Looking better than they ever have - but still nursing some cracks

Looking better than they ever have - but still nursing some cracks. Super glued the crack and it held for a number of weeks but it split just a few days ago.

I pulled out a bucket of old shoes the other day and found my last pair of running shoes that I ran in. A pair of Solomon trail shoes. The first thing that I noticed was how beat they were. This morning as I stepped out of the shower applied some ASSOS chamois butter to my feet. Yes I know the last post I wrote about was USANA hand cream, and now I am using butt cream? Ok when you stop laughing, I have a point to make. I was pondering how I have treated my feet. Yes, I thought, quite close to those pair of Solomon running shoes. No wonder I have been fighting cracks and dry skin.

I continue to experiment with creams to use on my feet. Not really out of curiosity, but more out of the fact that I ran out of the USANA cream. So Rich Hurd my good friend and tri-freak was happy to lend me a container of butt butter. “Here try this he said” and I said Ok. “But if you don’t like it, bring it back” I heard him say as I ran off down the street. The main ingredient is Almond Oil. Cool I thought.

The cream took a bit of getting used to, as the feel is much different than the USANA cream. I am digging it and only have one reservation. That is the smell. It was the first thing my wife said to me when I came to bed after applying it for the first time. “I am not sure I like that stuff, it smells” she said, I said “yea I know.”

The other thing I was pondering was my trip to my friend Molly Simpson who has been my massage therapist. The last time I saw her I was training for my first attempt at running the St. George Marathon barefoot. As many of you know my first attempt ended in an injury that took quite a bit of time to heal. The good thing is that She set me up on a blind date with the former Michelle Cheney, who is now Michelle Carroll, YES! So I was wondering what she might have to say as I have not been to see her as a client for more than a year.

I asked her to let me know any differences that she could sense, or feel in my body, and in my feet since we last met. Also you should know that I was embarrassed when we used to meet each week because of how bad my right foot looked. My foot was looking good so no embarrassment. So here was here assessment. “Your body fat must be down to about 2% or so” she said. I immediately felt the sides of my belly. “Ok, but maybe not my mid section” I said laughing. Now this is what surprised me. “Your bones have shifted and moved, and are much bigger.” I thought she would have commented on the muscle structure, but she did not, just the bones. Cool I thought.

I went for a run the next day on a new trail that I had not seen before. I felt strong and fast. My confidence in my feet and legs and lungs and body continues to grow. In May an ultra 50K is going to be run in Camp Williams and I am contemplating running it as a birthday present. I will have just turned 42 years old.

Michael Carroll

sense_315Most people think barefoot runners’ feet must be covered with thick calluses to the point that they are without feeling. I was beginning to believe them. I was developing calluses on the edge of my pad, and my heel, and it hurt. Part of my weekly foot care routine would be to sand down the calluses that were building up, and causing large painful cracks to form. Additionally, I developed a routine of washing my feet after each run, massaging and applying generous amounts of olive oil. Sometimes you could consider it an olive oil soak. If I could maintain this routine I would have happy feet — relatively speaking. What I mean by this is that if I missed doing my daily therapy, my issues of dry, callused, and cracking feet returned.

My feet would hurt around the outside edges of the ball and heel. This would be especially true if I ran a rough surface course barefoot. This was also why the calluses were building up. The only thing that helped was my wash, and olive oil soak.

One of the other issues that has plagued me, especially as my mileage has increased, is raw inner thighs. I tried many different things and settled on a combination of olive oil and vaseline. Put on olive oil, and then vasiline, and take some in the hydro pack. So one day I ran out of both of these products. I was desperate, as I was going on a long run, and I knew the consequences of no leg lube. I was at my mothers house and was asking if she had any resources that I could use. She did not. However she said “would some hand cream work?” I said “don’t know, but I will give it a try.” She gave me a half used tube of “USANA Sense Splash! hand cream.

As you might expect the tube was quite convenient, it worked, although it would wear off, and I carried with me to re-apply about every 6 miles or so. The cream at seemed to be a bit sticky as I first put it on and my thighs rubbed together, but as I would run it would prevent my raw inner thighs.

So back to the feet. I was neglecting my feet and they were getting bad, so much so that it was a bit uncomfotable to walk. I pulled out the tube of hand therapy lotion and slathered it on my feet. By the way I am not one for lotions. Most lotions that I have tried on my hands make me want to crawl out of my skin within minutes of application. I do admit that I like to wash my hands after application of the lotion to my feet as it is still a bit unnatural feeling, but I do not want to crawl out of my skin even if I do not get to wash my hands.

Now here is the revelation. My feet have been getting nice and soft, and I am doing tough runs with much greater ease. The calluseses and constant cracks are gone, no pain arround the edges (even after a tough surface run), and I am not sanding my feet — don’t need to. YES!

So here is the formula:

  • Wash after each run
  • Apply USANA Sense Hand Cream
  • Massage feet and work cream into edges of foot especially the zones that are prone to crack
  • Apply cream at night if needed

That is it.

Happy Running

Michael Carroll

I have an out and back run into Snow Canyon State Park from my home that I just love. The last time I ran it, I was barefoot, in preparation for the St. George Marathon. So in preparation for the Salt Lake City Marathon I put this 16 mile run under my belt again barefoot.

The run stood out for me in a couple of ways. The first was how my feet felt deep into the Canyon, and the second was running it in the pitch dark, as their was no moon, just a blanket of stars.

When I previous ran this run I rember the decent back into Snow Canyon to be painfull enough to cause me to walk instead of running. The road is quite steep — it is surfaced with a fine chip seal — so it feals like course sandpaper.  I also remember the next day that my feet were tender.  So as I write this I notice two differences. The first is that I was a bit worried about running the marathon (StGeorge) because of how my feet felt.  I powered up the hill against the wind and pushed hard. The wind was stiff and cold enough to cause my feet to go numb. Again I wondered how I would feel making the decent back in. At the top I threw down a few apples took a final look at my Garmin – 8.5 miles at the turn arround. The Sun had now disapeared and without a moon, darkness in the canyon, was soon upon me. I charged the down hill run. Checking my posture — sitting, lifting my knees, my head smooth, and my arms pumping vigorously. I kept expecting my feet to give out any second as I was going fast. But they did not, nor would they.


I was now under a great canopy of brillient stars. I could barely see the ouline of the road and was looking for the start of the trail path so I would not miss it. As I started this run I was pondering all the silly things my Dad would often say about people of Irish descent. All those steriotipical things that faced Irishmen since they imigrated to this country.  I felt very connected to my anscestors this night — as the star filled sky blurred overhead against the contrast of almost pitch black  Snow Canyon trail. At 41 years old I was simply determined to rebuild my life without the lies of the past. To stand on truth, to be all that my ancestors hoped, but never thought they could be. I thought of my Tongan freind who walks with heaviness, maybe carring all the burdens of his ancestors — those who once went from island to island with no compass — living with a great sense of adventure. He has pulled himself out of the Gheto’s of LA and lives here with a beautiful family. I ran last night for my ancestors and for my posterity and it was incredible. There are no limits.


The run is pretty cool as you can see from the above elevation chart their is some stiff climbs. YES!

One last thought. The first time I ran this run I did not carry any extra food. I also did not replenish my glycogen stores after the run. I finished the run with strength and speed. I feel I could do the run again this morning. I also believe that my feet and muscles continue to get stronger and stronger.  I look forward to my 2nd barefoot marathon in Salt Lake City in just a couple of weeks.

Michael Carroll

On a trip to Provo Utah this past Saturday I leisurely repaired my Vibram Five Finger KSO’s. Today was my first run since the repairs were made. I did a fast and hard 10 mile run on both trails and asphalt. I have photographed the results of my repair job for all to see.

Repaired Toe

As you can see the toe is holding up quite well. I wish I could say that for the hole in the inside of the toe.

As you can see the repair is holding, but the fabric is so thin that it is disinegrating. Toe Holes - Repaired and ripping again

I also sewed up the heal area and you can see that it has held up well, but now the stress has caused the fabric to open a hole above where the repair was made.   Anyway see you all on the trail.

Michael Carroll

Fabric ripping
Repair Closeup

vibram-resultsBefore running the St. George Marathon I buried my Huaraches in the desert. So I was left to run my favorite trails Barefoot. So I was quite surprised to find a $100 gift certificate in the mail from www.wasatchrunningcenter.com for a pair of Vibram Five Fingers. It was like early Christmas when they arrived last December.

Since that time I have been logging an average of 30 miles per week with a distance of 8 to 15 mile run every other day. My first day I put a rip in them running across a lava section of the trail. I was bummed! I also noticed  that the inside of the heal cup was coming undone after only three runs. I thought that I would be attempting a repair job on this part of the shoe, but it has been holding steady since my first runs in the shoe.

One of the things I have had to learn quite quickly is that I must focus on keeping my pinky toes away from rocks and brush as the rubber tip wants to grab everything in sight. I am nursing a dislocated pinky toe as a result of having the toe get ripped to the side. This is not why the seam is coming un-done however in the picture.five-fingers-wear1

I have been pretty impressed with how these shoes handle the the rough Southern Utah desert. I can do things that I could not do in Hauraches, or Barefoot. Even when I was wearing standard trail shoes (Solomon GTX’s as of three years ago). I did start to run with injini socks, but found them to be too hot. The socks however made running on the shale like ruble more tolerable. The secret though is making sure that you are running perfect barefoot form. This is why I start and end each run barefoot on pavement so that I am constantly building the necessary muscle memory.

Running in KSO’s is a dream as I scramble up and down steep boulder strewn sections of the trail. Even thought the the top of the shoe is not protected like my Solomon’s are, my barefoot training and the stickiness of the rubber allow me to jump and run through these sections of trail without worrying about twisting my ankle.

In Huaraches and running long distances I would get what would feel like a heat blister on the bottom of my toe. This is also my experience with the KSO’s, particularly the right toe. If you notice the above diagram my feet slide to the outsides of the shoe with my big toe pressing down to stabilize and maintain grip on the often off camber trails I run. This pressure is also causing the seam to rip on pinky toes. The rubber on the second metatarsal is also causing rips on inside of the first metatarsal (big toe).


More about wear

I will be pulling out my needle and thread to sew up and patch the holes. I will post pictures here for all to see. The bottom of the shoe is still looking like it can handle another 450 miles. The most wear is coming from the outside edge on the ball of the foot. The razor slits are now open and you can see some chunking of the rubber.


Ultra Running with Five Fingers

As I set my sights on running an Ultra (Angeles Crest 100) I would like to see Vibram modify the toes so that the separation of the toes would be molded together maybe the same thickness as the rubber under the arch. That way if the pinky toe is caught on a rock the other toes would be pulled with it. This would allow the toes to act as a unit and would limit injuries. Also it would stop the wear that I am getting on the inside of the big toe. I think the feel would be the same. There is no question that on rough trails and with longer distances that stretch into the 20 hour mark that a more shoe like product is needed. I like the shoe that Barefoot Ted is testing, but I so like the five finger experience and want to run the Angeles Crest with them. I think that there is a market for a five fingers product that is designed to tackle the 100 mile trail run.


Although I am stoked to be running in KSO’s I will be searching for a minimal shoe to run my first 100 mile trail run in. I will push my luck here in a few days and run a 20 miler in the KSO’s after I work on the shoes with needle and thread.


Another 50 Miles on Fives

Repaired my Fives

Pinky Toe Update: After putting more that 500 miles on my Five’s and running a 50K last weekend May 23 I have less and less stubbed my pinky toes. In fact in my 50K race I only slightly dinged it on a rock. Seems your body learns how to keep the toes safe as I am unconcious of any difference in running technique.

Hot Spots Update: No longer getting hot spots on toes on long runs with Fives. Did a 20 mile training run with no hot spots whatsover.

This summer I took my first long distance open water swim of the season. It was with a good friend of mine Richard Hurd.  It had been a couple of year since I had swam in open water. I was a little bit nervous as I knew Rich would quickly pull away and I would be swimming essentially alone. I estimated the buoy to be abut a half mile away and the total swim about a mile in distance. The water was smooth reflecting the surrounding mountains and giant Cotton ball clouds soaking up the early morning light bending over the horizon. No one except for a few campers were in the park.

I was a bit hesitant to jump in. In 1996 while on a business trip to North Carolina I arrived at my hotel to catch the edge of a great Atlantic storm surge. Without hesitation I jumped into cold dark choppy six foot rain drenched waves to swim. It was late at night and the hotel lights were the only lights shining on this dark night. I loved every second of my swim. I had no fear and a grinning smile never left my lips. “Yes!” I screamed as I left the water, pumped beyond belief, at having the opportunity to swim in the ocean in such favorable (distressed) conditions.

So here I was with my friend Rich an accomplished triathlete and swimmer all suited up in his go fast, high speed, buoyant fresh water wet suit. And me wondering how cold the water was in my acsis running shorts at the crack of dawn of this high desert mountain reservoir.  Was I ready for such a distance? I had swam this far in the pool, but not in open water, and I had not trained in the pool for almost three years. I knew my lung would not give out, but I was unsure of my arms. I jumped in and felt the briskness of early morning water and with in a couple of strokes I was cutting smoothly through the water. The only challenge I had was my goggles kept fogging up and I had to stop, tread water, and take them off to spot my course.

Like barefoot running very few people feel comfortable swimming long distances in open water. I reflected upon an experience I had while teaching at the Marine Corps Water Survival Instructor School. A young man in great physical shape washed out of the training. Before he did I remember speaking with him about completing a required water test that required you to swim across the bottom of a 15′ deep swim tank with your hands placed behind your back, your legs tied Indian style, and with a weight belt to keep you on the bottom of the pool. A giant breath took you to the bottom where you would then hop across the 25 meter width of the pool. At the other end you could then take your arms and swim to the surface and remove your weight belt.

All in the course had completed the test, but this young Marine could not. At the bottom of the pool fear would creep up into this mans head and cause him to panic where he would shoot to the surface and scream to be untied and pulled out. He told me he was still battling the memories of a boating accident were he saw three of his high school buddies drown and die as his boat burst into flames after collision. Naively I told him that by completing this course he would ensure that none of his buddies in the Marine units he would be assigned to would suffer the same fate as his close Friends.

Now that I am 41 years old I see how limited my thinking about fear was at the time. My simple words were not enough to overcome the deep pain and fear that was embedded in that young Marine.

Today on my run I pushed the limits of my body as I ran four laps around a section of undeveloped property, close to my home to complete a distance of a mile, I was pondering how fast I could run the mile barefoot. My fastest time for the mile was a sub 6 for three miles for 17:56 during my time as a 20 year old Marine. Someone reported a sub 5 minute mile the other day on the running barefoot discussion list. I told my wife about this and she said that I should try and do the same. I immediately felt the fear of the pain that that speed would create in my lungs and body. “No, I don’t think I am up for that kind of pain” I said to her. “Did I hear you correctly” She retorted back.

So I pushed hard — feeling the pain well up in my lungs and legs as I pushed my boundaries. I did not have a watch with me, but it felt sixish, maybe 5:59. 

I thought of all the times that I had taken on my fears in my life. Business failures, huge projects, inventions to pull off the impossible, divorce, running a marathon barefoot in the rain, and the like.  As I merge my new  family together, I am now the father to nine children (Mine, Hers and Ours), I have a completely new outlook on the challenges of fear. Every challenge that I face in the business world is reflected acutely in my role as Father.  A wave of fear courses through many businesses at this time; How are we going to survive?  Will we have jobs? Will we have customers? And many more questions such as this.  My answer, now more than ever is one of patience, love, and encouragement. It is the secret to success in such times as these.

I sure hope the young Marine that I spoke with some twenty years ago was the recipient of love and encouragement to overcome his fears by the people he interacted with after me.  For me,  I am committed to overcoming my fears – I see an 100 mile trail ultra, and running the Ironman in minimal shoes in my future!  Game is on.

Michael Carroll


When I first started running barefoot I learned quickly that wet feet and pavement did not always work. One day I was running a fairly rough dirt trail barefoot. It was tender but manageable. I soon saw a stretch of grass. Yes I knew it was going to feel good — I quickly steered my way on to the grass and felt the cool relief of soft moist grass on my feet. After this stretch of grass was a short section of pebble strewn dirt and then asphalt road. “YEE-OUCH!!!” It was like I was instantly hobbled. It took another mile of running on concrete before I felt relief from this short stretch of dirt and pavement. Moisture from the grass makes your feet tender. I mention this because it was dry for weeks before the Marathon.

About two weeks before the race I mentioned to my wife that my worst nightmare would be for it to rain. “I’m not sure if I could complete the race” I remarked to her. “I will just have to take my huaraches with me just in case.” I was not too worried as I live and train in St. George and it barely rains here.

One week later I was running in the desert and my right huarache had a blow out, the rear strap pulled through the elephant bark sole material. I knew what I needed to do. I was hedging my bets about the rough surface of the St George Marathon thinking that if it got too rough I could put on my sandals and I would be Ok. Ken Saxton wrote that the previous years course was much rougher than his previous runnings of St. George as there was new chip seal. Ken ended up with heat blisters. Ken’s feet are quite experienced at running marathon’s barefoot so I was already a bit on edge to know if I could do what I set out to do. It would still be running barefoot, if I wore huarache sandals, I pondered to myself.
So I ceremoniously buried my huarache sandals right there in the desert. With no backup plan I ran home with a renew sense of confidence that I could, and would finish the race.

When I was dropped off at the shuttle pickup point, conditions seemed to be perfect. I was not sure what to expect, although I had incorporated sections of chip seal into my training runs they were never more than 1000 yards long, I was still trepidatious about the surface of the course. My goal was to focus on being light and elegant with perfect form over this rough stuff. If I could do this I was sure that my training would allow me to finish under 4 hours.

Walking to the bus, with socks on.

On the ride up I sat next to a man from LA who had been running Marathons for 30 years. We had a wonderful conversation about families and running. He told me of some of the best marathons to run. I cannot wait to run a few of them myself. Our conversation died off and with that the drops of rain began to form on the buses front windshield. At first it was just a sprinkling, but then the wipers came on and it was a steady drizzle. Maybe it would just be wet for a few minutes and the storm would be gone, I hoped to myself. This would not be the case.

My worst nightmare was happening. So I dug deep in to the proverbial suitcase of courage and began my affirmations about running light and elegant, and most importantly that the rain coming down would actually be a blessing in allowing me to run over the roughest parts of this Marathon.

I donned the garbage bag that the race organizers had for us at the start of the race. Put a liberal amount of Vaseline on my nipples, and grabbed a cup of hot chocolate. My wife remarked at how many men crossed the finish line with bleeding nipples. There were fire pits set up and being lit, I avoided them as I did not want to breath in the smoke. I was not prepared for cold weather, other than wearing a long sleeve shirt and socks. The wind was blowing quite vigorously and I found shelter in the pinion pines off to the west of the road. I immediately started to massage my muscles and stretch. The cold was already making me quite stiff. I was surprised that there were only a few runners stretching. Most hunkered down next to the wind break of a tree of hugged the periphery of the burning fires.

I was worried that I would have to have a bowel movement on the course and so waited until the last possible moment to join the long lines waiting for the porta-potties. Fortunately my timing was right on, and I made it to one, and exited just in time for the race to start. Whew! I was feeling good. I took off my socks, put them in the clothing bag, and tossed it to a pile of like bags on the side, and I settled in to start the race.

One of my concerns about running a marathon barefoot was getting my feet stepped on at the start up the race when it is the most congested. In fact another runner along the way asked me the same question. I was fine. No one stepped on my feet.

I was jogging in place as the crowds moved forward. It was dark, but the lights at the start illuminated the large group of runners ahead of me in the drizzling rain. It was pretty cool experience to be aligned with so many people out to run a marathon. It was a surreal and neat experience. I was pretty much in the back of the pack. I figure it would be quite motivating to pass a lot of people and to relax and start out even slower than I expected. I met up with a gentleman from Illinois by the name of John, who was on his way to run a marathon in every state of the nation. I believe he said that this was number 27. He said that he had introduced barefoot running into his training to help him improve his running, and It had helped him completely redesign his running and stride and eliminate injuries from his running quest. Cool!

Though the pavement was rough, but I was feeling good as I weaved in and out of runners. I was finding the tire grooves and I was picking up speed. Soon the sun was fully illuminating the morning from behind the clouds. Two miles came up quite fast and with it my first water/aid station experience. Cups are strewn everywhere and volunteers are vigorously putting cups of water, Gatorade, and gel in front of you. Runners are stopping, lines form in front of porta-potties, and it is quite chaotic. Then it ends and it all quiets down.

As I was moving forward picking up speed and confidence, I moved forward weaving through runners and passing them. I kept hearing the following phrase, or phrases like it; “look, he’s not wearing shoes!” The phrase would spur conversation between running buddies along the way. Some asked questions and I was happy to answer. To some guys that were quite obnoxious and were obviously having a good time. I replied that I could not afford shoes. It seemed to get a pretty big laugh from the surrounding runners.

I settled in and continued to focus and weave my way through runners. Mile 6 came up and I was confident that I could keep my increasing pace and finish under 4 hours. It started to rain and blow harder, and I pressed on. I continued to search for the groove lines on the pavement. These groove lines collected water and my feet splashed each time I put my foot down. Most of the time the groove lines were the smoothest asphalt to run on, but sometimes what was below the water was insane. I would then weave out and find another line.

I was surprised at the halfway point to see my time 2:12. I know that it took 10 to 15 minutes for me to cross the start line, so I was pleased. I know that I had slowed down because of the surface, but I was feeling good and hoping for some good pavement ahead. If it would dry out a bit and I could get a good stretch of smooth road, I could do well or so I thought. So I picked it up, and headed towards the upcoming hill. On the hill I was passing all those that passed me on the downhill sections. I settled in, dug up the hill, squeezed a apple cinnamon hammer gel, and still thought that a sub 4 hour run was possible in these conditions.

The next downhill section was murder. Every footstep set my body into a tense reaction to the tenderness of my feet interacting with the chip seal. “Elegant, relax, smooth” I repeated to myself as a deliberate mantra to focus my mind on what I needed to do to survive. My speed dropped dramatically. I was getting passed by everyone, it felt like. I had passed the 4 hour pace guy carrying balloons, now he passed me. I came up upon a big guy about my height who was now walking. I said something to him, and he caught up with me. I figure, that if I talked with someone also struggling, that we could both push forward. The pain to smooth pavement mix was interesting. It would seem that I would alternate from finding smooth pavement to rough, and just the sheer grit of wading through pain.

I slowed to a walkers pace. I saw a few ambulances pulling runners off the course. With the pain raging through my body, I wondered if this would be me. I stopped on a bridge, grabbed the barrier, and stretched my hamstrings and calves. It felt rejuvenating. I turned, and set off with more resolution that this run was possible. I had trained, my body was physically fine, all I had to do was relax and manage the effects of pain. I was off of the bridge and the road turned butter smooth. I was expecting this, but I did not expect the immediate results that it had on my body. It was as if someone had just handed me 2800 mg’s of Motrin. I relaxed, my speed picked up. I was passing runners again, and I pushed forward. I could again see the pace setters balloons. The run then turned and angled downhill. So I was running off camber, fast, and downhill. With the amount of water on the road, the smoothness, and the road oil coming to the surface, I was slipping. If I pushed the pace it felt like I was going to slip and land on my back and on my head. I slowed down, but then I felt like I was betraying my capacity to go fast for I was truly feeling healthy and capable. So I compromised and found a smooth rut next to a gritty lane. I would run fast and focus on balance, then slip to the side and catch the rough pavement and focus on being smooth and managing pain. I alternated running this way for sometime as it seemed to work for me. What I did not know was that the off camber surface and my strategy was focusing all of the stopping energy of running downhill on the inside of my left foot and big toe.

The rough pavement returns and I slow to a grinding pace. I was surprised at how fast the halfway mark had come up. I was now equally surprised at how slow each aid station was coming up. I was not interested in water, or gels, but went straight for the Vaseline booth. My body was soaking wet and I could feel the inside of my thighs rubbing. If I did not slather Vaseline I knew I was going to be hurting. The aid workers were in more shock than my fellow runners about me being barefoot. Many thought I had taken my shoes off because of the rain. I pressed forward. I was now coming into the last stretch. I was at 22 miles and the 4:30 pacer had just passed me. I was suffering. Four miles to go, it was raining, and I was not running on broken, rough, cracked old pavement. The course was now lined with constant crowds.

Three young men were behind me hollering and eating up the energy of the crowd. There were wearing huge smiles and cracking jokes. At first it was a bit annoying, but their energy was infectious. I was in pain and suffering, but now I was smiling. I pressed on. Four miles – this was going to be easy. On all of my practice runs I trained for the push of the last for miles. Just push the pain aside, and go fast. My body had a different thought. I turned onto diagonal and I found the painted lane lines and tried to stay running on them. The pavement at this time was not run-able. Not in my condition. Each foot landing would send pain up my spine to the top of my head. I looked longingly at the smooth concrete sidewalks that were lined with people, and block by barriers. Then we turned off of diagonal the barriers were gone, and I went straight for the sidewalk. I could run again and I was out of the lime light as I was now running behind the crowds. At each cross street, I braced, made my way around the barriers and back onto the sidewalk. “Take a left and your done” yelled a supporter. Off of the side walk I came, swung around the last set up barriers and saw the last ¾ of a mile ahead of me. I was on the home stretch. There was no sidewalks to ease my pain, but a gauntlet of crowds and a meat tenderizing surface.

For the last stretch spectators kept asking; “did you run the whole race barefoot?” “Yes” I would reply smiling. I was crawling at a walkers pace and shod runners were sprinting passed me in droves. A bit de-motivating. The last 1000 yards was lined with National Guard troops from the 222. It motivated me to start singing the Marine Corps hymn. It never fails to pick up my spirits and my pace. I was now running and looking more respectable. I was looking for my wife. I knew she was going to be at the finish line. I could not see her. I wanted to see her. What I could not see was that she was running behind the crowds barefoot alongside of me. She was feeling firsthand the roughness of the course and was a bit shocked that I was still able to run after 26 miles, for her short supporting run was tender.

I crossed the finished line. The clock said 4:43 minutes. I had finished.

Just crossed the finish line

“Micheal!” I heard to my right — It was Michelle beaming brightly. I sprinted to the side and hugged her tightly over the barrier. I had done it. My first marathon, and I did it barefoot in the worst conditions I could imagine. YES!!!!

After the finish line I grabbed an ice cream cone and devoured it, then three pieces of bread. I walked back with Michelle to our car and cheered on all of the racers still on the course. I had a medal around my neck and it felt unbelievable good. YES!!!!!

Walking back to the car.

A few hours later – only two large blood blisters from running off camber downhill.

I did what I feared the most. Run a rough course marathon in the rain. Although I could barely walk the next day — by Wednesday I ran 1.5 miles, and on Friday I ran 5.

Michael Carroll

snowcanyonI went out this morning feeling quite sure that I was doing 20 miles. The course I chose to run this morning goes along a trail next the main route for the St. George Marathon (hwy 18). The route for the 1st 12 miles is all up hill. The first 6 miles was great and I was cruising at a fast clip. I was feeling energized and confident. I have never run this course, and from the road it looks smooth and like it connects into Snow Canyon State Park. Snow Canyon would be the downhill portion of the run.

So I turn up portion of the trail that follows hwy 18 and immediately I ran into pea sized and smaller loose gravel. Usually I am pretty adept at avoiding this stuff, but it was the same color as the road and you could not see it. My pace slowed dramatically and for the next hour and a half I was running a route of pain. About one mile to “The Ledges” development I stepped on a rock that just rocketed a line of pain from my foot to the top of my head. It made me stop, grab my knees, and breath through the pain. The stuff was just everywhere and it was fatiguing to keep focusing on relaxing. So I started to walk through this section and wonder if I was going to call for a extraction. Soon the debris field cleared and I was running, albeit slowly as a tender-footer.

Mentally I was using the rocks to my best advantage by asking myself about each item of pain and discomfort. I believe that you can root out mental limitations by asking yourself what is connected to this pain. If you listen you can feel connections. For example one of the connections that came to my mind on a previous run was that barefoot runners can never be as fast as a shod runner. The process I use is quite simple, and it goes like this; “I am sorry for holding on to the belief that barefoot runners cannot run as fast, or as long as runners who wear shoes, and I choose to give this away.” Where you send it is up to you. Pick something that is powerful for you emotionally. Then you need to choose a replacement; “I choose to believe that barefoot runners are not limited in speed and or endurance.” After saying this, and a few others like it, my next day’s run was my fastest to date.

Ok back to the run. By the time that I got to “The Ledges” and through the roundabout, the trail changed from asphalt to loose gravel and some patches of dirt. Normally I have been running without a hydration backpack, but today I had it on, and I had my minimal tied huaraches with me. I put them on, filled up my pack with water from a hose at the guard station and ran on. My speed picked up and I was confident that I was going to finish my first 20 mile run.

My black dog Pepper was also suffering the effects of the run. So I called in an extraction for him from my wife. I soon made it to the entrance to Snow Canyon State park and the downhill portion was to begin. The road going down into Snow Canyon is clean with no debris, but it is like running on skate board grip tape. My feet were in no condition to run on this surface. So I elected to continue running in my huaraches. I was also pondering the surface condition of the marathon course as I could see the surface of what I will be running on in two weeks. Could my feet be tough enough to run on this surface? As far as I know only three people have run this course barefoot. The most famous being Ken Bob Saxton.

My speed picked up again and so did the heat as it was noon. Once I got to the paved path inside the park, I took off the huaraches, and continued my run barefoot. The asphalt on the paved trail is smooth and debris free. This is what makes this run so fantastic as the scenery is magical. Very few places in the world can match the views from inside the park, and it is just 4 miles from my back yard. The trail winds its way out of the park through two wooden bridges and past a section of coral pink sand dunes. I made good time to the exit of the park. However, at the extraction point for Pepper I was hurting and I put my huaraches back on and exchanged my hydration pack for a water bottle. I was now off and running to finish the last five miles.

At the 17 mile marker I celebrated, and again, and again. Yes! I was getting closer and closer to my goal and I was feeling strong in my legs and lungs. Full marathon is doable I am thinking, but barefoot all of the way? My feet are tender as I turn in the last four miles. I run past my house, and loop back around to make the full 20 miles. I pick up the pace and push hard for the last 500 yards. YES!!!! What joy and elation… I did it and I feel good, well as good as you can feel after pushing your limits.

My parents bought a case of REV3 energy juice so I could try it out after my long runs. I have used it for the last three long runs (12+) and its has quite a catchy taste. I was craving the taste all the way home for the last 2 miles. It is carbonated and it seems to cut through the parched feel of my mouth. The taste is kind of fruity pomegranate. I am not one to rely on supplements, until recently. I was seriously bonking for 2-3 hours after each hard run. This REV3 stuff definitely makes a difference as a after run drink. I still need to find a good electrolyte supplement for during and after. I want to try what Ted McDonald is using.

Walking into my house I can feel my thighs, glutes, and calves tightening up stiff, much more than what I was experiencing when I was running. I will put a link for the REV3 sometime this week on the site if anyone is interested. I will also hope to add some pictures. I will post more as I get ready to run my first Marathon.


Michael Carroll

I recorded my longest run to date shod or barefoot last Friday. I am focused and training for the fast approaching day of the St. George Marathon. I am a bit concerned about how much downhill running there is so I am picking routes that are uphill out and downhill all the way back home. I am feeling strong and pushing my limits. One week has passed and I am going by feel as to when I will put in my next long run around 18 or 20 miles. I do not want to push this, but would like to see if I can get in a solid 20 at least a week or two before the marathon.


One of my favorite runs is out my front door and into the Santa Clara River Reserve. I have a 6 to 8 mile loop that puts my Huaraches to test. It is quite rocky and abrasive. I originally was running off-road in Huaraches (Vibram Cherry Soles) using Ted’s double threaded hemp method. I then began to get very tender under my right toe. To the point that it was even effecting my barefoot running. I then had a stroke of fortune – my huaraches disappeared. Which was not cool as I was heading to Bryce Canyon and had no time to order new materials from Ted. I had some elephant bark soling and one extra hemp braided cord. The family was packed and waiting to go — I grabbed the soling material — stood on it in the driveway and traced my feet. I then cut the material our with a pair of strong Fisker fabric scissors in less than two minutes. I have a small Swiss Army pocket knife on my key chain and used the awl tool and knife to punch out three holes and threw them into the side door of the car with the hemp cord.

Arriving in Bryce Canyon I split the hemp cord in to two pieces and threaded my minimal Huarache sandals. I did not have enough cord to tie them like ted does and with the cord crossing over the top of my arch. So I eliminated the cord wrapping around the ankle. It took a few adjustments to get everything worked out as the back kept wanting to fall off of my heal, but then I got it dialed in and have not looked back since.

The first thing that I notice was that the distance between cord breaks was four times what it used to be. This last point was one of the original reasons that I was using the double lacing method – more abrasion resistance. The next thing I notice was something that I just learned to deal with and that was how the wrapping of the cord would tighten up around my ankle when I would go up or down steep inclines. I would have to stop when I got to flat sections and re-adjust. Now this is wrapping is completely gone and my mobility I feel is significantly enhanced on running on any terrain. The last benefit was that I figured out that the big double knot of the double cord method was what was giving me my tender toe. No more tender toe – YES!

So take a look at my strapping method and let me know how it works for you all out there.

PS – Interesting note – I am put on more muscle and lost some fat. Weight is not around 238 and feeling faster and fitter than ever. And by the way the I am que up to run the St. George Marathon again this year, and of course sans shoes.


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