Thursday, August 05, 2010

Huarache Redux

Another idea came from my Half-Huaraches experiment. This is a full-soled Huarache sandal idea.

Previously to trying my half-Huarache idea, I had laced the sides of my full-foot Huaraches in-line with my ankle bones, which - in retrospect - may have caused the ankle strap to pull the rear of the sandal forward, causing the sole to bend downward into a kind of a bow, which then collapsed when I stepped on it, making the clacking sound that bugged me so much. (That's a weird sentence - sorry.) So I was thinking, what if I connected the laces just forward of the actual ankle joint, in line with where the top of the foot meets the leg? (Perpendicular to the sole instead of at a backwards angle.) That way the straps would not be pulling the rear of the sandal forward. This also might have the advantage of helping the heel strap to stay on better. It kept on sliding off on my first Huaraches - maybe because my foot is a weird shape.
See the following illustration. The red lines are where I had tied-in the side laces on my first Huaraches. The green lines show where I think they would work better.
I also liked the idea of using the elastic from my half-Huaraches somehow. (The elastic turned out to be a girl's hair band. I found it on the beach one day and kept it for some future project. I'm like that - a scavenger always on the lookout for things that might prove to be "useful." I saw a package of 12 in the store for less than $4 the other day, many colors and several widths.) So last night I made up a new pair of Huarache sandals using my newest ideas. Here are some photos of them:

Description: They are the standard full-sole Huarache design. I put the side holes a little bit forward from my ankle bone. I added a second hole in the front, between my 3rd and 4th toes. The elastic band goes into the front two holes, with knots holding it in place. The elastic strap makes a 'V' on the top of my foot, one end of the strap goes between my big toe and #2 and the other end goes between my 3rd and 4th toes. The thing I like about the elastic is how it keeps the sandal nicely connected to my foot at all times, no matter how my foot is flexing and moving.
I put a leather lace through the outside side hole and knotted it to stay in place. I ran that strap through the elastic loop at the top of the foot, and through the inside side hole. I then ran the strap around the back of my ankle and knotted it to itself at the outside point (near the beginning of the leather strap.) The knot I used was a Boy Scout "Taut Line" hitch. This knot can slide up and down, increasing or decreasing tension. Really cool knot. I used this so that once my foot is in place, I can slide the knot a little ways up towards the top of my foot, tightening the whole lace-job and making the sandal more secure. I can loosen things by sliding the knot back down towards the outside edge again, in case my foot swells during a long run, or to make it easier to slide the sandal off. [After-thought: Looking at these pictures, I wonder how it would work to put my slider-knot on the strap that goes around the heel instead of on the strap that comes over the top of the foot? I'll experiment with that idea and see how it works.]

I wore them around the house last night to get the feel of them. I was worried all those knots under the sole would feel weird, but they were not bad at all.

These Huarache sandals slide on and off my feet very quickly and easily. Having the elastic strap connected in two places at the front of the sole makes the sole hug my toes more closely, which I like. Having the adjustable side-knot makes it so I can quickly adjust the tension of the lacing without having to untie and re-tie everything. Once these are tied to my liking, I don't have to untie them ever again. They are slip-on and slip-off. I like "quick and easy!"

I ran with them on a short run this evening, maybe 2+ miles. They definitely worked out better than my original ones. They fit very well and I liked how they tracked with my feet. I stopped and changed the sliding knot on one of them, so it slid towards the heel. It was a little bit better for tightening things up, but was a little bit awkward, perhaps because I put it together in a hurry and could have done a cleaner job of it.

That being said --- I still like running with nothing on my feet a whole lot better. Its just annoying to have artificial things in the way. I actually stopped and took them off (easily done!) and finished the last 1/4 mile barefoot. It felt so much better!! I would not hesitate to put my Huaraches on to get through short sections of "impossible" but would not wear them the entire distance. They will always be just a short-term crutch.


Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Results of my Half-Huarache Sandal Experiment

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 me 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 the balls of 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 laced, and realized something that I could adjust to make them fit better without having so much "clacking" while running. Problem is, I destroyed my old Huaraches making the half-sole versions. 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, as instructed, caused the lace cross over the front of my ankle and pull the heel of the sandal forwards, towards the toe when my weight was off it. This made the sole bend outward, away from my foot, so each time I stepped down on it, the curved sole would smack against the bottom of my foot. My new idea is to punch a hole more forward, so the lace does not want to pull the rear of the sandal forward; just "up". I suspect they will continue to have the problem with the "scoop" in the toe. Maybe I can do something to pull the toe of the sandal up when I curl my toes. Back to the drawing board!