Thanks to barefoot running coach and Vibram FiveFingers fan Paul Mumford for this month’s blog. All about the perils of running in the countryside.
How many of these hazards have you come across?
I’ve spent many years and covered many miles running in Vibram FiveFingers. I can often be found running around the country lanes near my home but that can sometimes prove difficult. In fact, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are many hazards for the road runner.
You need to be ready for anything!
Traffic ... those pesky, and sometimes distracted, car drivers!
I live and work in rural Essex. That means spending lots of time barefoot running on roads where there are no pavements. I remember as a child being told that it’s better to walk or run on the right hand side of the road facing oncoming traffic. This can sometimes be a safer bet and I’m always ready to dive into the nearest bush whenever necessary.
However it seems no amount of reflective or fluorescent apparel is enough to alert some oncoming motorists to my presence. I could be 8 feet tall, 4 feet wide, covered in fairy lights and still not get noticed!.
It’s even worse if I dare to time my training around school kicking out time or rush hour. Taking out a few runners seems to be a competitive sport for some motorists!
Oh, and don’t even think a pavement is going to be any safer. If I’m using a pavement that’s occupied by even a few other people I need to be prepared for anything.
While I appreciate that barefoot runners can be stealthily quiet on our feet even a polite 'excuse me' or subtle cough often appears insufficient.
Instead, pedestrians seem to take great delight in suddenly walking very slowly right in front of me, stopping at a moment’s notice, or changing direction without indicating first.
As for those bystanders who do notice me, the odd word of encouragement can be nice but there’s only so many times in one run ,before calls of ‘have you forgotten your shoes’, goes from funny to irritating.
Horses! and their offeringsHorses are a real problem for the rural runner, or rather the stuff that comes out of their bottoms.
When I owned a dog I used to take a small bag out with me. Then, whenever he had a call of nature I could clean it up rather than leaving it on the ground for others to enjoy.
Why then is it OK for horse owners to allow their animals to do it anywhere?
Please have a thought for the weary runner who is struggling to make it through his 18th mile. Focus and attention starting to suffer, not noticing that large deposit right in front of … oh, too late.
Dogs and their enthusiastic welcome
Early Sunday mornings running through the forest near my home is one of my favourite times of the week. That peace and tranquillity, being one with nature. Unfortunately, the journey there means navigating a few roads and often coming across the odd dog walker.
If the dog is on a lead I’m usually safe but the road to the forest rarely sees a car at the busiest of times, so often there are dogs on the loose, ready for action. Even the most intelligent of canine can turn into a disorientated mess when he or she confronts a runner.
We’re like the catnip of the dog world. If I’m lucky they might head straight for me armed with a mouthful of enthusiastic slobber. If I’m unlucky they’re armed with half a tonne of wet mud from the forest as well.
But I'm not put off!
Don’t get me wrong, I love running and doing it in my Vibram FiveFingers makes it a double pleasure. However, have sympathy for the rural road runner. It’s not as safe as you might think.
Best shoes for running?
Road Running - Vibram FiveFingers V-Run Running Shoe. V-Run shoe features an 8-mm thick sole and provides the right amount of cushioning and protection for running on pavement. It’s also a solid option for runners who are used to traditional running shoes and want to transition to barefoot running shoes.
Your feet stay cool and dry, thanks to the polyester Lycra stretch mesh fabric. Designed to be worn barefoot, but can also accommodate toe socks when running in colder weather.
Find out more
Trail Running - Vibram FiveFingers V-Trail Runner. If you plan on hitting the trails in barefoot running shoes, you need a shoe that offers the right amount of protection from rocks and other debris. The Vibram FiveFingers V-Trail barefoot running shoe delivers in that area, and also provides enough ground feel for a minimalist running experience.
It features an extended rock protection mesh under the sole that helps reduce the shock when you run over stones or roots. With padding around the heel, toe bumpers at the end of the toes and an aggressive tread design, these shoes are sure to keep your feet comfortable and protected on the trails.