Queen of 3rd Place
Ed, on your blog there's a video of you running on various surfaces, including gravel. I'm just awed by this.
Is this mostly a function of learning to relax? Has the skin on your soles changed much? How did you do this...I know, you're going to say "practice" and "relax"
Barefoot and happy
When I'm fresh and flexible, I can run very comfortably on gravel like that. When I'm really tired or cold or stiff, it's much more difficult. That's why I say that relaxing and having strong flexible feet are the most important things. I've been building up to this for two years now. I certainly couldn't run on that stuff when I was getting started, or even last summer.
My skin is not that different. I doubt anyone could tell at a glance that I run barefoot.
I should also add that not all gravel is the same. There is still some gravel that's too sharp for me. For example, the coarse, crushed stone you find in railroad beds.