I’ve been an on-and-off runner for a while – the longest race I ever competed in was 6K, way back in the late 90’s. Every so often, I’ve tried dipping back in, but soon became tired of the jarring impact, and knee and back pain.

Those who run know where I’m going.

Since starting karate 4 or 5 years ago, I’d been running barefoot in the dojo, and not feeling as much of the pain – and, after some research, invested in some Merrell Trail Glove shoes – when I went out for a run, suddenly it didn’t feel nearly as bad – but with kids and travel for work, I never quite lived up to a commitment to make running part of my life again.

[there was also a little matter of posture, which we’ll get to soon enough]

Fast forward to now, and I’m in training for my karate Black-belt, interspersing Kickbox Express – essentially cardio/strength/conditioning circuits – with formal training sessions and running, so it was time to delve back into my running form.

Now on my second pair of Merrell’s

[I wore the other ones into the ground]

I went for my first 2 mile run only to find my calf muscles cramping up after about a mile or so. Something wasn’t right – I hadn’t had this pain before. I thought about what had changed and, as I’ve written about before, about 3 years ago

[after I’d last run]

I did a LOT of work on my back and myofascia – resetting my posture, straightening up.

Could this be affecting my running form? I thought.

Sure enough, some digging around online and particularly on YouTube turned up many answers. Though I’d been running in the Trailgloves

[which is what they’re designed for]

I hadn’t really invested the time to understand the principles of barefoot/natural/chi running. I do now, and I’m consciously putting myself through drills to retrain my posture, my form and technique.

It’s going well; this morning, I spent 30 minutes running on the spot, just practising foot-strikes, and feeling for when I was getting tight in my calf muscles, and how to relax that without losing rhythm. It went really well, and my heart-rate stayed at a steady 130bpm throughout. It’s a very humid day, so there was much sweating, but otherwise fine – I felt like I could have gone on forever.

I’ve been posting my black belt fitness training online and someone asked me to teach them about barefoot running – my answer was that while I’m happy to experiment on myself, I’m not qualified or competent to teach

[unlike some of the folk with videos on YouTube – who should be just as honest!]

after all, if I break, I have only myself to blame – and I’m not willing to say the same for others.

I did, however, commit to share some of the clips that have helped me begin to develop my form. I don’t know the politics of the running world – and I’m almost certain there are conflicting viewpoints on who is the authoritative voice on the subject – I don’t particularly care, I just learn!

So, in no particular order of validity, importance or value, here are some jumping-off points:

And there’s LOADS more – but these have been good for me so far.

Take it slowly. Build up. Run.