Official Shoe Review: Earth Runners

Earth Runners.  It just sounds like music to your ears doesn’t it? What a great name for a shoe.  There is no shoe I wear more often than my Earth Runners.  Earth Runners win the award for “Best All Around,” “Best in Show,” or “Most Well Rounded.”  How many times in this post can I say Earth Runners? 🙂  Find ’em at http://www.earthrunners.com.

About:

Way back in the day, in December, I became intrigued by a company called Earth Runners, and made contact with the creator, Michael Dally.  I was fortunate enough to receive a pair for review, the Ultralight model.  Unfortunately, I was unable to run in them right away, because I faced my medical crisis shortly after the arrival of these good looking friends.

Nevertheless, I became a big fan of this small company, which was launched on Kickstarter.  Michael Dally is a smart, active mechanical engineer, who honed his skills at San Diego State University.  He’s also a trail runner who cares about the powerful connection we have to the earth and others.  He further exemplifies this connection by pledging to donate a pair of sandals to Seva Sandals, a nonprofit that donates protective footwear to children in India.

Earthing:

I really can’t review these sandals without discussing the concept of Earthing.  I still don’t really “get it.”  Good description right?  All I know for sure is that the Earth has a rhythm (Schumann Resonance) which I attempt to describe here and here. Barefoot runners often describe a feeling of ultimate connection to the Earth and their surroundings, gathering energy from the ground and those around them.  Additionally, decreasing inflammation in their body because of their soft landing and the neutralization of positively charged free radicals when in contact with the negatively charged electrons on the earth. I totally get that.  Well, the first part of that sentence anyway.  But I know there’s no feeling like running barefoot.  Except now, I get that feeling in Earth Runners too.

See here’s the deal:  Michael has taken his love of trail running and Earthing and put that concept into the perfect minimalist running sandal.  He has placed copper inserts (flush with the bottom of the shoe I might add) in attempt to ground the wearer and connect them to the earth again.  Like running barefoot.  Does it work? I think so.  I find myself getting that same euphoric feeling I experience when running barefoot.  But, I might add that for some reason I don’t notice that feeling until I’m about 10 minutes into my run.  I honestly can’t explain that except maybe it takes me a little while to become “one with the shoe” or perhaps it takes a little while for that connection to register.  Who knows?  Michael created a really cool video I will share here, in which he does an experiment to compare the difference between being grounded with bare feet and then with a pair of his Earth Runners.

The Running Experience:

Admittedly, it wasn’t love at first run.  In fact, I could only go about 2 miles running in them and 4ish miles of walking in them before ripping them off due to an excruciating middle toe blister.  And, I’m an idiot and maybe a little strap OCD, so I couldn’t get the straps where I wanted them.  I probably went on like this for a couple of months before I was smart enough to contact Michael to figure out how to help myself.  Michael kindly told me that he had a Support section of his website with FAQ’s.  Luckily, he told me right away what the problem was and I was able to fix it.  On the first try.  What a difference that made and all I had to do was ask…

After I fixed the straps just by rotating them a little bit, I was able to increase my running distance substantially.  My longest run in Earth Runners has been 10 miles, and they were enjoyable miles on the road. I must admit that I am used to running in a lighter shoe, so the 8 oz. feels a little heavy to me after that distance.  On a personal level, I really enjoy the Earth Runners for my shorter, recovery runs.  Possibly because of the Earthing effect?  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

For this particular model, I  prefer road running.  The tread on the bottom of the Ultralights is not the best for trails as I tend to slip often in dirt/rocks/mud.  I did attempt several times to go for longer trail runs in them, but I ended up changing after a couple of miles due to the slippage.  To give them some credit though, I did try to take them on the steepest, loose rockiest trails in Ventura and Santa Barbara County.  Like, you should probably go down on your butt, if you catch my drift.  If you want to trail run in your Earth Runners, I might suggest another model (he has quite a few to pick from now!) with better tread on the bottom for rugged terrain, like the Circadian model.  And to finish that thought, I prefer to not run trails in huaraches anyway because I am a total accident waiting to happen on a trail, especially now that I live in California.  These trails are rocky and I’m liable to lose a toe.

Once I am running in these, I feel like the shoe becomes a part of my body and I forget I’m wearing them. I really enjoy running in Earth Runners, not only for the feeling, but for the looks I get.  I can only imagine they are thinking how good looking my shoes are 🙂 Below, I’ve marked the ground feel as fair, but this likely has to do with the 6mm sole vs the 4mm sole which is the max I’m used to running in.  The 6 mm sole is quite flexible, and I’ve read reviews that say that if you choose to have a naked footbed (who doesn’t want a naked footbed??) then the ground feel and flexibility is comparable to the Xero Shoes, which have the best ground feel I’ve experienced in a minimal shoe.

Life Experience:

I wear these shoes all the time.  Period.  The only time I’m not wearing them is at work.  But I would, if I could wear open toed shoes.  If I go out on the weekend, I’m wearing Earth Runners.  San Diego trip with my sister? Earth Runners at the zoo, out to eat, all day every day.  Newport Beach to see my hubby’s best friend? Earth Runners out to the bar, Earth Runners to the beach, and everywhere.  I think you get the picture, I’m obsessed with these things, it’s almost like an addiction.  My husband is thinking about getting some because of my borderline attachment.

Techie Stuff:

  • Stack height: 6 mm
  • Weight per sandal: 8 oz as tested (this would likely be different depending on how large your foot is, what type of laces and footbed you choose.)
  • Choice of leather footbed or naked footbed (tested leather footbed)
  • Choice of laces: Nylon with sturdy buckle, leather, or newly offered conductive laces
  • Sizing from chart or custom foot tracing
  • Zero drop (obv)
  • Foot bed forms to your feet
  • Don’t wear them in a thunder/lightning storm (ZAP!)

Pros:

  • Earthing: Come on, what other shoe can you say this about?
  • Comfort during walking/running
  • Easy strapping system (A big plus for a strap illiterate human)
  • THEY LOOK FANTASTIC. Raw, genuine huarache appearance (A plus for my street credit)
  • Versatility (I can go run, hike, or go to a bar in these.)
  • Favorite “recovery run” shoe. These things suck the inflammation right out of my little legs after a long trail run. Ok, I’m not certain that they really do this, but I do feel somehow more rested after going for a quick run or walk in these.
  • The company you’re dealing with stands by their product and is prompt to answer questions (no matter how silly)
  • For every 10 pairs sold, Michael donates a pair to charity

Cons:

  • Fair ground feel
  • Foot slippage in strapping on trails
  • Ultralights: Not the best choice for trails as tread does not accommodate steep, rocky California trails (Try another model?)
  • Barely a con: Straps take some adjusting, breaking in time needed. (Likely the case for all huaraches)
  • Not my first choice for a long distance (10+ mile run) due to strap rubbing over time.

Some pictures for your enjoyment:  Head on over to http://www.earthrunners.com and get yourself a pair.  And tell Michael I sent ya 🙂

Earth Runners hiking
Earth Runners hiking
fresh dirt after a hike
fresh dirt after a hike

IMG_0493

side view
side view
bottom: Sorry about the blue paint, I painted my front door. In Earth Runners of course
bottom: Sorry about the blue paint, I painted my front door. In Earth Runners of course
Earth Runners out and about in Ventura
Earth Runners out and about in Ventura
Earth Runners in my yard :)
Earth Runners in my yard 🙂
Earth Runners at the San Diego Zoo
Earth Runners at the San Diego Zoo
Earth Runners out in Newport Beach
Earth Runners out in Newport Beach
Earth Runners to assist with recovery after BTR Ultramarathon
Earth Runners to assist with recovery after BTR Ultramarathon

Running Free? Or Running Bound? And Earth Runner Huaraches!

The past few days, I’ve been celebrating learning how to run again after about a month off, including surgery on January 21st.  I have had a series of short, barefoot, giddy runs that have left me wondering why some people don’t run.  And on the other hand, I saw a runner that have left me wondering why some do.  During my brief, restorative runs, I have felt so completely free that I theorized that perhaps I am actually becoming more bound.  More bound to the sport, more bound to the love of running, more bound to the earth and its healing qualities, and most importantly, more bound to myself.  

Admittedly, I struggle with resting and allowing my body to heal.  The thing is, while I was sitting around doing all that healing stuff, my mind was lacking its usual outlet, which of course, is running.  All that sitting around can do funny things to a person, and that’s why I decided to head out the door and try to find some peace and quiet for my mind, which was consequently running amok.

So, I started with walking, which I did for a couple of days.  The next day, I walked again with Mike and was able to run four times for about 1 minute each time.  Now, I don’t mean really running exactly, more of a funny little skip/waddle combo that felt just perfect with the healing incisions in my belly.  Not to mention, I looked good, which is what really matters.  A few days later, I was up to my gentle skip/waddle for up to a half mile, which I did a couple of times, and I was starting to resemble a wannabe runner. Two days ago however, I had a real breakthrough.  I put on real running clothes, including my brand new huaraches, courtesy of www.earthrunners.com.  Thank you Earth Runners!   I will do a review of these guys once I’ve had more experience with them, but in the meantime, check out their website and what they have to offer.  I had a great first impression.

 

Earth Runners

 

Anyway, I went out for a run, and decided to start out very slowly, go until it felt right, then go back.  I gently plugged along for about a mile, then decided to turn around.  I took off the Earth Runners because I wanted to really feel the ground, and continued along barefoot.  I was going REALLY slow. And I felt REALLY good. Nothing hurt, and my body felt like it was drinking in the gentle movement and energy I was collecting along the way.  Afterall, that’s what healing is all about! Collecting energy vs. expending energy.  Whether I was barefoot or wearing the Earth Runners, I really felt connected, or bound to my surroundings.  This is good, Earth Runners nailed that part of it!

Last night, I decided to try that same 2 mile jaunt again, with the same choice in footwear.  Half in Earth Runners, half barefoot.  I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was meant to be running and finding happiness again.  Now, I know that recovering from ectopic pregnancy and surgery takes a toll on the whole person.  While the people around me have been instrumental in my recovery, it was as if I was in need of an old friend in the way of running outdoors.  So on I went last night, again slower than heck, but happy.  I was even whistling my new jam, Justin Timberlake’s “Suit and Tie.”  Don’t judge me, you know you love that song!

Anyway, I was whistling and shuffling along when I heard chaos behind me.  What the… I turned around, and I was about to get passed by another runner!  She was stomping towards me, with a look on her face that read, “GET OUT THE WAY!” and she had headphones on, but there wasn’t much point because I could hear her music blasting.  It was something I didn’t recognize, but I remember thinking it was hilarious because it was a bubbly, poppy tune with a fast beat.  It was a funny paradox because the girl attached to the tunes looked like she would sooner die than try to have a bubbly conversation with me.  She actually looked like she might die if she had to take one step around me, so I decided to give her some leeway and hop onto the grass next to the sidewalk so she could charge by. As she passed, I turned and gave her a lopsided smile and a cheerful wave, but she just glared and stampeded on.  I wanted to ask her if she was enjoying herself, but I figured she a) couldn’t hear me b) might kill me and c)I already knew the answer.

So, while I was pondering why some people don’t run, I found my answer through Miss I’d Sooner Die.  Unfortunately, instead of enjoying ourselves, feeling the chill in the air, experiencing the ground beneath our feet, and drinking in our surroundings, we blast music in our ears, lock our feet up, put on an “eat shit” face and try to barrel through a 3 mile run and hope to experience none of it.  Other times, maybe we hop on the treadmill to avoid the elements and put on a TV show and let the machine think for us.  My intent is not to criticize these runners, because I have absolute respect for anyone who is getting out there and putting their health first.  But, I do think that we’ve become a society that is much more bound to technology and distraction than bound to ourselves and relationships.  Relationships involving each other as well as relationships with our surroundings.  I’m guilty of this as well, when I’m networking on social media or sitting here on this blog instead of talking with my husband. But taking the time to escape those vices is valuable, and well worth the time.

Running has to be one of the purest forms of exercise, because you really don’t need any equipment.  We could even run nude if we weren’t risking getting arrested!  Now that would be entertaining… anyway,what was I talking about?  Oh, right, running is pure.  Yes, so the question is, are you running free?  Or are you running bound?  Both? And if you’re running bound, what are you bound to?  Maybe the best answer is to run free to find yourself bound to your heart, the earth, and your surroundings.