Micro-runs…A Better Way To Transition To Barefoot?

Written By Barefoot Dawsy

Arguably the hardest part of transitioning from shod to barefoot running is not the discomfort, or form changes, or any of the usual worries that new runners have. No, the hardest part is keeping your mileage low and easing into it. It is so hard to keep to a low-mileage regime, since barefoot running just feels so good and right, and makes you want to keep going!

The trouble with overdoing it is that if your body’s not used to barefoot running, you can run into some trouble, and in some cases may even get injured. There are a lot of tips and tricks out there on how to ease into it gently, but we all know that the reality is most people will just get out there and run too far too soon. It’s human nature.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this, and having recently recovered from a trampoline-related stress fracture, I’ve had a unique opportunity to re-transition to barefoot running from scratch. After a bit of experimentation, I think I’ve come up with the ultimate solution to the problem.

I call them Micro-runs.

Micro-runs are very short, very easy runs that you do wearing your everyday clothes. All you need to do is take off your shoes and run 50-200m. You don’t need to sprint or break any records. Just do a quick out-and-back at a leisurely pace, staying nice and relaxed, and listening to your body.

It’s that simple.

Don’t get into your workout gear, don’t worry about planning routes, and don’t worry about time or pace, or any of the usual distractions that tend to come with most running programs. Just do this once or twice every day for a few weeks, and reap the benefits.

There are several reasons why the micro-run approach is different to most other transitioning techniques, and why this makes them so much more effective while reducing the chance of injuries from doing too much too soon.

The first is that very few people feel comfortable sweating a lot in their non-workout clothes. Going out in your regular clothes will help you keep your sessions short and relaxed, which is exactly what you want to do when transitioning.

The second is that you can literally do them anywhere: on your commute home, on the way to the shops. Even on the way to the car (my favourite). Just nip up to the end of the block and back again before you head out!

Lastly, it lets you fit in more exercises than you probably otherwise would, since you don’t have the time overhead of getting your running gear together, or the pressure to stay out longer once you are fully dressed. You can even do more than one a day if your feet are up to it!

Micro-runs are a great way to supplement your existing training, and can give you a great indication of how well your feet are acclimating to being barefoot. After each run, pay attention to how your feet feel. At first they may feel a bit raw or tender. Wait for this feeling to subside before doing another micro-run.

I found that doing these, in conjunction with being barefoot at home, and elsewhere as often as possible, made the transition nearly painless and a lot more comfortable. Within a few weeks, I was ready to start running a kilometre or two a couple times per week, and have built up from there.

I’d highly recommend giving micro-runs a go if you’re new to barefoot running, or if you suspect you might be susceptible to overdoing it. I’d love to hear how you go, so if you try it, be sure to leave a comment and let me know how you’ve found it!

Happy running!

Running Better With The Naked Runners

Written By BarefootDawsy

This weekend I had the chance to meet up with a pair of Australia’s best-known barefoot/minimalist runners – Dave Robertson and Silas Moss AKA the Naked Runners.

The Naked RunnersThenakedRunnersAndMeThe Naked Runners have been around for a few years now and have become a fixture in Newcastle, NSW with their Run Better workshops, which aim to help new runners learn to do it correctly. Recently, they’ve also taken a strong lead in getting the Parkrun movement happening in Newcastle, which has led to their local run being the largest in Australia.

Robbo and Mossy, as they call themselves, were down in Sydney to do one of their famous Run Better workshops – the first one ever in the Emerald City. Despite questionable weather conditions, turnout was good for the 1-hour session.

With on a short amount of time, they had their work cut out for them to deliver a clear, concise method that attendees could take home and practice. They did this remarkably well, bringing obvious experience to the workshop.

In a nutshell, the session consisted of a series of drills and explanations that took us all through their SOFT method of running, which the Naked Runners have promoted for quite some time on their blog and podcast. This method breaks down the basics of running into 4 categories –

Stride, which covers cadence and stride length
Over, discussing centre of gravity
Flat, promoting a gentle, midfoot strike
Tall, keeping good posture throughout

Overall the reception was very good, with a lot of positive remarks from the participants. It was clear that many of those who showed up took home a new perspective on how to run, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them adapting many of the techniques into their running going forward.

If you happen to be in Newcastle, I highly recommend signing up for one of the Naked Runners’ Run Better workshops if you’re interested in improving your running. Runners of all experience levels can all take something home from the lessons taught, and apart from this, it’s also a lot of fun.

If you’re interested in knowing more about the Naked Runners and the SOFT technique, please take the time to visit their website, or have a listen to their excellent podcast!

Review: Merrell Trail Glove

Written By Barefoot Dawsy

Merrell1As far as I’m concerned, 2013 is the year of trail running. Trails offer such a great opportunity to improve your technique and become a better, stronger runner.

One thing I have discovered along the way, however, is that some trails are better tackled with some footwear. Where I live, there are a lot of trails, and many of them are barefoot-friendly. However, there are certain tracks that, unless I want to pick my way slowly and painfully, I prefer to do in minimal footwear.

With this in mind, I jumped at the chance to try out a pair of Merrell’s Trail Glove.

Merrell2The Trail Glove is part of the Barefoot series of shoes that Merrell have become famous for over the past couple of years. Unlike some of the other shoes in the line however, the Trail Glove includes several features that make trail running a little bit easier on the soles, even if they do sacrifice some of the barefoot feel that the other shoes offer.

 

Looks

Merrell3One thing that I noticed straight out of the box is that these are some nice-looking shoes. They have a well-put-together appearance, and there’s no question that the design team spent a lot of time thinking about this aspect of the shoes.

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What I really liked is that despite having a large toe box, the shoes don’t have the ‘clown shoe’ appearance of some other shoes I’ve tried out with the same feature. This is a real plus.

 

 

 

Construction

Merrell5The Trail Glove’s uppers are made of a very lightweight, breathable mesh, which is attractive and functional. It is one of my favourite features of the shoe as it is very comfortable and allows ample air to flow in and out of the shoe (a necessity when going sockless).

Merrell6The soles of these shoes are a little bit thicker, creeping in towards the 10mm mark. This is the upper end of thickness that I prefer in a shoe, but it is a huge help on the tough trails. Made by Vibram, they feature a reasonably aggressive tread, and a contoured design.

Merrell10Merrell9With the thicker sole usually comes rigidity, however these soles have been designed in such a way as to allow a fair bit of flexibility. This flexibility is mainly uni-directional however. I could lift my toes up without any trouble, though bending downwards meets a bit of resistance. For a road shoe, this is not normally a problem, however I did find it a little bit restrictive on some trails.

The shoe does not contain any insole. Instead, the interior of the shoe is seamless and very foot-friendly. This was a nice surprise, and is typically a sign of good design and construction.

Performance

We’ve had some pretty variable weather here in Sydney lately, so my poor Trail Gloves have been through a bit of everything. On the whole, I was very pleased with their performance.

Merrell7Where the Trail Glove shone, in my opinion, is wet weather. The tread pattern is medium-aggressive, and held on well, even in slick conditions. The mesh uppers allow water to flow in and out without much trouble, allowing my feet to dry out pretty well.

I found that I needed to take them off ever half hour or so to let me feet dry out a bit, but I never got any blisters from them, which is a good sign.

The wide toe box was a pleasure and went a long way to providing a comfortable ride.

Merrell8If there was one aspect of the shoe that I didn’t like, it was the sole’s built-in arch. It’s quite rigid, and I was aware of it the whole time I was running. I felt that it was a bit too long for my foot, and caused a little bit of discomfort. I’d love to see this feature removed in future versions of the shoe, as it did detract from the overall enjoyment of wearing these shoes.

That being said, I did have a good time testing these shoes out, and it’s always a big plus when a pair of minimal shoes is socially acceptable in the looks department. I’ve had several strangers comment on them, and they have been included in my ‘going-out’ pile of shoes, as well as having a place in my trail running kit.

It’s great to see high-quality minimal shoes finally start to take off in Australia, and I look forward to seeing what Merrell will be coming up with down the track.

Beginning Barefoot would like to thank Merrell for providing a pair of Trail Gloves for review. To find out more, visit the Merrell website, download the Barefoot Challenge app, and/or visit your local retailer!

Join Us On #BareChat Tonight (Plus Earth Runners Giveaway!)

#BareChatOn Wednesday, January 9th, at 7pm Mountain Time (GMT-6) BeginningBarefoot.com will be hosting #BareChat!

What’s #BareChat you ask? Well, it’s a chance for barefoot twitterers to connect with one another, share experiences, answer some questio

So how does it work?

At 7pm (MST) on the 9th of January (tonight!) head onto your favourite Twitter client and search for hashtag #BareChat.

@BarefootDawsy will be asking a series of questions about your experiences in barefoot running. To join the conversation, just add #BareChat to any of your tweets, and they’ll show up as part of the search results.

EarthRunners_logoTo kick off the first #BareChat of 2013, we’re giving away a unique prize – a pair of EartherRunners sandals. These sandals are specifically designed to allow a runner to remain connected to the earth via conductive materials. If you’re at all interested in ‘Earthing‘ then these are the perfect shoes for you. If you’ve never heard of Earthing before, then come along to #BareChat where we’ll be talking about what it is, what the skeptics say, and how it fits in with barefoot running.

Earth-Runners4

All you need to do to enter is to participate in the #BareChat conversation tonight!

If you have any questions, feel free to comment here, or hit me up on Twitter (@BarefootDawsy).

See you there!

We’re always looking for new questions to ask during #BareChat, and for sponsors for our giveaways. Please email me if you you think you can help!