While you were enjoying Friday's post in absentia, I was trekking through the woods in my hippie shoes.
The Perkins Trail, which sets off from the Everett Road Covered Bridge in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, is a 3.75-mile lollipop loop that starts off going up a steep ravine, loops around a 1.75 circle that features lots of hills and three water crossings before returning the way you came.
My first mile was in the neighborhood of 17 minutes. I ran the same mile at just under 12 minutes on the return trip.
The trail was muddy in spots and I wasn't expecting the water crossings (first time running here). My feet were caked in dirt when I returned, but I was surprised by how clean the huaraches were, having dried and shaken the mud off by the end.
I'm slowly starting to get the hang of running in the homemade sandals, with 10 miles now logged. Hills and wetness are major challenges. Hills tend to force the lacing into the webbing between my toes, which hurts. If I concentrate on turnover and landing more flatfooted, however, I can avoid discomfort. When I encounter mud or a water crossing, the rubber soles get very slick. I have to slow down and avoid pushing off or I'll slip and slide until they dry, which isn't too long, thankfully. But the biggest challenge comes from the next run.
On Saturday, I went out for another trail run, but wore my Brooks T6 Racers. I was noticing how heavy I felt and soon realized it was because I was stomping to try to feel the ground like I can with the hippie shoes. Once I made that connection, I started focusing on my form and was able to get that light feeling again.
Another run in T6 Racers on Sunday and I felt fast and light. Switching between the different footwear has made me much more aware of how I run. I still think listening to how my feet land is the best gauge of good form.