Running Thoughts

Running Thoughts


When I go out for a solo run or walk, my brain comes alive. Ideas and poetry-like mantras spill into my thoughts as I travel through space, propelled by my feet. I believe they are pieces that have meaning to me. The meaning is not always clear. Days later it might make sense as that puzzle piece clicks into place. I’ve started to capture them in the voice memo app on my iPhone and repost them here.


As a human being
we come into this world
and all we want to do  accelerate.
Right from the get go,
once we realize we have a body
with limbs,
limbs to propel us
all we want to do is accelerate.
We go from laying on our backs
flailing at the air
to rolling over
to crawling
to cruising
to walking
to running
to flying
We get to a point where we go so fast
our toes barely remain in contact with the ground.
And then the scale tips.
Life starts slowing us down.
We accelerate
just to keep ourselves
from slowing down too fast.
We suddenly realize there is an inevitable.
We have memories of being able to soar.
We have memories of actually soaring.
Now, it’s a fight to stay aloft.
Fighting all the way
we are back on our backs.
Back to the Earth.

Barefoot Observations

Unbound Feet Grow?!?

At the end of 2009, I had to buy new steel toed boots for work. I threw out the average size that I have been wearing most of my adult life, 10 1/2. Nothing was fitting. We measured my foot and it came out to 11 1/2. I wound up buying a couple pairs of steel toes that felt like I was wearing a warehouse on each foot; a little disconcerting at first. Then denial took over and I went about my day to day not thinking much about it. I continued my barefoot training mostly inside on the treadmill and spent my days at work comfortably wearing a couple of warehouses on my feet.

My attention was brought back to my foot size this past weekend. My wife and I were going to a fancy Valentine dinner ball, which meant I had to steal my red Chuck Taylor Converse high tops back from my son, because nothing says chic like wearing some nice threads and using the Chucks as conversational garnish.

As we set out on the trip, I noticed my feet were cold, and my toes were squished up in the toe box. It took me a good hour to realize that these shoes didn’t fit anymore. Denial was sure imposing itself over comfort. We stopped at a store and bought a new pair. Sure enough, one size bigger. Foot freedom has allowed my feet to healthily expand out to their true proportions. I know I used to bind them into my running shoes like a couple of swaddled, cradle boarded babes. Freedom is good. Now if that thing about body parts in relation to foot size is true I’ll be very happy.

Barefoot Observations, Getting involved, Race Report

Run For Charlotte (5k Fundraiser)


January 24, 2010 –

I have been in a running funk since the ground froze.  I went out for a barefoot run on wet roads and froze. I tried going out in Vibram Five Fingers and my toes got cold pretty fast. This guy, who is known as the local crazy guy in his community was wimping out big time. This is the same problem I have encountered every Vermont winter – shoes or no shoes. I wimp out in the cold.

I joke with my friends that my training regiment is  Wii fit and treadmill, except it is not really a joke. I’m not gonna knock the training regiment too hard, after all I am doing something as opposed to sitting at my desk watching youtube athletes doing the things I want to be doing (Long-boarding looks pretty cool; it’s hypnotizing.) and I have done my fair share of that as well.

As I headed into another athletically unsatisfying weekend, my stepson pointed out to me a 5k event in Vergenes, Vt. The event was a fundraiser for a family whose four month old daughter has a rare kind of cancer. This family is active in the running community and the running community was coming together to support this family. Being in a funk, I told the boy that I just couldn’t do it. I was ready to blow it off that quickly, besides we had guests, they wouldn’t understand, and I…I can come up with a million excuses.

The day of the race, I saw a friend on facebook had posted that he was participating in the event. Seeing this, something shifted in me. I was going to do this even if I had to wear…gasp…dare I say it…running shoes. I haven’t worn running shoes in almost a year. I have put them on a couple of times to quickly go into a store, they just don’t work anymore; my feet have widened and they are not happy about being shoved into a tight box. Then my wife, the light of my life, the brain that fills in the empty space between my ears, suggested I wear wool socks. This hit me like a two by four across my fore head.

When I first heard of barefoot running a friend of mine had told me of this guy he used to race with who was known throughout the Connecticut running community, Charlie “Doc” Robbins. This guy didn’t invest in moisture wicking  high tech running garments, or shoes. He would wear a ripped pair of cotton shorts and bare feet, if it got cold Doc would run in a pair of socks (The New York Times also has an interesting article on him).

After I was assaulted by this revelation, I realized I was going to be able to run this event on my terms – barefoot. I scrambled to gather my gear, while I explained myself to our guests (who when hearing donated to the cause).

A quick aside, I was given a Flip video camera for the holidays, so I grabbed that as part of my gear to document the event. I love the camera. It’s easy to use, but the editing  program that comes with it is overly simplistic and there are not many editors that seem to work or work well with the MP4 format.

Doing this event was great. I am often surprised at how many people know me or know of my running antics. I am happy to talk up running barefoot style (my brand of kung fu). It certainly showed me I am more resilient in the cold (and in life) than I think. Many people told me they found me inspiring, and I get it. I get inspired myself.

If you at all feel moved to help this family out you can send donations to:

Kim Palmer
42 East Street
Vergennes Vt 05491

Make checks payable to:

Vergennes Congregational Church

Barefoot Observations

Just a Band of Barefoot Runners on the Run

Went on my long run today. Sometimes when I run longer distances I have passages of phrases bounce through my head. It is like I am trying to work out some kind of thought puzzle. Today’s echoing thought comes from one of my favorite Shakespearean “Rah Rah” speeches in Henry V.

Nerd fact 1. I actually memorized this monologue at one point in my life.
Nerd fact 2. While I was running I was playing around with the words to fit the barefoot runners I know.

So with apologies to the bard, my co runners, and myself for being uber-nerdy, this is what was running through my head:

WESTMORELAND. O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no running to-day!

KING. What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark’d to bonk, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to finish,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my huaraches wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this race,
Let him depart; his Nike’s shall be made,
And crowns from entry put into his purse;
We would not run in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to run with us.
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian.’
Then will he strip his Vibrams and show his feet,
And say ‘These soles I had on Crispian’s day.’
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Richie the Kilt, Ken Bob and El Mono,
Wendy “The Toe” Nail and “Henna” Hulseapple, Caballo Blanco and McDougal-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that runs the course with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That ran with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

Barefoot Observations

Objects Embeded

I have had two things embed in my feet. One was a piece of glass…erm…in my kitchen. I missed it cleaning up shards from one of the kids broken glasses from the night before. I thought it ironic the real danger was at home and not on the street. The other was a splinter of some sort. Took it right in the arch and was far enough away from any place to have the tools to remove it. Every step was a stinging reminder there was a splinter in my arch. I finally sat down and got creative, using a rock with a pointy edge to remove it. There was a wierd sense of primal accomplishment in dealing with that issue. Totally caveman! I ran home and washed my foot well. No problems since.

Incidentally the splinter incident also happened away from the road. It was on a walkway leading to a high school track.

Race Report

Second Trail Run – Take it Like a Man

I was meeting the boy at the Catamount Family Center for my second barefoot 5k trail run. I had worked all my nervousness out last week by not impaling my feet on sharpies. I have been itching all week to do it again. Last weeks run was euphoric. The weather, pretty humid and threatening rain; this wasn’t going to slow me down. This week I donned the kilt. People’s interest in my barefoot work last week put me at ease, and lets face it, I like wearing the kilt. I was also surprised to see my brother-in-law Tom and his 11 year old daughter ready to run.

Today we were running on a different trail, I took it as a little disappointment because I love running last weeks trail so much, but I wasn’t going to let that slow me down. The race started and I quickly learned that the terrain  was going to be different. No plush grass this time, it was more like a single track with early bottlenecks slowing us down, and up hill…and the hill just kept on going.

Early on I got caught up in what was going on with Tom and his daughter. She had taken off pretty fast and was surprised by the sudden uphill. This got her walking and asking for water pretty quickly. Then she would bound off again, taking huge steps to cover the terrain. I threw a little coaching to her to take smaller steps, there was still alot of terrain to cover (Look at that…second trail race and I’m coaching someone).

We came upon a runner who had stopped in the trail, and I sensed something was wrong, but couldn’t figure out what. Some one yelled out “Bees nest” and people around me started swatting, including Tom. I was pretty determined to get the hell out of that area. Tom kept running and swatting up ahead of me urging his daughter on. He eventually yelled, they are under my knee brace, ripping it down and flailing at his body to get the bees off. At that point, I took one to the calf. I kept running and urged Tom’s daughter to move ahead and then wait, her dad would catch up to her. I called back to check in with Tom and he said he was ok. On I went.

The trail kept rising, and I was sucking wind. Negative thoughts were whirling around my mind. My calf was sore and pulsing, the terrain was tougher than last week, I was worried about Tom and Julia. I was so involved with my thinking process, I did not notice the trail leveling out and starting to descend (Erin told me after the race that the top of the hill opened up to a decent view, my thinking was too turbulent to see it).

The canopy combined with the cloud cover and the sinking sun made for dark running. It was hard to scan the trail for obstacles. The ground was muddy and I had great gobs of mud stuck between my toes that didn’t seem to want to come off. I started passing people who had started walking. As I passed I would give them words of encouragement.  One of the runners I passed asked me how my feet were doing, a question I get more and more often. I responded my feet were doing great. In that moment, I was bounding through a difficult passage looking down to see where I was going to place my feet next when I nearly impaled myself in the shoulder region slamming into a dead branch I did not see sticking out.

“My feet are fine…Ow!…But that hurt.”

Not long after that the trail opened up onto blue stone gravel. I inwardly groaned. I can move across my driveway pretty well, but I have not tried to run on it. I forged onward. I was analyzing the hell out of my form as I moved across the blue stone. I looked like a guy running on blue stone for the first time all tense and tentative. I was envisioning Ken Bob’s guru like advice in countless posts about relaxing and if you can run on this, you can run on anything, and letting my foot relax to dispel the surface area. I found myself doing it. I was able to relax…a little…and my pace picked up…a little. that experience had me realizing that I could run on that kind of surface with practice. I could be almost as fast as running on the other surfaces, if not as fast. Relaxing my muscles as I run is the key.

The final stretch turned to grass and I opened throttles as much as I could. I was pretty tired from this race as it used a good amount of energy on mental process as well as the physicality from the more technical course.

Cooling down, I enjoyed talking to other runners and answering questions. One lady took a peek to see what was under the kilt (cheeky). Nice group that runs this race weekly. I had a few people ask me where to get a kilt, sheepishly admitting how they have always wanted to try wearing one. I told them about sport kilt, a nice inexpensive kilt.

As we walked to the car, the skies opened up; rain. I am a bit sore, my shoulder hurts, and the sting is stull pulsing. Can’t wait till next week.

Barefoot Observations

In life, what do I really need?

When I started running, I geared up like I was going into battle. I had to have the right shorts, shoes (Make that stability motion control shoes), hat, tunes, socks, undies, fuel, tracking device, shirt, watch. As this year has progressed, I have started to not bring things realizing they just weren’t necessary. How much else do I have in my life I just don’t need? Nike started a trend where I believed I needed the right shoe, now I know I don’t need shoes at all. What else has “the man” sold me (my head answered immediately; “The internet?” I then quickly rejected the idea. Sad but true)?

My runs have gotten to be an exercize in zen simplicity. There is no clock, no shoes, socks, music, I just run and enjoy the trip. I mean on a day like today, who would actually need the clothes? Granted some of my associates would complain that they don’t want the vision of a naked me running down the road, but really, seriously…

Just run and enjoy the trip

Barefoot kilt