Fetcheveryone Member of the Month

Each winner receives a £100 ADVANCE PERFORMANCE voucher

Interview with BarefootEm

RRR-CAZ 🇬🇧 asks: Congratulations :-) If you were given a golden ticket to any sporting event what would you choose to watch ?

BarefootEm says: Thank you, I've watched Ironman Kona, for many years and thought it looks exceptional, I'd love to be there in person!
pedroscalls asks: Congratulations on MoTM, my question is if time and money were no object what route or race would you like to do.?

BarefootEm says: Thank you! There are two events that I've followed and loved from afar for many years. Watching amazing athletes train and complete. The first is Marathon de Sables! Bonkers on every level, but there is something about it. And Ironman Kona, there is something almost magical feeling about Kona.
Naughty_nickers asks: Yeaa well done

My question to you is.. what mad challenge are we doing next?

BarefootEm says: Next is swimming, now we've got you in the open water and the weather is so good, let's get those badges!
Ness asks: Congratulations on MOTM. What is the best piece of advice you have been given for either running or life in general?

BarefootEm says: Thank you! To stop comparing myself to other people. I am getting better at this, honest! It has been the thing that has held me back more than anything else for the longest time.
chunkywizard asks: Congrats Em, well deserved! What three things do most people on Fetch not know about you?

BarefootEm says: Thank you! This was really hard! I had to ask Naughty Nickers what people didn't know! Which was funny! I can't use some of the answers she gave! But... She did help me with these...

I ran my own children's platbus business with ishep for 10 years, a double decker bus full of soft play that we drove around doing birthday parties on.

I've been on various UK TV programs, Casualty, Father Brown and Upstairs Downstairs being the most recent.

I have a degree in Deaf Studies, and studied British Sign Language for 7 years. I don't use it regularly now unfortunately, but still love it as a language.
Captain S asks: Congratulations on being MOTM.

If you were hosting a dinner party and you can invite any famous people from history to it, who would you invite?

BarefootEm says: Thank you! This has taken a great deal of thought, so many to choose from, for so many reasons, but I decided to go for a lovely evening, with people I would like to think I would get along with and like.
Barack & Michelle Obama,
Jane Goodall,
Chrissie Wellington,
Lewis Carroll,
Da Vinci,
Charles Darwin,
Buster Keaton,
Sir David Attenborough,
Norman Wisdom.

There are others I would love to go back and have dinner with and ask questions, but if probably wouldn't be a nice evening, even though I'd love to have the answers.
LindsD asks: Congratulations Em! What are the best and worst things, runningwise, about where you live?

BarefootEm says: Thank you! Best is definitely the sheer beauty of the forest, the wildlife, the views, the silence, you can run for hours and not see another human! Which obviously had been amazing during lockdown!

Worst is all the hills! Everywhere is a hill, which slows the pace - but gives you the chance to look around! Wildlife can also come under this category, there are a lot of wild boar in the forest, can give you a terrible freight when you aren't expecting them!
snayak asks: Congratulations! Do you get self-conscious when running barefoot or in slippers? I do! You get so many strange looks but I think minimal footwear is becoming more accepted these days even if it is still niche.

BarefootEm says: Thank you! No, not really, although I find other people seem more shocked and make more comments if I run in sandals or huaraches than completely barefoot, that has always surprised me.
westmoors asks: Congratulations. My standard question: if you could meet anyone, past or present, who would it be and why?

BarefootEm says: Thank you!

This is one of the hardest questions! But I think it would have to be Anthony Hopkins. I met him once, when I was 17, at a friends house (I didn't believe him when he said his dad knew him and he was popping in), I was utterly start struck, shook his hand and left! I have regretted that ever since.
Sunbed Athlete asks: How much has running helped you with the similar things One goes through on a daily basis, the insecurity and negativity? It’s takes over very very quickly and only someone with similar experiences will understand. Congratulations on MOTH

BarefootEm says: Thank you! Insecurity and negativity are things which have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, and things which have stopped me doing things I love, and stopped me getting the most out of situations, its only been very recently I have realised I am not alone in this feeling, and I can fight back against it.

The people I have met through running are an immense help - especially here in Fetch land, and parkrun. Then there is the fact I can now tell myself I have a list of achievements I didn’t previously have, whether that be distance or time. I have some amazing memories of events, races, parkruns, or just local runs where I have felt good, or done something or seen something new. More recently, I have been able to experience helping others get into running, and helping them with their insecurities has helped me settle mine. I love running (or cycling or swimming!) with a friend and helping them achieve something they haven’t before, even if it is slower than I might have gone on my own, or not as far. I love seeing that look of pride on their face. I know what that feels like. So now, when I run with Ian, I don’t feel quite as ‘guilty’ about slowing him down. Its fun to run together, it doesn’t always have to be about time.
ZenTaoPlurp asks: Congratulation - another badge! Spinning or chandelles - which do you prefer and why?

BarefootEm says: Thank you, yes, it's all about the badges! Great question, I'll admit I had to Google chandelles as a reminder! Unfortunately I don't get to do any kind of aerobatic flying with the cadets, (I don't do any flying with them at all now 😟) the rules are far too strict. How ever, I do hope in the not too distant future to be able to pick up civvie flying again and who knows 😁 I've certainly had a lot of fun watching videos this afternoon! Can't wait to get back in the air, thank you!
SusiesueH asks: Huge congratulations Em! Who would you like to play you in a film about your life?

BarefootEm says: Thank you! I asked ishep for help on this one as I am rubbish with things like this and between us we've had quite a giggle thinking about it! Thanks for that 😂 but I think because of my curly hair, and slightly bonkers personality we are leaning towards Helena Bonham-Carter who plays a crazy lady particularly well!
swittle asks: A great MotM choice! What experience drawn from your sports training and enterprise are you able to pass on to the cadets under your charge?

BarefootEm says: Thank you! Ooo interesting one, I often find myself saying to cadets, be yourself, don't compare yourself to others and try new things. As a cadet, the young people have access to try some really interesting, but quite challenging things, and sometimes they are outside their comfort zone and often they just don't want to try because of this. I've seen it enough times to know, if they do, they will more than likely love it, they just need to face the fear. I've learnt that from pushing myself to go further, or try new events or sports. That first race, first marathon, first ultra, terrifying... But do it, and the buzz is amazing!
HappyG(rrr) asks: Many congrats Em, well done. So barefoot? What's that all about then (err, as in how did you get into it, do you advocate it for everyone, why don't more people do it etc.)? bunting :-) G

BarefootEm says: Thank you! I got into barefoot running kind of by accident! I hadn't run since I was a teen, and ran then completely barefoot when I ran on the track, (I am not sure how that all started, but I was much faster and more comfortable running this way). When I came back to running in my 30's I tried standard shoes but found they hurt my arches and I gave up easily. It was a chance encounter with a physio diagnosing Hypermobility at the same time as me getting my London Marathon 2012 place and telling me I shouldn't run due to the risk of dislocation, that led me down the route of discovering barefoot running.

Hypermobile joints do dislocate easily, and I didn't run in 2012 because I had a serious dislocation to my right hip about 3 weeks before the marathon - but you can help your joints by building muscle strength around the ligaments, and listening to your body. Barefoot running allows you to feel things standard running can't, not only the sharp and pointy things under foot, but more subtle changes too. You build ankle and foot strength and all this goes to building stronger legs and joints in general. I found a shop in Bristol that stocked Merrell barefoot shoes and tried a pair. The guy in the shop was weary at first, but let me try and checked my running style on the fancy treadmill in the shop. He was able to slow down the video and see how I was landing and taking off, really fascinating stuff, more so because it showed I was landing on my midsole to toes and pushing off cleanly with my toes, a nice natural barefoot strike. Shoes bought and no more arch pain. The rest they say is history.

For other people it is a slow process. If you are already running you need to go right back to basics and start really slow, short distances and very carefully. It isn't for everyone, even if it is how our feet are designed. Spend more time barefoot, round the house, playing in the garden, or the park or beach. Do foot and calf strengthening and stretching exercises, and read lots about it. Its a liberating feeling being able to run without shoes, or even running in very thin shoes and feeling the environment underfoot.

Always happy to talk to anyone about this, so drop me an fmail if you want more info :)
Raggedy runner asks: Well done on your MOTM. Your blogs are always warm and buoyant, such a joy to read, and so it’s surprising to read that you’re learning to deal with the negative voices in your head. What conversations do you have with yourself to make you carry on with a run, and ignore the voice that says give up and walk?

BarefootEm says: Thank you, it's really nice to hear that's how I come across :)

I walk a lot when I am out for a run. And for a long time, I thought this made me a bad runner, or not a runner, less of a runner. Ian would run with me and I would spend most of the time saying sorry, because I was slow, and then I would slow to a walk, sorry again. Then would come the elation of something like running a whole parkrun, or running a fetch mile in its entirety for the first time, that kind of thing, but I would always feel the need to apologies if I was running with someone else.
Now I'm starting to reconcile the feeling that it is ok to walk during a run if I want to, I am starting to turn my attention to do I need to? Is that desire to walk just the negative voice telling me I'm rubbish and need to, or can I keep going? I think that may take a bit more work, but this is an evolution and i'm loving it so far, and I think that is probably half the battle!
JCB asks: Congratulations! 🏆 If you could give the younger version of yourself advice, what three things would you say?

BarefootEm says: Thank you. Excellent question, how I wish I could go back and have a conversation with my younger self!
1 - You are enough, despite what the voice in your head tells you.
2 - You are not defined by your dress size, exam grades, weight on the scales or speed in the race.
3 - Ask the question, don't assume you know what someone is thinking, because you might be wrong, and if you are, you can stop worrying about it.

These are actually things I am only just learning to tell myself now, and not every day I manage it. But life is much easier, sunnier, and brighter on the days I can, not just for me, but for those around me too.
SpeedySloth 🦥 asks: Yeyyyy well deserved buddy! My question is how many more times are you going to go get the ring?

BarefootEm says: haha Thank you! As many as it takes... It keeps changing direction, just when I think I am done, someone brings it closer and I feel the urge again! (I am also desperate to know where Mordor is, AND what is going to happen when it gets there!)
Bvo asks: Amazing news to see you win BarefootEm, very deserved. My questions is; if you could go for a run with any celebrity (past or present) who would it be and why?

BarefootEm says: Thank you! This took some thought, but was quite an easy decision once of had the thought... Eddie Izzard!

He's a comedy genius, (in my opinion), and has a heart of gold. He stands up for his beliefs, and he does what makes him happy. I've thought he was wonderful for years, but recently, when he started doing his multiple marathon challenges, I have seen another, greater side to him again. I see him as the type of person I could enjoy a drink with in the pub, putting the world to rights, and in no time at all we'd be planning a crazy adventure.
Alice the Camel asks: Congratulations, well deserved! You seem to be a very active/busy person generally, what’s your favourite way to relax?

BarefootEm says: Thank you! In all honesty I am not very good at relaxing, but I don't think you can beat a cup of Yorkshire tea in the bath, or a pint of good ale in the sunshine!
ChrisHB asks: Congratulations! Which is your favourite plane to fly (in); which would you most like to fly (in) and which would you most like to own?

BarefootEm says: Thank you, excellent question! I love to fly, I find it both terrifying and exciting in equal measures. I haven't been up in as many different aircraft as I would have liked, but one of my earliest flying memories was going up in the back of a Hercules from RAF Brize Norton as a cadet. Viewing the Cotswolds out of the massive door as we flew over, the noise, and the vibration and the feeling. Absolutely unforgettable! I think anyone who knows me could answer this question without missing a beat, I would most like to fly in a Hawk T1 Red Arrow. I love fast jets, and aerobatics, absolutely love it, but the Reds have something truly special about them. I think I would probably most like to own a Spitfire, i've always had a soft spot for it, and in particular the sound of the engine.
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