Barefoot Running, The Dangerous New Phenomenon


Hope that title caught your attention.  Fact is I had the most amazing experience learning proper barefoot running technique from the coaching team of VIVOBAREFOOT.  I literally felt liberated and born again, no exaggeration.

Of course, it’s not as simple as just taking your shoes off and running.  Luckily I had the priviledge of learning from the students of Lee Saxby, the authority on barefoot running.  A lot has been made of this book called Born to Run, Chris McDougall. The book that allegedly sparked a revolution.  Well, Lee Saxby was McDougall’s coach.  Also present (as a learner) was a London Marathon expert and advisor to over 50 charities on long distance running, Greame Hilditch.  His book on running marathons has even helped BBC presenter Sophie Raworth to complete her marathon, a year after collapsing in one.  It was thus an honour to be in such esteemed company, training in a centre just down the road from me at PremierGlobal, North London.

The team have come up with a great, simple-to-follow, training programme to start getting accustomed to this technique all explained in an ebook, the link for which is below

Click to access Proprioception-MakingSenseofBarefootRunning.pdf

So we began the day getting ourselves recorded executing our current technique.  Then we went through the drills explained in the ebook and were filmed again.  The results can be seen, at least with me, in the following YouTube video

Say what you like.  Most people say I look healthier in the second video, some say I look weird.  One thing is for sure, I am a lot happier.  It has given me the motivation to take up more running and it might be the answer to beefing my tiny calves.

Of course you don’t have to be totally barefoot and there are a lot of ‘barefoot’ trainers out there.  However, the VIVOBAREFOOT model has a proper training philosophy behind it, most notably the importance of toe-splaying which is compromised by the five-finger models.  As a result, VIVOBAREFOOTs even look like normal shoes so a double bonus.


There’s a whole lot more around this phenomenon.  Learning to strike with the forefoot as opposed to heel is a skill that isn’t just acquired and needs to be learnt and I am still in that process.  Sure I can coach and advise people on this but I am on the journey myself but it is a challenge that I am relishing and looking forward to sharing my findings with you.

So read up the resources given, as well as the stuff on the VIVOBAREFOOT website and make an informed decision as to whether you wish to embark on the same journey.  Some people like Greame has said that he has been fine running marathons for fifteen years in cushioned trainers so he probably won’t change, so make the decision that is right for you.

Healthy Regards

Purposeful Training: Part 2, Cut out the crap and make every exercise count

So everyone needs a slogan and I chose Purposeful Training.  Guess I need to explain what that means.  After attacking the ‘station-hopping’ ritual I now wish to talk about proper planning.  I remember one of my tutors in Premierglobal UK saying words to the effect that ‘You must know the purpose behind each and every exercise you perform.’  Already I can imagine some of you thinking that ‘I do that! A bench press works my chest and a bicep curl works my bicep.  So let me illustrate what I mean by proper planning by going over a chest workout that is, in my opinion, adequately planned (as much as I hate ‘station hopping).

1. Base Exercise: Bench Press. Purpose: Monitor Progress and create intial exhaust

So we start with our base exercise so we can see where we are and how strong we are gettting.  If the bench press station is busy don’t waist your time waiting for it unless your competing in powerlifting compettions.  Dumbell press, smith machine press, technogym press are all exercises you can use for your base exercise where you monitor progress and begin the process of working the muscle fibres in the chest.  All you want is a better looking chest and the base exercise isn’t really where you will make the big difference.

2. High intensity work: Superset dumbell chest press and flye. Purpose, increase concentration of growth hormone in the body

Baechle and Earle’s book on strength and conditoning is like the bible of fitness.  In it various studies are mentioned that show how Growth Hormone levels in the body increase in high-intensity workouts (Baechle and Earle, 1994).  Thus, a superset involving two different chest exercises helps achieve this.

3. Intelligent Targetting

Now that your chest muscles are starting to cry you begin targetting specific areas.  You should know by now which areas aren’t responding too well.  Okay maybe not, you’re probably doing the same thing every time not realising the bottom or top chest has become dominant.  So if for example you can’t get a boob-cleavage like midsection which you crave you need to start targetting this area with more intelligent exercises so leave a comment and I will aim to put up a video or two on this.

The point is, there must be a purpose behind each exercise else you are just going through the motions.  Good trainers can help set these goals for you and give you a specific programme to follow in pursuance of such a goal.  And set yourself more specific goals than ‘toning-up’ or ‘bulking-up’ and more ‘doing ten pull-ups or ten proper push-ups’.

Hope we are now understanding the concept of ‘purposeful training’.