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BrickhouseBodymindTV Episode 6 – Minimal, Traditional, Handmade Footwear from the Raramuri Indians

Written by Philip Walter on May 27 at 11:35 am.

Barefoot Ted Running Sandals

Photo courtesy of
Barefoot Ted

So, for the past couple weeks, in addition to preparing for and rejoicing in the arrival of my first son, Ian Andrew Walter (YAY!), I have been researching various various forms of natural, barefoot running. There are many purists out there who would like us all to run, walk, and locomote everywhere barefoot. It appears this is not only honoring the elegant, evolutionary design of the human being, but it’s also great for your arches, knees, and calves, and it reduces your risk of ankle injury. Whatever your stand in this debate, I remain unwilling to run through my neighborhood feet completely unshod, given the various shards of sharp things that lie in wait.

This mixture of a fervent respect for nature’s design and a practical approach to training in the modern world lead me to Barefoot Ted and his huarache sandal kits. These sandals’ design were brought to Barefoot Ted’s attention by a few Tarahumara (Raramuri in their native tongue) Indians running Ultra-Marathons in the U.S. The Raramuri are natives of a rural area in northwestern Mexico called Copper Canyon. They are runners by lifestyle, trekking long distances from enclave to enclave in the rugged mountains of the region, all the while wearing this particular brand of sandal.

So I ordered a kit to make my own from Barefoot Ted and recorded the experiment to share with you guys. Please let me know what ya’ll think!

In terms of looks, these things are so cool I can’t stand it … always interesting to see people’s reactions. In the last couple weeks I’ve run 20 km (about 12.5 miles), mostly on pavement. The first 5k yielded significant DOMS in my calves that lasted most of 5 days or so, but the subsequent 5k outings have been much easier with recovery more in the range of 24-36 hours. I am considering grabbing another kit without the leather footpad to use in wet conditions, because the leather tends to get slick on me.

The sandals really are quite comfortable, but the secret to the comfort is in the proper tie. I did create two “hot-spot” rope burns on my left foot during the first two outings, but tweaking the tie job a bit alleviated that problem … plus, just getting my feet used to the new kicks helped as well. It’s kind of like pulling out my Tevas for the first float trip of the summer: they always leave a little mark or two on my ankles, but after a day or so it’s no big deal.

Overall, I am loving the experience and glad for the opportunity to make my own pair of minimal, traditional sandals. Something about the idea that this design has been working for millennia makes me a happy guy.

Reasons for pursuing minimal footwear:

Fun things to do in your minimal footwear:

Running the OT50 – What a difference a trail makes!

Written by Philip Walter on Apr 20 at 9:47 pm.

My dad and I summit Pinnacle Mountain during the Ouachita Trail 50k race on April 19, 2008

Photo courtesy of
black dog photo productions

First off, a quick apology for letting nearly two weeks go by without a post. I have been earnestly training for this race, as well as getting together material for a string of features over the next couple of weeks. There’s a new episode of BrickhouseBodymindTV going live tomorrow, followed closely by a long article on using the yogic bandhas to enhance core strength and ensure proper alignment in all you do, then I’ll be releasing the BrickhouseBodymind Blueprints for effective warmups and cooldowns that go along with the intelligent stretching articles. So again, sorry for the lengthy absence.

That said, the OT50 is actually two races, one that is 50 km (approximately 31 miles) and another that is 50 miles, both of which started at Maumelle Park just outside Little Rock at 6:00 a.m. on April 19, 2008. The bulk of the distance in both races ran along the Ouachita Trail from its trailhead at Pinnacle Mountain State Park and followed it around the north side of Lake Maumelle. The outbound leg included a jaunt up the east side of Pinnacle Mountain, which is a steep climb from about 400 feet above sea level to the summit at 1011 feet. Here’s a map of the course with landmarks and mile markers, or you can download this kmz file to scope out the Ouachita Trail 50k course for 2008 in Google Earth.

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Sylamore Trail 25k Reflections, aka Blogging From the Bathtub

Written by Philip Walter on Feb 17 at 5:35 pm.

Before I get to my ramblings on the Sylamore Trail 25k Run, I just wanted to say thanks a ton to Greg Eason and the folks who helped him organize this race, and the 50k too. This was great fun! Also, if you care not about my personal trail running saga, just skip this post. I assure you there is still tons of great stuff for you here. I encourage you to look around, and please, if you like anything you read here, subscribe to my feed so you don’t miss the next mind, body, spirit transformation article.

Soaking in Bath Therapy after running the Sylamore Trail 25k Race.

I am now soaking in a wonderfully luxurious, hot bath and sipping a cold beer after having run 16 miles in the Sylamore Trail 25k Run. It was my first official trail race and my first official race longer than a 10k (6.25 miles). I prepared as well as I could, but a bout with the cold/flu funk cost me one very valuable week.

We started at 7:15 am under a fairly thick blanket of mist, at about 35 degrees, from Angler’s Restaurant in Allison, AR. After a little more than a mile on pavement and dirt road, we intrepid runners had to foard the Sylamore Creek before joining up with the Sylamore Trail itself.

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Hiking, Trail Running, and My Newest Obsession

Written by Philip Walter on Jan 29 at 6:30 pm.

So, I have developed a new obsession. More accurately, I found one new obsession, which subsequently led to a couple others. Blog posts here have been scarce because of said obsessions, actually.

I am training for a 25k trail run next month. This led to a 14.3-mile jog through Pinnacle Mountain State Park and along the Ouachita Trail. This in turn led to my need to map the jog for all see. I then became obsessed with Google Earth, which is an incredibly powerful (and free) program. So I mapped the trek, as you can see below. I have also made the KMZ file of my hike around Pinnacle and along the OT to the Scenic Vista waypoint available for you to download and open in Google Earth.

View Larger Map

So, I completed the course in about 3:21. That’s an average of roughly 14 minutes per mile. If you take out my 8-minute break at the Scenic Vista on the Ouachita Trail, you an average of 13.5 minutes per mile. I figure that’s pretty good, considering I climbed the East Summit Trail of Pinnacle (a steep 600 foot climb) during that time. Still, I’d like to run the Sylamore 25k in under 3 hours. To do that, I’ll have to push my average to under 12 minutes a mile. Difficult, but doable.

At any rate, this is my new obsession. I’ve added a category to the Mechanisms of Transformation to reflect this. I plan to post more about various hikes I do and make KMZ files available for those interested in such things. Maybe one day soon I can even afford a GPS device to make the tracking ultra easy.

Until next time, get outside and use those lungs!

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