I received my new SoftStar Shoe RunAmok mocassins the other day.  I was traveling for work, so did not get to try them out until this morning.  They are great!  A thin 2mm sole is the only thing between my feet and the ground, so I have the barefoot feel and form, but I can run when it’s cold, or the streets are rough.  Probably can run trails too, though I did not opt for the thicker 5mm ‘trail’ version of the RunAmoks.


I love SoftStar though:  they make a fine product by hand in the USA!


Autumn Defense

I knew it.  As soon as I started complaining about the warm weather, it turns into full-blown Fall.  I am not complaining; a brisk morning, a blue sky, brightly colored leaves on the trees are all things I love.  So I dusted off my Soft Star Mocassins and they are still hanging in there.  I went ahead and ordered a pair of their new RunAmoc mocassins, the ones with the 2 mm Vibram sole.  I have considered Vibram Five Fingers, but when I tried them on last year, I did not like the feel of my toes individually wrapped.  And I have to admit, there are a whole lot of new age yuppies walking around all smug in their VFFs—-I prefer to be smug in my bare feet when at all possible, and snug in my Soft Star Mocs when it’s too cold for my tootsies.

Speaking on Autumn Defense, have you heard their lovely music?

Enjoy the cool beautiful weather and the colorful leaves.

Endless Summer?

I have to admit I’m enjoying running barefoot right up until Halloween and beyond.  But folks, I live in middle Tennessee.  By now it’s supposed to be pretty chilly here.  It’s real warm, though, and the weather has been gorgeous—when the warm weather isn’t running into cool weather and creating tornado warnings, like yesterday—-so I’ve been going out each morning and running and walking and running some more.  Mostly with my faithful dog, Foley.

I had yet another conversation with someone who wants to know about barefooting today, and I told them all about it.  You have read it here, and you’ve read it better written in Christopher McDougall’s book ‘Born to Run’:  start slow, walk before you run, get your feet and lower calves in shape to be barefoot, because it’s DIFFERENT FOLKS, and don’t be afraid to launch into a bit of running.  Get your form together barefoot, and then decide if you need to find some sort of minimal footwear—-my friend Eric has some kind of minimal running shows and it’s working for him.  My friend Romo has Vibram Five Fingers and it’s working for him.  Me, I prefer barefoot or mocassins when it’s cold.

I’ve run and walked every day for a long long time and life is good—better than it was before!

I’ll be out there tomorrow morning…cheers.

Beat But Not Broken

After two days’ running barefoot on Jackson, Mississippi’s rather…shall we say…ahem…ROUGH city streets, I am slightly sore but still happy I did it w/o shoes.

Ran about 3 1/2 miles Monday evening, and then a little over 4 miles Tuesday morning with my friend Eric (who runs in Newtons).  Tuesday morning we were joined by Sheldon, who is old school fully shod runner.

I hit some pretty rough pavement, and had sore foot bottoms yesterday afternoon.  But you know what?  Today I am fine and could do it again, if I wasn’t about to head to the airport for a flight to Dallas and on to Orange County.   But I hit the hand weights this morning, and may have time to run on the beach in Cali this evening.

This has been such a warm fall that I have been barefoot the whole time.  I have been considering a new pair of Soft Star Mocassins.  They are making two new designs for minimalist runners.  But I’m biding my time to see just how long I can go w/o strapping anything to my feet.

By the way, did y’all see the cover story of Nature (the journal of science) a while back?  Yep, a cover story about the benefits of barefoot running.  A scientist friend in my neighborhood, a Vanderbilt guy, took me aside at a party recently and told me he had seen me running and walking barefoot, and he just thought I was a crazy musician.  Then he read the piece in Nature and realized that the whole thing was based on sound science.  I could have told him that!  Now he’s running in Vibram Five Fingers and really feeling the benefits (achilles tendons, knees feel better).

OK, I already regret not running today.  I’m going back to Cali…will hit Laguna Beach this afternoon!

i’m back

i was on a whirlwind weekend work trip.  lots of driving every day.  working into the late night.  got home monday afternoon bloody tired.  but i ran for about 30 minutes at centennial park in my naked feet and felt better.  today i went for one of my favorite morning routines:  about ten minutes of barefoot walking, 40 minutes of pretty strenuous barefoot running (in the grass at Centennial), and then about 20 minutes of winding down, jogging, walking, on the way home.  By then it’s about 9 AM and I can get busy at home.

I have been thinking a lot about spirituality and politics.  Yep, some of you need to log off now.  But every time I run barefoot I think about how many people in the western world think that feet are some useless and poorly designed evolutionary mistake that must be well-shod to function at all.  I know very well that this is a conditioned response, based in habit and not in fact (notwithstanding the obvious need in cold climates to keep the feet warm…).

I think of myself now as an agnostic pantheist.  If Palin is elected President, I could well be arrested.  What it means to me is that I feel the idea of God is much too big and unfathomable to be given a human face, and that my experiences with what feels like God have occurred almost exclusively in nature—among mountains, in the desert, in forests, alongside rivers and oceans, gazing at a starry sky in a rural place, like northern New Mexico—and occasionally playing music, reading or gazing upon great art.  So that makes me an agnostic (things are too great and complicated to boil down to Father Figure God) and pantheist (seeing God as parallel to Nature and Earth).

What does this have to do with barefoot running and walking?  A whole lot.  When I get out there, I feel a specific connection with the Earth.  My feet are on it.  Every little thorn and pine cone makes me wince.  I am not our there to face physical pain and be a tough guy.  But I am out there to interact with the face of the Earth, feet first.  And it feels good.

This morning I warmed up on sidewalks and asphalt, winding up on my beloved lawns at Centennial Park.  I took a look around, and decided on a route, perhaps a 500 metre circle through some shady trees and then around the field in front of the Parthenon.  There was definitely something that took me back to a time way before I was born.  A time of picking a path between trees, to avoid the pine cones and burrs that fall off of trees.  I picked a path of softer grass and dirt.  It is still a hard-packed earth.  Contrary to some folks’ belief in some mystical and probaby nonexistent soft trails that our ancestors allegedly ran on in their bare feet.  I contend that trails are perhaps the most difficult to navigate in unshod feet.  The hard packed earth of a well worn trail is more likely the pathway of our ancestors.

All of this leads me to believe that as long as a good percentage of humans think of themselves as stewards of the earth, God’s representatives on earth—well, we will be fools enough to believe in a lot of bad ideas and follow a lot of bad leaders into situations that not only hinder our lives, but damage our home, this Earth.  I believe that the Earth is our larger self.

And that is a big part of why I love to be barefoot and roam around—at least in my little urban neighborhood, and wherever I may be otherwise.

Enjoy your barefoot run or walk and holler back about the spiritual side some time.

late summer running

I’ve been walking every day, barefoot, and running pretty much every other day, barefoot.  Nashville weather’s been teasing us with the occasional day of humidity-free breezy weather, with temps in the upper 80s and low 90s.  After a summer as hot and heavy as this summer has been, it feels glorious.

OK, maybe until about 7:45 AM, and then it feels like August in Tennessee again.

But I will take what I can get.  And I have been out the door with faithful dog Foley and walking for an hour, running for an hour, or splitting it up.  I still run into neighbors who have somehow missed the shoeless and shirtless 46 year old guy in Ray Bans and a red bandanna, running down their street.  But I do and then i get to explain that for the past 16 months I have been running and walking barefoot around Hillsboro Village in the middle of Nashville, and it has made my middle aged knees, hips, back, ankles and achilles tendons feel better than they have felt in about a decade.  Not to mention—you runners and fellow exercise junkies know this—not to mention how good a daily hour of cardio makes you feel.  Depression’s ass is kicked.  Low energy?  Hell, I have more energy than my 15 year old daughter.

So here’s to getting up, quaffing the caffeine, and getting out and pounding the pavement—in my case, barefooted.  I am actually looking forward to cold weather, when I will have to come up with a solution for cold feet.  Last winter, it was SoftStar moccasins.  I will put them back on on the first cold morning.  But they are pretty beat up, after last fall and winter.  Should I try Vibram Five Fingers?  Everyone else has.  I guess maybe I will.  I just sort of resented their relentless marketing.  But who can blame them?

Ok, off to make sure the 9 year old is reading before sleep.  Happy ambulating.  If you haven’t at least walked around the block barefoot, do it tomorrow morning around 6:45…you’ll thank me.

I’m Back!

After months of truly grueling tour schedule, I have been home for a couple of days and feel rested for the first time in a long time.  It’s crazy what I put my body and mind through just to go play my songs for people.   And the combination of brutally hot weather and the relentless travel grind has made running and even taking walks all too rare.

But this morning I took my faithful hound Foley on one of my favorite routes.  Nothing major, just a 45 minutes to an hour jaunt from our house in Hillsboro Village, down Natchez Trace, across Blakemore and through the Vandy campus, past the track and the stadium, across West End and over to Centennial Parks grassy expanse, where we can run freely and unshod to our hearts’ content.

It was good and now I feel truly at home and rested and back up to spec.  Have a good one.