I have a weird relationship with running. No, it’s not weird – I just don’t (or rather, didn’t) like it. I’ve always looked at it as a chore. Something I hate doing but must if I want to remain in shape. And I only ran when I felt the need to–and never doing it for a prolonged period of time. Lots of starts and stops with the habit. But lately I realized that it’s time again. I was eating too many french fries and late night snacks, hence, didn’t like how I was feeling. I put on my running shoes and ran for twenty minutes a day finding little joy during that timeframe.
Then something happened. I went to Hershey Park. Not the best place for a vegan to go but I went anyway. I was wearing my Birks (vegan of course). And realized during the trip that they weren’t ideal for amusement parking. Not good for water rides, and alternatively, not good for roller coasters or rides with dangling feet. I needed a pair of shoes that doubled for light water activities and were comfortable enough for walking around in. Hiking sandals.
So I DuckDuckGo’d vegan hiking sandals and was led to a brand that specializes in minimalist footwear. They are called Xero Shoes. After reading through their marketing fluff I ordered their sandals. The company began selling minimalist running shoes, which are running sandals. Weird, right? Apparently there is a barefoot running movement that claims the way running shoes are designed with a thick heal ultimately isn’t comfortable and does long-term damage to knees. I’m not a runner. I just wanted the sandals.
The sandals arrived. They were comfortable enough so I wanted to break them in. Since I was running and this was the purpose of the sandal anyway – I thought to give them a try. And wow, was I surprised. My 20 minute dread run turned into a 40 minute joy run I didn’t want to end. Same thing happened the next day. I wasn’t tired. It felt great. I adjusted my stride to land with my entire foot evenly as opposed to heal first.
I think there might be something to this minimalist footwear thing. For a shoe to be able to make running fun and an activity I actually look forward to – I’m willing to entertain the thought that maybe we’ve been wearing shoes wrong all along.