Monday, March 22, 2010

Almost Nearly Barefoot

On Friday, I came into some rubber. Wait. That doesn't sound right.

I mentioned last week that I ordered a sheet of industrial-grade rubber to make a pair of huaraches running sandals or, as I have since dubbed them, "Hippie Shoes."

**WARNING: Post contains naked feet.**

For the project, I also needed a hollow-point hole punch, a hammer, some lacing, scissors, a pencil, a piece of paper and a butane lighter. Altogether, I spent $9 dollars on supplies.

The hole punch ($1.97 from Pat Catan's craft store) has screw-on tips for different diameters. I used the largest attachment for a 5/8-inch hole. For lacing ($1 from Pat Catan's), I used nine feet of black and silver rayon cord.

The first step was to trace my foot onto paper and cut it out to use as a template for the Hippie Shoes. I rounded out the nooks and crannies of my foot and made sure both feet fit inside the lines. (Flip the template over for the other foot.) You can see in the picture just how little room for error I had with the piece of rubber ($6.04 from

Next, I had to transfer the tracing to the sole material. Pencil shows up well enough on the black surface, as you should be able to see in the photo of the first foot cutout, the paper template and the remainder of the rubber sheet. The rubber I used was the same on both sides, so I didn't have to worry about flipping over the template to mark it. I just had to make sure to flip over one of cutouts when it was time to make holes for the lacing.

I asked the Enthusiast to help me mark the three holes for the lacing. I placed a cutting board under the cutouts to protect the table I was working on when I hammered the hole punch through the rubber.

The Hippie Shoes are laced similarly to flip-flops with one hole between my big and second toes and two holes by my ankle. I used the lighter and cauterized the ends of the lacing to make it easier to thread through the holes.

The lacing is anchored with a knot under the toes, strapped over the foot toward the hole at the outside of my ankle, around my heel to the hole on inside of my ankle and tied to itself on the top of my foot. That's the simple explanation. The lacing is actually doubled up. Watch this video to see how it's done.

Making the Hippie Shoes took me about 20 minutes.

On Saturday, I returned to Hampton Hills (without Dobson) for the inaugural run of the Hippie Shoes. Despite a couple adjustments to the lacing, the huaraches were perfectly comfortable. I could feel the ground very well, but the thin rubber protected my soles from anything too sharp.

Downhills were the toughest aspect of running with these sandals. I really had to concentrate on turnover to prevent the strap between my toes from chafing. And I found it impossible to run down the steps made of four-by-four lumber at some of the steepest portions of the trail. Overall, though, it was a great run, albeit very slow (12:09 per mile). Here is the post-run damage.

Fast with Company
On Sunday, I ran with Martini for the first time all year. We ran eight miles at Sand Run (plus our extension to Summit Mall). All winter and early this year, I have been focusing on shorter, faster strides and was curious to see if I could run with company without reverting to my old ways. Luckily, Martini takes pretty short steps himself, so it was easier to keep my own strides in check. We averaged an 8:28 pace, which is far faster than anything I've run this year -- at any distance. And no, I didn't wear the Hippie Shoes.


C said...

Holy shit, it's like arts and crafts time in elementary school. Awesome!

Congrats on going native. Peace out, hippie.

misszippy said...

Very cool. Now will you be adding the colorful skirt/shirt combo of the Tarahumara?

BrianFlash said...

Looks like you are going to have to make a new pair every week - maybe it was only semi-industrial strength rubber?

M2Marathon said...

I think the Running People would be quite impressed to know that Rich Americans are copying their native ways. Well done!

EZEthan said...

Awesome... I was actually thinking about doing this myself at some point... that you've started making your own running footwear I kind of hoping that you to slowly make it more and more complicated... blogging about it each time, until by the end you've spent 100$ to re-invent a Nike!