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Barefoot Inclined: A passion for the road not taken

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Posted by Jeff G under Barefoot Running on 16 November 2012 at 12:00 AM

Barefoot Inclined? What's that all about?

Manitou Incline, Manitou, Colorado

Just over halfway up the Manitou Incline, Manitou, Colorado

What it’s about is my passion. My passion for making a significant lifestyle change for my health.. my passion for running (which if you had told me 2 years ago I would be passionate about running I would have laughed!)…. And in particular, my passion for trail running and the barefoot/minimalist style. As I started my journey, I decided to write a blog.. primarily for myself as a way to document what was going on in my life with respect to this journey etc.

Almost two years ago, I made a significant change in my lifestyle, primarily with my diet. Eliminating processed foods, and focusing on whole, organic foods and avoiding gluten and dairy finally sent me on the track to better health and a better weight, without going on a “diet” as I had plenty of experience with. This triggered me to be more active, and I discovered the Manitou Incline pictured above. The Incline is a 1.1mile (1.8Km) climb that gains 2,200ft (670m).. leading up to a spectacular view... followed by a 3.5 mile trail run back down.

Colorado Springs (Top of Manitou Incline)

Sunrise from above the clouds over Colorado Springs (Top of Manitou Incline)

Hence, the “Inclined” part of my blog. My discovery of the Incline, and barefoot/minimalist running quickly turned into a passion for trail running.

Granted, I want to increase my barefoot running mileage (hard to do in winter), but weather permitting, I try to get a mile or two in barefoot as it helps me solidify the natural running form. For trail running, I am usually in a minimalist shoe or sandal. But, even in those, I certainly feel connected and more in tune with the environment. There is much to be said about the feedback received by your feet as it relates to trail running.

Invisible Shoes (Now Xeroshoes). Pikes Peak in the background.

One of my first races in Invisible Shoes (Now Xeroshoes). Pikes Peak in the background. I was asked to talk a bit about why I am so passionate about trail running. It is kind of a difficult question to answer… similar to when people ask you why you run. There are so many thing wrapped up inside the answer.

However, I’ve learned that just getting out on a single-track trail in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado has to be one of the most physically and mentally therapeutic activities that I can think of. I think there is something about negotiating varied terrain, the proximity to nature (sometimes too close), and the mystery of what lies around each bend. Also, I am not a fast runner by any stretch of the imagination (think of a turtle on Valium), but plodding along a technical single-track gives you that impression of speed with the trees and various natural obstacles seeming to whiz by.

(Photo: One of my first races in Invisible Shoes - now Xeroshoes. Pikes Peak in the background.)

But most of all, I truly feel a sense of connection during and after a trail run. I’m not one to wax poetic about communing with Mother Nature, but there is something intangible and hard to define about exploring the outdoors, powered solely by your body and mind. There are runs where my mind is free to work out a variety of issues that I've been struggling with, and there are runs where my mind is blissfully blank and just absorbing what comes.

Rather than spend more time trying to define something that seems just out of grasp, I’ll share some of my favorite pictures I’ve taken on runs.. trying somehow to capture that feeling to share with others. But still, pictures don’t do trail running justice… my suggestion is just get out there!

Barr Trail

Chasing one of my boys down Barr Trail.. they love to run as well!

Pikes Peak viewed from Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs: Jeff Gallup Barefoot inclined

Pikes Peak viewed from Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs... stunning trail beauty.

Minimalist running in sandals - Jeff Gallup Barefoot Inclined

Happy feet after a 6 mile up and over on Cowles Mountain, Mission Trails Regional Park, San Diego CA.

Barefoot Inclined Jeff Gallup Trail Race Vibram Five Fingers

Sporting my TS shirt at the 3rd Fall Series trail race... rugged terrain and fun hills.. great testing ground for the funky green VFF Spyridons!

Check out more of Jeff's awesome trail running photos in the Trail Running Tribe - see if you can get inspired to get out on the trails!

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