Barefoot Tales

Let me tell you how my business name came about.

Barefoot Helen is perhaps an odd name to give a health and fitness business – or is it?

I’m a gal who loves to be barefoot. Feeling my feet in the soil, on the ground, in sand, anywhere other than in a pair of shoes, is bliss to me. If I could, I would forgo shoes completely, but alas, that would likely end in divorce as my ever so slightly OCD hubby would not be able to deal with all those potential germs.

So, I have to take my moments of barefootedness (is that a word) where I can, and the rest of the time live in flip flops or my trusted barefoot shoes.

These came into my life about 9 years or so ago now. We were spending the summer in Portugal, and I had read a book called ‘Born to Run’ by Christopher McDougall.

It was one of those books that literally takes everything you thought you knew and throws it up in the air.

I am a runner, and at that point in my life I had completed two marathons. Not without some pain and injury though it has to be said. I had someone look at my running gait and advise on which of the heftily priced bits of footware would be best for me. Not that it did much good, (I have a feeling they probably prescribe the same running shoe to most customers who come through the door. Even with my expensive bits of rubber strapped to my feet, as the mileage in training ramped up, so did the pain in my knees. By the time I had crossed the finish line in both marathons my running was more of a very painful shuffle.

It was disappointing to say the least, and I thought my running days were over. Then I read ‘Born to Run’. It is about a runner who is looking to be able to run injury free, and the journey he takes to discover just how he can do that.

It leads him to Mexico’s Copper Canyon and enter stage left the Tarahumara Indians, aptly named ‘the running people’.

This tribe live in and among the canyon walls, often days away from the next village. Their form of transport is the two feet at the bottom of their legs.

They don’t wear fancy, gell filled, cushioned trainers. They simply run barefoot, or at the very most in a pair of homemade sandles (made from old rubber tyres). They are famous for running incredible distances with tremendous ease.

As I have said, reading this book was one of my personal ‘a-ha’ moments. Of course we don’t need anything on our feets. Our bodies are perfectly designed to run with what they have. We evolved as a species being able to run long before we put anything on our feet.

I was so excited to find out if I could run barefoot. Hubby was less than happy about my immediate plan to pound the dirt tracks around where we were staying with nothing on my feet. So, I conceeded and agreed to try some barefoot shoes. Just a very thin (we are talking no more than a few mm’s) sole and with individual toes.

I finished up the book at the same time that hubby was due to return to the UK for a fortnight. So, I ordered my very first pair of Vibrams (there have been many since) for him to collect while he was there.

Once he had gone I just couldn’t resist the urge to get out and try with just barefeet. I don’t think to this day he realises that I did that, so lets hope he doesn’t read this!

All the advice is to walk before you run when deciding to go naked on your feet and boy are they right.

The morning after my first barefoot walk I could barely move. My calf muscles felt like they were in a vice. I was fascinated and hooked.

The biomechanics of running barefoot mean that the force of impact comes back up through your hips and torso, rather than your knees. Which is what you want if you are wondering.

Daily barefoot walks increased in length until hubby returned with my vibrams.

And off I went, never to look back, nor wear trainers to run in again. As much as I can I wear barefoot shoes to work out in, and for general day to day life. Occasionally (if the weather is wet as most aren’t waterproof) I resort to wearing very thin soled trainers.

I am happy to report that I have run a marathon since, in vibrams, and had no pain whatsoever, either during training or on the day. Like I said, I’m hooked.

My other most enjoyable form of exercise/movement is yoga. Again something that is best done with bare feet.

So, it would seem that being barefoot is a common theme that runs through my life. However, when naming my business Barefoot Helen, I wasn’t only thinking about my feet. Barefoot seemed a good metaphor for my life too.

I like simple, I like nature and I like living a less conventional life to most. Nothing makes me happier than being out in the fresh air, with countryside all around me. At the beach, in a forest, up a mountain. Anywhere that mother nature is dominant is where I prefer to be.

I’m fascinated by the moon and her cycles, by pagan based beliefs, at the way mother nature provides us with everything that we need to thrive.

Modern living leaves me a bit cold if I’m honest. Its all rushing, wanting and doesn’t really appear to offer much in the way of contentment. I’d much rather be running barefoot on the beach, with the wind in my hair, and picnic ready to be eaten.

That to me is bliss and what Barefoot Helen is all about….barefoot tales of a life lived with messy hopes and dreams. Let me share with you how that all looks.

Helen x

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