Huaraches versus Nike Free

I’ll never forget putting on my first pair of Nike Free shoes.

It was like magic.

I’d walk down the street, feeling every nook and cranny and pebble… but with a soft cushion in between me and the offending ground.

I loved them. I wore them everywhere. I bought a custom-made pair that is totally black — my “dress Frees.”

That said, I never ran in them.

This is, in large part, because I’m a sprinter by trade and not a distance runner. And the Free offers more cushioning that I want as a sprinter.

Once I joined the Boulder Barefoot Running Club, and had starting clocking more mileage than I ever had before, I thought about my Frees again and put them on.

Well, once you’ve experienced the freedom of barefoot, the Nike Free isn’t nearly as free.

And if you want protection from the elements, the Free is a long way from the barefoot feel of a huarache.

The Free has a significant heel. And while the sole is flexible along every plane, it’s nothing compared to the flexibility of a thin sheet of 4mm Vibram Cherry Sole (what I use in the Invisible Shoes). In fact, the thinnest insert for the Nike Free is thicker than the Vibram sole!

I still wear my Frees to walk around (heck, they look great).

But for running, for me, it’s either huaraches or skin.

  • Andy

    I tried running in Nike Free. They have a huge design flaw – the front is enclosed. If you run on your forefoot like the shoes are supposed to support, after a few dozen km a few times a week, your toes will get bruised from being jammed into the front of the shoe repeatedly, they also don’t let your toes spread out when you land. I’ve been running in 5-fingers, but they only last a year before the soles wear through. Need to find some sole material that can handle the distance.