Happy Holidays

Thanks for visiting Beginning Barefoot. Due to an unexpected lack of computer over the holiday break, we won’t be back until the new year. There’s a lot of great content coming out soon though, so enjoy the break and we’ll see you next week.

Happy holidays!

Barefoot Dawsy

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6 Weeks to Barefoot Running – Part 4: Cadence

Written by Barefoot Dawsy

<<Back to Part 3: Lifting Your Feet or Start From The Top

4 weeks have passed since our first barefoot running session, and you should be starting to feel just a little bit like a barefoot runner. If you’ve been following along, you should now understand how to land and lift your foot, and the importance of bending your knees. Up until now, we’ve focused on drills for reinfricing these elements, but now it’s time to do some running!

This week, I’m going to introduce you to the king of barefoot running techniques – the 180 step per minute cadence. As Dr Dan Lieberman said at a recent clinic, “Cadence is King”. The reason for this is that if you get your cadence up to the 180 steps per munute level, you will automatically gain better posture, better form, and be able to tackle advanced running techniques such as downhill running.

So what is cadence, and why is it so important? In a nutshell, cadence is the rate at which you step as you run. By increasing your cadence, you end up spending more time in the air and less time with your feet on the ground. This reduces friction, which in turn will reduce the resistance against your bidy as you run, which will translate into better efficiency and faster times.

Session 1

As usual, we’er going to start with a run. Head out at a slow pace and run for around 10 minutes. Feel free to choose any route you like, but ideally you want to avoid grass as much as possible and pick a hard surface to run on. The last thing you need at this point is to step on something hidden in the grass, or pick up bad habits as a result of running on forgiving terrain.

As you run, focus on the lessons of the past few weeks: bend your knees, land softly, and lift your feet. Don’t worry about speed at this point, just run nice and easy, and breathe through your nose. You should be able to talk comfortably at this pace (though keep your voice down or people might give you funny looks!).

Check your feet for blisters and your legs for soreness. A little bit is ok, but if you have rock hard calves, sore achilles tendons, or sore feet, then take a couple days off and repeat this session until you can do it without pain. Listen to your feet as you run and try to keep the lessons in mind.

Assuming you’re ready, go on to the next session.

Session 2

Today we’re working on getting your cadence up. To do this, you’re going to need a watch, clock, metronome, or some other tool that you can use to measure seconds.

With your measuring device where you can see or hear it, start running in place. You want to aim to take 3 steps per second (eg; left, right, left). You may feel like you’re moving too fast at this point, and it can be a bit daunting.

To compensate for the speed increase, try lifting your feet only enough to get them off the ground. This should result in a sort of shuffle. Running like this is much more energy efficient at low speeds and will greatly increase your ability to run longer distances without injury.

Now, keep shuffling and push your hips forward slightly. You should get the urge to move forward. Go ahead and let yourself move. Shuffle along for about 30 or so steps then turn and come back. Do this a few times until you get the feel for it.

Session 3

Now that you have the basic shuffling motion sorted, we’re going to take it to the streets. Pick a nice 5-10 minute route for a run. Try to find one that is mostly flat as for now it will be easiest to learn on.

Head out for your jog, and focus on keeping your cadence up to 3 steps per second. A simple way to do this is to find a song to step along to in your head. The best songs for this are waltzes, which have a 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3 sort of beat. I normally end up getting the Beatles’ song Norwegian Wood stuck in my head when I’m running because of this!

Sessions 4 & 5

This week we’re going to repeat the 4th session twice. All you need to do at this level is to keep practicing your running, focusing on all the different techniques we’ve learned so far. Try to go a little further than you did on your previous session, but don’t increase the distance by more than 20% at this point. As always, listen to your body and try to figure out what it’s telling you. If you feel any pain, slow down, adjust your style, and if you can’t make the sore bit feel better, then walk the rest of the way.

Scorecard

  1. 10 minute run complete
  2. Learn to shuffle
  3. 1k run complete
  4. Session 4 run complete
  5. Session 5 run complete
  6. No blisters/soreness

On to Part 5: Posture >>

Stomp of Approval

Barefoot TJ with Zola BuddOne of the best things about barefoot running is how it can bring people toegether. I don’t know what it is, but as soon as you take off your shoes, people just start talking to you! One of the best places to chat with other barefoot runners, and even meet up with them in real life is the Barefoot Runners Society (BRS) website, the world’s largest barefoot running community.

BeginningBarefoot.com was lucky enough to receive the BRS Stomp of Approval (see that lovely logo to the right?) and added to the Stomp Roll alongside a collection of excellent barefoot running blogs. In honour of this, I had a chat with Barefoot TJ, co-founder and president of the BRS:

Dawsy: For those of us new to the barefoot running community, can you please tell us a bit about who you are?

TJ: I am 45, married to the greatest guy I have ever known, and blessed with two precious little boys age 9 and 5.  I used to work in IT as a Network Administrator for a major airline before becoming a stay at home mom.  I am also the president and CEO of the Barefoot Runners Society, of which I am pleased to share that we are the largest barefoot and minimalist running club in the world with almost 3,900 members and nearly 90 chapter clubs located around the globe.

Dawsy: What first attracted you to barefoot running?

TJ: Running in shoes became so unbearable, that one day, after suffering great pain on a 10K run, I had no choice, thank God, but to take my shoes off and complete my run without them.  I instantly knew I was onto something new and exciting.  It felt awesome!  It felt natural. It felt right!  That was over three years ago.  After that first barefoot run, I found out that the shoes I had been wearing and running in had caused me to develop four neuromas in my feet (two in each).  The condition is called Morton’s Neuroma, and it is quite debilitating.  I found that I could run much farther barefoot than with shoes before the crippling pain would set in, so out went the shoes and in came the feets.  😉  I have surgery scheduled in January to have the neuromas removed once and for all.  Wish me well!

Dawsy: What’s the BFR (BRS) and how does it benefit members?

TJ: The Barefoot Runners Society was founded on November 1, 2009, and is an all-volunteer organization with many, many resources to help runners learn how to safely shed their traditional shoes and run barefoot and/or minimal at no cost to them.  Some of our resources are:

Forums:  The most active forums going on barefoot and minimalist talk.   Learn and grow with other members, new and veteran alike, as you transition to healthy running.   We have forums for Barefoot & Minimalist Running;  Barefoot & Minimalist Triathletes; Ultra Barefoot & Minimalist Running; Ask the Docs; Gear & Footwear; Health, Nutrition, Injuries & Medical Conditions; Mileage Reporting; New Member Introductions; Races & Events; the Barefoot Pub; and state/country forums as well.

Chapter Clubs:  Join in on group runs and races with other members in your area or head up a chapter in your area and arrange meetups.

Calendar of Events:  Stay informed on the barefoot and minimalist running, racing, and meetup events taking place around the country, in your area, and where you may be traveling to.

Ask the Docs Forum:  Get answers from medical professionals about your barefoot or minimalist living and running health.  Each of our three doctors are well-known in the barefoot and minimalist running community:  Dr. Michael Nirenberg (Podiatrist), Dr. Mark Cucuzzella (MD), Dr. James Stoxen (Chiropractor), Dr. Stephen Gangemi, a.k.a., Sock Doc (Chiropractor), and Dr. Andrew Klein (Chiropractor), and each one is a barefoot runner, so they can really relate to our members!

Map of Barefoot-Friendly Doctors & Specialists:  Find a doctor or specialist near you who won’t treat you like an outcast for your running-style, or you can share those barefoot-friendly docs you learn of with the rest of us.

Member Map:  Put yourself on the map, and locate friends and mentors in your area to run with.

Map of Barefoot Running Instructors:  For those who need an extra bit of help and some one-on-one instruction.

Product Reviews:  Share your experiences and rate a product you may have tested–gear & footwear–and read what others are saying about products you may be interested in buying; footwear can be rated by Weight, Flexibility, Zero Drop, Toe Box Width, etc., etc.

Course Reviews:  Rate a course, trail, or race on barefoot-friendliness you have experienced, so others will know what to expect should they want to run it too.

Home Page News:  Stay informed on the latest in barefoot and minimalist running and the news that impacts our sport.

Blogging:  Share your experiences with others, or learn more about your friends’ personal triumphs and trials in an all-inclusive place.

Library:  Review our Library, fast becoming THE go-to source for academic research and info on the benefits of barefoot and minimalist running, review how-to instructionals, and learn safe transitioning through Barefoot Running 101.

Mileage Clubs & Mileage Reporting:  Be inspired and motivated by logging your barefoot and/or minimalist running miles and inspire and motivate others along the way.  Earn a merit award at the end of the year to display proudly or keep as a memento of your hard work and efforts.

International Barefoot Running Day:  Annually, barefoot runners get together all over the world to share camaraderie, express unity, and share with the world an alternative, viable way to run.  We will be celebrating our 2nd annual IBRD on Sunday, May 6, so stay tuned for details on an event near you!

Stomp of Approval Program:  The BRS’s Stomp of Approval is given to those individuals, organizations, and running events that show support for barefoot and minimalist running to display on their sites.

Communication:  Communicate with other members through private messaging.

Dawsy: Can you tell us a little bit of the history of the BFR (BRS)? (Eg:How did it get started, and where’s it headed?)

TJ: After establishing the Barefoot Running forum at Runner’s World, I really felt the need to connect with the friends I was making online.  It was great being able to talk to them through the forums, but I wanted more, I wanted to run with them.  I knew that if we could run in groups that we wouldn’t be looked at as odd, but instead, we would be seen as intriguing.  I needed support, and figured there were others out there who did too.  I thought it would be cool if we could actually establish a club and create our own site.  Jason Robillard and Victor Palma, two of my closest BFR buddies were some of the first to help me found the BRS.

Dawsy: What’s your stance on Minimal Shoes?

TJ: Jason said it best, Shoes as Tools.  It can’t be said any better.  But to answer your question, I take this directly from our About Us section on our site:

We are a barefoot AND minimalist running club.  We support both the barefoot AND minimalist runner.  We prefer people to FIRST LEARN (or relearn) TO RUN BAREFOOT before donning any footwear and only doing so after they have learned to run with proper form first.  This is why we chose the name Barefoot Runners Society… ..

We believe that the best way to decrease your chance of injury is by starting over, literally from scratch, and allowing your plantar skin to take you only as far as you are physically capable of and safely able to go.  (Increasing from there can be learned by listening to your body and all the great advice you will receive from the many resources within this running club.)

There were six of us that started the BRS.  Two of us were purists, two of us were minimalists, and two of us were somewhere in between.  When we started the BRS, it was important to include all flavors of the barefoot/minimalist movement, not just focus on purism, and this is why…

We understand that not everyone can run barefoot at all times under all conditions.  Some people may not be able to run completely barefoot from the get-go.  We got that.  They may have health conditions (severe osteoporosis, diabetes, neuropathy, ciculatory conditions, etc.) that would prohibit them from doing so; others may live in areas where the terrain is always extreme, and most of us live where we experience extreme weather/temps at some point during the year.  We also realize that in the end, most people are not going to choose to run truly barefoot 100% of the time or at all.  Therefore, we believe it is very important to provide our members with information that will help them to make informed, healthy decisions about what to put on their feet.

Dawsy: What have been your best/worst experiences with barefoot running?

TJ: I always try to reflect positively on the run, even the most difficult ones.  The difficult ones are the ones that are most important as they humble us and teach us the most about ourselves, what our limits are, what we can and can’t get away with.  I refuse to waste a run with negative thoughts.

Dawsy: Have you got any advice for folks new to barefoot running?

TJ: Take your shoes off and leave them off until you have found a safe, proper, healthy form that works for you.  By then, hopefully, you won’t want to put them back on, and if you do, may it only be when you truly need to wear them.  We have learned through our combined experiences that our musculoskeletal system progresses at about the same rate as our plantar skin conditions, so our soles help to prevent us from overdoing it.  Minimalist running shoes tend to make the wearer believe they can run farther and faster than what they are ready to, thereby increasing their chances of getting injured.

Set your racing goals aside.  Understand that upfront you will need to make sacrifices to your distance and your speed, although you will once again regain both, if not exceed in both areas.  Expect to learn a lot about yourself through this journey, and when you are ready, you will be amazed at how far and fast you can go.  Most importantly, join the Barefoot Runners Society at http://www.BarefootRunners.org for a wealth of information and tons of support from others both veteran and new alike.  😉

I’d like to say a big thank you to TJ for taking the time out to answer a few questions. I’d also like to highly recommend heading over to barefootrunners.org, signing up for a free membership, and taking part.

6 Weeks to Barefoot Running – Part 3: Lifting your feet

Written by Barefoot Dawsy

<< Back to Part 2: Movement or Start from the Top

First off, congratulations on making it this far. Transitioning to barefoot running is a real challenge as it works new muscles (or old muslces that haven’t been used), and can be a slow process.

By now you should be getting a feel for how to move around in bare feet. We’ve explored how to place your feet when landing and how to bend your knees as you move forward. Both these techniques are very useful for absorbing shock and adapting to your terrain. It may feel a bit unusual at first, but once you’ve got the hang of it, your running will benefit enormously.

This week, we’re going to focus on one of the trickier aspects of running barefoot – the foot lift. We touched on this a little in week 1. When running, there is a tendency to want to push your foot into the ground and push off. This technique has its place in some types of running, for example sprinting, but when running over medium to large distances, energy conservation becomes the most important thing. With this in mind, rather than pushing into the ground, we need to lift our foot off the ground instead.

An easy way to visualise what I’m trying to get at is to picture yourself riding a bicycle. Imagine that your feet are strapped to the pedals and that instead of pushing our feet DOWN to make the pedals turn, you’re lifting your feet UP to pull the pedals around. Allow the momentum to bring your foot back around, then PULL up again to move the pedals. This is the sort of motion that we want to mimic when running. Your feet should be moving in a circular motion, and the energy you’re expending should be focused on lifting your feet off the ground, not pushing them down into it.

To get your body used to this way of running, this week we’re going to do some butt-kicks. These are basically an exaggerated form of running where you focus on kicking yourself in the rear as you run. This works because your focus shifts on applying energy to the lifting portion of your stride as you accellerate your foot towards your butt. There will be more on this in a minute, but first, let’s go for a run!

Session 1

It’s always nice to start the week off with a run, so take your shoes off and head out on the usual out-and-back to the end of the block (no more than 100m). Take your time, run slowly and try to think about the lessons you’ve learned over tha past couple weeks. When you get back, take a break, check for any damage, and when you’re ready, go again. Make sure you’re bending your knees as you run. You don’t need to exaggerate the motion as much as you did in last week’s exercises, but you should definitely feel yourself crouching a little and your knees should stay bent.

If you feel up for it, go ahead and do a third lap. We’re getting to the part of the program where your mileage will start to slowly increase, so take the opportunity to get your legs moving. This time, as you run, I want you to clear your mind and focus on one thing: smiling. Enjoy the run, feel the ground beneath your feet, and don’t think too much about your form. Your body’s learning what to do, so let it do its work and just take in the sights.

If you can do all this without any bruising, blistering, sore calves, etc, then move on to the next session. If not, take a day or two off and try again. Remember, there’s no rush.

Session 2

This week we’re focusing on lifting your feet, and to do this we’re going to be doing butt-kicks. These are deceptively simple exercises that are similar to the 100-Ups that you did in Week 1.

To start off, take your shoes of, and stand with your feet close together, and your knees slightly bent. Now, lift your left foot back and snap it up to your butt. You don’t need to actually kick yourself, but you should aim to at least try to get your foot to lightly touch your bottom. Now, let your foot fall back to the ground. Try not to add any extra energy while doing this, and just let gravity pull it back to earth. Now repeat with the right foot. Easy right?

For today, try to do 50 butt-kicks with each leg, focusing on snapping your leg up, and letting it fall back down. You may not be able to do 100 on your first session, so if you can’t, just take a day off and try again later. Keep at it, and check your form and your feet constantly to make sure you’re doing it right and not causing any damage.

Session 3

Now that you have the basic movement down, we’re going to speed it up a little. Today we’re going to do 100 butt-kicks again, but this time, don’t let your feet linger on the ground. As soon as the left foot touches the ground, lift your right foot, and vice-versa. You should find yourself running in place and kicking your feet up at a reasonably high cadence. Do 100 of these and call it a day.

Because we’re increasing the speed of movement, we’re also increasing the risk of your form starting to waver. Pay close attention to how you’re moving your legs, and try not to bounce too much. Land with bent knees. As always, if you start to feel sore or hurt yourself in any way, just stop, call it a day, and try again tomorrow.

Session 4

Now that you have the running motion down, let’s try it with some movement. Start by butt-kicking in place a few times, then when you’re ready, push your hips forward slightly. This slight movement should be enough to impel you forward. Run forward for 20 steps, then turn around and come back. As you run make sure that you’re not leaning forward, but that you’re pressing your hips ahead to cause the forward motion. Your back and head should be aligned and should sit above your hips. The shift in centre of gravity from your hips should only be slight.

Now turn around again and run another 20 steps. Play with the feeling of falling that is induced by moving your hips forward and back. If your body is aligned, you shouldn’t need to move your hips much. Keep kicking your feet up to your bum and letting them fall gently back to ground. Turn around and run another 20 paces back, then return and do the same back to your starting point.

How was that? We’re going to stop there for today, so take stock, get some rest and when you’re ready, proceed to the next session.

Session 5

To round off the week, we’re going to do a run. Find a nice place that you can run for a kilometer or so. This can be a track, a run around the neighbourhood, a trail, whatever you like. Avoid running only on grass or sand at this point as the softness of it can cause you to develop bad habits. Pick a hard or rough surface to run on. If you’re unsure how far a kilometer is, or can’t be bothered measuring, just go for a 6-7 minute run.

When you’re running this time, you don’t need to kick your butt, but remember the feeling of whipping your feet up and letting them fall back down. Move at a comfortable pace and breathe through your nose. If you need to breathe through your mouth, you’re working too hard, so slow down a bit.

If you have a hard time running this far, try alternating running and walking in 30 second to 1 minute intervals. Each time you go out for a run, reduce the amount of time you spend walking until you find yourself running the whole distance.

At the end of your run, just slow down to a walk, and stroll at a slow pace for a few more minutes. This will give your legs time to cool down, which should save you from getting tight calves tomorrow.

Hopefully you had an enjoyable run and didn’t step on anything too nasty. Check your feet for blisters and your calves for tightness. Stretch out your legs for a few minutes. Start by rotating your ankles, then stretching your calves, then groin and hip flexors. I’ll include a full stetching program soon that you will be able to follow. In the meantime, just try to hit the major muscle groups and tendons. Spend a good 5-10 minutes stretching.

As usual, take stock of any soreness or injuries and rest as needed. Fill out your scorecard and then it’s on to Part 4!

Scorecard:
1. Third run complete
2. 100 butt-kicks
3. 100 fast butt-kicks
4. 4 X 20 moving butt-kicks
5. 1k run complete
6. No blisters/Sore calves/Injuries

Continue to Part 4: Cadence>>

5 Things You Won’t Miss About Wearing Shoes

Written by Barefoot Dawsy

Taking your shoes off and going for a run is a wonderful feeling that everyone should try out at some point in their life. This is especially true for anyone already used to running in shoes.

Most people tend to take it as read that wearing shoes is going to be a more comfortable experience than running around with your soles hanging out, but here are some great reasons why once you ditch the shoes, you’ll never look back.

1. Heavy feet

Try running barefoot for a week, then returning to wearing shoes, and the first thing you will notice is just how heavy they feel.

When doing any sort of running, the less weight you’re carrying, the eaiser it is to propel yourself along. This is especially true of the parts of your body that are moving the most, ie: your feet.

Wearing shoes is like having a pair of weights strapped to your feet. It takes extra energy to set these weights in motion, which over long distances can make a big difference. By lightening your feet, you’re able to more easily increase your cadence and can step a lot lighter than you can in shoes. This translates into better running efficiency, which ultimately can go a long way towards dropping minutes off your race times.

2. Socks

Have you ever been for a long run, or a wet run, and found yourself cursing the socks on your feet? Cotton, and even synthetic socks can absorb water and increase the temperature of your feet dramatically.

Running in waterlogged socks is no fun, and can greatly increase the weight at your feet (see point 1). Hot feet can be even more damaging as your feet are likely to swell up, putting pressure against your shoes, which may lead to blisters and general discmfort.

When you run in bare feet, you have no such problems. You can easily run through puddles or even large bodies of water with minimal impact on your performance. In fact, you may even find yourself seeking out mud and puddles for the sheer pleasure of running through them!

3. Lost toenails

If you’re not a distance runner, you’re probably thinking “gross!”. If you are though, then you will understand this point. Many long distance runners have at some point or other experienced the dreaded lost toenail. It usually occurs when a blister appears beneath the nail, and eventually pops the whole thing right off. This is generally a painful, and unpleasant experience that has lead some ultramarathoners to take the drastic step to have them surgically removed (I’m looking at you Marshall Ulrich).

Thankfully, this is an experience unique to shod runners. In all the running, discussion, and reading I’ve done about long distance barefooting, I’ve yet to come across a single account of a lost toenail. For anyone who has experienced this sort of injury, not having to face this again is a great incentive for giving barefoot running a try.

4. Bad  smells & itchiness

A bare foot is a healthy foot. This doesn’t just apply to the state of the muscles under the surface, or the skin itself. It also applies to the millions of microbes that exist on the human foot.

The inside of a shoe is like bacteria heaven. It’s warm, dark, and damp. It’s really the perfect place for bacteria to breed. Find me a runner that hasn’t experienced athlete’s foot, and I’ll show you a barefoot runner.

One of the really nasty side effects of all this microbial activity is that they can make your feet and shoes riper than a week old diaper. Try running in shoes without socks and the problem is amplified even further. Don’t believe me? Try googling “stinky Vibrams” and you’ll see about as many anecdotes as there are bacteria on your feet.

Running, and living a barefoot lifestyle allow your feet to be exposed to the elements. Light and water and the scouring effect of contact with the road all contribute to cleaning your feet and keeping them relatively bacteria-free. IF you suffer from chronic skin complaints on your feet, then barefooting may just be the cure you’re looking for.

5. Chronic injuries
Most people that try barefoot running for the first time after wearing shoes do it because of the promise of fewer injuries. There are all sorts of reports that say that barefooting can help or even cure plantar fasciits, flat feet, and many other complaints.

I don’t want to give you false hope: barefoot running isn’t a cure-all and does come with its own risks, but it can help with injuries indirectly. Learning to run barefoot is learning to run correctly. When you pay attention to form and listen to your body, you can stop injuries from occuring long before they get serious. Likewise the strenghtening benefits of barefooting are many, and can definitly contribute to recovery and prevention of many common injuries.

A warning: just taking off your shoes and running is not only unlikely to cure all that ails you, but may in fact add a slew of new injuries to the list. To avoid this and maximise the benefits, take your time, listen to your body, and enjoy the experience.

6 Weeks to Barefoot Running – Part 2: Movement

Written by Barefoot Dawsy

<< Back to Part 1: Baring Your Soles

Last week we focused on increasing foot strength and learning how to land softly on our forefeet. Most of the week, however was spent standing in one spot, which is pretty much like torture for anyone who has the urge to just get out there and run.

The focus of this week’s training is going to be on movement.

Placing one foot in front of the other is a movement that most of us take for granted and do thousands of times per day. The problem is, however, that because we’ve learned and reinforced our movements wearing shoes, we need to untrain ourselves and rebuild our gaits from the ground up.

Session 1

As with last week, we’re going to start off with a short run. 2 short runs, in fact. So take off your shoes, find the nearest Hard surface, and jog to the end of the block and back.

Again, try to keep it under 100m all up for now. When you’re running, try to pay attention to how your feet are landing. Concentrate on placing your feet gracefully, and not pounding them into the pavement. Make sure that you’re landing on your forefoot and gently easing down the back of your foot so that the heel just barely brushes the ground.

When you get back, take stock of how your feet are feeling. Have you got any bruises or scratches? Any blisters? Have a look at the soles of your feet and see if there’s any redness.

If you’re placing your feet correctly there should be minimal friction as your feet touch the
ground, so your feet should look nice and fresh, if a little dirty.

Now that you’ve had a look at your feet, give the run another go. Play with the way your feet are landing and how much your knees and ankles are bent. When you get it right you should almost feel like you’re floating along the ground. Don’t worry if you’re not at this point yet though, there’s still a a lot of ground to cover.

If you find that you need a break, take a day off after this session and make sure your feet and legs are feeling good before proceeding to the next session.

Session 2

As the old saying goes, you need to learn how to walk before you can learn how to run. Today we’re going to do what amounts to a slow-motion version of barefoot running.

As mentioned previously, one of the keys to correct running form is to have bent knees. The exercise we’re going to do today will reinforce that concept by slightly overexaggerating the movement. Are you ready?

First, of course, remove your shoes and socks. Find a nice Hard area to practice on with a good few metres of space (were going to be walking up and down in this exercise). Place your feet together and bend your knees. You want to keep your feet and knees together, and your back and head nice and straight. Keep bending until your thighs are at a 45 degree angle to the ground. This is your stating position.

From the starting crouch, raise your left foot and take a step. As your foot moves, you want to transfer your weight, so that when you put your foot down, nearly all your weight is above it. Make sure that as you step, your back and head stay straight up and down, and that your body from the hips up move in a straight line. Try not to bob up or down as you move.

Once you’ve transferred your weight so that it’s above your left foot, raise your right foot. If you did the last step correctly, you should be able to lift it off the ground without moving your body.

Bring your right foot up next to your left foot, and you should find yourself back in the starting position. Well done!

Practice this move until you’re confident with it, then try taking 5 steps in a row, turn around, then do 5 steps back. Do this 5 more times (for a total of 50 steps – 25 each leg). If your legs or feet get tired, or your form starts to fall apart, then stop, take a break, and start again from the beginning.

When you can do 50 bent walking steps, then you can move onto the next session. You may want to leave a day or two between sessions to let yourself recover if you feel it’s necessary.

Session 3

As with last week, we’re going to repeat the workout, but this time on a Forgiving surface. Do 5 up and 5 back again for another 5 reps. Keep your form in mind, and make sure your back is straight and that you don’t bob your head up and down.

Session 4

In this session we’re going to do the same thing one more time, however this time it will be on a Rough surface. You may find that as you transfer your full weight onto your front foot, that it may be quite uncomfortable.

The trick here is to bend your knees really deep and relax your feet. Focus on making a smooth movement as you glide forward. Take your time on this session and make sure that you’re happy with how it’s going before proceeding to the next session. It’s also a good idea to take stock at this point and check that your feet and legs are ready to continue.

Session 5

Finally try repeating the exercise on a Soft surface. Enjoy the feeling of the grass, carpet, sand, etc beneath your feet and savour the sensation. Once you’ve done 5 X 5 X 5 again, then you’re done! Fill out your scorecard and move on to next week’s session.

Scorecard:
1. Second run complete
2. 5X5X5 bent knee walks on Hard (lv3) ground
3. 5X5X5 bent knee walks on Forgiving (lv2) ground
4. 5X5X5 bent knee walks on Rough (lv4) ground
5. 5X5X5 bent knee walks on Soft (lv1) ground
6. No blisters/Sore calves/Injuries

On to Part 3: Lifting Your Feet >>