Tomorrow is December – I’m still running barefoot/vff’s and trails. YES!!!!

My rightfoot

Large cracks on the foot are call fissures.

Many of you who have followed my posts have read some of my posts whining and complaining about my right foot. Well for the last two weeks I have not been able to run barefoot at all, let alone walk barefoot.

Extremely frustrating. Many of the comments that have been forward to me about this problem has been to pee on my feet. Still not ready to do that as it stinks up the shower. Yea I tried it once. However I did find that many dermatoligist have been prescribing 20 to 40% UREA in a lotion format. So I trek down to the local Wallgreens and find a bottle of  lotion that contains UREA.

The Result – in two days I am running.

In addition to this I am scrubbing my feet with an activated charcoal soap with a scrub brush after each barefoot excursion, and each night. I apply the lotion in the morning and in the evening.


Michael Carroll

Running = 850,
Cycling = 90,
Walking = 40


As a former heel striker, and a clydesdale athlete, I am used to destroying shoes to the point that they must be discarded into a bin of well loved shoes after only a few hundred miles. Every once in a while I find this bin and pull out a pair of these old shoes and feel the journeys flash back in my mind. Like my first four hour run through the desert attempting to summit Utah peak and how I had to make a cell phone call to get extracted from a nearby fire road. I was out of water, and my feet, could take me no further.

My mileage that I have listed above is a good approximation as I have made it a point to ditch the watch and gps monitors. If anything I have rounded down and have been conservative in my reporting.

I expected the KSO’s to be done at the 500 mile mark and for them to be tossed into the bin of love. But they continue to serve me well. I have been meaning to write this review a hundred miles ago, but just did not feel inspired to do so until now. Most of my mileage on asphalt is done barefoot, but when I head to the trails, I have relied on my KSO’s to take care of my feet. Now having said that it should be clear that this is a love hate relationship as I feel that the KSO and it variants have a significant weakness in their design. The weakness that I speak of is how easy it is to injure your small toe wearing the the KSO’s. Later on in the review I will detail out my solution.

The side view of my five finger KSO’s above make the wear look pretty good and minus, but the front view is a different question.


Now look at the close up shot of the rear side and see how the KSO is coming all apart. If it was not for the straps are pulling everything together the shoe would disintegrate quickly.


So what is happening on the bottom of the sole? It continues to get thinner and thinner. Which for me is good as I am working to perfect my barefoot running and all I need on my trail runs is just a bit of rubber to take the edge off the sharp rocks on the trail. Landing light with good form is why I believe these KSO’s have lasted as long as they have.


If you trail run barefoot, or wear a ultra minimal sandals like Barefoot Ted’s Huarache’s, your small digits are left un-protected, but rarely have I injured them except for a few abrasions from the lava rocks out here. But in KSO’s I have constantly had my small toes injured. I believe this is because the rubber construction of toes insulates the toes just enough that your foot and leg cannot react fast enough to pull back the way it does when just running barefoot. To make matters worse the rubber is sticky so it also wants to grab and hang on to whatever it has made contact with. The rubber protecting the small digits is also angled in such a way that it assists the stickiness factor. In barefooting, or wearing shoes with a complete toe box, your foot wants to operate as a whole unit, but in five fingers, the toe is isolated and the forces of an impact or a snag puts the maximum force on your small toe. Currently my left small toe is almost twice the size as it sibling on the right.


Now having said that, I have been pondering a solution, and implemented it during my desert trail run yesterday to upper and lower graveyard. My hypothesis is that If the small toe was connected to its larger brother next to it, it might have more support to handle small impacts and snags. So I took a needle and thread and sewed the top of the rubber sections of the small toes together. Now in nowise did this change the dynamic of how the shoes performed or functioned. The results after one day of testing — I do believe this will be standard procedure for all future five fingers that I will own.


One more note on this: The next time that I sew the two digits together I will use a stronger thread. Maybe some goretex thread as it is practically unbreakable. As I was using pliers to pull the needle and thread through the rubber I kept breaking the thread as it looped through the needle itself. I would have like to put in a few more stitches and knotted it off, but this was the best I could do with just normal sewing thread.

On the inside I am getting a lot of de-lamination and shredding of the material lining the heal and fore foot areas.


Zoomed in view of the damage.


Conclusion: I am impressed at how well my KSO’s have held up. However, I run completely different than I used to run. Barefoot running is about the business of running light. But you just cannot run barefoot like in any modern running shoes on the market.

KSO’s let me do what I could not do barefoot, but allow me to run barefoot. I am looking forward to Vibram’s TREK shoes to run longer trail marathons in the Ultra-Range. I do not see a change in the design of the toes, so I will sew the pinky toe up.

My only limitations that I see with running Ultra distances in these shoes has more to do with my conditioning than the way the shoes are constructed. With shoes, you certainly can run longer distances, but defects in your strength are well hidden and will only come out as injuries.

I am looking forward to the new minimalist shoes that are coming out on the market and hope to train in them. At the present moment the best tool on the market for running trail Ultra’s is the KSO.

Thanks for reading my review.

Michael Carroll


When you run barefoot you can expect to feel some aches and pains in your feet and ankles when doing some hard training — especially when you wake up in the morning. At least that is my experience. What I did not expect was blood in my urine when I returned from a fast 8 miles with my Dog around 10pm last night. The air temp is still 100 degrees when I went out. I do not think I had enough water, but I drank at least a pint on the run. So I am not sure if the blood in the urine was from impact on my feet, or from enlargement of the membrane that keep the blood separated from the urine, or from the the walls of the bladder hitting each other. The last can happen if you bladder is empty. Mine was after the first 1/2 mile. The tinge of blood in urine happens to distance runners, and to barefoot runners. It is not a serious problem from what I understand unless is happens consistently. Basically I am taking this as an indication of how much I am pushing myself to increase my speed.

Now that was not the only surprise for me. As many of you know, I have been documenting my weight gain, even though I am certainly burning huge calories. I have been striving to change my diet from a eat anything and run hard and long, to eating and training smart. So before I took off on this run I ate an incredible dinner prepared by my wife Michelle of Salmon, sautéed baby squash and onions, on rice. My beverage was water. The surprise was when I woke up to get take care of the twins (they are just a few days shy of 1 year of age).


Normally after a fast run like I did last night I can expect my calves, ankles, and feet to be tight and sore. Sometimes taking a few minutes to stretch out when I get up, and for the soreness to subside. As I slipped my feet off of the bed there is this pause and hesitation as you are going from sleep to walking to brace for the wobbliness as you get on your feet. So I step down, stand up and take the corner around my bed to see why one of the twins is crying. As I am doing this I have this huge realization that my feet, ankles, and calves are not tight, sore or creaking. My guys are teething and so a few ounces of cold milk in the bottle seems to be quite calming. I get the bottle from the kitchen, return to the crib, back to my bed, and quickly back to sleep. Since I have twins you know that this pattern will repeat again. It does, and again I feel the same ease in steps to the crib, to the kitchen and back. I feel the same way when I wake for the day.

Now yesterday was the forth of July. I ate my traditional fare of food. Waffles and eggs for breakfast, chicken and beans burritos for lunch and a lot of crap for dinner. Potato chips, dips, Coke, veggies, and dips. This morning as i woke up, I am back to my routine of lower body tightness, creakiness, and soreness.


There is no question in my mind that the correlation of this lower body tightness, creakiness, and soreness is directly related to my diet.

On David Goggins on competitor radio. It is pretty cool.

Michael Carroll

One of the cool things about blogging is the incredible stories that people have to tell. I love the story of Marc Rubin of 10-hours.com. I too remember the photograph that I saw of myself when I was commuting two hours each way to work in San Diego in 2002. I was eating fast food, no exercise, and drinking at least 2 x 64oz Mountain Dews. One day on my way home pains starting in my chest pulsed down my left arm. “Holy Crap! — I am too young to be having stuff like this happen!!!” The next day I went to see my Doctor and here hooked me up to an EKG. My heart was healthy, and I was having acute anxiety — which from what they told me can mimic a heart attack — Whew!

My Dad had a heart attack directly related to diet and stress in 1992, and again this year he needed a number of stents put in to open some severe blockages.

I made some changes in my life, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and doing a few repeats up the hill on my bike every day, but I kept the Mountain Dew habit, and the stressful job. My body tone improved and I could deal with stress much better, but I was a far cry from my days as a Marine Force Reconnaissance man.

In high school I was bone rack skinny and could not eat enough to put any weight on my body. I ran cross country and track, skied and snowboarded. We never starved in my home. Each sunday was filled with meat, mash potatoes, gravy, and lots of fresh veggies from the garden. It was our pattern to sit and eat and eat until we could not move. We were under direct orders to eat everything on our plate, and if for any reason we left food on the plate we were served up a good dose of guilt “don’t you know people are starving in Africa.” I always wondered how I was going to ship the napkin full of cooked peas I was hiding in my lap across the Atlantic. I could easily win any eating contest and I held the neighborhood pizza and burrito eating championship.

By the time I got to the Marine Corps my physical activity picked up and I found the love of running that I just could not find during high school. For the first time in my life I ran a sub 18 minute three mile. I ran and swam on a daily basis. I was a regular on the grass corner of Marine Barracks 8th & Ist in Washington D.C. methodically pumping out a Force Recon / Navy Seal work out each morning. Working out was becoming an obsession for me as I had the goal of making it into an elite 2nd Force Reconnaissance Co team. in North Carolina. I read the Navy Dive manual and knew in my heart that I was going to graduate number one from the Arm’s Combat Swimmer School. When I tried out for the pre-entrance screening test, written on the bottom of my evaluation form was the words “best swimmer to date!”

Needless to say my appetite for food was off the hook. I was in the chow line four times a day. A trip to McDonalds would look something like this: 2 BigMac, 2 Lg Fries, 2 hot apple pies, 2- 32 oz orange drink, and 12 Chicken McNuggets.

Fast forward now 16 years, I was running my own business (Architectural Shutter & Blind), and was about to go through one of the toughest times in my life- business failure and divorce. I was working long hours, eating poorly (fast food everyday), and I had discovered Diet Coke. Not just a can here and there, but at least 2-3x 64oz drinks per working day.

I did not have time to be sick. What started out as a bladder infection, soon had me screaming in pain and cold sweats, and I felt like someone had stuck a hot knife in my kidneys. Business was still good, but things were not working the way they should. Our largest customer was trying out the competition because our supplier was taking too long to deliver our large tube systems, and my marriage was failing. I pushed through trying to work and suppress what my body was acutely telling me. Then I could not ignore reality anymore as my simple infection had now turned into full blown kidney infections. It landed me in the hospital on the strongest anti-biotic drug you can have put in your body. I was inches from losing my life.

I was not quite sure of the source of the initial infection, but my doctor concurred with me that it was connected to my diet of Diet Cokes. The drugs were working, and I was recovering quickly, but my craving for a Coke was still with me. One of my visitors in the hospital asked if there was anything they could get for me. I of course say “can you get me a Diet Coke?” Before being admitted into the hospital, I was given an oral sulfa drug. The side effects were the most acrid, nauseating, things I have ever experienced. To take the drug I would have to focus and work up the courage to take the pills because of these side effects. With all the drugs in me, the sip of Coke, had the same reaction as when I took the pills. That is all it took to cure my Diet Coke habit, and I have never gone back to Diet anything.

That time in my life was tough, but on the up side they jump started my old love affair with running. It was cheap therapy and it made me smile. I could barely run 2 miles and up a hill 500 feet tall. In three years I have transformed my body. I can run a marathon in bare feet, a 50k in minimalist shoes. I can swim more than a mile in a lake and sometimes hang with Rich Hurd (triathlete) on one of his slower days.

However, the point of my blog today is to express my deep respect for Marc Rubin. He transformed his body, and he changed his unhealthy familial eating patterns. What a great gift he is giving his son.

Although I am faster, stronger than I have been since the Marines, I have yet to reform my eating habits. As my distances have grown so has my weight as I struggle to get enough calories in my body. To little and I am walking around in a daze, too much, I feel good — but the middle grows. I am more keenly aware of my eating patterns than I have ever been. I am still struggling with my cravings for carbonation — the SODA! I am wondering what I am holding on to, and when I will be ready to change the way I eat.

One last thought. How many of us equate health to working out, but not to eating?

Best regards to all those who are building better lives for themselves and their families,

Michael Carroll

Race Report Sapper Joe 50K.


This it the inaugural run of this race. You could see the excitement on the faces of the National Guardsman and the Race Director. Many Guardsmen were going to be running and were checking in with those that would be manning the course. It was as well managed and organized as St. George which speaks volumes for the organizers and volunteers.

You could not ask for a more perfect day to go running. The energy wind turbines were slowing turning as we gathered on Camp Williams for the pre-race briefing. The temperature was perfect, just enough of a chill to wear a long sleeve shirt. Big, partially connected rain clouds moved overhead causing the humidity to be high but it was cool and comfortable.

My previous race was the St. George Marathon barefoot. It rained and 26.3 miles on pruned-up feet was an interesting journey. So beautiful cool weather, on dirt, sporting a pair of FIVES was going to be a treat, or so I thought.

Stats: Weight 251lbs and healthy. Completed a 20 mile training run one week prior to race feeling stronger and more relaxed than my last work up for the St. George Marathon. Michelle noted that I looked very relaxed at the 15 mile mark compared to the last time I had done this training run.

Minimal Shoes: Vibram Five Fingers KSO’s (FIVES).

I love running in Vibram Five Fingers. So I was excited to be running my second race in them. They are like old friends as I had already put 460 miles on them before this race. However they are getting a bit thin.

You cannot see how thin they are from the picture I have here, but you can see the wear. The thinness did not worry me as I just need a little edge to take off the bite from rocks — that I knew I was going to encounter on the trail.


Food: Hammer Gels (2), Powerbar Gels (3), Guru Carbonated Energy Drink (1) Paul Newman’s Fig Newtons (9).

The Fig Newton bars have become my energy food of choice both during and before the run. The energy bars on the other-hand do not seem to make a significant difference to me. I used all of the Hammers and two Powerbars, and I ate all the figs.

At the aid stations – Watermelon, bananas, HEED, Hammer Gels, and M&M’s. The water tasted like tap water, and so I stuck to drinking the HEED. It felt like my body wanted it and it felt refreshing. I drank it at each stop. I skipped food at the first aid station, ate a banana at the second. After third aid station the clouds cleared and it was getting hot. I started to crave carbonation. I had a can of GURU for a post race fix as I like the carbonation and how it seems to clear out phlegm in the back of the mouth. Oh boy did it taste good. At about mile 20 I started to crave something cold and sweet. The gels I was carrying were not going to do it. I am not a watermelon fan, but when I pulled into the next aid station I devoured 5 pieces of watermelon. Oh it was perfect and satisfied the craving. Interestingly, when I hit the next checkpoint I was back to the man who does not like watermelon and I opted for a banana. Next time I race I am going to carry S-Caps and Fig Newtons and forgo the gels.

Water – I had my 64oz hydration pack and was sipping on it slowly and consistently throughout the race. When I hit the aid stations I went through 2-3 6oz cups of cold HEED each time. I thought I was doing good on water, but on the leg before the last aid station I ran out of water and I was suffering, my mouth was dry, and I could feel the heat effects on my energy. Fortunately a humvee from the last aid station cam rumbling by. They asked if I needed water. I must have looked like I did and I was able to fill up my pack.

Hydration Pack / RAW PATCHES – Did not connect the straps in the front of my hydration pack. This caused me the only injuries from this race. Huge raw patches on my arms and the side of my body were my arms the straps and my body intersected. Took almost a week to heal. I normally do not have these connected when I train. I am doing more and more training runs after this with no pack and caring two water bottles one in each hand.


The Race - The bottom line here is that I was the last person on the course to finish in the alloted time frame. Well almost – I was 9 minutes over the 9 hour cut off mark. The race director was waiting at the finish line and saw me sprinting across the finish line. The first thing I said was “Did I make it?” He nodded his head and handed me the inaugural finishing medal – I was stoked.

After the 2nd check in I was cruising with the guy that took 20th overall. I was feeling good. Then came the 6 miles of gravel road and my feet gave out. FIVES were definitely the wrong shoe for this race.

Negative 4″ road base on the last 3rd of the course going downhill finished me off and I was tender-footing it the rest of the way — If was an exercise in pain management. When I got dirt I went fast speeding up to a 10 or 11 minute mile. When I hit rocks, especially if it was downhill I slowed to less than a walk.

During the last major elevation change I was caught by an experienced ultra runner was kind enough to pace me up the longest hill before the final descent. When we hit the downhill she took off and finished almost 50 minutes ahead of me.

The last six miles were road base – the same stuff that killed my foot strength. I was singing songs — making up my own lyrics – “You can make it – Go Faster – Beat the Cut-Off – Its only pain – Recon Daddy Gone Take a Little trip – Faster Faster – Venga Venga Venga.”

I was now on the road were we started and I knew I was going to finish. I pushed the limits of pain. I was approaching 9 hours on the course and I refused to DNF or DQ. Other than the pain in my feet I was feeling good. When I hit the asphalt for the last 800 yards I sprinted with strength not indicative of my total time on the course. The smooth asphalt felt smooth like butter to my legs. YES! I would have taken the FIVES off and ran barefoot, but I did not have time to do so.

As I approached the finish line three paramedics and the race director were waiting. I do not think they expected me to be in as good as shape as I was. My wife was there at the finish line and we kissed and she paced me in barefoot. She is a rockstar. I took off my hydration pack and tossed it in the air, easily clearing the finish line banner.


“Wrong Shoes I Declared As I Crossed The Line!”



I was handed a loaded Army Back Pack, and directed to the cold drink coolers.

I soaked my legs in cold water from an Army Water-Buffalo.

No damage – no blisters – Ran 6 miles the next day.


I was glad to finish.

Yes – I will do it again next year.

Half way into the Sapper Joe 50K I was craving carbonation. I was saving a can of Guru for after the race and I slammed it during the race. The craving did not come back even after the race. So I thought I would put up this poll to see if any of you out there have had this same craving.

Here is a couple of pictures from running up and down Angels Landing in Zion’s National Park. I brought my Five’s as I thought the surface might be too rough. Did not wear them.

With my son Benjamin

What good is a run without pushups at the top.

The run on the way back. Steep and fast. The surface is roughened concrete. Secret – keep the feet turning fast.

The view from the top. Does it need words?

I have put another 50 miles running, 20 miles cycling, 16 hours weeding, and 8 hours framing a basement on my Five Fingers. I have been barefoot running a bit lately or I would have put more miles on them — so I think in total I have around 400+ conservative miles on them now.

The repairs seem to be holding up.


Well sort of – the fabric is gone and so another repair would need to add fabric back over the hole. Or the space would significantly shrink.


The next picture shows new holes on the next toe. Rip is at the base of the rubber. Not sure if this is repairable.


The bottoms are wearing fabulously.


The inside heal cup is now showing some wear.


The five finger kso experience is still producing happy feet :)


Happy Running,

Michael Carroll


There is a new trail next to Barrel Roll, in Santa Clara, that I discovered last week.  I realized that this trail did not exist a few weeks ago. I was completely stoked to make this discovery, thinking to myself, that this trail rivals the best in Southern Utah. I found the trail while on a 13 mile multiple trail and road run. I thought I was taking a trail by the name of Barrel Roll. Unfortunately, I was running for time and had to get back to work, so I could not take time to truly appreciate the intense beauty of Spring in the most incredible place to live in the United States.

So, this past Saturday was my 42 birthday and I gave myself the present of not running for time nor speed, but to take in all the sights to see on this new trail.

The trail is to the left of Barrel Roll.


When I was driving to the trail head everyone was coming off of the mountain as it was raining and blowing quite intensely.


leaving - rain is too much...

I almost decided to wait and come back, but as soon as I got out of my car, it cleared up and it was all good. You can see how incredible the terrain and the views are from this next picture. The trail I am running is to the right in the picture- not down below. The trail below is cool, but not like this one.


The next photo is the view looking back down into the city, and you can also see my dog Pepper.


There are plenty of boulders to leap off of to keep the running interesting.


However, it was the plants time to shine as everything here in the desert is in full color.


Notice the water beading on the flower.


Here is another small flower with white, purple and yellow colors. I hope to look up the flower names and add them to the post, but for now, I am just loving the colors in bloom. Soon the spring desert storms will leave, and the heat will return, and so will the blooms.


What an incredible view from the top.


At the entrance to the trail head I ran into Kam one of Southern Utah’s most accomplished ultra runners. He is nursing some knee injuries. He runs in the same Solomon shoes that I used to run in. “Maybe it’s the shoes” I commented as he looked at my five finger shod feet. “Maybe,” he said.  Anyway he is blazingly fast when he is not injured. I believe he was injured in the 24 hours of Moab.


Screaming back down the trail, focused and going fast. My wife snapped a few pictures of me when I returned.


What an incredible day for a run, fast finish, and big smiles.


On the way out we pass Kam. He is hard core and is still on the journey.


I hope that you enjoyed the pictures and I hope to see you on the trail. Maybe out here in my backyard.

Michael Carroll

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