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What minimalist footwear have you tried?
November 15, 2009
10:40 pm
Steven
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So, what have you tried?

Huaraches? Vibram Five Fingers? Nike Free?

Or have you just gone barefoot?

What's been your experience with the different options?

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January 22, 2010
12:25 pm
teh_trout
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I've just recently gotten into barefoot running (and really running in general) in the last half a year. I started with a pair of Vibram Five Fingers Classics, which are great, and then slowly transitioned to running barefoot.

I'd heard about sandals such as the ones shown on this site from the book Born to Run and was interested in making a pair when I found the series of youtube videos you made. A few weeks ago I made a pair out of some rubber car floor mats and nylon bootlace and have been loving running in them. I'm currently in Massachusetts so it's pretty cold and snowy where I am right now so I found my Vibrams weren't working because they got wet and stayed cold. Surprisingly even when theres a little snow and ice on the sidewalk and it's around twenty degrees the sandals work well. They let your feet dry off and allow for full circulation.

Thanks for the video guides! They were very well done and very helpful!

- Will

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January 27, 2010
2:45 pm
sronicker
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Okay, so I am a longtime runner that just this year decided to try out barefoot running.  Well, I am a wuss and decided to go with VFF classics instead of truly barefooted.  After hundreds of miles and a half marathon in those trusty VFFs I found a forum post (I think it was on the barefoot portion of Runnersworld.com's forums that linked this site for making sandals.  Well, I finally got around to getting a kit and I started putting it together last night.  I don't have a leather punch and I am travelling so I found a local shoe repair/leather shop and asked them to do the punching for me.  At first the holes were too small and now I am worried that they are too big.  No matter, I will take a run in them later today (hopefully 4-5 miles).  I am excited to take one more step towards completely bare feet.  Also, even though Barefoot Ken Bob recommends that newbies NOT use transitional footwear I am using these huaraches (I tied them in a slip-off fashion) as a sort of transitional "shoe".  Because, whenever I go running I slip my VFFs off (now I'll slip the huaraches off) for the last mile or so.  Then slowly take my footwear off earlier and earlier in the run to build up my soles.  Also, I will always (at least for the foreseeable future) wear some sort of minimalist shoe when running trails.  I just purchased a new pair of VFF KSOs and I will keep using my classics and these new huaraches for trail running even after I have made the transition to complete barefoot running.  There are just too many roots, sticks and rocks etc. in the woods for me to risk a serious cut while running.

Sam

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January 27, 2010
7:28 pm
Steven
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Sam, you'll find that huaraches are WAY less like transitional footwear than anything else, they're WAY closer to barefoot (as close as you can get without gluing something to your foot,  I think).

And I wouldn't worry about the holes too much… the toe hole is held by the knot, and the ankle holes just hold the lace in place -- size doesn't matter too much there.

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January 30, 2010
10:25 am
garythenuke
Paso Robles California
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I just made my first pair of sandals using Steven's instructions.  I've learned a few things already.  One is that whle the slip on slip off tying method is great for everyday wear, it is not secure enough for me for running.  I have to do the tighter lacing scheme.

  Regarding hole placement, I have high arches.  From the video it looks like Steven may have lowish arches.  My feet actually tend to migrate to the outside of the sandal rather than the inside.  I moved the toe hole from under the second toe to under the big toe and it holds much better. Initially I had the heel holes too far foreword.  I moved them back about 3/4 of an inch and now everything is working very well.

  Regarding too large of holes or too many, I think that the vibram rubber is extremely strong and quite tear resistant.  I have six holes now in my sandals and they are having no trouble at all taking the abuse.  As long as the knot does not pull out of the toe hole, Sam, I don't think you have anything to worry about.

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January 30, 2010
10:04 pm
Steven
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Great feedback, Gary.

Proving, once again, that we are all not "one" ;-)

And, I've had the same experience regarding putting lots of holes in the Vibram sole; it holds up really well… especially if you have good running form. Actually, I heard of someone who put about 20-30 holes in the sole because he wanted more ventilation and had no problem.

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February 13, 2010
12:11 pm
sronicker
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Okay so I have been getting back into the swing of things… over the Christmas break I didn't get to run much at all but for the past few weeks I have been consistently running every other day.  The surface I am running on is more that just a little annoying though because it isn't real gravel it is more like ground up gravel shavings which makes running on it nice for softness but it totally sucks for getting stuff in my VFF classics.  I have some VFF KSOs which have worked well but I have been reading http://runningbarefoot.org/ and BF Ken Bob basically lambastes any type of minimal running shoe.  But I started trying to transition into completely barefoot a couple weeks ago.  I would run the last bit of the 4.6-5.6 mile run completely BF.  At first it started working out fine then as I started to go farther and farther BF I started BFing on the on the crappy rock/gravel shavings and it hurt.  Then it started hurting even worse.  Now I think I am going to give up BFing completely.  The Huaraches held up fine though it seems like the first thing to go will be the lacing on the back.  I use the slip on slip off tying method but I didn't trim the excess laces I just loosely tie it around my ankle.  It works well though the only issue I've had is some blistering on the bottom of my foot up where the lace goes between my toes.

All in all I love my huaraches and will be using them regularly in the rotation of my VFF classics and KSOs.

Sam

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February 13, 2010
1:27 pm
garythenuke
Paso Robles California
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I just made my second pair.  The first was 3mm, now the second is 4mm.  I also made the second pair larger all the way around.  I am going to use my first pair with the slip on lacing as my walk around shoes, my thicker ones will be my trail running ones with the wrap style lacing.

I have not had any blisters yet, maybe I have just not spent enough time on them yet…

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February 13, 2010
5:38 pm
Steven
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sronicker said:

though it seems like the first thing to go will be the lacing on the back.


You mean the lacing around the heel, or the part that goes through the sole at the ankle?

From my experience, both of those should last quite a while. Depending on your form, the part at the ankle barely touches the ground… in fact, for some people, when they tie the huarache, the inside and outside edges raise up a bit and stay off the ground entirely.

Besides, even if the lacing does go, it's really cheap to replace.

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February 13, 2010
5:40 pm
Steven
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sronicker said:

the only issue I've had is some blistering on the bottom of my foot up where the lace goes between my toes.


FWIW, I would occasionally get that blister when I was totally barefoot… and trying to run before it completely healed changed my stride in some subtle way that I no longer get it.

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February 23, 2010
11:56 pm
sronicker
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The lacing part that goes through the holes then back up the outside (or is it the other way round? I forget how I even laced them…) well it seems like my stride makes me land almost completely on the outside of my forefoot.  When I first started MRing I was landing completely on my toes and after a year of practicing it seems like my stride is now more landing on the outside and rolling inwards as I move forwards.  I realize that isn't the typical BFRing technique taught but it seems to work fine for me.  The only pain I have had has been recently when I have been upping my mileage (probably too much too soon).

I have two more things…

Do you have trouble running on crushed gravel?  The local park I have been running on has a nice crushed gravel path around it and when I wear my huaraches I am constantly stopping to pop a small rock out from under my foot.  I wore my sandals on the single track trails and didn't have any such problems.  I got so fed up with it I have taken to only wearing my VFF KSOs on the trail.

Lastly, I have been thinking about punching another hole in the heel and attaching the heel of the sole to the rest of the lacing system (I use a modified slip-off lacing style).  Do you think that would work?

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February 24, 2010
7:56 am
Steven
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I haven't done much running on crushed gravel since Boulder has miles and miles and miles of great bike paths (and great trails just off the bike paths). You may find that, if you continue to run on gravel, your form adjusts in some subtle way that changes what happens with the tiny rocks. You'll have to keep us all posted.

Regarding punching another hole… hmmm… you could try that. People have done some interesting and creative things with huaraches to make adjustments for their unique situations (or for experiments).

You may want to try just putting one hole, probably on the outside edge, much further back… but still clearly on the outside edge of the sole. Then use that hole instead of the usual outside edge ankle hole. That way you can tie them the same way, but you're lifting up the back a bit more. Just a thought.

Even though huaraches are probably the oldest shoe humans used, we're all still experimenting ;-)

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March 7, 2010
1:04 pm
RunMonkeyRun
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March 7, 2010
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How about molefoam? It is expensive but you would only need to cover toes, ball and heel of foot, not the entire foot. It is flexible, allows for full foot movement. Not sure how well it would stay on if it got wet, or if it might be slippery….I must admit i have not tried this, it just popped into my head…..

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March 7, 2010
6:36 pm
Steven
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I'm not sure it would hold up to the friction, but I've had a similar thought… like, "What if I could just -- temporarily -- glue some rubber strips to my feet… how would you do that, and what would be the best pattern to use to get the coverage and flexibility you want?"

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March 7, 2010
8:13 pm
RunMonkeyRun
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Well, I just ordered the huaraches kit (a thrill to find them, as i can't afford the five-fingers, and these seem better & more natural), but will probably experiment with molefoam just for kicks. of course the disposable aspect of molefoam kinda turns me off….as you mentioned, ideally one would devise a way of gluing rubber strips to the feet, that can be removed & reused. i am not a runner but a long-distance hiker (hikemonkeyhike?) – have not hiked barefoot, but have been using trail running shoes for years, even on long hikes. i am not able to run due to crappy knees, but perhaps the kinetics of barefoot running will allow me to run eventually. at any rate i plan to go barefoot as much as possible (or minimally shod), like i used to as a kid. we NEVER wore shoes in the summer, & were proud of our tough feet by the time august came around. we also spent our times in the woods and up in the trees (playing land of the giants of all things – guess that dates me), swimming in creeks, it was an AWESOME way to grow up!

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March 15, 2010
7:17 pm
Blaine Moore
Vacationland
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I've run barefoot and with vibram KSOs pretty much; I have a pair for running in and a pair that isn't (quite) as stinky or gross looking that I wear around as my every day shoes now that the ice is gone.

I find them pretty useless on ice though, so I usually wear shoes during the winter for my trail runs. (I put sheet metal screws into the soles for traction.)

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March 16, 2010
7:59 am
Steven
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Sheet metal screws! Holy smokes! I love the idea of "Franken-VFFs" and do-it-yourself spikes Wink

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March 16, 2010
6:49 pm
sronicker
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@ hikemonkeyhike :)

I was skeptical at first, but completely barefoot hiking really isn't that bad depending on terrain of course, but a simple hike through the woods (non-technical path) is quite pleasant even without very much pad conditioning.

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March 16, 2010
6:52 pm
sronicker
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@ hikemonkeyhike :)

I was skeptical at first, but completely barefoot hiking really isn't that bad depending on terrain of course, but a simple hike through the woods (non-technical path) is quite pleasant even without very much pad conditioning.

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March 24, 2010
5:45 pm
sronicker
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Okay, so I have to say…  I LOVE my huaraches!  Last time I posted I was a little bothered by getting crushed gravel in my sandals as I ran.  Well, I just finished a nice run around the lake on the gravel trail I mentioned.  Well, I focused on landing on my toes better.  That seemed to help.  I still got stuff in my sandals but it wasn't as bad as before.

Sam

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