My Solo Barefoot Birthday Run/Video and Invisible Shoe Huaraches Review

Barefoot Birthday Solo Run
I was running "naked" as in barefoot. It was my birthday run. Not running in my birthday suit. 
I got to steal away from "normal" life for a bit and enjoy a few moments on the trails all by myself. I don't know how far I went exactly but I was out for at least an hour and a half. I would guess it was somewhere around four miles because I stopped to take pics, make a brief video and enjoy the mild weather on top of the knoll.
The view on top of the knoll

The last time I ran those trails barefoot it was covered in mud. This time there was lots of sand and fine, soft dirt. The powdery stuff was heaven. The spurs and thistles... um... not so much. Yeah. Its been a while since I've been able to do a decent length barefoot run. My feet have a little warming up to do. But it was my birthday and although I love my family very much, I needed to get the hell out of Dodge if you know what I mean.

Spiky thing
My knee wasn't cooperating... again. It wasn't too bad, but I felt pretty stiff after last week's race. I'm trying to get things worked out though. Lots of rolling, toys and punishment. Especially in my hips. Yeah. I think my left hip is kind of fucked up. The thing pops when I walk up the stairs and feels like its dislocating when I try simple yoga stretches. I will get this figured out though. Its been a long time. I'm beginning to remember why I gave up running so long ago, but I feel more determined now. I will do this. I will fix this. I will run pain free again. Running barefoot helps, but it hasn't been the panacea. I'm less than two months away from my one year barefoot runniversary and I was hoping to be further along than this. I will be though. Eventually. If it takes me until I'm 90 years old to run pain free then so be it. I am not opposed to finding ways to achieve this goal. I will try anything at this point.

A view of the lake on my run

And speaking of trying new things... I had an opportunity to try out my new pair of (partially) homemade 6mm Invisible Shoes Huaraches. The great people over at Invisible Shoes offered The Run Smiley Collective free pairs of Invisible Shoes to try. I'm thinking, hell yeah! A free pair of huaraches? Sign. Me. Up! 
Invisible Shoes Huaraches

Being a DIY girl myself, (and having weird foot anomalies like webbing and such) I opted for the kit to make them myself. I ordered both thicknesses, the 6mm and 4mm, with the intention to use the 6mm as my first trial so that I can make the mistakes on that pair rather than the thinner pair (which is what I can see myself preferring to run in).  I was so excited to get my package in the mail! I have never received free stuff before.

When the kit arrived I was surprised to find the soles cut to the shape of my foot already, but after putting my foot on the cut-out I decided to trim them some more. I have to admit I was a little intimidated with cutting the edges and punching holes myself, but my concerns were quickly abated once I got online to view the instructions on their website.  The instructions were super easy to follow, and being a visual person, the video instructions were the easiest to follow.

I used a red sharpie to mark along the edges of the 6mm and then used a pair of my sewing scissors to trim it out. I left just about half an inch above my toes. Then I marked the place where I was going to drill the hole between my toes (the side holes were already punched for me which was nice). I placed the rubber soles on a 2x4 and used a dremmel tool with a 1/8 inch bit to drill the toe holes in each. I didn't really "drill" the holes so much as "burn" them out. I pushed lightly through the rubber while it smoked a lot and finally broke through. It was fast work and not hard at all.

Then I threaded the nylon lace provided and used a Figure 8 knot on the bottom of the toe hole to secure the lace to the bottom. The website has some great videos for lacing options which I followed and then kind of did my own thing. I don't think it really matters that you tie them exactly like the video. At this point you can get creative as long as it works for you.

In the end, I opted for a double heel tying method which worked great on the trails. My right foot was perfect, but just like everything else on my left side, my left lace wasn't cooperating so much. One of the heel straps fell a couple times but I soon discovered it was just a matter of tightening the laces in order to make it work for me.

The thing that I love most about the huaraches style of shoes is that my toes are completely free to stretch and land as if they were completely barefoot. That being said, I'm not sure that the thicker (6mm) sole material is the best option for me. I still felt like I was making a heavier impact with the ground because I had less contact and feeling. Consequently, my knee was feeling it.

This may sound funny, but I also liked the fact that my feet still felt the dirt of the trail in the huaraches. I like that. On the downside, I still got a few stickers wearing them. Nothing too bad, though, and considerably better than if I were running through the sticker and goathead patches completely barefoot.

I can't wait to try my 4mm Invisible Shoes. I think I'll put a few more miles on these so that I have more experience with them and can make any tweaks to my next pair.
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  1. With some delay ... Happy Birthday barefoot runner :) The place looks awesome.
    The invisible shoes sound very interesting, maybe no for your knee, but they seems to be very confortable.

  2. Thanks Jose! It was a great birthday!

  3. Happy Birthday! That looks like a gorgeous place to run. And what a great way to celebrate. Very wise of you, I think.

    I bought a pair of the 4mm invisible shoes recently, thinking they would be good for hiking in the hills here. I am going to try them out day after tomorrow. I like their lack of substance. And, like you say, the foot-freedom they allow.

  4. Jogo - let me know what you think of the 4mms. I haven't made mine yet, but planning on it soon.

  5. Happy birthday Zap! looks like a great place to run. Have you tried using any of those hip strengthening machines at the gym. I use them all the time along with lots of hip stretches. In the rainy homeland at the moment (England) not barefoot for once.

  6. Neil - I haven't used any of the hip strengthening equipment at the gym, but the workovers Seth programs for me include lots of exercises that do that. I think a lot of my trouble stems from super tight quads and knot monsters that are just all knotted up. I'm trying to work those out. Problem is I get to find out if all this is working during my trail races which isn't so fun.

    Enjoy the rainy homeland! Thanks for the birthday wishes.

  7. Zap, I tried the 4mms yesterday, running in the woods. They are great! Very thin sole, so you feel the ground almost like BF, but they give me enough confidence that I can keep moving quickly over the rocks and all. They are super light, so there is no flapping around. I am sold. I'll take them hiking tomorrow - up Mt. Lafayette in the White Mtns with my lovely wife. Our first hike together without kids along in many years.

  8. Jogo - So cool! Glad you like them! I'm excited to try my thinner soles. I really like the thicker ones, but I'm still getting used to the tying. I would like to try them out on some flatter trail races.

    Enjoy your hike with your wife! And without the kids... BONUS! I'll bet that will be beautiful. :-)


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