Why Testers who Run Should Be Barefoot Runners


As testers we try to remove all filters that prevent us from seeing the product for what it is. As barefoot runners we try to remove all fillers beneath our feet that prevent us from feeling the ground for what it is. Hah! Isn't it wonderful, let's indulge in exploring this hippie stuff and see some more striking similarities.

Exploratory Running
Your feet are a finely tuned exploration instrument. You cannot get a feel about the terrain before you explore it. By running on various surfaces you concurrently learn about the texture, decide on your next steps and design your path. Sometimes you may also find yourself lost in the woods and through exploration you'll find back to the light.

Automation in Running
Running in shoes is a labor intensive repetitive activity which will bore you to death and give you bad karma. As soon as you remove your shoes and transition into a highly sophisticated forefoot running style, your calf muscles will become spring loaded and will give you back the energy with each stride. You will have achieved partial automation of your running process. Then you can run it over and over again.

Agile Barefoot
I am sure — sooner or later — you will go through the following transition. You might enjoy running along a waterfall, but believe me, when you suddenly find yourself on sun heated black asphalt, your feet become incredibly agile and you will start to sprint almost immediately. In retrospective you should have laid out your route a bit more carefully on your (sc)run board.

Running Heuristics
Here are a couple of useful barefoot running heuristics: Run forefoot, be feather-light in your stride, don't go too far too fast too soon, take care of your sole, use a quality foot creme, don't break your metatarsal bones, tip your waiter.

Barefoot Reporting
Yes, your soles will reliably report to you after every one of your runs. Pachamama has given you all the information you need. Read it thoroughly and adjust your running. Don't forget to remove the crushed bugs from your feet.

Highly Cushioned Running Shoes
These are the ISTQB of running, so to speak. A highly scalable business model selling you something you don't need. Their marketing has been quite sophisticated and it has tricked people in believing there is value in it. Don't fall for such nonsense. It's not good for you and you might get hurt.

Factory School Runners
Oh, these poor souls! Still heel striking and not understanding that it neither worked forty years ago nor does it today. And they still wear these heavy weight "shoes". What a wasteful behaviour.

And after each satisfying run, have a spirulina-green-tea-smoothie with an organic kale salad, make a peace sign with your hands and don't forget to tip your waiter. Kumbaya, people!

BTW: If you happen to be at Let's Test Conference in Sweden this year, I will hold a barefoot running workshop. We meet on Tuesday, May 26 at 7:30am in front of Runöhallen. Don't forget to forget your shoes and come along!


Whining Testers Are not Fun to Spend Time with


I love what I am doing. If I wasn’t I would do something else. Like gardening or follow a career as a beach bum. Sun tan and a lot of booze. But no, it is software testing and managing software testers and talking to developers and ship tested software that I like.

But from time to time I observe a pattern that seems to be especially endemic among software testers. It is the tendency to whine about one’s own work situation while blaming everybody around us for causing it.

Let’s bullet point what some of the testers I have met at conferences not only think but also say aloud (The last one is slightly modified. Instead of the url’ed word, another one was used):

  • I am fine, they are not
  • I do a pristine job, they are slobs
  • I could be so much better if only they did their job
  • I would immediately start testing if only they’d provide me with perfect, unambiguous, neatly versioned, accurate, testable, re-usable, superman-feature-like requirements
  • I am a saint, they’re rectal cavities (caution: link not safe for work)

Isn’t it interesting to observe how this follows the usual bipolar structures usually found in western cultures? (e.g. BS like: “Either you’re with us or you’re against us”). Never a continuum nor a trinity. Or calm acceptance without assessment.

Now, please! Software Testing is not a terrible job and the circumstances are not bad at all. In order to illustrate go and read Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning.

I’ll wait.

See, that is a horrible situation. For those of you who couldn’t get the book or cannot read here a short abstract: The book describes Viktor Frankl’s devastating time as a prisoner in Auschwitz and how he managed to not fall in total despair and keep up his spirits to survive his personal disaster.

Whenever you find yourself in a situation, just compare to that. I’ll guarantee that you’ll always be fine.

And here’s a belief shattering secret: The world around you was not built to please your own little egoistic demands.

And here’s another: If you are one of those whining people, your are not fun to spend time with. People will avoid you. Then you will be alone. And even more miserable.


  • smile every day
  • never develop an inferiority complex
  • don’t become a zombie tester
  • avoid process freaks
  • fight sub standard work ethics where ever you find it
  • have a serious discussion with testers not willing to read books or learn anything (I think I am going to have a special post on that)

Let’s finish this post in a little bit more upbeat mood. I propose to go watch this hilariously funny short clip on youtube.