How I fell in love with barefoot running

mugshot-nature(small)I can’t claim to be the world’s first barefoot runner.  I’m certainly not the fastest.  I can’t offer you decades of personal insight and experience without shoes.  I’m more like you.  Perhaps the reason you’re here reading this is because something is missing from your life or your running.  For me discovering barefoot running not only solved the staleness in my relationship with running, it reconnected me to a much deeper part of my being Continue reading How I fell in love with barefoot running

Dream running and dreams of clarity

Well, it happened again today – I was stopped by the cops for running barefoot.  The weather gets cold, they see me and think: ‘this guy’s crazy…’  So today, I was just walking the last few metres home, and three of them jumped out of a police van to investigate.  After taking my name and D.O.B., and after ascertaining that I’m only harmlessly eccentric, we had a nice little conversation about the health benefits of barefoot running. Continue reading Dream running and dreams of clarity

Running as meditation (or how to meditate while running)

The Zone: we all know it.  We’ve all been there before.  It’s the holy grail of running experience, and the reason that some people hit the road in the first place.  But how much time do you actually spend there, in that elusive place of weightlessness, timelessness, pure effortlessness and Flow?  Whatever figure comes to mind, the answer is surely “not enough”. Continue reading Running as meditation (or how to meditate while running)

Running, spiritual experience, and the origins of man

lung gompa running (scaled)Long distance running and spirituality have always shared a deep connection.  The Buddhist marathon monks of Mount Hiei and the Lung Gompa runners of Tibet are perhaps the most famous examples of formalised schools of spiritual training in which running forms a central element.  Tribes of the American southwest, most notably the Hopi and Navajo, also traditionally placed an emphasis on ultrarunning, as a test of physical strength and means to connect with spirit.

Speak to any marathoner or ultrarunner today, and chances are you’re dealing with somebody for whom the material aspects of life are just the outer shell of a deeper experience. Continue reading Running, spiritual experience, and the origins of man

Barefoot running: form and mechanics

This article is a continuation to the previous article ‘How to start running barefoot.’  It begins by examining the physical differences between running barefoot and in shoes.

1. The landing: heel striking versus the midfoot

bareefoot running asphaltThe most fundamental difference between running in shoes and running barefoot is the way your foot strikes the ground.  The vast majority of shodden runners are ‘heel strikers’ – that is, the first point of contact with the ground is the heel.  To most of us this seems only natural: how else could we possible run?  What we fail to consider, though, is that it is the design of shoes themselves which force the foot into heel striking. Continue reading Barefoot running: form and mechanics

How to start running barefoot

It’s not that hard really…

There are two ways to start out on the road to running barefoot.  One is to do it gradually, with a transition period using minimalist footgear, before taking the plunge into barefoot running proper.  The other is to go ‘cold turkey,’ and throw your shoes away from the start.  In this respect, cutting our addiction to running shoes is similar to stopping smoking.  Different things can work for different people. Continue reading How to start running barefoot

Dream running, lucid dreams and the nature of reality

How many times do I dream about running: running without shoes, barefoot?
Many, if not most nights…

A sense of total freedom, effortlessly gliding with and like the wind.

Even during the decades I ran in shoes, my dreams of running were still the same: with a dream-body flowing like water over the terrain, no sign of shoe-shod impact with each step.  It was only after throwing away my shoes that I recognised that I’ve always run barefoot in my dreams. Continue reading Dream running, lucid dreams and the nature of reality

Developing core and back strength through barefoot running

Yesterday we went to Vienna for a day trip with the kids.  They love it: wandering around the old inner city, visiting palaces and dreaming of fairy-tale princesses…  Towards the end of the day we also spent a couple of hours at the Natural History Museum, so by the time it came to returning to the car for the return trip home, we’d spent a good six hours on our feet.  It was then that my elder daughter started complaining: ‘My back hurts!  I’m going to have sore muscles tomorrow!’lower-back-pain

Ah, ‘museum back.’  We all know it.  That achy, knotted feeling in the lower back: the symptom of too much culture, of standing for too long looking at paintings, sculptures or dinosaurs. Continue reading Developing core and back strength through barefoot running

Barefoot walking

barefoot walking in forest(cropped)It’s only natural that as we grow up, we learn to walk before we run.  In returning to barefoot, though, many of us (myself included) do the opposite.  As usual, this carries proverbial dangers: don’t run before you can walk… – ‘Don’t be ridiculous, of course I can walk barefoot!’  Isn’t this the thought crossing your mind right now?  I know this is how I felt, at least, before taking the matter up a little more seriously.  Surely if you can run barefoot, you must be able to walk barefoot as well!  Maybe… Continue reading Barefoot walking