This is the fourth entry in my barefoot running journal. Head over here to start at the beginning.

I have logged a few more runs in the new shoes, as well as one barefoot run on the beach in San Diego last week. I am definitely getting more and more used to running without supportive shoes. The biggest transition seems to be how much effort I feel in my calves, although I seem to be slowly getting used to that.

I did discover what I think is a design flaw with these shoes (the New Balance Minimus Trail): if the ground is even slightly wet, your feet will be as well. I guess that’s the price of the shoes being so light. Because the little rubber cleats (for lack of a better word) do not cover the entire sole, but rather have gaps that expose the fabric of the shoe, water comes right up. It’ll be interesting to see how they hold up to wet trails.

I’ve also made a change to my approach. A couple of entries ago, this is what I wrote:

I’m going to run when I want to run. I’m not going to train.

I hope I stick to this. The competitive soul within me may try to hijack this effort, but I will do my best to let my free-spirit soul win out. (Yes, I am a Gemini). I want to experience running as a treat, not a job. I don’t care if I run 4 minute miles or 14 minute miles. Or if I log 100 miles per week or 1 mile per week. I don’t know why I’m writing this in imperial, as it doesn’t  really mean anything to me. But I suppose that supports my point: I am going to run free of numbers and goals and judgments. I am just going to run.”

Well that lasted all of 16 days. Oops! It turns out my competitive soul was successful in the hijacking effort, as I have adopted the couch to 5k running plan (or C25k). I actually place the blame for this on my friend Cara. I was chatting with her on Saturday morning and she mentioned that she and a few of her family members will be running the Perth Kilt Run again this summer. She then proceeded to wear me down until I agreed to run it as well. Okay, really all she did was describe how awesome it was last year:

  • 10,000 runners, all in kilts.
  • bands and bagpipes along the route.
  • free beer provided by Beau’s at the finish for all runners.

See? I had no choice but to agree to run it. And so I am now training for a running race for the first time in about a decade. It’s a 5-mile (8km) race, which I think is more than I should do without building a base. Which brings me to the second reason I have flip-flopped on not having a training plan. Over the past couple of weeks, my “no training” plan seems to have evolved  into a “no-running” plan. Or at least a “minimal-running” plan; which I suppose is fitting since I’m doing a “minimalist running” plan. So either I’m not good without a plan, or I need to already be a decent runner before I can go without a running plan.

The first run in the C25k run is a 20 minute effort that includes a 5 minute walk followed by 6 rounds of 60 seconds of running followed by 90 seconds of walking. I decided to geek it up and searched for a timer app for my android. I looked at a few and eventually downloaded “HIIT Interval training”, a free app that allowed me to easily set up my phone so that I could listen to music on my phone and at the end of each interval, I would hear a whistle over the music to indicate it was time to walk or run. It worked like a charm, and I highly recommend the app.

I went to the arboretum for my first training run. I love running there. I am a personal trainer, so I spend a lot of time inside a gym, and I firmly believe that most people should do some strength training. But I also know that everyone should do some training in nature. There really is a magical feeling from running places like this.

Toward the end of the run, I went off the path and just started weaving through the trees as I ran. Such a great feeling!

Throughout that run, the shoes felt phenomenal. The post-run tightness that I’d felt in my calves seems to be a thing of the past, and the combination of the short intervals and the forward lean required for the minimalist shoes made me feel as though I was running fast, which I quite enjoyed. When I used to do distance running, I tended to run pretty slowly. I’m excited to see if I will be able to continue to run fast as I reduce the time spent walking.

The next entry in my barefoot running journal is up. Click the link to read it.


Elsbeth Vaino, B.Sc, CSCS, is a personal trainer in Ottawa.



  1. My lower calves (upper achilles? I have no idea) are killing me today after a Saturday run/walk. I’m delighted that you’re getting out there too. If you get suckered into next year’s kilt run too, I’m in. 😉

    The HIIT app sounds more versatile, but there are also Couch to 5k android apps that will cue you for the intervals and let you listen to your own playlist at the same time.

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