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Ask Me, I’ll Answer

Posted by on Aug 5, 2011 | 93 Comments

Shelly tagged me for this question and answer thing.  With some reservation, I’ll play along.  :-)

This is how it works:  Post any question in the comments section of this post.  I’ll answer them beginning later tonight.  Anything is fair game… barefoot running, ultras, our trip, Shelly, personal questions… whatever!

 

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93 Comments

  1. Brandon McCormick
    August 9, 2011

    Up until the point that I discovered BFR I wore custom inserts because my podiatrist said I needed them. Now I only wear BR shoes, but I continue to wear the inserts in dress shoes. Ideally I’d like a BF formal dress shoe to hit the market, but in the interim my question is whether or not I should wear dress shoes with or without inserts. This question is based on the assumption that BFR has changed my muscle structure, strengthened my arch, and/or brought me to a place where I no longer need inserts. Any thoughts?

    BTW – I have had 4 knee surgeries and a lot of hip/lower body pain previous to BFR. I’ve had VFF and Merrell Trail Gloves for 4 months now and I feel like a new person. No more knee or hip pain and I feel much more stable in all activities.

    • Jason
      August 10, 2011

      Brandon, I’d lose the inserts. All they do is promote further atrophy of the feet.

    • Barefoot Ninja
      August 10, 2011

      Brandon -

      Jason already spoke on this, but I thought I’d weigh in since I’ve been there/done that.

      I wore inserts for two years. Once I shed the shoes and started doing the barefoot exercises at the house, even before I had run 1/2 a mile barefoot, my feet were strong enough to ditch the inserts.

      Try it, I bet you will find they will sit in the corner of your closet, catching dust bunnies, just like mine are.

      Shane

  2. Rock
    August 9, 2011

    I run in a minimal shoe and midfoot strike, but I am having trouble keeping a cadence at 180 or higher. I think that’s why I am slower than usual. What advice do you have?

    • Rock
      August 9, 2011

      Also, do your feet ever hurt when you run in minimal shoes? Does soreness/pain mean incorrect form?

      • Jason
        August 10, 2011

        Rock- if I run in shoes without occasionally running barefoot, my form begins to suffer, which occasionally leads to some foot pain. The solution is pretty simple- just do a few short runs barefoot to “reset” your form.

    • Jason
      August 10, 2011

      Rock, to acclimate to the faster cadence, do this drill:

      Mark out a 100 foot section of road or sidewalk. Try covering that distance by taking as many steps as possible (baby steps.) This exaggeration of a shortened stride and higher cadence helps condition you to increasing cadence when actually running.

  3. Jo Ohneschuh
    August 9, 2011

    Hi Jason,

    I wanted to add a comment to your “who’s out there outside Northamerica?” question. So here’s my question: Why is it not possible to leave a comment to this older post?

    I would have loved to add my answer: I live in Dresden, Germany (native German). To read your blog is almost a daily routine for me since I started barefoot running 9 months ago. Only right now I missed it because I’m on vacation. I love your site and find it most inspiring and often funny. Keep on writing!

    • Jason
      August 10, 2011

      Jo, some posts were imported from my origianl blog, and the inability to comment is a limitation of WordPress.

      I was in Germany (Friedrichshafen) a few weeks ago and am eager to go back. I think Europe is on the brink of a barefoot/minimalist explosion similar to what happened here in the US.

      Thanks for reading!

  4. Mark Lofquist
    August 9, 2011

    I want to put on a seminar on barefoot running for my local running groups, yoga studios and gyms. I’d like to build a curriculum and get the approval of the BFU!

    • Jason
      August 10, 2011

      Mark- several people have asked about a concrete “curriculum.” In the past, I had planned on developing a program. Lately I’ve resisted however. In my opinion, the field is too new. As soon as one person or group starts producing a program they deem to be the “right” way, experimentation stops.

      Having said that, the basics are well-known:

      *increase cadence, shorten stride
      *use a midfoot landing where the entire foot touches the ground at some point
      *make sure the foot lands under the body
      *Be patient and listen to your body

      There are a million other minor details that can vary based on individual runners. My best suggestion would be to teach the very basics, then provide personal feedback for all your seminar attendees.

      Having followed your FB posts, you know what you’re talking about. Trust your own knowledge. ;-)

  5. HeatherW
    August 8, 2011

    Should I go up another half size in the Lithe gloves (relative to my Pace Gloves)in order permit a smartwool sock?

    • Jason
      August 10, 2011

      Heather- yes. Socks that cause the shoes to be too snug usually limit natural foot movement. I always prefer at least a half-size larger with or without socks.

  6. Brian
    August 8, 2011

    Hi. I’m entered in the NYC marathon butnive been having it band issues. The I’ve ran so far is a half marathon. Do you have any tips to help me somehow make it through the marathon in November?

    • Jason
      August 10, 2011

      Brian, load up on pain-killers. :-)

      Just kidding! Tell me a little more about your situation. Are you running barefoot or in minimalist shoes? If so, I’d recommend the same “rolling” routine I mentioned in previous comments.

  7. Ashley Dennis
    August 8, 2011

    I am new to BF running. I have a pair of Merrell Pace gloves and have been taking it VERY slow for about 2 months now. I started with .5 of a mile and 2 weeks ago I got to 1.5 miles (and at a very good pace for me), but now I am faced with top of the foot pain on my right foot only.

    I am on my feet all day for work. I work in a warehouse. I actually wear my old pair of Muzino Waves for work. I feel like when wearing my Muzinos at work that my foot hurts even more.

    I also just bought a pair of VFF KSO for everyday wear, mainly on the weekends.

    So I guess my question is, does it make it even harder to transition over to BF if during the week, 40 hours a week, I can’t wear my minimalist shoes? Is there any shoe you could recommend for me to use at work?

    • Jason
      August 10, 2011

      Ashley, for most people, switching between minimalist shoes and non-minimalist shoes does lengthen the transition process. It can be done, however.

      The top of the foot pain is a common adaptation pain… take it easy until the pain subsides. The metatarsals of the foot (along with tendons, ligaments, and muscles) need time to adapt to the new strain.

      As far as work shoes, Terra Plana makes quite a few “work-appropriate” shoes. Right now, they would probably get my top recommendation for work-appropriate shoes.

  8. Ron
    August 7, 2011

    I’m 61, 33 marathons and going strong till 11/2 years ago. Torn meniscus/ surgery made it truly painful to run for up till 10 months post surgery till the discovery of Vibram 5 Fingers and Terra Plana Evo’s. Knee pain gone! But, now in past 2 weeks serious achilles pain. In addition to additional stretching any other ideas. I can’t go back to traditional running shoes. Also, where I live I’m either running up or down hill. I’m especially curious about your thoughts running uphill. Thanks.

    • Jason
      August 10, 2011

      Ron, Achilles issues are common once you eliminate the heel drop. Traditional raised-heel shoes shorten the Achilles, which requires an extended adaptation period. Wait for the Achilles to calm down, then slowly ease back into it.

      Also, try my rolling pin suggestion from earlier comments.

      As far as running uphill, I do pretty much the same thing as flats except I shorten my stride, increase cadence, and relax.

  9. Adam
    August 6, 2011

    Not a question per say but I’ll be traveling through Colorado via that San Juans so I’ll keep an eye out for your RV! I’m also thinking of joining in on the fun with the Mt. Sneffels Marathon so if I do I’ll keep an eye out for you!

    • Jason
      August 10, 2011

      Adam- we’ll be heading to the area tomorrow (Thursday), though we won’t have our trailer. Hope to see you there!

  10. Brandon
    August 6, 2011

    I have a shoe design question for you. I’ve recently finished reading Michael Sandler’s book, Barefoot Running, and he says to beware shoes that have toe-spring, or an upturning of the forefoot to toe region of the shoe. I’ve notice that the Merrell shoes have this “toe-spring,” but VFFs are straight from heel to toe and allow for both toe extension and flexion. It seems the plate in the Trail Gloves prevents toe flexion past neutral. What are your thoughts on this design choice and do you feel it’s a flaw that should be looked into?

    • Jason
      August 10, 2011

      Brandon, see my latest post about toe spring. Functionally, toe spring in minimalist shoes does not affect gait. I used to have the same stance based on toe spring in traditional shoes, but after testing 20+ different minimalist shoes, I realize I was wrong.

  11. shawn
    August 6, 2011

    Here’s my problem with barefoot running. It forces me to shorten my stride to the point that I feel like I have to exert more effort (higher cadence) to maintain the same speed as when I’m running in normal shoes. I know it’s possible to run fast barefoot, but for me I’ve never seen that. Running downhill fast on pavement (I am a road runner) is nearly impossible without a lot of impact loading. I am gravitating towards more middle of the road options (Brooks Mach 13 spikeless, racing flats, etc) as a good middle ground. My VFF’s are great running on trails; I feel like I can air it out and run fast, but on pavement I”m definitely working harder and going slower. Any thoughts? Seems like even a lot of barefoot runners will race in racing flats. But if you want to race fast, usually thate means you need to train fast, right? Thanks, Shawn

    • Jason
      August 7, 2011

      Shawn, if it feels like you’re exerting more effort, you’re doing it wrong. :-) Seriously though, there is a point where shoes offer an advantage on roads (or trails.) Being barefoot requires near-perfect form. Shoes provide a little protection, which will allow a degree of overstriding. That can result in faster times, but increase the chance of injury. It’s a trade-off. Sometimes I’ll make that tradeoff, other times not. Same deal with training, though I tend to shy away from speedwork due to my focus on ultras.

  12. Alejandro 10
    August 6, 2011

    Jason,

    Congratulations on finishing WS under 24 hours! I am looking for one last opinion to add to those I have received at Barefoot Runners Society. The Naked Foot 5K in Nashville and The Merrell Down and Dirty Mud Run in Atlanta are on the same weekend in October. If you could participate in only one of the two, contractual obligations excused, which would you choose and why?

    Thank you for your time.

    Gracia y paz,

    a

    • Jason
      August 7, 2011

      Thanks Alejandro!

      Since Merrell sponsors both, I don’t have to impart a bias. :-) Both are very different events. The Naked Foot is a typical race, but with a sweet barefoot theme. The Down and Dirty is more about dirt and obstacles. Since we”ll be at the Nashville Naked Foot, I’d lean slightly toward that one!

  13. Zack Toren
    August 6, 2011

    Are you gunna be at the North Country Trail run coming up this month? Im volunteering at it and was hoping i might get to see my favorite famous world history teacher!

    • Jason
      August 7, 2011

      Zack- we’re trying to plan that out now. We have a barefoot race in Grand Rapids on Sunday. If we go to NCT, we need to find some babysitters. We’re hoping to make it up there, though!

  14. Pete
    August 6, 2011

    What does Shelly owe you for this post idea? I think you are already up to 40 some questions! :)

    • Jason
      August 7, 2011

      Pete- actually the idea came from some of our blogger friends, but I like the idea of Shelly owing me. :-)

  15. Brant
    August 6, 2011

    I was running injury free in huaraches for a year. I needed something more secure for my muddy hill workouts (I’m in rainy Portland), so I got some Merrell Trail Gloves. I’ve only run in them 2-3 times and every since I’ve had hind foot problems so bad that I can’t run at all anymore in any footwear. It’s been 2 months and I still can’t run. Have you come across this complaint (huaraches to Merrells = foot pain)? Any suggestions to fix the problem pain? Rest doesn’t seem to help. Chiro adjustments don’t either.

    • Jason
      August 7, 2011

      Brant- switching from one type of shoe to another can cause problems because all footwear alters form to some degree. The trick is learning to replicate barefoot form when wearing shoes.

      It’s difficult to speculate on the cause of injuries, but I would guess it was a result of a change in form. Allow the injury to heal, then slowly work in any new footwear.

  16. Chris Hurst
    August 5, 2011

    I’ve been reading your blog for some time now and have a couple of questions:

    I’m active duty Army and am trying to go barefoot (have been running bf since March as much as I can), but I just can’t (a) go barefoot when in uniform, and (b) go as fast as I need to in my Merrell Trail Gloves. I try at it, but I just don’t have the speed. Any recommendations?

    I also have flat feet. Have you ever heard of that challenging BF runners more than usual?

    Lastly, I have a 10 month old daughter which I hope to someday run barefoot with. How do you approach barefoot running and lifestyle with your children?

    Thanks and keep posting! You have a friend in Colorado Springs if you’re ever in the area.

    Chris

    • Jason
      August 7, 2011

      Chris- I’d recommend adding speed training to your routine while wearing the Trail Gloves. My personal favorite- find a hill, sprint up and down.

      Flat feet- I’ve known quite a few barefoot runners with flat feet; none have had issues.

      Barefoot kids- My kids seem to be inherently defiant of authority (must have gotten that from Mom.) I never suggest they go barefoot, they just follow our lead. :-)

  17. Roy
    August 5, 2011

    I recently completed my first marathon and have signed up for the Houston Chevron Marathon in January. I want to run a 50 mile ultra in March. My question, are there any good training programs (or advice) that you can recommend for me to ramp up my miles for an ultra?

    I’ll take any/all the advice I can get. :-)

    • Jason
      August 7, 2011

      Roy- many people have success with using marathon plans and increasing the long run up to 35 miles or so. That worked for my first 50.

  18. Diggs
    August 5, 2011

    Hey Jason, if you could only give one piece of advice to a barefoot runner, what would you consider to be the most important? Good luck in your travels…

    • Jason
      August 7, 2011

      Diggs- listen to your body. If everyone were capable of this, we wouldn’t need to teach. ;-)

  19. Vanessa
    August 5, 2011

    * Can you please fully explain 3 inside jokes that you currently have among the Hobby Joggas?

    * Who came up with the name Hobby Joggas?

    * What was your first thought when you first saw Shelly?

    * Which of your kids is most like you and why?

    * What moment during trail running have you been the most scared?

    * What’s your favorite thing about being a dad?

    * What is one thing around the house (or…. trailer) that Shelly does that you have no idea how to do?

    • Jason
      August 7, 2011

      * Most of the Hobby Jogga inside jokes revolve around Mark. Explaining each one would result in a VERY long response, so I’ll save that for a separate blog post. :-)

      * I believe “Hobby Joggas” was coined by Alex Poulson in reference to Jesse Scott. Jesse was part of the Western Michigan University running club. He was also the only ultrarunner. In typical ultra fashion, he took a laid-back approach to training relative to the rest of the club members. Alex started referring to him as a “hobby jogga”, which perfectly defined our group. The name has since stuck.

      * She had a great rack. This was further confirmed when she flashed me at a bar one night. :-)

      * Hmmm… personality-wise, my middle son Reese is very similar. He’s stubborn and defies authority. As a parent, he’s a pain in the ass. :-)

      * I was running at night on unfamiliar trails. Both my flashlight and backup flashlight died on a cloudy “new moon” night. I wandered around in complete darkness for two hours before it was light enough to find my way out.

      * I like the feeling of teaching my kids things that mallow them to navigate life. My role as a parent is to make my kids into independent adults.

      * Hmmmm… I don’t think there’s anything I don’t know HOW to do. It’s more of an “I don’t WANT to do it.” issue. Even though we both have tasks that we regularly do, we’ll occasionally step in for the other when the situation warrants.

  20. Barefoot Ninja
    August 5, 2011

    Any chance your barefoot travels will get you down into Texas? Specifically the D/FW area?

    • Jason
      August 6, 2011

      Ninja- yes, we’ll be in Texas for The Running Event in Austin around December 7th or so. In all likelihood, that will include some clinics and group runs. ;-)

  21. John
    August 5, 2011

    Hey, Jason, thanks for doing this.

    So I’ve taken it VERY slow in getting into minimalist running and I’m still suffering tight calves (with occasional plantar fascia issues). It’s been like a year and I’m still not at the point where I can do even a mile. I’m 58, so maybe it’s just sooo many decades of walking & running heel first that are holding me back?

    Also, do you walk with the same type of foot fall as when you run? I figured, if that’s better for running, it should be true for walking, as well. My wife, however, says I look bizarre…

    • Jason
      August 6, 2011

      Hey John- theoretically, all those years as a heel striker could result in a slower-than-normal transition. However, a year is a very long time. I’d recommend the same rolling pin routine I discussed in one of the first answers below. It can do wonders for tight calves.

      When walking, I use both a heel landing and midfoot landing. Since the collision force between the ground and your heel is greatly reduced, you can get away with the heel landing.

  22. Matt
    August 5, 2011

    Thanks for your response below. Another question. . . I’ve done a marathon, which I trained for by myself (but followed a training plan that I put together based on a number of other plans). I would love to try a 50K or 50mi. How do you go about transitioning to longer distances. Is there anything strikingly different about the training? Also, if i don’t personally know other ultra runners, how do I go about getting a pit crew together or finding a pacer, etc? Thanks!

    • Jason
      August 6, 2011

      Matt- longer races require two skills you don’t need for marathons and shorter: Patience and the ability to eat and run.

      Patience is needed to resist the urge to run hard at the beginning when you feel good. Conservation is the name of the game. I would recommend the occasional slow training run on terrain similar to the race you’re planning. Walk the hills.

      The ability to eat is needed to replenish your glycogen stores, which will become depleted and cause a major crash. This one is easy- just practice eating on your long training runs.

      As far as gathering a crew and pacers, start hanging out in forums dedicated to ultras. The Runner’s World Trail Running Forum is great! Lots of cool cats. Also, volunteer for a few ultras in your area. You’ll meet lots of ultrarunners that way. Volunteer to crew/pace for other ultrarunners (if you live anywhere near Virginia, I may need a crew for Grindstone in October :-) .) Lastly, see if there’s a trail running club or group in your area. Local running stores usually organize them. Many trail runners run ultras. Even a road running club could be useful.

      As a last resort, just do what I did- convince all your non-ultra running friends to run ultras. :-)

      Hope that helps!

  23. David Specht
    August 5, 2011

    What are some of the best somewhat minimalist shoes for really rocky trail running? I currently have a pair of vivo barefoot evo II’s, but even with the inserts in they are just too thin for me (meaning that no matter how careful my foot placement is, I always get rocks jabbing up into my arch which limits my speed). I tried on a pair of Merrell trail gloves, but they don’t fit me very well and it felt like something was jammed up in my arch.

    I have read your review on the Inov-8 X-Talon 190, but you seem to mainly recommend them for really muddy conditions around the site. Are these good for dry trail running? Any other shoes you might recommend? Thanks.

    • Jason
      August 6, 2011

      David, the Trail GLove wold have been my first recommendation due to the rock plate. After that, the the options get scarce. FWIW- the arch indent is unnoticeable once you begin running.

      Anyway, the Inov-8s have a very thin sole, which offers slightly less protection than the EVO IIs. The BareGrip 200s might be okay, bt you’re right- they’re not great for dry conditions.

      If you’re into crazy shoe modification, pick up a pair of New Balance MT 101s and hack the heel off, ala Jesse Scott. :-)

      A shoe like Newtons may be a good solution as they offer lots of protection.

    • Nathan
      August 8, 2011

      Altra will be putting out a trail running shoe that will have a zero drop 16mm thick sole…soon I think..
      Their road running shoe is 13mm thick zero drop.

  24. Clay
    August 5, 2011

    I’ve been fully barefoot for about 2 months now and I’m running about 4-5 miles. I’m wondering about how my foot conditioning will last through the winter. It’s starting to hurt the bottom of my feet so much less, I’m hoping it will last through a very long rainy fall, winter and spring here in Portland, Oregon. Don’t want to have to recondition pads/skin all over again in the Spring. Do you recommend just forging through the rain barefoot? Does running barefoot in the rain chew up your feet? Should I wear my minimalist shoes?

    Another question: Sometimes when I run closer to the 5 mile mark (my current limit) my feet are awfully tender. Is this bad to get them to this point? I’m noticing that after about 6 hours my skin isn’t as tender and I’m walking normal again. By the next day my skin hardly feels it at all. Even so, I never run two days in a row. What is your take on running feet until they hurt?

    • Jason
      August 5, 2011

      You can probably get through the rainy season by continuing barefoot. You adapt to the weather, just take it easy. The water will tear your feet up if you don’t go through at least some degree of adaptation.

      Alternatively, Todd Ragsdale, the current 24 hour barefoot world record holder and Oregon resident, tried Rbbermaid bins filled with gravel. He’d march in them while watching TV. I think he had pretty good results.

      While I’m not a medical professional, I wouldn’t worry about that sensitivity. I go through the same thing after running on asphalt after winter. It seems to be something that dissipates over time.

  25. Matt
    August 5, 2011

    What do you use to carry all those gels you eat during an ultra. 1 gel every 2-3 miles seems like a lot. I had trouble carrying the 6 gels I used during my marathon.

    Also do you think the Tough Gloves are water resistant enough to use as an everyday/work shoe for rainy Seattle winter?3

    I didn’t see Seattle on your destination map. . . any plans for a stop here in the future?

    • Jason
      August 5, 2011

      Matt, I carried them in the pocket of my water bottles. I’d refill at each aid station (they carried Gu.) Yes, it is a lot. Most people seem to get nauseous when they eat a lot, but I found I tolerate it well and it helps me avoid major lows.

      No, I don’t think the tough gloves are water-resistant enough. I wore mine all winter long here in Michigan, and they got wet. I just tolerated the wetness. :-)

      As of right now, there are no good wet-weather minimalist dress shoes. Your best bet would be to change shoes once you arrive at work.

      Right now, it looks like Shelly and I will be going to Seattle for OutdoorsFest 2011 on Sept. 17th. We haven’t officially added it to the schedule, yet. Stay tuned for details!

  26. Joe
    August 5, 2011

    I’m 18 years old and heading to college next year and I have been researching barefoot running a lot the past month after I ran a marathon with some lingering pain, and I have decided to try it. I live in the Midwest and like to train during winter as well as warmer months so barefoot obviously will not work year round. While looking into minimalist footwear, I’ve discovered that there are actual shoes (like the New Balance Minimus) and gloves like Vibram, Merrell, etc). Which type do you suggest for the most natural running style, keeping in mind that I will need them for cold days and hot ones. One more thing, I have been barefoot running recently and developed a blister just below the gap between my first and second toe. Is this natural or does it suggest a problem with my stride?

    • Jason
      August 5, 2011

      Joe, I’ve used a variety of footwear all year in Michigan. My personal favorite has been the Merrell Trail Gloves, but I have also used Vibram KSOs extensively. They aren’t too good traction-wise in snow, however.

      Anything with a wide toe box and zero drop should work. The key is finding a pair that work for you. The individual nature of minimalist shoe running makes suggestions difficult- what works for me may not work for you.

      As far as the blister, it could indicate slight overstriding. Try increasing your cadence a bit.

      Hope that helps!

  27. PatiencePatient
    August 5, 2011

    I started running in the trail glove back in March/April. I love them, but am questioning their durability. Both are wearing down pretty heavily in the sole on the outside forefoot area. One has worn all the way through the black part of the sole to the clear part underneath. I only run 15-20 miles per week, mostly on roads (not enough trails near me). So I’m surprised they have worn down so quickly. Have you had this problem or heard of others who have? Maybe they just aren’t intended for roads? Any suggestions? I’d hate to give up on them now. Aside from some Achilles soreness, my feet and legs feel great. I contacted Merrell but they weren’t very helpful.

    • Jason
      August 5, 2011

      They’re not designed as road shoes, so the sole compound may not hold up as well on roads. My original Trail Gloves have somewhere over 1,500 miles on them; most of which was trails. For their intended purpose, they are very durable.

      The Road Gloves (due out in spring ’12)should be a MUCH better option for roads.

      Unusual shoe wear could also be a function of form. Try this- take the shoes off and run a mile or so barefoot. Do you develop abrasions, hot spots, or blisters on the same spot you see the unusual wear? If so, it can be an indicator that you’re overstriding slightly. If that is the case, the solution is simple- increase your cadence by 10-15 steps per minute. This forces you to take slightly shorter steps, which eliminates overstriding.

      One of the disadvantages to shoes is they hide potential problems with form. Doing an occasional barefoot run can do wonders to correct these problems.

      Good luck!

    • swptmp
      August 7, 2011

      I also have a problem with the trail gloves wearing out around the balls of my feet after about 250 miles but my local shoe repair shop where I bought them was able to replace the soles (from about front of the arch to the toe) with a different more durable piece of Vibram material. I like to think I have an advanced copy of the road gloves now. They still feel the same so if I need to drop $25 every couple hundred of miles so be it. It beats shin splints.

  28. Kevin
    August 5, 2011

    In your Western States videos I noticed you put vaseline on the bottoms of your feet when changing shoes. How come?

    What % of your day-to-day running is barefoot vs. Merrells (how many miles/week?)?

    Barefooting feels/is so natural that I have the attitude that I should be able to go anywhere; any tips for running on tough surfaces ie. gravel (besides: don’t, or go slowly)?

    Is barefoot speed training an oxymoron?

    • Jason
      August 5, 2011

      Kevin- the Vasoline was a replacement for my preferred foot treatment- Aquaphor. It helps keep the skin of your feet from becoming macerated due to moisture from sweat and stream crossings. Moisture control is an issue when wearing shoes in longer events.

      Barefoot versus shod depends on terrain and the need to train. In preparation for Western States, I only ran about 10% of my mileage barefoot… just enough to keep my form sharp. Now I do about 25% barefoot… mostly because Shelly and I do most of our running on trails that aren’t conducive to barefoot. Just this morning we did a run half way up Round Mountain in Loveland, Colorado. Barefoot would be possible, but not enjoyable.

      Relaxation, fast cadence, light steps. Those are the keys to running on tough surfaces. With training, there aren’t too many surfaces that can’t be run barefoot. In fact, I’m tempted to run the aforementioned Round Mountain barefoot tomorrow. :-)

      I don’t think so. Several of my PRs at a wide variety of distances have been barefoot (10k, 25k, 50 miler.) Once acclimated to barefoot running, speed training is no different than shod speed training. The same rules apply.

  29. Jacob
    August 5, 2011

    I started transitioning to minimal running almost four months ago. I’ve slowly worked my way up to three mile runs at a slow and steady pace. Was there a point in your transition where you were able to just take off?
    I know I sound impatient, and I don’t want to make any rookie mistakes and injure myself. Sometimes it takes quite a bit of restraint (and fear of doing too much too fast) to keep myself from putting these feet to the test.

    • Jason
      August 5, 2011

      Jacob- yes, there will be a point when it all comes together. When that happens is nearly impossible to predict. If you were to graph progress, it is not linear. It starts very slow, then once form is learned and physiology adapts, progress really takes off.

  30. Timothy
    August 5, 2011

    Are you still eating Paleo and doing Crossfit? (I thought I remembered you mentioning you did Crossfit in your old blog. However, it may have just been a fever dream.)

    Also, any opinions on Crossfit Endurance? It proposes of training plan of low mileage/high intensity workouts to prepare a competitor for distance running, including, they claim, ultras.

    • Jason
      August 5, 2011

      Sort of. I eat a version of paleo, but still eat wheat products occasionally (I just ate a hamburger.) And I love candy. Shelly is much better at sticking with the diet, but she has much more serious consequences if she doesn’t follow it.

      As far as Crossfit, Shelly and I do a crossfit-like workout, but it’s probably more influenced by Pete Kemme’s style of workouts (kemmefitness.com.)

      I used CFE back in 2008, and it got me through about 60 miles of a 100 miler. My training I do now is somewhat like CFE with a long run every 3-4 weeks. I think following CFE exactly can work for some people, but not all. We’re all an experiment of one and it’s up to us to figure out what works and what doesn’t. I’d recommend experimenting with it.

  31. Eric Cooper
    August 5, 2011

    I run faster in Lunas/minimalist shoes. I also love how running in a race barefoot bends peoples minds. If you have experienceda the same, how have you worked it out?

    • Jason
      August 5, 2011

      I run barefoot in the races I want to publicize barefoot running (like the Naked Foot races, one of which will be in Grand Rapids, MI on August 28th), and I run in minimalist shoes in races where performance is more important (like in 100 milers.)

      Occasionally conditions will be ideal for barefoot to outperform minimalist shoe running, so the decision is easy.

      • Eric Cooper
        August 6, 2011

        I’ll see you at the GR race. You the man!

  32. Sue Knause
    August 5, 2011

    Struggling with Plantar Fasciitis after bouncing back and forth between minimalist shoes(Innov8 & Brooks Green Silence) and vibrams -no cushioning. PTs and all are advising to ditch the minimalist shoes….hesitant to do so. I have run up to half marathon distance in VFFs and followed all your advise in your book and built up SLOWLY. Any advise, thoughts or ways to get rid of Plantar Fasciitis without going back to regular shoes or orthotics?

    • Jason
      August 5, 2011

      Sue- see my previous comments about using a rolling pin to roll the soles of your feet, calves/Achilles, and quads. This tends to relax them considerably, which reduces the strain on the plantar fascia.

      Regular shoes and orthotics do nothing to fix the problem, they only act as a cast to alleviate the symptom.

      Hope that helps!

  33. Sally Hulbert
    August 5, 2011

    What Merrell minimalist shoe do you recommend for winter road running in Minnesota ( I know you hate road running,but it’s all I’ve got) ~ and does your wife get tired of you having 54 yr old female groupies (like me)??

    • Jason
      August 5, 2011

      Sally, the new Road Glove should be an excellent choice as a road shoe. I’ll be reviewing it before winter. Also, the Sonic Glove (and the Lithe Glove) should be good water-resistant options.

      As far as groupies… I don’t think she minds. :-)

      Unrelated note- are you planning on attending the Minnesota Naked Foot 5k? Christian is the race director, and the event should be a blast!

  34. Eli
    August 5, 2011

    Sorry I did not go to reply and my question is on the top along with another persons.

  35. Eli
    August 5, 2011

    Will you stop by Bettendorf IA so I (A forteen year old barefoot runner) can take you on a 2 hour trail run (I will drive if you are comfortable with a kid driving (I have 3 hours behind the wheel).

    • Jason
      August 5, 2011

      Eli, as of right now, I don’t have plans to make it to Iowa. Our schedule gets pretty hectic over the next few months. How close are you to Des Moines? Barefoot Angie Bee is located there, and is a barefoot goddess. ;-)

      • Eli
        August 5, 2011

        Des Moines is 3 hours away but if you come for the east Bettendorf is on the way If you take I-80. scott county park (they have miles of sweet mountain biking trails there) is only a 10 minute detour from I-80.

  36. briderdt
    August 5, 2011

    Can you get some photos of the BOTTOMS of the 2012 Merrell Barefoot line offerings?

    • Jason
      August 5, 2011

      I’ll see what I can do. :-) I will say they’re very similar to the soles of Five Fingers.

  37. Travis
    August 5, 2011

    Jason,
    Your blog has been one of the main reasons I converted to the style of minimal running. I ran cross country for 4 years in high school and was very succesful, but then pretty much stopped running in college. I slowly started to pick it back up and had all sorts of problems even though I was running very slow. I had problems with IT band and my hips felt like I would need hip replacement at 35.

    I started running in the Trail Glove’s as soon as they came out and havne’t worn real shoes to run in since. I started slow – a mile here and there. I still have never run more than about 45 miles in a month. No more IT band problems, and my hips feel great.

    I have higher arches than normal, and I have started to have a lot of arch pain especially in the mornings. It rarely bothers me while I run, but can be very painful after. Everything I’ve read points to plantar fasciitis. I took 8 days off, and then ran 2 miles. I streched a ton before and after, and iced for 20 minutes after.

    So after 20 paragraphs, here is my question.
    Should I keep running if there is any pain at all the next morning? Or keep running, but make sure to strech a lot and ice, etc.

    • Jason
      August 5, 2011

      Travis- I’d recommend allowing the pain to dissipate before getting back to serious running. Instead of stretching, I’d recommend rolling with a rolling pin (see comment below.) In my experience, it is MUCH more effective.

      Good luck!

  38. The Maple Grove Barefoot Guy
    August 5, 2011

    Is being a barefoot nomad gypsy your planned career for the rest of your life, or are you going to ride the gravy train until it stops and then do something else? Also, are you able to be a trailer dweller because of your association with Merrell, or could you live cOmfortably without that support?

    • Jason
      August 5, 2011

      Christian- we’ll ride the gravy train as long as it lasts. :-) I doubt this will be a life-long adventure, but it could end up that way. We’re not much for long (or short) term planning, so we’ll just go with the flow.

      Merrell has helped, but we planned to do this without their support. A major part of that was paying off most of our debt and reducing our lifestyle to the bare minimum. I think people assume we’re making tons of money off our adventures, but we took a significant pay cut when we left our teaching jobs. It’s all about making necessary sacrifices without giving up that which is important to us.

      We have a few other income streams besides Merrell, such as my book, affiliate income, and advertising on our various sites. Merrell does help me be a little more generous. For example- I can offer the ebook for free, can give away copies of the printed book, even give away the occasional Barefoot Running University shirt.

  39. Tracy Longacre
    August 5, 2011

    What’s the longest you’ve ever run completely unshod?

    What’s the roughest surface you’ve ever run completely unshod?

    How are ultras different for you than, say, a marathon?

    What are you loving so far about life on the road?

    What do your kids think of their parents?

    What do your kids think of this trailer adventure?

    • Jason
      August 5, 2011

      Tracy-

      * 54 miles at the 2010 Mind the Ducks 12 hour

      * The section of the Burning River 100 miler course around mile 22. It lasted for three miles. Walking over the surface was difficult; running was impossible.

      * Ultras are more laid back. It’s more about adventure and camaraderie than running.

      * Freedom. We can go where we want more or less when we want.

      * Ha! This is a toughie… our kids are pretty independent. They seemingly don’t care when we come or go, though they do like doing activities with them individually.

      * So far, they really enjoy it. There was a learning curve for the first week or two as we developed a new routine. The older two adapted very well. Our two tear old… he’s a work in progress. :-)

  40. John jeffery
    August 5, 2011

    How long did it take you to go from casual miles to ultra distances once you had decided to do so?

    • Jason
      August 5, 2011

      John- the first season I tried, I cold only make it to the marathon distance. That took five months.

      The next season, I went from zero miles to finishing a 50 miler in about six months. That is the season I took up barefoot running.

  41. Eric
    August 5, 2011

    I have been unable to solve a slight achilles tendon pain in one leg. Very slight, not bothering me when I run, just above the bone. It occurred when i did my first long run a few months ago. solution?

    Also, what do you eat for a 1/2 marathon, Marathon, and longer?

    • Jason
      August 5, 2011

      Eric- Try rolling the Achilles with a rolling pin. While yo’re at it, also try rolling the sole of your foot and your quad. I got the tip from Dr. Scott Hadley ot of Grand Rapids, MI. The solution has been near-miraculous for curing minor muscle/tendon pain.

      For halfs, I can get by without eating. Having said that, I’m not sure I’ve ever run a half marathon…

      For a marathon, I’d eat a Gu about every four miles.

      For ultras, I’d eat a Gu about every two-three miles, along with typical aid station food. I have experimented with tons of food and found chia seeds, pizza, and Slim Jims to be effective for me. My best advice- do lots of experimentation in training. It’s a good excuse to eat. :-)

      • Rob
        August 5, 2011

        Why mess with solid food at all? You know what my main fuel source for the Badwater Ultramarathon was? Coke/Pepsi/Sweet Tea diluted in water/ice. Probably 90% of my calories were liquid. I threw in a Boost, E.F.S. every now and then and in the relative cool of the night was able to get down some salty chips and some string cheese. This approach is very, very old school and it works wonderfully (and it’s very cheap! :) ). Oh, and I popped electrolyte capsules like they were going out of style! Those aren’t so cheap, but I’ve had pretty good results just using sea salt either directly or mixed in with my liquid drink.

        • Jason
          August 5, 2011

          For me, it depends on what is palatable. I eat what I can tolerate. Gu works well simply because of convenience- I can eat it between aid stations without too much logistical trouble. If needed, I have a litany of arrows in the quiver. ;-)

          • Rob
            August 5, 2011

            Agreed. Also depends highly on what effort your putting in. The harder I’m pushing the less palatable solids are and more likely I’ll just get by on fluids/gels. For Badwater, adding in the extreme heat load/stress I was under, it was only palatable to consume liquids only, no gels…

  42. David Sutherland
    August 5, 2011

    As a barefoot running nomad, and the de facto face of Merrell’s barefoot line, are you hesitant to mention your own running injuries in your blog?

    • Jason
      August 5, 2011

      David- no. I get annoyed at the people that sell barefoot running as an injury-free solution. It HAS helped me overcome many of my previous running-related injuries, but I still get hurt. I broke a toe a few years ago, occasionally do too much too soon, and have a persistent case of patellar tendonitis in my left knee. For new barefoot/minimalist shoe runners, Achilles, calf, and metatarsal injuries are a real possibility. Teaching patience to help people slowly acclimate to BFR?MR is one of my primary goals.