My running has been a passionate act of love since I began last November. I adore everything about it—the sweat, the challenge and the feel of my feet churning over pavement. Then my first pair of shoes needed to be replaced.
I also hate buying and changing my personal belongings. One reason why I almost always wear the same thing is because I hate wasting time trying to decide what to wear (and if it matches!). That’s why I have eight pairs of black pants and shirts in my closet that all look the same. When I needed new running shoes I went back to the same store and got the same shoes. The love affair continued for 300 more miles. Then those shoes wore out.
Trouble started. I went to the same store to get the same shoes and found none in my size. I decided to switch brands to something that lasted longer. I hated the new shoes. I started spending far too much time and energy thinking about shoes.
“I wish I could just run barefoot,” I complained to a friend. I was told I could—in fact their is a whole movement of barefoot runners who swear it’s actually better to run that way. I started looking into it.
I won’t get into the details of how much better running in bare feet or minimalist shoes is. I’ve seen it called naked running, barefoot running and minimalist running. There’s a ton of studies already published on the subject all over the internet. I decided to try minimalist running shoes in our area rather than go completely bare because of all the sandspurs Florida tends to have.
I found a pair I liked at Xero Shoes—they have pre-made shoes as well as a DIY kit. The cost was low. I paid around $25 for a kit that included everything I need to make my custom running huaraches including the hole punch awl and extra laces. I liked the DIY aspect of the kit because it made me feel crafty and it was half the cost. I pre-made pair of Xero shoes still only runs around $50 or less. I was dropping $70 on my old shoes. The best part is that the Xero shoes come with a 5,000 mile guarantee. I won’t have to swap my shoes for a long time.
Today I ran my first three miles in my new running huaraches. I had no plans for distance, just testing out these new minimalist shoes. I was skeptical and did a few test laps in front of my house before setting out. I expected to feel discomfort and have a slower, shorter run. The opposite was true.
While I did start feeling footsore, it was minor and didn’t set in until around the 2.5 mile mark. My pace was steady and relaxed at around 10 minutes per mile. I found myself focussing on my environment much more as I kept a look out for gravel. The increased alertness made for an enjoyable, in-the-now experience. I finished my run on the third mile, amazed at how well—and comfortably—the tiny pads of rubber and cord on my feet had performed.
I’ll have to keep testing these, but if the experience remains positive I may be running my first race on April 30 in nothing but sandals.