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!