Foot Rub

I recently semi-retired my first pair of fivefinger bikilas after 1200 miles of faithful service. A couple of DIY repairs to the thinnest part of the soles with bike inner tube patches had extended their life by a few hundred miles. But there were areas on the inside that had become rough and were causing blisters on longer runs.




After treating myself to a shiny new pair of fivefinger seeya’s, I experienced rubbing on the inside of my feet from the first few steps. Unfortunately this didn’t dissapear once the shoes had been worn in. I think the rubbing is caused where the stretchy upper fabric meets the relatively secure strap. The solution I came up with was to place a glasses cleaning cloth over the area in question. I used this as the material is very thin but has a high weave density. It’s strong but doesn’t cause any friction.
The first real test was a 15 mile run at 8 minute miles. The foot with the cloth was fine (hooray!), but the other (which hadn’t actually caused any problems to date) had rubbed to the point of drawing blood (boo!).

I just need to secure cloth permanently to both shoes with a few stitches.

So what to do with my poor feet? The constant rubbing had left darker patches of skin once the blisters had healed. I remembered reading that vitamin E was effective for healing scars, but rather than use cream I purchased some high concentration vitamin E capsules. I pierce them and apply the content locally. One capsule lasts about three days, applying twice daily.
There has definitely been some improvement over the weeks, with the old vivobarefoot base of big toe war wounds almost gone. I’ve also noticed any fresh damage healing more quickly than before!

Running on the Limit

This post all started with a 100% effort Magic Mile run on the canal (the towpath part, not the actual watery bit). Immediately after (sort of) smashing out a 5:27 mile, I was blinded by the worst headache I’ve ever experienced. I initially blamed the pounding pain on the glue factory fumes I had unwisely decided to run downwind in, but two weeks later I was still headache unfree (or unheadache free if you will) whenever I tried to push it.

Google helpfully suggested ‘Exertion Induced Headaches’ as the probable cause, but also mentioned a few rather unpleasant alternatives so I thought I’d better see the doc.

Exertion Induced Headaches can be caused by straining the neck muscles coupled with a reduced oxygen intake. The effort dilates the blood vessels in the neck and restricts the blood flow to and from the head. The increase in pressure squishes (medical terminology) the nerves, hence the pain. It is most common in weight lifters lifting too much while holding their breath, or in this case a runner hammering it for a mile in toxic atmospheric conditions.

Googles cure…..two  weeks rest. I had already taken it (ahem) ‘easy’ for two weeks by running over 12 miles barefoot two days after, followed by a 9.5 miler, 6 miler, 8.5 miler, and a couple of runs with the dog (see – no speed work!)

The thought of no exertion for two weeks didn’t sound appealing, it’s not like a regular running injury where I could nip out on the bike or even go for a swim (possibly in the canal by the glue factory.) With a three half marathons on the calendar I wanted to stay in shape. And this got me thinking about my calorie intake and expenditure.

I found a calorie counting app which included a large food database and logged my eating habits over a week, as well as my running and dog walking activities. I wasn’t surprised to see that I crept over the 2000 calories most days, even when taking into account the lunchtime walk, dog walk / dog runs. The days when I had spare calories left were the ones that included a decent run eg 8.5 mile with 300 calories under and 16.5 mile run with 1350 calories spare!

I also wore my garmin heart rate monitor for three days to backup the calorie figures. What this also showed was a low resting heart rate.

After a consultation, the doc agreed with google on the cause of the headaches, but was happy for me to carry on running. To be safe I had a few blood tests and an ECG. The nurse commented on my low resting heart rate – normally a concern, but as I was a runner it was fine!

Thankfully all the tests came back fine, and the headaches subsided over a further couple of weeks – just in time for the first of the half marathons.

I had always regarding the calorie apps as too much hassle to bother with, but in fact it provided me with a good insight into my intake and expenditure. I sometimes found myself wondering if eating something was going to push me over the daily limit. I wouldn’t use the counter continuously, but a substantial change in exercise routine or eating habits would definitely warrant use again.

BMI Baby

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last post, the delay being due to a weeks holiday in Brittany, France. I had hoped to write a post towards the end of the week about my running experiences, but an unfortunate accident sidelined any plans for the last few days.

After a sunny afternoon on a small beach, a relative cooked dinner for us all on a portable bbq. Afterwards, he attempted to safely dispose of the hot coals by digging a hole in the sand and tipping the bbq contents in. Unfortunately he stepped on the super hot sand the bbq had occupied. After 25 minutes with his blistered foot cooling in the sea, the ambulance took him to hospital, where they had to remove the entire skin from his sole, as the hot sand had embedded in. Four days later he was allowed out hospital, but it will take weeks to heal.

As a runner I appreciate my feet, and as a barefoot runner I especially appreciate my soles. As a non runner, my relative…. treasures his soles just as much. I wish him a speedy recovery.


Back to my original post subject though. We holidayed in the same area last Easter, when I was starting out in vibram fivefingers. Last year I returned with tendonitis from a few 6 mile runs. My first holiday run this year was a 13 mile barefoot run, during which it struck me how far I have progressed.

This run included 5 miles along a flat beach, perfect for running, shod or otherwise. But there were no runners! In fact I hardly saw anyone running all week. Five runners tops. I see more than that on an evening run back home.

What I also struggled to see were ‘large’ people. Young and old were between average or slim, and it was refreshing to see. But this seriously hit home on our first service station stop in England, where the opposite held true.

I quick search revealed the following table: (clicking on the image should open the original source pdf)

The bars show the percentage of adult population with a BMI greater than 30, ie obese. USA tops the table at 33.8%, with the UK in 7th with 23%. France is towards the bottom of this list with 11.2%, roughly half that of the UK.

So how come I saw so few runners in France but the obese percentage is half that of the UK’s? Our holiday location was very rural, but the nearest city, Lannion, had very few fast food ‘restaurants’ or take-aways. My home, Market Harborough, has a huge choice for a small town. Could this point to a cause? Maybe, but I’m sure there are many more reasons beyond my understanding.

An interesting site to calculate a BMI value is

My result of “You have a lower BMI than 96% of males aged 30-44 in your country! The #BBCNews body fat calculator says that I’m most like someone from DR Congo” saddened me. I believe I should be around 65-70% if the health of the UK population was ‘normal.’