Huaraches Archives - Xero Shoes

Posts in Huaraches

Running with the Tarahumara in Costa Rica

Jon-and-Mel-at-La-RutaWant to run with the Tarahumara (the Mexican tribe featured in Chris McDougall’s bestseller, Born to Run)?

Well, if you can’t make it to the Copper Canyon, or anywhere else for that matter, here’s the next best thing.

Ultra runners Jonathan Sinclair and Melissa Gosse went to Costa Rica for La Ruta 100k, arguably the hardest trail ultramarathon in the world.

About a dozen Tarahumara runners were there and Jon and Mel got to spend the better part of a week hanging out and running with them — as well as swapping huaraches and Xero Shoes, eating, drinking, and much more.

If you want to hear the story of La Ruta and the Tarahumara, join us on Tuesday, November 26th for a live video chat with Jon and Mel.

They’ll be sharing pictures and stories as well as giving great tips about barefoot running, minimalist running, ultramarathon training, and anything you can think to ask about.

Click on this link to find out more about the live video chat.

jonandmelissa-at-la-ruta-ultramarathon melissa-tarahumara

Xero Shoes go to Costa Rica for La Ruta Run

Jonathan Sinclair and Melissa Gosse left the cold weather in Edmonton, Alberta and jetted to Costa Rica for the La Ruta Run, perhaps the hardest ultramarathon in the world.

We’ll have a full report about their trip and the race in about 48 hours. But until then, I wanted to share this quick story they told me.

Knowing that they’d be running with some Tarahumara runners, I gave them some extra Sensori Venture Xero Shoes to bring on their trip. They sent the photos, below, and report (from their phone):

We gave away all the Sensoris you sent us down with. One to Maria (Tarahumara female who hasn’t taken hers off since I put them on her feet), the “presidents” of Chihuahua, Mexico (two men in this picture), Martin (spelling? “Head/leader” of the Chihuahua Tarahumara tribe…the one in this pic with us) and tonight, two local Costa Rican natives who will be running la Ruta with us on Saturday!!! Everyone is LOVING the Xeros. The presidents of the Tarahumara want to talk to you about getting some more for the Tarahumara back home to cool is that?!

The answer? VERY cool!



We’ve proudly supported the Tarahumara through the Tarahumara Children’s Hospital Fund… but I love the idea of getting more Xeros onto runners’ feet! Stay tuned.

Xero Shoes Barefoot Sandals in COLOR!

Barefoot Running Sandals in COLORS

Houston, we have color!

I am extremely happy and proud to announce that you can now get Xero Shoes (our new name… website is almost done) in 4 WAY COOL colors. And to celebrate, you can also save 20% if you order by October 2nd!

In addition to our Coal Black, you can now get Mocha Earth, Electric Mint, Boulder Sky, and Hot Salmon.

Combine those with our different lace colors…

Well, here are a few combinations that you’ll see around our office:

Lena in her Mocha Earth with matching brown laces and a bunch of Brass Beads

Our office ultra-runner (and customer service manager), Bill, in Electric Mint with Purple laces (he puts 80-100 miles a week on these!)

Steven, taking inspiration from an 8 year old customer who was the first one to wear non-matching laces, in Boulder Sky with White laces and a Hand Pendant (on the left) and Hot Salmon with Red laces (right).

These new colors come in both Connect 4mm and Contact 6mm styles. And you can get them as kits or custom-made.

Click here to order your Xero Shoes Colored Barefoot Sandals

4 Reasons NOT to Run Barefoot

[This post is guest-authored by our friend Rob Raux from]

Being barefoot and running barefoot is a blissful and consciousness-expanding endeavor. The feedback supplied from the ground is powerful enough to force even experienced runners to try it for only a mile or so, if they make it that far. Barefoot running, however wonderful, should not be subscribed to dogmatically.

There are myriad resources available expounding on the benefits of being barefoot. Most of their reasons, methods, and warnings have merit. Unfortunately many of them sway to heavily towards the one-size-fits-all solution.

Experiencing life unshod isn’t always the best option. Putting on a pair of huaraches or other minimalist shoes can serve a number of beneficial purposes:

  1. Technical Trail Running.
    Many people worry that the rocks, twigs, and roots on a trail make barefoot trail running impossible. Not true. First, you use your eyes and avoid what worries you. Second, your feet aren’t rigid and can grab and grip and mold around many “obstacles.”

    That said, while there’s nothing better than feeling the grass beneath your feet, having your heel land on an embedded rock leaves something to be desired. To be more specific, it could leave behind a bruise that will take at least a week to heal.

    That doesn’t include the chance of damaging the fatty tissue which protects your heel bone from impacting the ground. If any of this sounds painful, trust me, it’s worse than you’re picturing.

    A trail has hazards which you may not wish to risk if you’re still an inexperienced barefooter. When a single false step means a week of no running, it’s just not worth it to be ideological about keeping yourself unshod.

  2. Additional mileage
    Your body may be able to take additional mileage, but the bottoms of your feet may not be ready to support it yet barefoot. Now, if you’re looking to become a better barefoot runner, this is good news — when your skin tells you to stop… STOP! Over time it’ll adapt (not callous) and you’ll be able to put in more miles.

    Until then, there’s nothing wrong with protecting your precious footsies, but only if you know your form is correct. If you are transitioning from shoes to barefoot and have yet to perfect the change from heel strike to mid foot strike or a forefoot strike, don’t ask for trouble by adding more miles in a minimalist shoe. You’ll find yourself injured promptly and thoroughly.

    If you are comfortable in your stride, you will find that your feet hit a natural point where further barefoot running may only lead to blisters (that usually means your form has broken down and you’re pulling/pushing the ground, instead of placing/lifting). In these cases, adding a protective covering will give you the opportunity to add those additional miles you crave.

  3. Racing
    A foot covering increases your margin for error while running. Proponents of barefoot running tout the pain feedback loop as a beneficial aspect. Any foot covering blocks the pain receptors, which allow you to cause more damage to your body.

    In a race, this can be a necessary evil. A reduced pain feedback loop allows you to run a longer duration of more intensity. The covering may also absorb some of the mistakes you may have made barefoot (stepping on that rock in your mental fatigue).

    There’s obviously a very fine line to be ridden here, and one that you can certainly go too far with. Go with the least amount of covering possible and you should be able to dampen and absorb just the minimal amount of error to improve your results.

    I’d love to say, “If you’re not comfortable running that distance, don’t race that distance.” But I know how some of us… I mean, YOU… can be ;-)

  4. The bitter cold
    Mother nature yields to no man. Don’t even think about getting the best of father winter.

    If you live in a climate that has a true winter, you know what frostbite feels like. Now try running barefoot.

    Amazingly, there are folks who do it, and enjoy it. And check out Steven shoveling snow in his huaraches. Frankly, I’ve tried it and even I think that’s crazy. Most people are going to need something to keep their feet protected from the elements (wind, snow, slush, etc.). Each person has a different tolerance, which will adapt as they get more comfortable with the colder weather.

    When dealing with the elements it’s best to be safer than pull up limp 3 miles from your house and walk the rest of the way home.

Barefoot in the Cold

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, Winter is upon us. And people email me every day asking what to do if they want to be barefoot or minimalist in the cold weather. While I’ve written about running bare foot in the cold before, this is a whole new thing ;-)

First let me say: DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME. In other words, don’t go out and try to imitate me.

I’ve been barefoot running for over 2 and a half years, and haven’t worn a pair of real shoes for more than a total of 3 days in that time.

Last winter, I thought, “I’ll keep my Invisible Shoes on until it seems too cold.” And the next thing I knew, it was Spring!

So, clearly I’ve acclimated. And that’s not too surprising. Humans (and our hominid cousins) lived in cold climates without shoes for a LOOOONG time. So, we’re kinda wired for it, if we give ourself time to adapt.

Here’s the video I just shot, after we got 18″+ of snow in Boulder. It’s about 15 degrees out.

What I did is this:

  • Outside for about 10 minutes
  • Inside to dry off my feet and warm them for 5
  • Outside for another 10
  • Inside to dry and warm for about 3
  • Outside for 30+ minutes… by this time my body temp had gone way up. I was sweating quite a bit. And my feet felt totally warm. Not numb. Warm. When I got inside after finishing the shoveling, they didn’t have to thaw or warm up or anything.

Lena wants me point out that you should check the Wiki about frostbite so you don’t do something stupid and get hurt ;-)

Xero Shoes Win “Best Huaraches 2011″

Maple Grove Barefoot Guy Grovie AwardXero Shoes wins Best Huaraches Running Sandal 2011

Christian Peterson, better known as The Maple Grove Barefoot Guy, just announced his first ever Grovie awards for excellence in minimalist footwear.

And we are thrilled to announce that Xero Shoes (formerly Invisible Shoes) won the Best Huarache category.

Here’s what Christian had to say:

2011 was really the year of the huarache.  We saw tons of new sandal companies crop up, all with great new innovative designs.  The big two companies (Invisible Shoes and Luna) also put out some great updates to their original models.  But Xero Shoes took that innovation to the next level.  They went out and got a former Nike shoe designer to make the FeelTrue sole of their Connect and Contact huaraches.  The result is a powerhouse of a sandal that has no real apparent weaknesses.

Christian recently reviewed the Connect and Contact version of Xero Shoes, so we’re especially honored to have 2 mentions in such a short period of time.

That said, while we’re happy to have won Best Huaraches running sandals, we have LOTS of plans for even more improvements and additional products for 2012. I hope that in next year’s Grovie Awards we win at least two categories, maybe even three! ;-)

2011 has been a big year for us: Releasing the only outsoles made specifically for barefoot running (some like to say “bear foot running”) sandals  that were designed with the help of former lead designers from Nike and Reebok, our 2nd Anniversary, and a HUGE upsurge in business.

Between you and me, every time I see Chris McDougall, I practically kiss his feet. If it weren’t for him and the success of “Born To Run,” this whole barefoot running trend may never have taken off.

So, thank you again to MGBG, and to everyone else who has helped us and supported us in 2011.

I can’t wait to hear the comments when we launch all our new barefoot running sandal products in the next year.

The little lie of barefoot running

As the barefoot running boom continues to explode, it’s important that we debunk the mythology that’s sprung up and face some facts. And perhaps the most obvious fact is this:

If you run with anything between your skin and the ground, you are not barefoot runner.

Let me say that again. If you wear Vibram Fivefingers, New Balance Minimus, Merrell Trail Gloves, Altra Adams, Vivobarefoot shoes, Newtons, Inov8 shoes, even our Invisible Shoes huaraches running sandals, you are not a barefoot runner.

I don’t care if your previous shoes were padded stilts and your new shoes are a “zero-drop” natural movement minimalist shoe, if you’ve got something on your feet you’re not barefoot running.

Barefoot running means that you run in bare feet. Period.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that if you’ve just spent $125 on your Vibram Bikilas you need to throw them away, or that if there’s a barefoot running Meetup you can’t be part of the cool clique. And I’m not saying everyone needs to be barefoot. And, clearly, I’m not saying “don’t buy Invisible Shoes” ;-)

But it’s important that we differentiate actual barefoot running from minimalist running.


Because more often than some would like to admit, barefoot running and minimalist running do not produce the same results.

The promise of barefoot running is that the sensations you get when your skin contacts the ground — often known as pain — teach you proper running form. That is, if you change your form to make the pain go away, you’ll have a more efficient, lighter, easier stride, and you’ll be able to run pain-free for life.

Anything that you put on your feet reduces the amount of sensation you feel and can interfere with the feedback loop that barefoot running gives which produces those benefits.

Again, I’m not saying that you don’t get feedback from minimalist shoes. You certainly get more than you do when you’ve got 2″ of padding in your  Nike I Can’t Feel The Grounds. As the developer of Invisible Shoes, I know hundreds of people who switched to our sandals, improved their running  form, eliminated life-long aches and pains, and now enjoy running ultra-marathons. As one of our early customers put it, “Invisible Shoes are just like being barefoot… if they covered the world in a thin layer of comfortable rubber.”

But, I’ve also met a LOT people who bought a pair of Vibrams or Merrells (or any other minimalist shoe), soon became injured, and now tell everyone they know that “barefoot running” is dangerous… and they’ve never run barefoot!

I’ve been on a number of barefoot running panel discussions and, inevitably, there will be some number of doctors, physical therapists, podiatrists and other medical professionals who say, smugly, “Hey, stick with this barefoot running thing. All the people getting hurt by doing it are putting my kids through college!”

Before they can finish chuckling, I fire back:

Me: “You know, of course, that all you guys made the exact same joke 40 years ago when running shoes were invented, right? And you know that people who have no problems running barefoot — and ones who get cured of injuries by running barefoot — will not come to see you, right?”

Them: “Uh…”

Then I pull out the bigger guns: “And when a patient tells you they got hurt from barefoot running, did you ask if they were actually in bare feet? Did you check to see if they simply over-trained by doing too much, too soon? And, maybe most importantly, did you take a video of them running so you could analyze their form and see if they were simply using the same injury-producing mechanics they used when they wore shoes? Or did you see if they were trying to stay on their toes, putting extra strain on their calves and Achilles, because they have a mistaken ideas about proper barefoot form?”

Them: “Uh…”

Barefoot running is more than switching to a minimalist shoe. And it’s more than simply removing your shoes. Don’t believe me? Go to a barefoot running event, find the people in their minimalist shoes, and see which ones are still landing on their heels, as if they’re still in motion controlled running shoes.

In fact, be on the lookout for runners who are actually barefoot doing the same thing! Some of us are either unable to feel those important form-changing sensations, or unable (without coaching) to actually make form changes in order to find a painless way of moving.

For an example of this, check out Pete Larson’s video of the recent NYC Barefoot Run. Most of the VFF wearers, and a handful of barefoot runners are still landing on their heels. (I was there and noticed the same thing, but I didn’t have the brains to video tape it… so, Thanks, Pete!)

Let’s wrap this up with a wish: If you’re one of those “barefoot” runners who has never run barefoot, I can’t encourage you enough to try it. Don’t think there’s some transition you need to go through before you’re “ready.” Ironically, the best advice I can give you is: Just Do It!

Get on a good clean hard surface (a bike path is great, streets work too) and go for a run. Listen to your feet, if they hurt, try to move in some different way so that they don’t. And if you can’t figure out how, then stop and try again another day. Don’t think you need to build up callouses; none of us who successfully run barefoot have any (they’re another sign that you’re doing something wrong). If you can find a coach or some training, get some guidance.

Report back here with what you discover.

The goal is not to be barefoot all the time. The goal is to be flexible. To be able to run comfortably, easily, and enjoyably under any circumstance. To know when barefoot is the best option and when something under your feet is called for. I wear my Invisible Shoes for all my walking, hiking, and getting into restaurants. I’m barefoot for a lot of my sprinting training. But, hey, I still wear running shoes, too… when I have to shovel a 2′ Colorado snowfall.

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