Shoes optional – A Barefoot Runner’s Journey Along The Length Of Britain – Chapter 1 – Before I begin

It’s early and I’m regretting the previous night’s drinking.  Head feels like a small demon is inside it, pommeling my skull in an attempt to break free.  Quick motions are followed by a wave of nausea and I have to get myself to a rendezvous with my good friends Rooth and Adam’s to make the trip to Land’s End.  A quick coffee is all I can handle, so I go stand in the shower in the impossible hope that the water will wash away the hangover, but it doesn’t.   That odd taste of nail varnish remover that accompanies the night before stays, and it’s time to leave.  Luckily I had packed everything the morning before and after some dithering I get in the car and I manage to get to Ashbourne before I have to pull over and let the nausea take over.

Kit laid out ready to pack the morning before the day after.

Kit laid out ready to pack the morning before the day after.

“Why the hell do I drink so much?”

Well, the answer to that is a collection of ex-sixth formers chanting the name of the teacher at the bar followed by “get us a drink!” and several shots of tequila.  Can’t say it’s the best start to an adventure but then it makes it more interesting.  I get myself together and head to my mother’s house to drop off my car so my uncle can borrow it while I’m away.

“That stone you’re going to pick up at Land’s End made me remember something about Dziadek” my uncle says as though we had been taking for hours.

“Really?  What?” was the only reply I could muster.

“Well, when I was smaller, he used to take me and my friends down to the canal and he showed us how to skim stones across the water.  It’s made me think.  He introduced the whole idea of picking the right shaped stone for skimming and without him the idea would have completely alien to me.”

Now, the conversation continued but my mind was fixated on this newly learnt bit of family history.  There seem to be certain links in what we do and our past that we aren’t really aware of.  I remember seeing people press stones to the graves of loved ones in Iran and then leaving them there, but I never thought there would be any link to the polish side of my family.  We carried on towards Long Eaton and if we carried on talking j couldn’t really say, but eventually we arrived at Rooth’s.  I said farewell, we shook hands and I may have imagined it but there was something in my uncles eyes that made me think he wanted to say something, but he didn’t.  I wander if I imagined it or there was something he wanted to say?

I emptied my pack at this point and decided to pack everything one last time, decide what I’d leave behind and get ready to jump in the van. At some completely unregistered time we left, I got in the back of the van, lay flat and promptly went to sleep. I don’t remember much about the journey down apart from the food stops and a traffic jam that seemed to appear then vanish with no apparent reason.

My view of the road trip to Land's End accompanied by a bag of protein truffles made by Rooth for SK1 Fuel.  Delicious and the perfect keep the hangover at bay food.

My view of the road trip to Land’s End accompanied by a bag of protein truffles made by Rooth for SK1 Fuel. Delicious and the perfect keep the hangover at bay food.

Rooth & Adam - Two of the best people I know. I guess I'd perked up a bit at this point.

Rooth & Adam – Two of the best people I know.
I guess I’d perked up a bit at this point.

Once we got to Land’s End, I wandered down the rocket cliff to find a pebble to carry the length of the country. The south west coast is made up of lots of granite, but amongst it all was a small piece of white quartz. I grabbed it, along with a piece of granite and scrambled back up to the van. It was time for food, followed by pitching up the tent and sleeping. It was all about to begin and I was filled with an odd mixture of calm excitement, complete disbelief and a lack of comprehension as to what I had to do, all with an undertone of doubt. The doubt was all to do with the unknowns that Id have no control of.

“Are you ready then?”

“I have no idea. Gonna find out tomorrow though”

Shoes Optional – A barefoot runner’s journey along the length of Britain – Introduction

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Within these posts you will find no hidden secrets, no magical formulae and no recipes for adventure.  Instead you will read about one person’s journey and their realization that there are no limits other than the ones we set ourselves and it is these limits that hold us back.  We pander to the softer side of our nature, seeking the easiest route through life’s.  At some point we must realise that this is not the way to be true to our nature.  It is as important to embrace and invite discomfort, as it is to invite challenge.   Without these, how are we to grow?

 

Natural Born Heroes Review – Kind Of!

Claire, the editor of Trail Running magazine was kind enough to send me a copy of Christopher McDougall’s new book, ‘Natural Born Heroes’ a few weeks back.  The story is based around the adventures of several World War II heroes, working to thwart Nazi progress on the island of Crete, but that’s all I’ll say about the story.  I’m not really qualified to review a piece of literature, so if you enjoy a good story, and don’t mind some simplified scientific ideas, then grab it, read it and just enjoy it. 

Having said that, I’ve slowly trundled my way through it, enjoying the story unfold and even more importantly picking out the nuggets of wisdom that are hidden in the book.  In true McDougall style the book meanders around a main story and repeatedly bounces backwards and forwards, giving an insight into movement efficiency and feeling that movement.

Now, the following is a real short summary of the key points McDougall brings up:

  • Learn to move efficiently.  As humans we evolved to move quickly over lots of different terrain and doing it using muscle power isn’t necessarily the best way of achieving an end goal.  I mentioned this in an earlier post and it was nice to see some evidence based writing to back it up.
  • Learn to burn fat as fuel.  Fad diets aside, this makes perfect sense just based on the energy content of fat per gram.
  • Train to be useful.  This is probably the best bit and in short…  Don’t specialise and be adaptable.  Go for a training run, but throw in a climb or two along the way, pick a route where you have to climb and jump around and learn that all important lesson.  Trust your instinct and let your body instictively workout what it needs to do, including feeling and hydration. 

So, is the book worth a read?

The answer is yes.

Is the book a manual on how to be a heroe or preach about barefoot running, diet change or any of the above billet point?

No.  It mentions them in the context of what the main characters of the book achieved and how they managed it, despite a diet and hydration plan that according to today’s thinking should have caused their death beiges they started. 

I’ve finished the book, it was given to me for free and so it needs a new home and this is how it’s new home will be chosen.  All you have to do is say why the book should make its way to you next by commenting here, on barefootlejog’s Facebook page or tweet @fat_man_runs with the #barefootlejog. 

Best comment gets a free book 😉