If you are an avid runner, you might have read Born To Run by Christopher McDougall. It's the book that brought barefoot running to the attention of runners worldwide, and put the Tarahumara (a.k.a Rarámuri ) in the spotlight. As a geek, I read a lot of running literature when I first started pounding the pavement in 2014. I was fascinated with the Tarahumara's ability to run long distances wearing sandals, and without any fancy apparel nor modern inventions (the likes of gels, heart rate monitor watches, electrolyte drinks).
Before those from camp cushioned shoes start throwing sneakers at me, I would like to say that barefoot running style is not for everyone and it takes time to transition. I may not be a podiatrist nor a certified physiotherapist, but I write this from my personal experiences as a runner who had suffered from several types of injuries related to running.
I have ran and hiked in Vibrams FiveFingers shoes, as well as zero drop trail running shoes for my ultra races. I personally love the responsive feeling when my feet land on the ground. It made me more aware and mindful, and less reckless in my running style. The increased proprioception gives me a better sense of traction with the terrain beneath my soles. I would run once or twice per week in my Vibrams on road when I was recovering from my ankle sprains. My sports therapist Aldrin Ho from Ziklag Fitness advised me to walk in sandals and run barefoot as a way to regain my proprioception and to strengthen my muscles during my recovery from a sprained ankle earlier this year.
When Run Minimal offered me the chance to try out a pair of Luna Sandals OSO Winged Edition (S$169), I was truly excited to go on a test drive on trails with its founder, Fred Leow, who also happens to be a kick-ass photographer. Luna Sandals has a pedigree in ultra trail running, for it is founded by Barefoot Ted, the real life character from the book 'Born To Run' who ran (and still runs) with the Tarahumara at the famous Caballo Blanco Copper Canyon Ultra race in Urique, Mexico.
Like with any pair of new trail shoes, I always start with a hike before I attempt to run in them. I was amazed by how comfy the Luna sandals were and that there was no chafing at all. I was particularly worried about the skin between my big and second toe but no issues were encountered during the 2-hour hike with a little bit of running.
What I like about the Luna Sandals OSO Winged Edition?
- They are easy to adjust with the single strap design
- Super comfy and no chafing
- No buckle or fastening, just slip your foot in
- No fear of getting my feet wet
- Super good traction with the Vibram Megagrip soles
- Not stinky like Vibram FiveFingers shoes
What I don't like about sandals on trails?
- Insect bites on tropical trails (I was bitten by ants many times during the trial)
- No protection of my feet against cuts from sharp objects should I slip or fall
Overall, I really like the Luna sandals and would wear them for hikes or short runs on trails to get used to them. I defo won't be wearing them for ultra trail races as of now or anytime soon till I am accustomed to them. However, I do plan to wear them on my short recovery runs instead of my stinky Vibram FiveFingers. I believe running is all about having a balance and I rotate between wearing barefoot-style shoes, Under Armour road running shoes, and Salomon trail running shoes.