Wednesday, October 26, 2011

An interview with a beginner barefoot runner

When did you start running barefoot?

I started running barefoot in Sep-Oct 2010. At first, I walked in the park that I trained initially. After walking barefoot for a few weeks, then I jogged slowly and increased my mileage and speed.

Why do you run barefoot?

I started having this heel pain on my right foot around mid-2010. I ran Borneo International Marathon and SCKLM 2010 with this pain. It got worse, and I took a rest from racing. I thought the root cause was my running shoes. So I decided to stop wearing the cushioning shoes I had been wearing then. I was also guessing my running gait could be the root cause. I was hoping by running barefoot, it would improve my gait. Other reasons were to avoid more blackened toenails and to strengthen my leg muscles. So, I started trying out barefoot running.

Did barefoot running help to heal your heel injury?

I recovered from my heel injury fully after some time. But I cannot say it was solely because of barefoot running. I rested more and did a lot of other things like stretching, massage to improve my condition then. However, since I started running barefoot, I have not experienced the same heel pain anymore after my recovery.

What is your first impression of running barefoot?

Running barefoot requires both mental and physical conditioning. It may not be suitable for all runners, but I believe it could work fine for most people, if done slowly and properly. First experience of running barefoot was fear of the unknown and the painful sensation. The fear of the unknown was the fact that I didn't know where barefoot running would take me. And the painful sensation was due to direct contact of the soles with the rough asphalt/road surface. The sensation of stepping on small pebbles/stones, let's just say, is not what runners are looking for. Imagine, walking barefoot on the foot reflexology path in the park. That's why the mental part is needed. Barefoot runners need to prepare to experience some level of pain and risk of injury due to stepping on sharp objects. Otherwise on smoother surface, running barefoot would not cause much pain on the soles. Also, when running barefoot, there is more work for the Achilles tendon and calf muscles. I experienced sore Achilles tendon and sore calf muscles when I first started running barefoot.

How did you train in transition from shoes running to barefoot running?

As I said, I started to walk barefoot in the park for a few weeks first. Then, only I started to jog and increased my mileage slowly. Occasionally, I trained with lightweight shoes, and alternating with barefoot running. Mileage on barefoot was much less than with shoes initially. I increased the mileage on barefoot slowly. I also did some calf muscles strengthening exercises. I only started racing barefoot in June 2011 (about 9 months after I first started running barefoot), the event was Pacesetters 15km. I still train with shoes even now. For example, early morning in the park when it is still very dark and on the treadmill because it is the safety rule of the gym. I will also run with minimalist shoes on unfamiliar or rough route, if needed.

So you are not a full time barefoot runner now?

I run or train barefoot most of the the time, but not 100% of the time.

Will you be a full time barefoot runner in the future?

Maybe. If I run on shoes, it will be lightweight or minimalist shoes. It would be likely to protect my soles against harsh terrain or unknown surfaces or route.

What are the challenges you face as a barefoot runner?

Going to barefoot running, it was a re-learning process for me. I was willing to "un-learn" what I know before about running and start all over again. I had to give up my speed and pace (and I didn't even know if I would run with my race pace anymore). The biggest challenge I guess is being patient, persistent and persevere. On rough surface, I have to be more careful and endure some pain. At end of the run or race, there could be blisters on the soles. But our body is a wonderful thing, it will adapt and get stronger.

Of course, there will be risk to get injured because of sharp objects on the road. When you start running barefoot, you will be more alert and mindful on your every step. I would say, although barefoot runners look more vulnerable, but I think the risk of getting hurt because of sharp objects for shoes runners is not a lot lesser.

Other challenges include facing the stare and comments by some people. Some people will give insensitive remarks, but I will not let those remarks bother me.

What is your advice to barefoot-aspiring runners?

If you want to try out barefoot running, do it slowly. Start by walking barefoot on a route familiar to you. Increase mileage slowly and listen to your body. There are some reference materials on the Internet that can help too. Also, runners can get in touch with those who are more experienced in barefoot running to get more tips.

Barefoot running is not about "right" or "wrong" way of running. The more important point is to run with good form or gait to avoid/minimise running injury. It is perfectly fine to stay with shoes if that is working fine for you. The most important thing is, you'll find joy in running.

(If you have any question, please feel free to drop a line here.)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Terry Fox Run KL 2011 - Update 4 (T-shirt sale locations)

I collected my T-shirts order today.

Please take note of the locations and the start date of sale at each location.

These are the confirmed places so far for the sale of TFR KL 2011 T-shirts : (Updated as of 24 Oct 2011)

1) Cancer Research Initiatives Foundation (CARIF), 2nd Floor, Outpatient Centre, Sime Darby Medical Centre, Subang Jaya
(Mon to Fri, 9.00am to 5.00pm)
Contact person : Wong Siak Chung / Herda Abdullah
Tel: 03-56391874

2) Canadian High Commission, 17th floor Menara Tan & Tan, Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur
(Mon to Thurs, 9am to 12.00pm, 2.00pm to 4.00pm; Friday 9am to 12.00pm)

3) Clark Hatch Fitness Centres, 6th Floor, Sooka Sentral, Kuala Lumpur
(Mon-Fri, 12pm to 8.00pm, Sat-Sun 12pm-5pm)
CLOSED on Deepavali
Contact Sara: 03-27851963

4) Clark Hatch Fitness Centres, Capital Square , Kuala Lumpur
(Mon-Fri, 12pm to 8.00pm, Sat-Sun 12pm-5pm)
CLOSED on Deepavali
Contact Elaine: 03-26986080

5) Clark Hatch Fitness Centres, PJ Hilton
(Mon-Fri, 12pm to 8.00pm, Sat-Sun 12pm-5pm)
OPEN on Deepavali 9am-3pm
Contact Logesh: 03-79572939

6) Running Lab, Gnd Floor, Tropicana City Mall, PJ
Open 19-28 Oct, 31 Oct-4 Nov (1:00pm-8:00pm)
Closed 29-30 Oct, 5-6 Nov
Contact Frank: 03-77278555

7) Bangsar Village 1, Nearby Information Counter
29th & 30th Oct 2011 (Sat & Sun)
5 & 6 Nov 2011 (Sat & Sun)
10am to 6pm

8) 1 Utama Shopping Complex, Community Corner @ Oval
29th & 30th Oct 2011 (Sat & Sun)
10am to 10pm

9) Menara Citibank Lobby, Jalan Ampang, KL
31 Oct - 4 Nov
LUNCH TIME 12-2pm only

10) Padang Merbuk, KL
13 Nov 2011 (Event day)
(Please get your T-shirt early to avoid disappointment)

Please note each T-shirt is priced at RM30. Proceed will go to CARIF.

The T-shirt sizes again for your reference. Please note there is only one cutting.


Chest (inch)

Length (inch)

2 (child)



4 (child)



3XS (child)



























Please come back later for more updates!

Thank you for your support for TFR KL 2011.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

I'm King of the Road - adidas King of the Road 2011

Thanks Tey for this photo and the support.

How often a toll highway closed for a running event? It happens once every year (for about 9 hours) at the Penang Bridge for Penang Bridge International Marathon. Apart from that, I cannot name any other annual run event that will require a toll highway to be closed for it.

adidas King of the Road 2011 is one road race event that was held on a section of New Pantai Expressway (NPE), a toll highway. This event was missing from the race calendar last year (2010). I took part in 2009, but it was held in Shah Alam. In 2007 & 2008, I heard it was held in NPE. On Sunday 2 Oct 2011, about 8000 colourfully-clad runners took part in this event in Sunway Pyramid, running on a closed section of the highway.

My wife and I took part in this road race. Not often that we could join a run event together. It was just one week after my maiden barefoot marathon. My calf muscles were still sore. I thought I would recover fully after one week. So I joined my wife for this run. She would take part in 10km and I would run longer 16.8km race.

When the race started, I paced at about 4:30 min/km. But then I felt the strain on my calf muscles and had to adjust my pace a bit. Only towards the end, I picked up the pace a bit and finished at 1:20:14 gun time. My wife finished her 10km in 1:09:53. We couldn't stay long after the run to catch up with other runner friends.

In this run, I noticed many barefoot runners. When I said "many" here, I meant in a relative sense. Relative to other run events, this event saw more barefoot runners in it. However, it was still a very small population compare to the total number of runners. Good to know that there were some barefoot runners did their maiden barefoot race in this event. For a run that was sponsored and organised by a popular sport/shoe brand, this (barefoot) trend seemed not according to the script.

During my run, I got some insensitive remarks such as "hey, adidas sells shoes you know?", "eh, mana kasut?", "you forgot your shoes?" and some stares. Anyway, it didn't bother me at all. At the same time, I got some support from other fellow runners that know me. Also, some claps and cheers from some 10km runners waiting to start, when I ran past the starting point from the opposite direction.

Overall, the run was well-organised. Although it was a big event, crowd control was good. Runners had space to mingle around after their run. Volunteers were in good number and did their job well.

Until the next race, do train hard and stay healthy.