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it has been quite a while since my soles spent time communing with asphalt.

beginner’s mind.

the sky was grey above, the damp asphalt grey below. crows were repelled by my approach and bluejays screeched like clothesline reels. the return of gold finches was heralded with their singing.

the lichens hung, winter weary, from tree limbs. the fields were waiting on sunshine to green their blankets. pussy willows had already pushed from their sleepy sleeves.

beginner’s mind.


the asphalt warm as it caresses the underbelly of my foot

a gentle south breeze slowly watlzing the laundry on the line

mating and nesting songs being passed in a stand of trees

foliage escaping once tight buds.

running. receiving. rejoicing.

hold fast to the mother



at the end of the run

i am not a runner.

yet every spring, song birds beckon me outside, to be their audience as they are mine. it is the same universal energy which led teenage me to cut high school classes in april and, for a short while in my adult life, led me to believe that ‘spring cleaning’ was actually a thing.

i generally wait until the morning temperatures reach 7°C; the encumberances of cold weather running do not suit me well.

today it was 14°C when i got up. and humid. go time!

the asphalt under foot was warm and the shoulder of the road was spring time soft; so pleasant to run on. the warm breeze from the south, the sweat gathering along my hairline, the birdsong.

running with the mind of meditation.

yoga for cool down.

a great start to friday.

may we all be happy just the way we are.




6am sun

6am sun

i ran outside this morning for the first time since forever.

i did not run far or fast, but i ran fresh, with the heavy morning dew collecting along my hairline, alongside corduroy fields and amidst a veritable symphony of morning song birds.

i was grateful to be there.

beautiful butterycup

beautiful butterycup

i overslept this morning.  my intention was to take a 5 or 5:30am run.  my body needed more sleep than running. mmmmm

when i got up at 6:45, i passed on the run, did some happy chores with the extra time and headed off to the gym to teach classes.

i came home from work a bit earlier than expected.

flowery run 024so, the run happened.

for someone who likes the quiet runs of the  early mornings, the world is an entirely different run in the heat of the late morning sun.

as the breeze fell, waves of heat washed past me. it wasn’t long before my body began to develop a humid microclimate of its own.

the birds were subdued, brief soft calls from high branches. do they nap in the heat?

the asphalt offered a cool, but friendly, shoulder in the short stretches of dappled shade where overhead leaves sang rainstick songs. this in contrast to the warmth the road is holding in places exposed to our accumulating days of hot bright sunshine. a natural inspiration for in-floor heating?

flowery run 018blooms. everywhere! perhaps the sparseness of birdsong and the sun higher in the sky allowed my attention to rest on the corridor of wild, and not so wild, flowers along the route.

winking brown eyed susans overshadowed by the graceful noddings of queen anne’s lace, impossibly statuesque on spindly stalks. white clouds of yarrow snuggled into the yellow buzzy busy-ness of  st. john’s wort. shy fleabane peeking out from under the protective umbrella leaves of hostas. the march of goatweed and tendrilling crown vetch, delightful butter & eggs, abundant clover, laughing lilies. daisies and buttercups and dandelions, oh my.

a wsw wind, the compassionate sister of the churlish outbound breeze, nudged me home as my lower lids gathered and released, with each blink, the salty sting of sweat. my mind free and my bare feet singing a rhythmic song of solitude.

i am thankful for the new perspectives of the run. everyday is another opportunity to soften and open. blooming goodness.








5k 010


the shimmer of trails left by snails, glinting patterns drawing my eyes

the soft essss curve of a wee garder snake in permanent repose

5k 019regal, stalwart queen anne’s lace sharing the ditches with clouds of modest brown-eyed susans

a gauntlet of pine forests, overfull with the kirtan of morning birds

breezes riffling leaves

the steady fall of my feet on asphalt, still embracing some of yesterday’s heat, softly yielding beneath my soles

a warm sun climbing a morning sky

every reason for joy held in the freshness of the day

andrea 004


a sweet morning run in the chilly aftermath of andrea.

winds gusty from the north. greybluepewter clouds hanging just out of reach.

damp, mist-laden air. moisture gathered on my arms and face, traveling with long, juiced-up red worms.

thumbs numb and my soles soften on the wet asphalt. my toes chill through.

birdsong, ever optimistic, fills the air, calling down the sun. chirpy hearthappy trilling.

spring growth on pine trees, dressed in new greens, awkwardly erect.

andrea 010no air to breathe in the lane but the heavenly scent of nearspent lilacs.

drizzled brown, they are beautiful in their surrender to another of many successful successive bloomings.

and i shake off the chill with my hands alternating between keyboard and a tall warm ceramic mug of bulletproof coffee.


chi-runningi first read ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-Free Running by Danny Dreyer in 2005. i have spent parts of the past dozen years of my life running, but i am not a runner. when i would run consistently and attempt to add volume to my weekly distances, i inevitably would experience injury, of some sort or another. my shift into easier running came when i began barefoot running and worked at changing my running style – my gait, my foot fall, my cadence, my mindfulness. i still am not a runner, but i do love running.

i recently came upon ChiRunning Coach Eric Collard on twitter when there was a feed about him offering a ChiRunning Workshop in Halifax which i wanted, but was unable, to attend. one tweet led to another, and Eric Collard will be in Charlottetown on February 23rd serving up 4 hours of running sweetness.

EricCollard-ed-200x300Eric Collard is one of 11 certified ChiRunning instructors in Canada and has taught the technique to over 350 people from coast to coast over the past two years. he is also an NCCP-certified triathlon coach, a Running Injury Prevention Specialist and a lululemon Alumni Running Ambassador.

for more information, you can simply check out his site at or better yet, contact him at

here’s what he has to say about ChiRunning and his workshop:

What is ChiRunning? Why should I care?

A lot of folks ask me what ChiRunning is all about. No, you don’t do Tai Chi while you run and no, it’s not that you move around with a chai latte in your hands either!

ChiRunning combines the principles of tai chi while teaching proper running biomechanics. It simply goes back to basics, moving the way we used to when we were kids. It’s a great way to get started as a runner and if you’re experienced, to simply improve your technique. Everything in ChiRunning goes back to the guiding principles of energy efficiency and injury prevention.

With proper posture (aligning your shoulders, hips and ankles all in a straight line), a slight lean and relaxed ankles you can start to feel the pull of gravity when you run. It makes a huge difference in terms of efficiency and injury prevention, as you will not be relying on muscles for the main source of propulsion. One of the great benefits of the technique is that it really teaches participants how to be gentle to the body, as there is less pounding on the joints. If you’re lighter on your feet, not only will your body thank you down the road but you will also enjoy your activity a lot more and more likely to incorporate it into your day-to-day.

Another great advantage of the technique is the mind-body connection. It changes running from a sport to more a practice, very similar to yoga. It also makes you go inside yourself so you’re more aware of how your body moves, instead of muscling the miles away.

the 4 hour workshop will be held

1pm  – 5pm

saturday,  february 23rd


the whole way health & fitness studio

306 university avenue, charlottetown

registration is on line at Eric’s website

ChiRunning helps all runners, even those of us who are barefoot

ChiRunning helps all runners, even those of us who are barefoot runners

I attended Nigwek barefoot

Allison, of Allison’s Big Toe, was asked these questions by a college student conducting research on the barefoot running ‘trend’.  She answered them, so you should read her post, and invited others to answer them too.

Here’s my take on them.


How often do you run a week?

I am training for a 10k race scheduled for October 17th.  I’m following an 8 week training program from Runners’ World which has me running three times a week.

What kind of shoes did you use before you started barefoot running?

Just my Asics.  Always my asics.  Though I have VFFs, I have done very little running in them.

How often did you run a week before you started barefoot running?

Well, as a fair weather runner, with a preference for outdoors, I ran very little over the winter.  For last year’s October 10k I was running five times a week on a training schedule.

What got you interested in barefoot running?

I have always had a preference for barefoot anything and have done most of my training and practice barefoot: kettlebell training, jumping rope, yoga, circuit training, meditation.  I am barefoot at home except when the chill of winter pushes me into plushy warm slippers.  I have long been a proponent of the wisdom of freeing our feet.  When I began hearing about barefoot running I knew I had to try it.  I read, followed and fell in love with Jason Robillard’s wise words in The Barefoot Running Book.  I haven’t looked back.

What are the benefits of barefoot running? Did it solve any problems/pains that you had previously with running?

Big question!

Barefooting gives me freedom and joy in so many of my runs.  Particularly when it is raining.  Being unshod is inherently joyful.

Problems I was having with my left tibialis anterior have become moot.

My arches have noticably strengthened and lifted.

My calves, already strong from jumping rope, have further increased in strength.

A hip which does not like distance has, thus far, held her peace.

Running barefoot has, incidentally, gotten me on the provincial evening news cast and local radio.  It gets both supportive and sadly sympathetic responses from folks I pass on the street.

My running is really only to support my mindfulness practice.  The connection to the world and the immediate feedback provided by this connection allows me to run mindfully, to be aware of what is happening from the soles of my feet on up, to correct faulty stride patterns or tight musculature anywhere in my body.

The soles of my feet are beautifully smooth and leathery.  I am pleased with them and aware of them in a way I never was when I boxed them up in my Asics.

Do you run more/less often now?

About the same, as far as my running season goes.

What are the downfalls? Did you have to break in the five fingered shoes? Did you get blisters?

I experience tight calves when I increase my distance, but as long as I lovingly stretch them and set them upon a foam roller, this tightness dissipates quickly.

I have not ever had a blister though I did have a bit of tenderness on the pad of my second toe after my first two barefoot runs.  This has disappeared.

Did something else in your life change when you started running barefoot? Did it inspire you to change something else? Did your other training habits change? Did you start eating differently?

My life is constantly changing, every day.  I love that about my life.

my feet after this morning's 7k run

My alarm this morning was the sweet insistent warbles, trills and tweets of all manner of ornithology outside my window.  I lingered in bed, drifting in the lilts and tweedles for a bit before sliding my legs off the side of the bed and reaching for my running togs.  I laid them out last night knowing I would start today with a run.

I put in my contact lenses, sipped a bit of water and allowed mother nature to have her way with me.  I slipped my feet into an old pair of speedo flip flops and let the best beagle out for his urinary adventure amidst lingering night time smells.  Evacuation needs met, I strode down the laneway, slid out of the speedo’s and felt the asphalt against my soul.

The run was sweet, the entire route filled with birdsong which floated like silk ribbons around me. The smell of warm earth and the sighs of breathing fields collected in my chest.  Crows mentioned my passing, woodpeckers tapped my footfalls, lambspeak engaged me in brief joyful conversation. The chickadees tweaked their usual melody, calling  to me as I passed  “chick-a-wen-dy-dy-dy-dy”.

The sun slowly climbed the sky.  Hazy and paling from the intense corals it was on the horizon when I stepped out of the house, its early morning heat making promise of another beautiful beach day.

The pavement beneath me was neither cool nor warm.  I dodged and weaved seeking the smoother parts of the road, enjoying the solitude and the movement of my joints.  I let my arms dangle loosely whenever I felt the familiar tightness creeping into my upper traps and I noted the lack of discomfort in my hips and knees.

But for about 7 or 8 minutes of playing out a conversation several times in my head, I was just in the run.  In the run in the sun, permeable and content to just feel, to be and not be at the very same moment.

Walking up the laneway with the familiar squish of those speedo’s keeping me company I was sure I had started the day off right.

It got even better when I checked my facebook to find a note from a friend, Nick.  He is a fierce crazyass wrestling MMA training maniac who plays hard with ropes and kettlebells and sandbags and rings and all sorts of homemade tools of extreme and over-the-edge workouts.  Nick gave barefoot running a go.  Here’s what he had to say about it:

Alright wendy i tried this barefoot running thing!!!

and The HELL WITH THAT! i now have more blisters on my feet then if i wore a pair of running shoes 4 sizes too small. my heels feel like someone drove railroad spikes into them!

You have had many great ideas for fitness but you really dropped the ball on this one!!!

No but seriously, i was in a hurry and had on flipflops, so i though hey i hear wendy is trying this barefoot thing out so i’ll give ‘er a whirl.

My conditions were not ideal, It was 3 pm today, hot as hell, and it was on stupid hot pavement. So already things are pointing south. So i weighed my options, run about a km in flipflops, and crappy old, old navy ones, or kick em off and try this brilliant idea of running barefoot.

So long story short.

I’m shaking off smug as I head to the shower.

class schedule