Sunday, 12 December 2010

The end of Barefoot in Dubai. Vibrams left to gather dust

I’ve decided that my Barefoot Project is over.

I’m facing the facts; barefoot running doesn’t suit me and my feet. Back in July I had my gait analysed and the results showed that with my barefoot foot-strike my big toes do not take their share of my weight, which means that my 2nd and 3rd toes end up being over burdened. This is why the MRI scan I had in April revealed a stress fracture in the 2nd metatarsal.

The podiatrist told me that if I continued to try to run barefoot I’d end up with the same injury again. And worse, that there was nothing I could do to change my natural gait. I didn’t listen, I didn’t want to. I was angry and brushed off his professional opinion thinking I knew better. I thought if I want to change my gait I can.

As unhappy as I was, he was right. As the months have passed I’ve cautiously clocked up more barefoot miles. Last week my wife and I were in Hong Kong, one morning and we jogged along the Kowloon harbour. I was wearing my Vibrams, and thinking about it now, as much as I didn’t want to admit it, my left foot wasn’t comfortable. It wasn’t in pain, it just didn’t feel right.

On Saturday my wife and I jogged around Dubai Marina. After a few miles I felt a very familiar pain in my left foot. This was how it started in March, thank God we were close to home so I could dart in, pull on my Nikes and try to catch up with her. My wife had a fantastic run, her best ever. I was so proud of her I forgot all about my foot.

Fitness in Dubai features reviews of all the latest fitness programmes and local gyms, such as The Circuit Factory, 24 Fitness and CrossFit LifeSpark, as well as reviews of fitness fads, fitness tests and fitness equipment, from Vibram Five Fingers barefoot running shoes to VO2 Max testing. Ultimately, this fitness blog - as featured in Good Taste, Men's Fitness, Time Out and Shape magazines - contains everything you need to know about fitness in Dubai, UAE, in the Middle East. Bookmark it now.

In the past couple of days the discomfort hasn’t gone away. There’s nothing I can do now but rest. It’s nothing like as bad as it was, I’m just glad I can learn from the mistakes I made in March.

I’m disappointed, I’ve tried, but I’ve failed. My dreams of running a barefoot marathon like Abebe Bikila (, or race like the Tarahumara have vanished, but this whole episode has reinvigorated my running. It’s reminded me how much I love it, and how much skill there is in running.

Running barefoot is fun, it feels great, but it doesn’t suit everyone. Like I’ve said before, running is a skill, you can run well or badly regardless of what you might or might not have on your feet. My advice would be this; listen to your body and go with what feels right. If you’re running well and injury-free in trainers, why change? If not then give barefoot a go, what’s to lose? Whatever you do, relax and enjoy it! Running is a beautiful thing, it can take you places you’ve never imagined, and give you memories you’ll treasure for the rest of your life.

I wish you and your loved ones a fit, healthy and injury free 2011!


  1. nooooooooooo

    where will i get my sporadic middle eastern based bare foot running news now that you have hung up your vibrams ?

    what about a new blog? accountancy in the desert or something like that? dont leave your fan out in the cold.

  2. Maybe a new blog is the answer, though I'll stay away from accountancy, it's bad enough having to be one for 8 hours a day, nevermind writing about it too.

    I'm thinking about a vegetarian spell in the New Year, but that's not blog worthy. I'll start looking for a new challenge... if the wife will let me!

  3. perhaps something on sand.
    anyway, email me when you launch as i am deleting BFID from my RSS reader!

  4. I just saw your blog at the end of your e mail about the washing machine; that's such a shame it's over. Well done to Sarah for her first 10K! x x