Barefoot Run Across Wales (Allbutt Shoes)

One woman, running across one country …. without shoes. Yep, that’ll be me.

And training has begun.

1st December 2013.  As the barefoot run will take place on the weekend of the 31st May and 1st June 2014, it makes sense to me to start the training today. In theory I now have 7 months to train.  I am not going to let the fact that 3 of those months are winter months deter me in anyway.  There is always the gym (gym, not gin….).  I have checked out several roads which may be suitable to start with – roads that have a good, gravel free surface and that are relatively traffic free. They are of a premium.

I decide on the Llangattock mountain road which is also nice and local.  My trusty cameraman and coach (both terms used lightly as he has only ever  run a bath and is armed with an i-phone) uses the trip on his car to determine 0.5 miles, 1 mile and 1.5 miles with the view that if I find that distance comfortable I can retrace my steps and get three miles in.  I am apprehensive.  This is my first barefoot run for nearly two years and my first run for several months, I have no idea whether I will manage 30 yards let alone 3 miles.  It’s cold, dry but cold.

I abandon my shoes and socks, step out of the car and am immediately struck by how hostile the tarmac feels.  Deep breath and I lope off; the intrepid cameraman and coach overtakes to assume a suitable position to film me run past. As he disappears over the horizon I pray he hasn’t gone too far.  My feet are freezing, painfully cold and I am already wondering at what level of pain should I stop.  This is just a trial so would it be OK to stop after 100 yards? I keep wondering and keep running.  I alternate between running on the grass verge and the tarmac, the grass is softer but colder.  I stick to the tarmac.  I try every visualisation I can drag up, from hot sand to sheepskin slippers but my feet are numb.  At least I can see the cameraman and coach in the distance, my pride will get me that far.  As I lope past a sense of achievement kicks in and I keep running; I realise that my feet no longer hurt and the tarmac actually feels pretty good.  I think I am almost enjoying it.  I run for a mile and a half and whilst I consider turning around and retracing my steps for the full effect, I decide to quit while I’m ahead.  My feet are tingling and so is the rest of me.  I fell exhilarated and proud. Suddenly it all seems very real and even slightly possible.

The next couple of weeks, I train mostly in Vibrams (Barefoot Shoes) and along the canal bank as I am running after work in the dark.  I am conscious of having to raise my fitness levels as well as harden my feet so I don’t feel too bad donning my Vibrams, at least I am still running.  To add a little fun to the training, a friend suggests I borrow her Morris dancing ankle bells – it seems obvious to me to add a Santa suit and so a couple of mountain training runs are completed as a barefoot Santa – with bells on.  It takes my mind off my feet.  I am enjoying it; the runs are exhilarating and I am soon up to 3 miles comfortably.  The soles of my feet are already hardening up and I am amazed by how muscular my feet are becoming – it’s not something I ever thought about but obviously I am developing the muscles in my feet.  Maybe I won’t even be able to get my shoes on in a couple of weeks! I’ll let you know.

The barefoot running is only one aspect of the All but Shoes project.  As always there are many other facets to consider and be taken care of and I have been humbled by people’s enthusiasm and generosity with time and skills.  The RWA Group at Blaenavon,  who also operate http://www.elearningwales.com/ are a vibrant forward thinking company and have been incredibly supportive and generous with their endless skills and expertise; The Ahain Group in Ireland http://www.ahaingroup.com/ have kindly  jumped on board and have a wealth of knowledge and experience of social media and marketing to draw upon; a chance meeting with cameraman Marc Jones http://www.blackmountainfilms.org/  at a fire walk I completed recently (perfect barefoot training)  has resulted in his expert input and the amazing Barefoot Santa video on YouTube

1st December 2013.  As the barefoot run will take place on the weekend of the 31st May and 1st June 2014, it makes sense to me to start the training today. In theory I now have 7 months to train.  I am not going to let the fact that 3 of those months are winter months deter me in anyway.  There is always the gym and Vibram Five fingers for those really bitter days.  I have checked out several roads which may be suitable to start with – roads that have a good, gravel free surface and that are relatively traffic free. They are of a premium.  I decide on the Llangattock mountain road which is also nice and local.  My trusty cameraman and coach (both terms used lightly as he has only ever  run a bath and is armed with an i-phone) uses the trip on his car to determine 0.5 miles, 1 mile and 1.5 miles with the view that if I find that distance comfortable I can retrace my steps and get three miles in.  I am apprehensive.  This is my first barefoot run for nearly two years and my first run for several months, I have no idea whether I will manage 30 yards let alone 3 miles.  It’s cold, dry but cold.

I abandon my shoes and socks, step out of the car and am immediately struck by how hostile the tarmac feels.  Deep breath and I lope off; the intrepid cameraman and coach overtakes to assume a suitable position to film me run past. As he disappears over the horizon I pray he hasn’t gone too far.  My feet are freezing, painfully cold and I am already wondering at what level of pain should I stop.  This is just a trial so would it be OK to stop after 100 yards? I keep wondering and keep running.  I alternate between running on the grass verge and the tarmac, the grass is softer but colder.  I stick to the tarmac.  I try every visualisation I can drag up, from hot sand to sheepskin slippers but my feet are numb.  At least I can see the cameraman and coach in the distance, my pride will get me that far.  As I lope past a sense of achievement kicks in and I keep running; I realise that my feet no longer hurt and the tarmac actually feels pretty good.  I think I am almost enjoying it.  I run for a mile and a half and whilst I consider turning around and retracing my steps for the full effect, I decide to quit while I’m ahead.  My feet are tingling and so is the rest of me.  I fell exhilarated and proud. Suddenly it all seems very real and even slightly possible.

The next couple of weeks, I train mostly in Vibrams and along the canal bank as I am running after work in the dusk.  I have to get my fitness levels up as well as harden my feet so I don’t feel too bad donning my Vibrams.  To add a little fun to the training, a friend suggests I borrow her Morris dancing ankle bells – it seems obvious to me to add a Santa suit and so a couple of mountain training runs are completed as a barefoot Santa with bells on.  It takes my mind off my feet.  I am enjoying it; the runs are exhilarating and I am soon up to 3 miles comfortably.  The soles of my feet are already hardening up and I am amazed by how muscular my feet are becoming – it’s not something I ever thought about but obviously I am developing the muscles in my feet.  Maybe I won’t be able to get my shoes on in a couple of weeks! I’ll let you know.

Barefoot SantaThe barefoot running is only one aspect of the All but Shoes project.  As always there are many other facets to consider and be taken care of and I have been humbled by people’s enthusiasm and generosity of time and skills.  The RWA Group at Blaenavon,  who also operate www.elearningwales.com are a vibrant forward thinking company and have been incredibly supportive and generous with their skills and expertise; The Ahain Group in Ireland http://www.ahaingroup.com/ have kindly  jumped on board and have a wealth of knowledge and experience of social media and marketing to draw upon; a chance meeting with cameraman Marc Jones http://www.blackmountainfilms.org/  at a fire walk I completed recently (perfect barefoot training)  has resulted in his expert input and the fabulous Barefoot Santa clip on YouTube and of course the support and enthusiasm of  ‘intrepid coach and cameraman’ has been invaluable and inspirational in these all-important early stages.  I’m sure there are others I should be mentioning and will do so as it all progresses.

But that’s it for now; time for another run. I’ll share more of the whys and wherefores with you in the next blog.  Until then it’s bare feet forward  …. with bells on

11 Comments on Barefoot Run Across Wales (Allbutt Shoes)

    • Yes it is quite an undertaking Chris – but do-able. I enjoy your posts and was going to get in touch. Thank you for your support and yes, lets have a chat in the New Year and see if we can collaborate in some way. Have a great (barefoot) Christmas! x

    • Hi Chris, the cold is the hardest part of it all at the moment but yes, still going in the right direction! And you are right, May is not far away. Planning to recce the route in the next couple of weeks – that will make it all very real! How’s things with you?

  1. Great effort Lynne, keep up the training.
    I can imagine how cold it must get running in Wales during the colder months. Anything below 10C and my feet start to feel the cold, luckily here is Australia the winters are short and I can run barefoot all the year.
    I’ve often wondered about doing a long distance barefoot run over here but the roads can be rough and lonely over here.
    I’ve covered around 5500km over the past few years. Did some running in the Pennines when I was there in 2013 and in Spain which was very enjoyable.
    Check out http://www.thebarefootrunners.org there is lots of contributions from doctors and plenty of articles on there.

    Neil

    • Thank you Neil – very appreciative of support and advice! It’s a long road but an exciting one! Do keep in touch. Barefoot blessings for a Happy New Year

  2. Hi Lynne,
    First of all I’d like to say that it’s a fantastic endeavour you are undertaking – good luck with the run! Since I am not much of a runner I have great admiration for you. I also thought you might be interested in http://www.barefooters.org, a worldwide group dedicated to promoting barefoot living in general. It’s interesting to compare experiences with men, women and children from around the globe, who cover the spectrum from old to young, able-bodied to disabled; and every type of background, belief system and job description!
    Best wishes,
    Adam.

    • Thank you Adam. I have indeed heard from a few people who recommend http://www.barefooters.org I will check it out today. It is proving to be a great experience with lots of unexpected benefits! Thanks again for taking the trouble to get in touch and for the recommendation. Are you on Twitter or Facebook – be great to see you there! @allbuttshoes
      Tread lightly
      Lynne

      • Hi Lynne. I am not on Facebook but am on Twitter @groktrek – although I don’t tweet often I will be sure to follow you! Happy running.
        Adam.

  3. Hi. Interesting article in Western Mail. Will tune in to Radio Wales on Tuesday. Do you know of any barefoot running groups in south Wales area? I seem to be the only one.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*