HUARACHES GIVEAWAY & REVIEW: Invisible Shoes

Mileage: 51.2 miles

Terrain: Technical trails

About a month ago I received a complimentary pair of Invisible Shoe huaraches offered to the Run Smiley Collective. I was excited because these were my first real pair of laced huaraches. Previously I had worn Unshoe sandals, which are adjusted with a clasp (no lacing), and I was still waiting for my first pair of Lunas.

I started using the Invisible Shoes on San Diego trail runs, which I soon discovered were extremely technical. In retrospect, I am amazed that these huaraches did so well with the terrain and the mileage I was using them on. I ran over 50 miles in about 3 weeks of exclusively rocky trails.

Here’s what I think of them:

Ground Feel

The ground feel was very high, as the 6mm sole was really quite thin. I liked the fact that this forced me to pay attention to my footing, but it would also start to tire out my feet as the miles started accumulating. They didn’t hurt, but I definitely felt every step.

Tying & Adjustability

I never had any trouble tying these and they only came untied once under very harsh trail conditions. The best part of these laces is that they are easy to adjust on the fly. So if the fit isn’t perfect, I can tug a little instead of having to sit down and re-lace from scratch. They also come in slip-on form, which simplifies the lacing process.

Technical Trail Performance

I love running trails, so I really need a sandal that holds up. The thing about trails is that each footfall is different, and always uneven. So it’s difficult to find a perfect huarache fit. If the lacing is too loose, the sandal falls off. If it’s too tight, it digs into your skin and gives you blisters. Plus the constant foot-shuffling tends to loosen the fit in a way that doesn’t happen with traditional shoes.

That said, this pair only fell off once after a particularly intense trail run, and I was only delayed for seconds since I could adjust them while they were still on my feet. And I had run over 50 miles before they started to blister. I think that’s impressive considering I didn’t take any anti-blister precautions. No socks, taping, or BodyGlide. Creek crossings are also really fun in these.

General Fit

One thing that would bother me with the Unshoes was that the front of the sandal would fold over and I’d step on them a lot, no matter how I adjusted my form. So I was concerned that would be the case again. But that never happened with the Invisible Shoes. Overall, it was a better fit. I never felt the lacing between my big toe and my second toe, whereas this was also a painful issue with the Unshoes.

Storage & Convenience

I like to throw these into my hydration bladder and head out for a barefoot run. If the trails get too rough, I know I can throw these on fairly easily. They give me the confidence to try new trails barefoot because I know these can get me through any rough sections. They help me run MORE barefoot miles, not less. I think that’s how a shoe should truly function.

Customer Service

I have to mention the great customer service and personalized attention from this company. It’s always refreshing to deal with someone who can answer all your questions and get back to you promptly. Great job guys!

Drawbacks

I can’t race an entire ultra in these on a technical trail. I still need a bit of a thicker sole. I also hate them on concrete. They slap a little louder than I’d like and I find it tough to run in complete silence, no matter how I shift my form. I would also recommend some blister prevention, like BodyGlide. Because when they DO form blisters, it’s very demoralizing and tough to avoid rubbing in the exact same places.

Conclusions

I definitely have a place for these huaraches. I love that I can carry them around when I’m barefoot. I also love them on slightly rocky trails, or on anything less than 20 miles. I love they way they look on my feet and they do spark some conversation. For the average runner, these would be a fun sandal. For me, they were also a great transition to huarache running.

If you’re considering moving into huaraches, I would recommend these as a great “first” sandal. They’re easier to tie than other options, they’re very reasonable, and will really give you a good idea as to whether huarache running is for you.

HUARACHES INVISIBLE SHOE GIVEAWAY

Invisible Shoes is generously offering one lucky reader a free pair of huaraches!

To enter, do one or more of the following things. Leave a separate comment below for each thing you do, as I will count up the comments and choose a winner randomly using random.org. Every separate comment will count as an entry. The more you do, the higher your chances of winning.

The winner will be announced next Tuesday, October 4th. Come back and check because if you don’t claim your prize, I’ll choose another winner!

  • Leave a comment and tell me why you’d like to win these huaraches
  • “Like” Invisible Shoes on Facebook HERE
  • Follow Invisible Shoes on Twitter @InvisibleShoes
  • Post about this giveaway on any social media (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc). Each posting counts as one entry, so leave a separate comment for every one.
  • Blog about this giveaway.
  • Follow/subscribe to this blog (top left hand side). If you’ve already subscribed, that still counts as an entry. Just leave a comment and let me know.

Good luck!

About these ads

New Runs, New Home, New Life

As some of you know, I’m currently in San Diego. I have been living in Toronto, Canada since I was 3 years old and travelled here one week ago. I came to train and race my second ultra, Noble Canyon 50k, on a generous sponsorship from Sport Kilt.

This is my first athletic sponsorship and a very exciting opportunity for me. Although I’ve done a fair share of traveling through the States and overseas, I have never been in a city that felt quite like San Diego. There’s something about this place that grows on you. In other parts of the world I’ve felt like a tourist, happily passing through and experiencing new things. But San Diego feels like home.

The running here is like something straight out of my dreams. Hills and mountains and beaches and caves and canyons. Tough but breathtaking. I feel so blessed and fulfilled running through these trails that it’s hard to see myself living anywhere else. (The picture above is where I ran yesterday.)

In seven days, this city has opened its heart and its doors to me. Sometimes it’s big things – like being offered a great job, work visa, and an opportunity for me to stay permanently (more on that later). Or little things like winning Chargers game tickets. Or even the fact that in seven days I have more friends here than I ever did in Toronto.

But mostly it’s the running that’s blowing my mind. I can’t do these trails justice by describing the scenery or taking pictures. I can really only describe them by the way they make me feel and what they make me think. Here are some of the thoughts I’ve had on my San Diegan trail runs:

1. Mostly I try to figure out how I got here. What I did right, or what turn I took to end up in such an amazing place. What I’ve even done to deserve this kind of beauty. How scenery so breathtaking can be free. I wonder whether I went the long way or the hard way or whether I hurt people to get here. Maybe I took some shortcuts or maybe I could have been here sooner. But it doesn’t matter now. I’m here. And I’ve found my personal heaven.

2. I feel closer to God.  This is something I’m reluctant to admit because I don’t really consider myself a religious person. This also doesn’t fit with what I’ve been taught about God. I’ve made enough wrong turns in my life to be told several times that I will never find peace. That God will punish, not bless me. I think the people I’ve hurt need to believe in divine justice. They need to think that God is paying me back. So it is with a bit of guilt that I bask in the feeling of being near Him. Of being loved and highly favored.

3. I don’t listen to much Christian music, and it’s been years since I’ve heard hymns. But when I run here, there is one hymn that always comes to mind. The lyrics embed themselves in my brain like a mantra, and I don’t know where they come from. But it makes me feel that the God I’ve been taught about isn’t the God that IS. That the real God perhaps doesn’t prioritize rewards and punishments. But instead teaches me daily what really matters: The rich, orange sand between my naked toes. And getting lost on the side of a mountain.

(Direct YouTube link HERE)

6 Reasons why you should drop everything and climb a tree

Earlier this month my friend Chris initiated an online challenge. Simple but powerful: Climb a tree.

I was thrilled to read it because I’ve been climbing trees during my runs for some time now. And I’ve found the rewards to be significant.

Here are my top 6 reasons for climbing trees.

1. Body mind orgy

Often we spend all day trapped in a disconnect between our bodies and our minds. Our bodies are in one place while our minds are wandering elsewhere. But when you’re climbing, your mind and body are working in unison. Everything is pulling in one direction: UP.

I climb trees barefoot, but you don’t have to do that to get a strong body mind connection. There’s something about scaling a tree in bare feet that stimulates all my senses. The rough bark under my toes. Pushing my body up against gravity. Leaves brushing against my face and arms. That doesn’t happen at the gym.

2. Hardcore core work

Climbing trees is harder than it looks. It requires the use of muscles that aren’t normally isolated in mainstream strength workouts. I like to consider myself a fairly fit person. I run a lot, I cross train, and I lift weighs. But after a day of climbing trees, I am sore for 3 days. I am sore in places where I did not know it was possible to be sore.

3. Childlike bliss

Much like sprinting through a dewy meadow or rolling down a hill, it’s impossible to climb a tree without laughing or grinning. It doesn’t matter if you’re by yourself. It doesn’t matter if you scrape something. 100% giggle-friendly.

Funny things happen. The last time I scaled a tree, I sat up there quietly and watched a man and his dog walk towards me. The man didn’t notice me (nobody ever looks up!), but the dog picked up on something strange. He sniffed around a bit and … looked up. Then he started barking furiously at the foot of my tree. The man looked and I know he saw me, but he pretended not to. Best to ignore the strange human in tree. It was awesome.

4. Growing balls

You don’t have to have a fear of heights to reach a point up a tree where suddenly your mind catches up and you feel scared. Maybe you glance down. Maybe you realize that you have no idea how to get down. Or you see a big fat spider. Whatever the reason, at a certain point you feel a tingle followed by a rush of scary.

This is often the point where I climb back down. But I come back another day. I’ll climb the same tree again, and this time I go a little further. Sometimes I’ll do this over many days. Until I’m not afraid anymore. And it feels awesome.

5. Better Balance

Looking to improve your balance? Climbing trees is just as good as yoga. Perhaps better, since the stakes are higher. I’m very motivated to focus and improve my balance when I know that a slip isn’t going to land me on a cushy yoga mat. For me, this adds to the rush. It forces me to be careful and teaches me to move with precision.


6. Nature lovin’

Love nature and it will love you back. For me, climbing trees is about learning to move in my natural environment with grace and strength. At first, I’m clumsy and awkward. But over time I slowly learn to slip into a tree more naturally. I learn how to grab the bark, wrap my legs around the base, and shuffle up. Then shuffle down. I’ve spent a lot of hours in a gym, and bottom line: Nothing compares to this.

Go ahead, give it a try!

You don’t have to climb high or go far. Just give it a shot. Have fun with it and take a picture. Send it to Chris at The Run Smiley Collective and maybe he’ll post it on his blog. And leave a comment to let me know what you did! Happy climbing!

What is your favorite reason for climbing a tree?

Top 4 Tips for Newbie Barefoot Runners

Happy July everyone!

I know it’s summer because I’m starting to get questions and emails from budding barefoot runners about how to get started. Most people want specific tips and training plans, and a lot of questions around Vibram Five Fingers.

I thought I’d compile some general thoughts and tips to help out:

1. Buy a barefoot book.

I always point people to both Jason Robillard’s Barefoot Book and Ken Bob Saxton’s Barefoot Running Step by Step. Both of these are must-reads for anyone interested in taking up barefoot running. You will also get some valuable information about minimalist shoe running (including Vibrams), and these books say a lot more than what I can possibly cover in this post.

Jason is a barefoot ultra runner who recently finished a 100-mile race in under 24 hours. He’s a great blogger as well – informative and entertaining. I follow him closely as well as his fabulous wife Shelly. He knows his stuff. And best of all, he’s offering his book as a free ebook download HERE. Don’t miss out!

Ken Bob Saxton is like the Santa Claus of barefoot running. He’s some sort of peculiar mix of omniscience and kindness with a twinkle in his eye. He’s got a belly and a beard and his book will tell you if you’ve been bad or good. Everyone in the barefoot running community knows and loves Ken – he’s just as famous as Santa but more likely to respond to your Christmas letters.

2. Forget your goals.

Most people turn to barefoot running with a race goal in mind. Eg) “I want to run a barefoot marathon this fall.”

My advice? Ditch all measurable goals. They’re only going to frustrate and distract you in the beginning.

Come to terms and accept the fact that you might NOT run that race or reach those goals. That doesn’t mean that you won’t, it means that you’re ok if it doesn’t happen. Once you’ve accepted that, you may be surprised to find that you’re actually capable of much more than you had imagined.

3. Let your feet be your guide.

Have a training plan, but don’t marry it. Think of it more like your lover. You keep an eye on it and check in from time to time, but only if your feet are taken care of. If your feet say you can’t run the mileage on your training plan today, then don’t run it. And don’t freak out – you WILL run it another time. Everyone progresses at a different pace, but that doesn’t mean your pace will ALWAYS be slow. Which brings me to the next point…

4. Have patience.

Barefoot running has taught me so much about patience. And I’m not a patient person by nature. I’m very goal-oriented and I like to advance quickly.

The first barefoot pacer I ever had was Shacky at my first marathon, and that was also the first time I had ever run with another minimalist runner. Although we stuck to my planned pace, the shift in mood was significant. I was always GO GO GO!! But Shacky is so chill, sometimes it almost seems like he’s moving backwards. Yet the dude can kick my ass in any distance race, and when we sprint he leaves me in the dust. Sometimes going slower means you can move faster.

I’m lucky enough to have some superstar ultra running friends and when I watch their accomplishments I get all worked up and excited. I want to tag along so bad and sometimes I feel like the baby in the group – trying desperately to waddle along and keep up with the big kids. I know I’ll get there eventually when my damn stubby legs start growing. But in the meantime I get impatient with myself.

So I sing The Patience Song.

I was a kid when I first heard The Patience Song. And I sing it in my head sometimes on my long runs when I start to feel impatient with myself. I still have thoughts that creep up often about how much faster or longer I should be going, ignoring the fact that I’ve made some tremendous strides in a short amount of time.

The key to singing this song while running is to sing it REALLY slowly. And over and over and over. Like The Song that Doesn’t End.

Below is the lovely Miss Sallie with her version of The Patience Song. I hope you remember this the next time you’re out on a barefoot run wondering why your feet are such slow learners.

Lyrics:

Have patience

Have patience

Don’t be in such a hurry

When you get

Impatient

You only start to worry

Remember

Remember

That God is patient too

And think of all the times when others have to wait for you!

(Direct link HERE)

Remember – barefoot running is about the journey, not the destination. Take your time learning about your body and enjoy every blade of grass, every mud pit, every slab of hot sidewalk. You’re learning and exploring your limits. This is the journey of life. It doesn’t get any better than this.

Why your wife hates your barefoot running

When I first started running barefoot, I was amused and slightly surprised at the number of guys (nameless to protect the innocent) who would bitch about their unsupportive wives. They complained their wives thought barefoot running was stupid and dangerous. These women were embarrassed, humiliated, and/or angry. One barefoot runner even turned to me once and demanded, “What IS it with you women??”

I didn’t know what to say.

To be honest, the whole issue was news to me at the time. Why would anyone’s wife have a problem with it? I was naïve in my barefoot bliss and I hadn’t yet learned one of Jason’s cold hard truths about running barefoot – Not everyone will be supportive.

But I still get the sense that more often than not, it is usually women who seem be the strongest opposers. And maybe I’m imagining things, but I get the feeling that the happiest and most successful barefoot runners are either single men, or men who are married to women who also run barefoot, and they run together. Which for me begs the question – What do you do if your partner is unsupportive? What are your options? Is there any hope?

I wish I had some answers. I also wish I could say something to ease the minds of women everywhere and dispel their fears around barefoot running. It would probably be something like this:

1. If your partner is passionate about something, you need to support him. Regardless of whether it’s barefoot running or anything else. Be glad he has a passion, not every guy does. If he’s a real man, he’ll keep running despite your nagging. And if he’s not, that sucks even more. You want a guy with a backbone. So don’t make his life impossible every time he stands up.

2. Nobody is looking at you. When he’s out running, your neighbours aren’t calling each other to talk about you. Nobody cares. People are too busy living their lives to worry about yours. And even if they talk, a wise woman named Cat Hurd once said: Other people’s opinions of you are none of your business.

3. Barefoot running is hot. It makes your feet sexy and your legs even sexier. Not only will it make him hotter, it will make him happier. It makes him a hero at races. It makes him look brave and strong and manly. People want to take his picture and give him high fives. These are all direct benefits for you.

Yesterday I stumbled across this great site dedicated to celebrating women who run barefoot.

There are too few of us. But the ones I know are amazing quality women. That can’t be a coincidence. Here’s what they all have in common:

1. They are beautiful. They’re runners. Their legs are hot and their eyes are bright.

2. They are confident. They don’t care what other people think of them. And confidence combined with beauty is a powerful combination in a woman.

3. They are grounded. They don’t sweat the small stuff. They have their priorities straight. They are down to earth and approachable and humble.

4. They run smiley. This means that they have fun when they run and they enjoy the journey, not just the destination. They are funny and they can laugh at themselves.

Caity McCardell is the woman behind Run Barefoot Girl. I will have the privilege of speaking with her next week when she interviews me for a podcast. I’m excited because I find Caity so inspiring. I feel like I should be the one interviewing her. This is her amazing video:

(Direct Youtube link HERE)

See what I mean about smiley? Caity is JOYFUL. She laughs when she runs. Who doesn’t want to be around a woman like that?

Women have the unique ability to make the people around them either insanely happy or insanely miserable. Don’t misuse the power of your gender, ladies.

Run smiley.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,217 other followers

%d bloggers like this: