The other day, I watched a video on YouTube called “Sh*t Barefoot Runners Say,” which I of course thought was hysterical, in case you didn’t see my Facebook status, tweet or last blog post that I put the video in. Here is the video, yet again, in case you missed it:
Apparently, the mastermind behind this video is Steve Sashen out of Boulder, CO who is CEO of the shoe company Invisible Shoes at invisibleshoes.com. Invisible shoes are also known as huaraches, or the running sandals of the Tarahumara Indians. These cute little shoes were made famous by Christopher McDougall’s earth shattering book, Born To Run. Half asleep the other morning and procrastinating on doing my patient paperwork from the day before, I decided I HAD TO HAVE a pair. Steve was so likeable in his video, I thought to myself, I want to do what this guy’s doing! So I finally ordered my very first pair of huaraches after being such a loyal Vibrams wearer for two years now.
The shoes are custom fit, so I had to send in a tracing of my foot, which I found very exciting. My very own custom shoes, we’re gettin’ fancy now. They have a video on the website that gave me step my step instructions, so I didn’t mess it up too terribly. I also decided to splurge and so I ordered a custom charm of a tribal sun to adorn my ever so beautiful Tarahumara feet. When I say splurge, I should mention that these are actually the cheapest shoes I’ve probably ever bought. $39.95 for the shoes, plus $4.50 for the ever necessary decorative pendant. I picked blue cord for the shoes and opted to have them go ahead and make them for me, tied and all. You also have a choice to buy a kit and make them on your own, but I would surely destroy them so I decided to take full advantage of the custom services.
Two days later, literally, I received my shoes in the mail. Holy hell, that was fast! I didn’t believe it was the shoes at first, because they just came in a thin envelope that weighed about as much as a few pieces of paper in there. With the help of the “Tying” section of the website, I got my laces adjusted and started wondering around in the shoes. What I immediately noticed was that I would probably have to fiddle around with the lacing a bit to get the fit just right. I realized that I probably tied them too tight, but decided to go out for a “short” run anyway.
Six miles later, I realized I should probably call it a night in my new friends, considering it was my first go round with them. I was having a blast! The laces were definitely too tight and left little indentations around my heel and top of my foot, but otherwise I didn’t even notice the straps. I was really surprised that the strap between my toes didn’t bother me at all.
As far as ground feel, you could almost feel the stems of the leaves through the soles, which are 4mm thick. Or 4mm thin, to be more accurate. Invisible Shoes does sell 6mm thick soles as well if you want a bit more protection. The ground feel was different compared to Vibrams, not necessarily in a good or bad way. The difference was that when I stepped on a stick for example, the whole sole bends a bit to form around the stick whereas when barefoot or in Vibrams, I feel my foot forming to the stick a bit more. My feet also seemed a bit wider and longer in these shoes, probably because the soles extend slightly beyond the parameter of your foot just like any sandal would. Again, I think that this was neither good or bad, but probably something that would take some getting used to.
They probably weigh about 3.2 ish oz, as Steve has on his website that a men’s size 9 weighs 3.4 oz. I wear a women’s size 6, so you get what I’m saying. They felt very light, and I felt myself running more aware, similar to the awareness when I’m barefoot running. When I’m in Vibrams, I think I tend to sleep-run a bit more because I know that I’m still protected if I hit my toe…while this is good for sleeping, it can lead to form deterioration, which of course is not good for healthy running.
I also felt the muscles in my legs and core were really activating as in barefoot while running in my new huaraches. It’s amazing how just that little tiny bit of flexible material on the VFF soles does support your foot and arches just enough to where you do not get the same strengthening benefit of being totally bare. I will say that I think these new huaraches will be a great addition to my “barefoot footwear,” which is of course, ridiculous to have as much minimalist footwear as I do!! They really did feel as if they were a part of my foot by the end of the run, which is what I was hoping for. In the beginning, they felt a bit awkward because my foot felt overall larger hitting the ground, but it didn’t take long to get in the groove. I should mention this was a road run, I’ve yet to try them on the trails. I’ll try to hit the trails with them this weekend and provide an update after that magic happens.
I felt very native and wild in my new huaraches, which was totally exciting. I considered doing a few tribal yells or maybe some dancing, but figured that would be overkill in suburbia. Of course, everyone passing was staring at me anyway. I wore my Portland Marathon Finisher shirt just to prove I was hardcore and not just some crazy banshee running around. Afterall, looks are the most important thing right? At least I looked good.
This is day two with my new huaraches, and I’m wearing them now as I sit here and write this. I spent some time loosening the straps today and they feel so much better already. I’m so excited, I think I’ll go out for another 5 mile run now. But not before I share some pictures with you! Behold, my beautiful feet and caveman huaraches. Er, please ignore the dirt/mud, I can’t ever seem to get all of it out from under my toe nails during Portland mud season. I know, I know.
SO WHAT DO YOU THINK? HAVE YOU EVER WORN HUARACHES, OR DO YOU WANT TO TRY THEM?