As I write this, it’s about six weeks since I took delivery of my first pair of Luna Sandals. After taking the apparently tried and tested route of being inspired to run barefoot after reading Born To Run, the next step was to decide what I was going to wear on my feet. I did, for a brief time, consider going completely barefoot, ie with nothing at all. To help me come to a decision, I ran most of my normal routes over a period of about two weeks, paying particular attention to the terrain. And to be honest, it quickly became apparent that going completely natural wasn’t going to be an option. Whilst the fields, tracks and footpaths around my home aren’t exactly reminiscent of the Copper Canyons, it was clear that I needed some protection for my feet. But what?
Lunas were the obvious choice. There were quite a few minimalist shoes that looked attractive, but to be honest I loved the idea of not having my feet encased in anything at all. I thought it would be the next best thing to running with no footwear at all, and I was right. I did consider Vibrams, and they’re definitely something I’ll try in the future. I can vividly remember the first time I saw someone wearing them, it was just last year during the Birmingham Great Run. A youngish guy in his 20s came ambling past me wearing these weird rubber things. I caught his eye briefly, and clearly the look on my face was one of confusion. Which is to say ‘wtf?’. He smiled. Then he ran off. To be honest I didn’t think too much else about it. Just pegged him as a nutter and carried on.
Anyway, I spent a long time poring over the different varieties, deciding at last on the Original Lunas with the suede footbed and elascticized leather laces. I emailed them a few times and I have to thank Dylan Romero for all his help. I only buy things from people who care about they’re selling, and the good people of Luna Sandals clearly do.
So, sandals bought. Ten or so days later, they arrived. They arrived pre-laced, and my first mistake was deciding to undo them so I could figure out how to tie them up. Here’s a hint if you’re thinking of buying a pair: just stick them straight on your feet. I’m hopeless with knots and it took me bloody ages to get them right.
Having sorted them out, I was desperate to give them a try. I didn’t go into this thing completely blind, having done a lot of reading and watched a lot of barefoot running videos on YouTube. The mantra that appeared over and over again was ‘don’t overdo it’.
I overdid it.
My initial plan for the first attempt was to slip the Lunas on after a ‘normal’ run and just try a mile or so. Get a feel for them. But when I pulled the car into the carpark close to the path I was running, the sun was shining and I just couldn’t resist. I put them on and immediately attracted some inquisitive glances from other runners, walkers and cyclists. I set off. This particular path is on the route of an old railway line, and therefore very flat. I’d been working on my form in normal shoes, so figured I wouldn’t be putting myself under any undue strain. And to be honest, it went really well. I took it easy, and ran just over four miles. During the last mile I was starting to feel some tightness in my right calf, but nothing serious. Certainly not painful. So, I finished the run, got back into the car and drove home, a happy man. When I got back, I put a status update on my Facebook page about how it had gone. I was, it’s fair to say, a bit smug. That feeling lasted about an hour.
As the day wore on, both calf muscles started to get more and more stiff. It was too painful to walk upstairs normally; I had to kind of edge up sideways like a crab. A crab with seriously stiff legs.
The soreness lasted a couple of days, during which I repeatedly cursed my stupidity. But looking back, it perhaps wasn’t such a bad thing. I learned my lesson very early on, and it’s helped me to have a bit more respect for process of switching styles. When I was able to get out again, I alternated between my Lunas and my (now freakishly huge) Mizunos, and was aware of not overdoing it with the distance. So far, so good. I’m not into cataloguing every single run, but suffice to say that I’m now running five miles in Lunas extremely comfortably. And whilst I’ve never been particularly hung up on times, pace and so on, I am running faster than ever.
Oh, and I am absolutely loving it.
I’m due to run my local half marathon in Stratofrd-upon-Avon on Sunday 29th April, and it’s my aim to get round in the Lunas. The distance isn’t a problem, but I want to make sure my feet are up to the challenge. Keep reading to see if I manage it!