Thursday, July 29, 2010

Half-Huarache Sandals

Many people are using minimalist footwear to run in. One popular item is a sandal patterned after the one the Huarache Indians in Mexico make. Ted McDonald in Seattle markets Huarache sandals starting at $50 a pair. He also posted on his website how you can make your own. I tried making some but didn't like how they worked. So I thought of making a half-sole design that might suit my purposes.

I realized that my only purpose in putting things on my feet to run in is to give some protection only to the balls of my feet. The rest of my feet never need any assistance. It was having the rest of the sandals on my feet that were contributing to most of my complaints about the original Huarache design. So by getting rid of most of the sole, I hoped to eliminate most of the problems!

Here is a photo of my "minimal-minimalist" design, or Half-Huaraches.

The straps across the base going up to the top are elastic. I used elastic to eliminate having to adjust and tie laces each time I put them on. The straps going across the tops are to help keep the tip of the sandals closer to my toes, so when I bend my toes up, the sandal follows them instead of staying open and catching the ground. When they don't bend with my feet, they act as scoops, grabbing gravel and sometimes folding under. I would have used elastic there, too, but I ran out of material. I might change it later on.

I'll give them a try on some mileage running and see how they do. I'll let you know later what I think!



Sherry said...

I'm looking forward to hearing how they do on a longer run.

The Sentient Runner said...

Well, I tried them out on some very nasty sections of sidewalks near my house. They have been "repaving" the roads using the diabolical chip-seal method, which leaves a lot of very sharp bits of rock all over the sidewalks. At first I was running barefoot until it started getting too thick, then I stopped and put on my half-huaraches. As predicted, they went on easily and quickly.

However, once I started running in the razor sharp loose gravel, my heels didn't like being poked painfully and I ended up running too much on just my toes. Very tiring on the feet and calves!

I tried some super-bending of my ankles, keeping my knees closer to the ground, which naturally helped keep my heels up a little while allowing my to completely relax my calves. But that is an awkward way to run and my ankles aren't used to bending that much. I finally just turned around, got to where it was smoother and just took the sandals off. My ankles and calves were sore the next day from the extreme work out I gave them.

I realize that the type of stuff that would make me want to protect my feet, would also make me want to protect my heels. If its tolerable for my heels then it is tolerable for my whole foot! So a half-sole sandal just doesn't seem practical.

After-thought: While running, I thought about how my regular Huaraches were laces, and realized something that I could adjust to make them fit better without so much "clacking" while running. Problem is, I destroyed my old Huaraches making the half-sole versions. So I have just enough Vibram cherry 4 mm left to make another whole-sole pair to try lacing differently.

My thought was that by punching a hole directly beneath my ankle joint, and having the lace cross over the front of my ankle, it probably tended to pull the heel of the sandal towards the toe when my weight was off it. This made the sole bend outward, away from my foot, so each time I stepped on it, the curved sole would smack against the bottom of my foot. My idea is to punch a hole more forward, so the lace does not want to pull the rear of the sandal forward; just "up". Back to the drawing board!