought the Gymboss in April.  I was embarking on my latest running career (the one that ended up leading to running barefoot) and I was following Jeff Galloway's 5K training program.  His programs focus on run/walk intervals and I was actually using a kitchen timer to do my intervals.  It was kind of cumbersome and I was spending too much time fiddling with the timer when I was trying to run.

I decided that I would invent a timer that I could set to two different intervals.  I would also make it repeat the intervals over and over until I stopped it.  Genius!  However, my electronic design skills are limited, and I don't have a soldering iron.

I have found in life that whenever I run into a problem like this someone else usually has too and they have already done something about it. That is why I love doing home improvement projects.  I usually get to go but some new tool that I didn't have before.  (I'll have you soon, compound miter saw...)  There really is nothing new under the sun, as the saying goes.  A quick Google for "interval timer" introduced me to the Gymboss.

Front View
This is a handy little gadget.  It is really simple to operate and never failed me during use.  Here's a quick rundown of features:
  1. Able to set one or two intervals.
  2. Able to repeat your intervals automatically until you stop it, or you can set a specific number of intervals you want to do.
  3. Three alarm settings: beep high, beep low, or vibrate.  You can also set it to vibrate along with either beep setting.
  4. Three alarm durations, one beep, five seconds, or 10 seconds.
  5. Strong spring clip to hold onto clothes easily.
  6. Very light weight.  I even clipped it to the neck of my t-shirt once and it didn't pull at all.
Back view/clip.  Includes a quick refresher if you forget how to operate it.
Top view.  Next and change buttons.  Start button is on the right edge (not visible).
Next to my phone for size comparison.  No, I don't have an iPhone but I am still cool.
 I really like the Gymboss.  It is exactly what I was looking for.  I don't really use it to run much right now since I'm not doing intervals, but I do use it for the half-hearted Tabata training I do in my basement.  My only complaint is that it doesn't have a stopwatch on it.  If it had that, I would use it for running more.  I went to the Gymboss website to make this suggestion and found out that they actually do have a newer model now, with a stopwatch.  I don't want to spend the money to upgrade though, so I will sit in the corner and feel sorry for myself instead.  Ok, I'm over it.

This is a great little tool.  If you get one, make sure it is the new model with the stopwatch.  I hope the next model screams motivational phrases at you if you slow down.  That would be sweet!  I might even upgrade for that.  Check them out at

I sent the folks at Gymboss an email letting them know I did this review.  Just a few hours later I had a response thanking me and letting me know that my model did have a stopwatch.  All I have to do is press and hold the change button for three seconds and booyah!  Stopwatch.  Add great customer service to the list of things you get with your Gymboss timer.  I should also add that reading the directions you get with gear is a good idea!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Barefoot Running Coach Certification - Is it necessary?

Everyone likes to be a certified something.  Lord knows that a lot of my time has been spent acquiring more letters to put behind my name.  Is it always a good thing?  Is it necessary?  Do the letters guarantee results or can you put stock in them at all?  I think that the letters behind my name actually create more responsibility in my everyday life.  I see them as a mandate for keeping up with current understanding of the human machine and the best ways to help any given patient that walks in the door.

That being said, does a certification imply responsibility or can it be just a way to push your way into a place of authority?  Jason Robillard created some controversy when he published a blog post asserting that certifying Barefoot Running Coaches was a bad idea.  Christian Peterson jumped in the conversation with a well thought out post on the other side of the argument.  Christian's post alerted me to Angie Bee's thoughts on her own certification, and Katie Kift's "uneasyness" on certification.

I realize you are just dying to know where I stand on the issue.  It's a question that keeps you up at night and makes you jittery all day.  Well get ready for it, because here it comes!

I'm fine with certification, especially since the certification comes from Lee Saxby and VIVOBAREFOOT.  I've read Lee's awesome "Proprioception" publication and watched some video of him on YouTube and he really knows his stuff.  I was having a lot of trouble with form when I first started and Lee's video help was a great asset to my learning.  It was something I just couldn't understand from reading.  It was like I needed a coach or something...

I think the real trouble will start when anyone and everyone starts their own "certification" program.  What happens when Sketchers starts a "Natural Running" certification and starts teaching people how beneficial it is to run in Shape-ups because they "replicate a natural barefoot experience".  Think I'm kidding?  That is a direct quote from the GOrun section of their website.  I'm not going to link to it, but go check it out.  Look at some of the pictures of people happily overstriding, but landing "midfoot".  They have to land midfoot because there is a giant lump of foam in the way of landing on their heel.  It's really bad stuff.

I guess that's why I'm just fine with Saxby's program.  Get someone who knows about running out there first.  Good luck competing with Sketchers' marketing dollars though.  The point of this post is not to hate on Sketchers so I'll just say go check out their site and be amazed at what you see, then do the opposite of everything they say.

I think the important thing is to help each other out in the pursuit of better running form, barefoot or not.  Bad form kept me from a running career for years and that's almost distressing to me now that I have come to really enjoy it.  Absent a local coach, it is up to each of us to share our experiences and give our own tips and tricks to anyone who will listen, all the while encouraging people to research multiple perspectives until they find the way that works for them.  Share your thoughts on a forum or blog.  Here's a post I did on the topic.  Ask lots of questions and spark discussions on other people's blogs.

I envision a certified coach teaching larger groups on how to get started, but I'm not sure of the utility of teaching one on one.  Maybe it will be beneficial, but I know I probably wouldn't have paid someone to teach me.  I'm sure there are people out there who will, though.  I don't suppose it is that much different than taking golf or tennis lessons, but then again I've never paid for those either.  Maybe that's why I'm such a crappy tennis player.  More power to ya, Coaches!

I'm no pezzonovante in the barefoot running world, but I do have opinions.  What's your opinion?  Do you think running coaches, specifically barefoot coaches should be certified?  Leave a comment below or on Facebook!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Running and Wheezing - Lungs, Asthma, and Smoking

Let me first say I wasn't smoking on my run tonight.  I'm sure that was obvious but I just wanted to clear the air, so to speak.

When I was in elementary and middle school I had some breathing troubles.  Asthma is a reactive disorder that causes constriction of the lung passages and therefore makes it difficult to breathe.  I was on different medications and a couple inhalers for a while, but pretty much grew out of it.  I had some trouble in high school, but nothing major.  I was never the kid that was hauled off to the ER at 2:00 am turning blue.  I feel bad for those little buggers.  I can't imagine how they must feel.  I still deal with seasonal allergies and have trouble with mold in the air, but I don't need medication anymore.  I do have a rescue inhaler just in case, but I'm not really sure why.

The main point to this post is that I had a lot of trouble breathing on my run tonight.  I did two miles, and had to walk twice.  I was actually feeling pretty rough and I was having reactive airway problems.  My allergies have been really flared up for the last few weeks and now harvest has begun in Minnesota so there is a lot of dust floating around.  I almost gave up on my run early, but the short walks did help.  The first walk was at about 1.5 miles.  My lungs were really wheezing and I ran past a bench across the street from St. Mary's Hospital.  This bench is where Hospital employees take their smoke breaks since they aren't allowed to smoke on the hospital property.  When I ran by, there were three of them sitting on the bench and as soon as I got a little second-hand my lungs shut off.  Cigarette smoke usually doesn't bother me but just half a whiff kicked my ass tonight.

I walked for half a block or so, then was able to get going again.  A stitch in my side stopped me again a couple blocks later, but that resolved quickly just by putting my arm up for a second.  I ran the rest of the 4 blocks home.  As I was nearing our house I pulled my phone out of the case to check my distance covered and was glad to see it was almost two miles.  I ran past our house to finish those last 5/100ths of a mile.  Probably not necessary, but I like round numbers.  As I hit the 2 mile mark I looked at the pace.  9:13/mile!  15-20 seconds faster than normal, and all while my lungs were shutting down.  Pretty nice for my slow legs and it's no wonder my lungs were burning a bit.  I'm glad my conditioning is improving well.

The moral of the story is that I'm glad I finished the run.  I know it's never best to push it when you aren't feeling well, but in this instance I'm glad I did.  I wonder what my pace would have been if I hadn't walked that little bit.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Shoes, Injury, Misinformation, and a Soap Box

Time to get a little preachy.

On Tuesday mornings I go to a business networking meeting before I go to my office.  I've been a part of that group for a few years now.  The other day I was wearing my Trail Gloves to work for a change of pace.  I've been preaching foot strengthening and barefooting for a few months now, and a few people have actually been genuinely interested.  Not necessarily about running barefoot, but at least in strengthening their feet up to help with things like plantar fasciitis and the like.

Before the meeting a few of us were talking and someone asked, "how long until we hear that those are bad for your feet?"  They had seen brands like Earth Shoes come and go (and incidentally come back again after a hiatus of 20 years).  Another example is the current mess rocker shoe by Sketchers and a few others.  Those rocker soles came out in the 1990's from a company called MBT (Masai Barefoot Technology).  Sketchers say they will supposedly tone your flabby butt so it looks a little more like a Victoria's Secret model all without you having to do anything but hoof it to the kitchen for another bag of Cheetos.  Probably not happening.  MBT says that their shoes mimic the natural motion of walking over soft uneven ground, based on their observations of the Maasai people in Africa.  They supposedly cause better posture and function.  MBT says on their website, "When the body is unstable, the body is stronger".  That is nonsense.  Ask a person with a torn, unstable rotator cuff how strong their shoulder is.  Strangely enough a University of Wisconsin study even found no significant difference in muscle activity when comparing the "toning" shoes vs. a regular athletic shoe.

So how long until minimalist shoes are bad for you?  Depends on who you ask!  Some physicians, podiatrists, etc. are already screaming dire warnings about taking the $400 arch supports out of your motion control shoes.  They are quite sure your feet will literally fall into pieces and you will have to balance on the bloody stumps that used to be your ankles.  That position is interesting because you won't find a medical doctor, chiropractor, podiatrist, or shaman that will recommend putting your toddler in a hard-soled supportive shoe.  Why?  Because it interferes with normal foot development and function.  The question is, at what point do our feet become so frail that we need to constantly encase them in a shoe that prevents movement?

I like to take a different route with my patients.  I give them strengthening and self-massage activities to do at home to strengthen the muscles in their feet and promote good circulation and a self-supporting arch.  I do those same things at home.  I firmly believe that strengthening the foot to support itself is a better way to go.  Orthotics aren't bad, and shoes aren't bad.  They are tools, but we have started to look at them as armor for our frail feet, and our feet have become frail because of it.  At this point I must admit I used to promote orthotics and supportive shoes to everyone.  Why did I do this?  It is what you are taught in school.  You don't question your instructors.  You nod, smile, and move on to the next topic.  Critical thinking is removed.  Barefoot should be a no-brainer for chiropractors.  We constantly promote natural healing and movement.  How can we in good conscience then say that your feet need constant outside support for the rest of your life?  There are instances where orthotics are appropriate, but they should be used as a temporary device while the foot is remodeled and strengthened to function naturally. 

To ensure full disclosure, there are some people who shouldn't be walking around barefoot.  If a diabetic (or anyone) no longer has sensation in their feet, barefoot probably isn't appropriate.  If you can't feel damage happening, you need some protection.  That's common sense.  I don't think that rules out some barefoot activity in a safe environment, or minimalist shoes for periods of time either.  That answer must come on a case by case basis.

My answer to the question of how long until a minimalist shoe is bad for you is simple.  Never!  They are a tool and should be used appropriately by someone who is instructed in their use and will use them appropriately.  In a perfect world, that could be nearly anyone!  Who does the instruction?  Well, you can find someone who is using them already and get a little instruction from them.  If your shoe salesman can't answer your questions, find a different shoe salesman!  In reality, the best teacher is your own feet.  If it hurts, you are doing it wrong.  Start slowly and build up activity as you are able!

Run on, runners!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Visualization of Barefoot Running Form

So, last post I gave some tips on getting started with barefoot running.  I hope that you have tried a little barefoot walking outside and downloaded Jason Robillard's book (or at least read his ABC's post).  This time I want to dive in to the mechanics of the gait a little bit and give you the visualization clues I used to help me.

Foot Landing (Foot Strike)
The foot strike should be gentle, as light as possible.  Watch a cat walk or run, or study a ninja that lives in your neighborhood.  They hit the ground quietly, and sneak up on you.  In barefoot running, the natural way we run, we land on the ball of our foot first then the heel and toes come down as the calf stretches.  Sometimes it looks like your foot is landing completely flat.

I use this visual for the foot landing:  Picture how your feet and ankles move as you go up a flight of stairs.  You typically touch first at the ball of your foot, but as you load the leg, your heel comes down as the calf stretches.  There is a reflex that happens as your calf stretches to help turn on the quad and glute muscles to keep the knee and hip from collapsing.  When running, this same process happens but it happens a lot faster and is a little less exaggerated.

A few other visuals that might help:
  • Pretend that you are running on hot coals, it will help decrease the force of your landing.  Same thing goes for liquid-hot magma.
  • Concentrate on the foot that is moving up, and the force on the landing foot will decrease (not my favorite way, but its an option).
  • Pretend that your running surface is loaded with springs and they push your foot up as soon as you set it down.
Knee Bend
To have the right knee bend, you should bend your knee.  How's that for you?  Not enough?  Fine.

The knee should never be completely straight in barefoot running.  As you land with your foot right below the hip, the knee is already bent to reduce force and it stays bent through the foot lift.  The knee bend is a major element of the shock absorbing system. 

What helped me:
  • Pretend that as you are running your butt is getting lower to the ground like you are going to sit on an imaginary chair.
  • Increasing your foot strike cadence will help with this too.  It decreases the amount of available time to straighten your leg out.  You can't straighten the knee if doing so will make you fall over.
Foot Lift
This is a simple idea, but is difficult in practice.  If you use your foot to push off and try to propel yourself forward you will get blisters and have a bad time.  This one took me a while to understand.  You have to lift your foot nearly as soon as it touches down on the ground.  Notice I didn't say you have to rock forward onto your toes and push off of the ground.  You have to literally pick your foot up off the ground in a fluid motion before you try to use those toes to push off.  Don't worry about what is moving you forward.  We will get to that.

My visual:
  • I don't have one.  Just pick your foot up.
  • The "running on liquid hot magma" visual may help you.  You don't want to keep your foot on liquid hot magma for very long.  
  • Think about (or find a video on You Tube) of someone walking on hot coals.  If you step lightly and pick your foot up quickly you don't get burned.  If you dig in and try to propel yourself forward quickly, you get burned.  If you try to push off with your foot when running, you get blisters.  Same concept.
The Forward Lean
This is how you move forward when you can't push off.  Jason Robillard teaches a drill where your stand slightly away from a wall, keep your body straight, and lean forward at the ankles until your head touches the wall.  That teaches you a little about the forward lean.  This is another concept that I had a little trouble with until I realized that if everything else is correct, this one happens on its own.

What to do:
  • Make sure you have a high cadence, your feet are landing below your hips, and you are stepping softly, and the forward lean will take care of itself.  If it doesn't, you will quickly realize you aren't moving forward.  You will either fix the problem or run in place.  Either way, have fun!

Have you tried barefoot running or do you have tips of your own?  Leave a comment below or put them on Facebook!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Barefoot Running Form - From "A" to "C"

I've wanted to do a semi-educational post for a while rather than just relaying my modest accomplishments, so here it is!  Hold on interwebs, we are rocketing to Planet Knowledge!

As is the case with all good knowledge, most of what I'll relay to you is stolen from others.  Mostly from Jason Robillard.  I hope he wont mind.  He seems pretty laid back, so we should be just fine.  You know what they say about the quiet ones though...

A couple weeks ago I got to meet Jason when he was in Rochester to present a barefoot running clinic.  I even got some proof:
Jason and I at Tradehome Shoes.

Jason presented the new, simplified barefoot instruction program he and the folks at Merrell developed.  They call it BareForm Running and teach it via "The ABC's".  You can (and should) read the post on his blog about it  here, but I'll summarize quickly:

A= Align Posture.  Stand tall with a slight forward lean at the ankles, knees slightly bent.
B= Balanced Foot Strike.  Feet land under the hips, almost flat.
C= Cadence.  180 steps per minute.  A fast cadence helps ensure the balanced foot strike.

That is honestly enough to get you started.  You can check out his book to get some more details on form and such but the ABC's will get you going.  He is still giving his book away, or you can find it on Amazon if you want the hard copy.  I have the hard copy.  I like circling and highlighting things.

So, here are some tips and things I've learned the easy way (from others) and mastered the hard way (practice).
  •  It is true that barefoot running leads to a forefoot or midfoot landing, rather than landing on the heel.  That does not mean that the heel doesn't touch the ground.  In fact, the heel and toes touch the ground a split second after the ball of your foot does.  Your foot lands almost flat.  This was a concept that I struggled with in the beginning and it caused me some problems, namely Achilles Tendonitis.  I was staying on the ball of my foot the whole time rather than letting my heel come down.  Which leads me to my next point...
  • If you are thinking about trying barefoot running, go barefoot.  Don't try to change your form while wearing the same running shoes you have been wearing, which is exactly where I went wrong.  I developed my Achilles problems after doing a 5K wearing my New Balance shoes, but running "on my toes" the whole time.  At the time, that was how I understood barefoot form.  Had I taken my shoes off, and continued to run "on my toes", I would have soon gotten blisters or some severe foot pain and had to stop running.  My feet would have told me pretty quickly that I was doing something wrong.  I had shoes on though, so I missed the message.  You should save the minimalist shoes for non-barefoot friendly terrain too.  Go barefoot and learn faster.  Once you have good form, those minimalist shoes like the Merrell Trail Glove or Vibram Five Fingers are great for hostile environments.
  • Do a lot of barefoot walking outside.  No amount of walking around the house barefoot can prepare you for the sidewalk down the street that is littered with acorn or walnut shells.  Squirrels by nature are evil creatures and they hate people, especially barefoot people.  Their primary means of attack is covering sidewalks with sharp pieces of debris.  Walking barefoot outside will help desensitize your feet to the small debris that will likely be in your way.  It may also give you a clue on routes to avoid when you are out running barefoot.  Your feet become accustomed to little rocks and debris, but not if you stay on carpet.
  • Speaking of soft surfaces, don't try to start on grass.  Find some pavement or a smooth gravel or dirt trail.  Grass is a reward for good form.  Running on a hard surface will give you more feedback and allow your form to improve faster.  I have found that when I'm running on grass I tend to start heel-striking right away.  When I got lost on a run a few weeks ago, I veered on to the grass for a bit when my feet started to get sore and I immediately started to land on my heels.  
  • Start small and work up from there.  If you are already a runner, don't go out and just do your normal mileage barefoot.  That will likely hurt.  There are a few superheros out there that can transition really quickly with no ill-effects, but most of us need to build distance and speed with a healthy dose of time.
There's a few tips to get you started.  The only way to learn is to go out and practice.  Kick those shoes off and take a walk around the block.  Bring your dog with you.  He will appreciate the walk, and you just might start to remember that being barefoot is fun!  My next post will give some visualization tips on proper running form.  I need some things explained to me a few times in a few ways before I really understand so my hope is to get you thinking about form in different ways to find the best way for you.

Questions, thoughts, or just want to tell me to buzz off?  Leave a comment below or search Barefoot Chiropractor on Facebook.  Look for the picture of my feet!