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Hurache running sandals. Hurraches for running.

Posted by | Posted in Huaraches | Posted on 30-11-2009

You may note my weird spelling of “huaraches” as hurrache and hurache (or if you’re using both feet, hurraches and huraches ;-) )

Regardless of the spelling, if you want to run barefoot, you need to try a pair of these minimalist running shoes.

Why? Well, they’re the closest thing to barefoot, but with the protection a real shoe (at InvisibleShoe.com we use 4mm Vibram Cherry sole material… it’s exceptionally light and quite sturdy).

You may have heard about hurraches (I’m going to use all the weird spellings I’ve seen), in Chris McDougall’s book, Born to Run.

I knew about them before reading that book, but as a sprinter, it never occurred to me to make a pair for myself.

I’m glad I did.

I use my huraches to warm up for sprinting — I’ll run a mile or two on the track and even use them for intervals.

In fact, it’s kind of funny, but sprint spikes are a lot like hurrache — all they are is a thin layer of something between your feet and the track. The difference is that the sole on sprint spikes is very rigid, compared to the incredibly flexible hurache sole. Oh, that and the spikes ;-)

Since you can see that I give away the entire plans for how to make huaraches I care more that you do something to try running barefoot (well, protected barefoot).

Personally, I can say that I never liked running more than 100 meters until I tried barefoot running. And once I put on my huarraches, I was going everywhere in my minimalist shoes. My wife walks around in her hurraches, too. And, with some loose socks, you can wear them in colder weather than you might imagine.

Running barefoot — the most important muscles to use

Posted by | Posted in Barefoot Running, Training for Running | Posted on 24-11-2009

In an interview I read today, Usain Bolt’s coach, Glen Mills, talked about what helped make Usain Bolt the fastest man in the world.

He revealed something that will surprise most runners, namely, the most important muscles required for fast, efficient running.

Have a guess?

Think it’s the quads? The hamstrings? Glutes? Calves? Eyelids?

Let me quote Glen:

Usain is an extremely gifted athlete. When I started working with him, one of the things that stood out like a sore thumb was his poor mechanics. Part of his poor mechanics was because he was not able hold the sprint position during maximum velocity running, so we had to do an intense programme to develop his core strength. In Beijing he showed a mastery of the technique that we had been working on, but the transformation took two years.

He goes on to discuss in more detail how important the core — primarily the abdominal muscles — are critical for running.

Now, what does this have to do with your running? EVERYTHING.

I won’t bore you with the biomechanics of why, or how this fits in with the spring-mass model of running, but I’ll suggest you do an experiment:

Next time you run, tighten your core (as if you’re bracing yourself before someone hits you in the stomach). See what that does to your running form.

What I’ve noticed when I do this, especially when I’m running barefoot or in my huaraches, is that I get “taller” and my foot placement gets under my center of gravity better. This makes me lighter on my feet, and gives me less ground contact time, which makes me faster… just like what Glen Mills said happened to Usain Bolt!

Play with this. See what changes as you tighten your core, especially the transverse abdominus (the muscles you use to suck in your stomach when you’re trying to fit into a pair of too-tight pants).

If you notice the same dramatic change I do (and, btw, when I learned barefoot running from Michael Sandler of www.runbare.com, he said “tighten your core” a LOT), you’ll probably want to do something to get those abs stronger. Before you rush off and start doing sit-ups, let me ask you a question:

When you run, do you curl your body up and down?

I hope not! ;-)

Well, if that’s not the motion you make when running, is it the best thing to use for training?

I’m  going to suggest it’s not. Strength coach Michael Boyle discusses this and suggests that if you want to keep your core stable, you should train it to remain stable while some force is trying to move it.

Having put those types of exercises into my weekly training, I agree with Michael. Stability-type work has made much more of a difference for me than crunches, situps, side-bends and the like.

Looking forward to hearing what you discover when you activate “the most important muscles for running.”

Huarache Running Sandals of the Tarahumara – Kits and Custom huaraches

Posted by | Posted in Tarahumara running | Posted on 20-11-2009

Okay, so the big question is, “WHY use huarache, the Tarahumara running sandals?”

The answer is pretty obvious, but there are some important-yet-surprising pieces to the puzzle.

The obvious answer about huarache is: It’s the closest thing there is to barefoot running, without some of the hazards of barefoot running. Namely, you’re adding a layer of protection to your feet that bare skin simply can’t give you, no matter how well conditioned your feet are.

Especially with the 4mm Vibram Cherry sole material we use in our huarache kits and custom huaraches, you get what I like to call “better-than-barefoot.” The soles are so flexible it’s like having nothing on, so light, you barely notice them… except it’s blissfully clear that you’re not getting scraped up, cut up, scratched up and dirty like you would if it was just your tootsies on the ground.

That said, I’m not going to say “Don’t run barefoot and run with huarache running sandals instead!”

Why not?

Well, because running barefoot gives you more feedback than running with ANYTHING on your feet.

If you want to know how efficient your form is, go barefoot and you’ll know (that is, if it hurts, you need to change something!).

If you want to know if you could be running lighter or easier, go barefoot and you’ll find out (did I mention: if it hurts, you need to change something?).

Conversely, putting ANYTHING on your feet, including huarache sandals, can mask some improper technique, give you the illusion that you’re better than you are and, possibly, lead to overtraining. Especially at first.

That said, since it takes awhile to develop that new barefoot running technique, and since it takes a while for your feet to get conditioned (btw, they do NOT get calloused), I recommend a mix of barefoot and huarache running.

In fact, what I often do is carry my huaraches with me when I go out barefooting. And if my feet start to get a bit sore, and I’m still a ways away from home, I’ll slip on my huaraches for the 2nd half of the run.

Or, I’ll warm up in my huaraches, and then slip ‘em off (using the method of how to tie huarache sandals here), and take off from there.

Oh, if I’m on serious trails — and by serious, I mean a lot of rocks, twigs, etc. — then it’s all huarache, all the time.