The Beautiful Art Of Moving Slowly

Over the last few days I’ve come to one scary realisation…

I need to relearn how to walk when barefooted.  It’s a completely different movement to walking with shoes.  Even the most minimal of shoes like the vivobarefoot shoes, which I use at work, change your “natural” movement.

What is this shod movement I’m on about


The heels comes down, makes ground contact and you roll on to your foot before pushing off on to the other foot.

This doesn’t work on harsh surfaces or over any given distance.  Your heel will start to feel sore and if you don’t change your movement pattern, the mother of all blisters is going to erupt, like a volcano, at the base of your heel. I’ve been experiencing it, but sensibly stopping before a blister forms trying to work out if it’s how hard I stroke the floor, the position if my foot in relation to my knee or pelvis, or just how I place my foot down. 

So, I now need to incorporate some serious retraining of something I’ve been doing all my life.  It’s inevitable that I will walk a fair chunk of the route from Land’s End to John O’Groats, so if I don’t address this need for change, I can see lots of pain in the near future.

The way of walking that seems to work is to place your forefoot down first and let the foot squash down as you move forwards, adding a certain salsaesc swing to the hips!  It’s lots quieter, feels smoother and seems to be faster than moving with the same cadence (number of steps per minute) as heel striking.

It’s kind of interesting since the general consensus is to land forefoot first when running too. 

So, if you see someone wandering around, looking like they should be holding castanets as they walk, it might just be that they’ve mastered this barefoot skill.  Who knows, if they’re not wearing shoes and it’s summer, it might even be me 😉


Train The Body, Train The Mind – Reaching Exhaustion The Night Before The Day After 

Tuesday, May 26th

I wake up and do the normal routine of some random exercises.  Then it’s a walk to get shopping, fuel up, rehydrate, and generally get plans for the next day in place.

Then I have some time to spare after doing some publicising stuff and speaking briefly to Vicky at Stroke Association’s Media Team.  So, I go to the gym, heart rate monitor on and on the treadmill.  I up the pace until I get to a comfortable heart rate.   This is how I train.  Not based on pace, which doesn’t really tell me if I’m using sugar or fat.  23 minutes later it’s on the rowing machine with 500m row followed by 5kg medicine ball, single leg squats (5 reps each leg) and repeat 4 times.

Then I have half an hour to refuel again!  Thank goodness for Tailwind.  It doesn’t need digesting to be absorbed so I know after about 10-15 minutes that sugar is in and working its magic.  Then it’s one for crossfit.

1 hour of pull ups, followed by pressups (3 pull ups, quick up and hold, slow down, 3 pressups slow down, hold and quick up), then some wall climbers, followed by a WOD.  5 burpees, 300 row, squaring and then launching a medicine ball at a wall, over box jumps, and then sit ups all until the timer reaches 14 minutes.  After 60 squats and throwing the ball up my legs felt used.  1.5 litres of Tailwind later and the workout is done.  My legs feel used and I have that glorious hazy feeling that accompanies a tiring workout. 

Tomorrow will the real mental challenge.  35 miles of running with the current full LeJog kit. Now I just have to refuel, rehydrate and get myself focused on the end of night camp site, somewhere in the hols surrounding Hathersage in Derbyshire.  As Barefoot Ted said in his brief and to the point message to me earlier today….

“Let the adventure begin” 


Busy Day Filled With Fun & Pain

Tomorrow is the day where it’s all going on!

At 4pm I’m meeting with High Peak Radio for a little chat, which will hopefully raise the profile of the run and also help it do more against strokes, and then at 6pm it’s off to the University of Derby for some metabolic analysis as part of a study I decided to take part in.

Why’s the second one exciting?

Well, I should walk away knowing my crossover point, or the point where my body switched from burning fat as its primary fuel, to burning sugar as its primary fuel.  I’ve been training based on heart rate for the last two years, sticking to a low heart rate in almost all my workouts.  But, so far the heart rate has been based on a rule of thumb formula (for this interested it’s the Maffatone method) coupled with a low amount of high carbohydrate foods like potatoes, bread etc.

Along side this, I’ve had Nick Allen, from Buxton Physiotherapy Centre analyse my running gate and give me a set of corrective exercises to do.  The idea behind this form of training is to minimise the niggles I’m going to get from poor running form, and making sure I can manage any minor niggles before they become anything major that stops me running everyday.

So, in the final 10 week push to build my mental strength, confirm past training and build on it, everything is taking a decidedly tech feel to it.

Lots of work is going to involve running in a fasted state, on tired legs and fine tuning he intake of water, calories and electrolytes, which luckily for me will be easy.  Mike at Tailwind UK and Jenny at Tailwind in the U.S. Have both been amazing with support so far and I’m confident that as far as getting enough in whilst running is concerned, I’ve got it fully covered.

Now to see what the metabolic analysis says 🙂