Many of our readers heard about Chia from the book, Born To Run, which described it as one of the superfoods that the Tarahumara use to fuel themselves for epic runs. And you’ll often find barefoot runners with a handful of seeds, or a gloopy-looking beverage full of chia.
The Consumerist blog reported that many people are unaware of the recall of chia seeds, caused by the fact that certain chia brands are contaminated with salmonella and have sickened at least 65 people so far.
So, barefoot runners, and everyone else who eats chia, please check your supplies, and not just the seeds that are still stuck in your teeth from last week’s smoothie
The two most popular comments I hear from people seeing Xero Shoes barefoot sandals for the first time are:
“You can’t really run in those, can you?”
“I’m not a runner so I can’t use those.”
Make up your mind people!
So, some people equate barefoot-inspired sandals with running, and others can’t fathom doing an ultramarathon without giant maximalist shoes with tons of padding and “motion control.”
It’s true that Xero Shoes were inspired by the huaraches sandals worn by the Tarahumara of Mexico, who make their sandals from scraps of tire and leather laces (they’re stiff and heavy, btw). And the Tarahumara are known for running long distances in their sandals. And it’s true that the early adopters of Xero Shoes were barefoot runners. And it’s true that we’ve had hundreds, if not thousands, of emails from customers all around the world who’ve run everything from 5k – 100 mile races in Xeros.
But that doesn’t mean you have to run in them. Lena, my wife, co-founder of Xero Shoes, and our COO… she’s a hiker, not a runner. But she mostly wears her Xero Shoes as her daily footwear.
I’m a competitive sprinter, and wear my sandals for daily wear — I haven’t had a “normal” pair of shoes on my feet for 5 years — and for all my drills and warm-ups on the track (for sprinting, I’m in a pair of spikes, which you need for traction and maximum speed).
I like to ask people, “Do you enjoy being barefoot?” And if they say Yes, I say, “Well these sandals give you the closest thing to that fun, free barefoot feeling, but with a layer of protection.”
And with that combo, our customers have done practically everything you can think of in Xero Shoes — walking, hiking, sky diving, paddle boarding, biking, kayaking, hanging out on the beach, a night on the town, even 100k ultramarathons through the jungles of Costa Rica.
Here’s a pic of Michelle, an awesome YogaSlacker (that’s people who can do yoga poses on a slack line), showing what she can do in Xeros!
Put on your Xero Shoes and go everywhere, do everything… naturally!
In short, neurophysiologist Johanna Meijer set up a running wheel — yes, the kind you would put in a mouse, or rat, or hamster cage — in her backyard and, after enticing animals to come near with the help of some food, watched that they ran on the wheel. Not to get the food. Just to run.
Wild mice would often come back and run as much as caged mice — mice who usually have nothing else to do — would.
As Emily Underwood says of the study,
Rats, shrews, and even frogs found their way to the wheel—more than 200,000 animals over 3 years. The creatures seemed to relish the feeling of running without going anywhere.
Ron Hill ran the 10k in the Mexico City Olympics barefoot.
When asked why, he responded, “They were the lightest shoes I could find.”
At Xero Shoes, we believe the best running shoes are, well, your feet. Bare feet.
You don’t need pronation control. You don’t need a bunch of padding.
You need to be able to move your feet naturally. To flex, to bend, to stretch, to feel the world.
Now, that said, barefoot isn’t always practical or ideal.
Ron Hill was on a track — even, basically smooth, no obstacles or rocks or uneven patches. That’s the best place for his barefoot running shoes — his feet.
But what about you, on a road or a trail.
There are a lot of times where you’ll want some protection, but with as close to a barefoot experience as possible.
That’s why we developed Xero Shoes.
When you’re looking at footwear that simulates being barefoot, please be careful.
Almost all of the shoes sold by big companies that call themselves “barefoot” or “minimalist” are about as close to barefoot as a pair of stilts. I’ve seen shoes with an INCH of padding that still advertise themselves as “just like being barefoot.”
The next wave of “barefoot shoes”?
The Running Clinic Rates the Best Barefoot Shoes
Canada’s The Running Clinic devised a rating system to evaluate the best barefoot running shoes.
I’m happy to say that Xero Shoes came out on top. The next closest competitors are not shoes that you want to run in, frankly… unless you like replacing your footwear every few miles. And most of those cost way more than a pair of Xero Shoes.
Our 4mm Connect DIY sandal kit is the closest thing you’ll find to barefoot. The Amuri Cloud is next, though with the addition of a tiny bit (3mm) of BareFoam, it feels like even more protection. The 6mm Contact DIY kit and Amuri Venture give a great barefoot feel with a bit more protection.
Dr. Daniel Lieberman is one of the fathers of the barefoot running movement. His study showing how barefoot runners strike the ground with less force than shod runners, combined with Christopher McDougall’s book, Born to Run, catalyzed the growth of barefoot and minimalist running.
Well, it’s as if Dr. Lieberman had a child with BTR, since his new study looks at how the Tarahumara run. And, more, it compares Tarahumara runners in huaraches to younger Tarahumara who run in padded running shoes.
Big news today in the barefoot world: Vibram settled a class action lawsuit that claimed the company deceived customers when it claimed that VFFs would decrease foot injuries and strengthen foot muscles.
May 5th is an important day in the barefoot running world. And, for the same reason, it’s one of the most important days in the Xero Shoes world.
What makes it so important?
As Brian Metzler from Competitor.com reminded me, “Journalist Christopher McDougall’s best-selling book “Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen” hit bookstore shelves five years ago Monday—on May 5, 2009.”
Brian describes 11 ways that Born To Run influenced the running world, from simply being a really great read, to inspiring the growth of ultrarunning, to creating a number of great races, to inspiring people to run barefoot, to encouraging shoe companies to make minimalist footwear (of course, if you’ve read anything I’ve written, you know I think most “minimalist shoes” are as close to barefoot as a pair of stilts).
The 12th way that Chris’s book influenced the world is that it was one of the inspirations for Xero Shoes.
If you’ve read Lena’s and my story, you’ll know how BTR inspired us. But, more, the success of the book created a wave that we surfed. Were it not for the millions of people who read BTR, Xero Shoes would have remained a goofy little hobby.
Now, on days when we work 12+ hours, I sometimes long for those hobby times … but given the thousands of people we’ve been able to help — people who can now run or walk or hike enjoyably and pain-free — and the fun we have when a new person discovers the fun of being able to feel the world when they’re out and about, we couldn’t be more thankful for this anniversary.
Congrats again to Chris for his success. Thanks again to him for all he’s done for ALL of us. And stay tuned and cross your fingers for the Born To Run movie!
There are LOTS of reason you'll want to get out of your regular shoes and go barefoot or wear Xero Shoes. But the "barefoot world" is full of mythology, contradiction and, frankly, lies told to you by giant shoe companies. Even ones that sell minimalist shoes.
How do you discover the truth? How do you find the fastest and easiest way to start enjoying being barefoot or minimalist, whether you're a walker, hiker, paddle boarder, or runner? Simple. By signing up and receiving our free 7-part series: "Feel The World: How to enjoy the fun and benefits of being barefoot"
“An almost-barefoot feel, but with some protection... provides barefoot-like balance. It's so light you hardly feel it...” -Los Angeles Times
“Winner 2011 "Best Huarache" A powerhouse of a sandal that has no apparent weaknesses.” -Christian Peterson
“I was extremely surprised and delighted by how well the Invisible Shoes fit my feet... the closest to going barefoot without actually going barefoot...” -Jessica Lee
“It wasn’t until Steven made me my first pair that I understood how much fun they are to run in. My feet feel like they’re completely bare...” -Scott McLean
“If you are a barefoot runner or plan on running barefoot, you need a pair of huaraches!...”
“Xero Shoes for kids make an awesome summer sandal. They can be tricked out with beads and charms to make them even more fun. My daughter's daycare teachers always want to know where to get them!” -Justin Owings
“These are soooo cool!! It really is like running barefoot, but with a little protective mat under your feet. Your foot is completely free, unlike the Vibram FiveFingers...” -Joy Frantz
“Running in my Xero Shoes is really enjoyable – they maintain almost all of the fun barefoot feel, and give me enough protection to take on more challenging terrain..." -Donald Buraglio
“These are pretty much the only shoes I wear now. It makes sense that being barefoot (or close to it) is the way to walk..." -Tracy Jones
“Xero Shoes are the closest thing to actual barefoot running. Putting them on made me feel like a Native American warrior! They're great for my strength training workouts as well as running..." -Al Kavadlo