I’ve been running barefoot for several years but when I moved from a riverside suburb in Australia to a rural part of England, it soon became apparent that I would need at least some protection on my feet most of the time to protect me from gorse, brambles and flints.
Lucky for me, Barefoot Ted (who rose to anonymity in the book Born to Run) had recently set up his own company called Luna Sandals making a modern version of Tarahumaran running sandals known as huaraches.
I quickly ordered a pair and over 2 years later I am still as enthusiastic as the first day I went running in them. Here are my 5 best things about running in Luna Sandals:
I have said before how much I love running with bare feet, but the downside is that you can’t do it everywhere, especially on gnarly terrain. Luna sandals are the closest thing that I have found so far. You get more sensation of the ground than you would in spongy running shoes, you have no heel rise or arch support, your toes have the freedom to spread out and they can breath!
Luna sandals are thin and lightweight, but unlike most sandals they literally pack flat. So flat that they actually post them to you in an envelope. They can achieve this because they have no arch rise, no heal rise and minimalist straps. I often don’t have space to carry a pair of running shoes when I travel, but I can always slip my Lunas in my bag and quickly pop them out when I need them.
I love the fact that in warm weather you can use Luna Sandals for almost anything. Last year I went for a weekend away and spent time walking in the city, walked in the country, went to the beach, ran a half marathon and never needed to change my shoes. That’s what I call versatile!
I love running off road and love getting a bit muddy, but what I don’t like is running in soggy shoes. But Lunas don’t absorb anything. You can run straight through puddles, streams and muddy bogs and it just flicks off. Sure, your feet get wet and dirty, but you get the fun without the misery. And if you are running in a group, you can enjoy watching everyone else get their big spongy trainers soaked, safe in the knowledge that when you get home you can simply rinse them off.
Unlike normal running shoes (or shoes in general) which come in a selection of standard sizes, Luna Sandals can be custom made to feet your feet. And not just a crude length and width measurement, but an exact match. They are made from flat sheets of puncture resistant Vibram rubber, so if you trace the outline of your feet on a sheet of paper and post it to the Luna Monkeys in Seattle, they’ll make a pair to fit your feet exactly. It’s perfect for people with unusually shaped feet like mine or for people who have one foot bigger than the other.
It would be easy to think that buying a pair of Luna Sandals would mean that you would no longer run fully barefoot, but I have found the opposite to be true. The reason is that because they have no laces, you can slip them on and off in seconds and they are so small and flat that you can carry them in your hand, or even clip them to your waist. I run on the rough terrain with my sandals on and when I get to a place with terrain suitable for running completely barefoot I just take them off until I need them again.
One of the worst things about any shoe (especially sports shoes) is that they smell. But when your shoe is completely open and is made of a flat sheet of rubber, your feet don’t get hot and sweaty and there is no fabric to absorb the smell.
Some people might look at you running in sandals and make smart arse comments about your flip flops, but you won’t care when you are having so much fun. My wife soon got herself a pair when she saw how much I was enjoying them and she now loves them as much as I do.
Needless to say, I am a massive fan. They seem expensive for a couple of flat pieces of rubber with fabric straps, but when you realise how good they are it seems like a bargain. Less is more!