Searching for the athlete within

Jan 2014

I started my barefoot training out in the Alps about twelve days ago but too much snow around to venture out. Alternatively I initiated my running through the lobby and sitting room of the chalet I am in.  Over a week I built up from twenty minutes to forty minutes running around the house and occasionally out onto the slushy balcony. Seems like a good alternative to a tread mill and more interesting.

The training road

The training road


The feet

The feet

Today I had a great 2 hours on the telemarks doing the same routine that I have done for the last week.  Skiing for a couple of hours followed by cycling or running. I am assuming the extreme pain in my thighs and the panting that follows my descent down the piste counts for fartlek training. Part of my plan when skiing is to stop well short of the lifts, preferably down a little slope, to work in some strength training as my way back up. Those cross country skier must be a fit lot.

Today I followed the skiing with a 4 mile barefoot run up and down a mountain road. Beautiful day. The road felt good but it helps to stay out of the slush and snow melt. Warm tarmac feels very good and passing French skiers shout things like “Oh pieds nus! Bonne chance”.

It is really interesting exploring telemark and barefoot running at the same time. Having skied and run casually for over twenty years, both pursuits had drifted into a mediocre nether world of stimulation. They were good but not really enlivening. Admittedly I did not get competitive about either of them but I don’t want my life to be about endless competition.  I then discovered telemark skiing a season ago and have not looked back.

Now when I get into that telemark position or picking my way up a running route my body is remembering forgotten muscles and things are being tickled at a deep level. It makes me smile.  And the feet. Crushing grape exercises in my boots, just like the Eric Orton foot exercises, (trainer of Chris McDougsall Born to Run book fame). Day off tomorrow. Snow is also meant to be on the way.



  1. I love the idea of treading lightly.

    Not everyone would have chosen the Alps in winter to take up barefoot running. Think how nice warm sand underfoot will be compared with slush and rocks.

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