Personal trainer throws out running shoes for marathon

Personal trainer Neilon Pitamber of Neilon PT will be running the Brighton Marathon in April 2011 – and his first step was to throw out his running shoes.

Neilon (37), from Osmond Road in Hove, will be adopting barefoot running techniques and wearing a pair of minimalist Vibram Fivefingers®, the shoe designed to help people walk and run the way nature intended.

Barefoot running and minimalist shoes are becoming more popular with people looking for elegant simplicity in an increasingly complex age – in much the same way that single speed bicycles have enjoyed a cialis 10mg surge in popularity.

Why barefoot?

Neilon said: “To me it feels more natural and safer than running long distances in conventional running shoes. It seems to me that many ailments that afflict runners – like over-pronation, tendonitis of the Achilles tendon, knee issues, shin splints and collapsed arches – can be linked to wearing modern running shoes.

“I’m not an experienced runner – I’m effectively starting my training from scratch – so I thought I might as well do it ‘barefoot’.

“I know wearing a pair of Vibram Fivefingers® isn’t really going barefoot but I’m taking the coward’s way out – at least for my first marathon! It takes a long time to toughen up your feet safely and you never know what you’re going to tread on – or in! And anyway, it’s cold out there.

“But even wearing something as minimal as the Fivefingers® has its disadvantages. I lose a little proprioception – awareness of how my body is functioning – and it takes a little longer to pick up the subconscious signals telling me how to place my feet and deal with different surfaces.

“I’ve only been out for a few runs in my Fivefingers® so far but I can already feel new muscles working and I’ve noticed that my right foot – which has always pointed slightly outwards – has straightened up.

“For me, barefoot running has many potential benefits. Greater awareness and ‘body intelligence’ bring about a more balanced use of muscles and joint alignment with proper distribution of forces, preventing injury and making the activity more enjoyable and challenging.

“Rather than slapping along like ducks, runners should aim to be a bit more gazelle-like.”

Starting gently

Although barefoot running is what our bodies were designed for, a lifetime of wearing shoes means you can’t expect instant results. Neilon said: “If you’re interested in trying out barefoot running the trick is to start very gently. Begin with very short runs – much shorter than you might be used to – and build up from there.

“The barefoot running gait is very different. You should aim to be landing somewhere between the forefoot and mid-foot – not on the heel. The feet land under the body rather than in front, where they actually act as a brake. The trick is to lean forward at the hips slightly, keeping the body straight, and to pull the legs back and up rather than lifting your knees in front of you.”

Holistic health

Neilon believes in looking at the big picture when it comes to health and fitness. He said: “As a personal trainer I like to take a holistic view. I’m interested in overall health and wellness, not just a single-minded fixation on one goal to the detriment of other areas of fitness and wellbeing.”

“In my book, wellbeing means feeling good, happy, prosperous, joyful, driven, satisfied and willing to embrace challenges.

“And when it comes to fitness, taking the holistic view means considering strength, speed, agility, flexibility, power, accuracy, endurance, balance, stamina, and coordination. And my approach also includes short and long-term health, how free of injuries you are, how much enjoyment and happiness you feel in your life, your work/life balance, your social life, your effectiveness at work and so on.”

There’s no need to sign up for expensive gym membership to benefit from Neilon’s expertise. As a registered Workout at Home trainer he’ll train you in the comfort of your own home if that’s what you prefer.

Further information

Contact Neilon: or 07956 200 273


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