Thursday, January 24, 2013

Running Tech - DIY Super-thin Huaraches (1st pair)

So by now, a lot of you know about huaraches and how popular they've become in the wake of a certain book's popularity. The story of a man's desire to learn from these, seemingly quasi-superhero, running experts was an interesting read, and it seems Running-America agreed.

While, there my be a lot of pomp about the shoes of the great Tarahumara,or RarĂ¡muri ,of Copper Canyon, Mexico.

There's no denying that their chosen footwear is quite well adapted to certain terrain.  Not to mention, the idea of running like a skill hunter of times long passed, can be quite compelling.

However, that's another article altogether...

The focus of this discussion, is for those that might be thinking about trying huaraches but don't want shell out cash just to try it, or might just be into tinkering/making something (myself included). 

So here's how I went about making my own ultra-minimal homemade huaraches, when I decided to give minimalist running (other than on the beach) a try back in spring 2012...

I'd decided I wanted my huaraches to be thinner than what I had seen on most makers sites and similar to the result of this instructable.

However, I didn't have any paracord, or a car floor mat.  But Florida has tons of cheap flipflops,  I had some thin hemp craft twine, and a little time, so I decided to give it a shot.

So, I went on the look out for a cheap pair of thrift store sandals with minimal sole wear.

When I saw a size 11 Wide, with a very thin sole rubber (3mm), I made sure they overhung every area of my weight bearing bare foot to allow for final trimming, and that they had an actual, glued-on, rubber bottom.  When I saw they we $2, I snatched them up and headed to the garage.

I then, trimmed the sole from the foot bed using a razor sharp knife. 


This should be obvious, but we seem to live in a reality where some people don't realize or recognize any personal responsibility for their actions/safety, but that's off-topic.

Untrimmed soles laced with thin hemp craft twine

Back to the construction... 

While standing on the freshly paired soles, I marked in-between my big/long toe and just forward of my ankle bone on both sides.  

I then, laced them with the "slip-on" huarache lacing method using doubled-over thin hemp twine.

Here you can see how thin the material actually is.  It flexed with every movement of my foot and was very very light weight.

Meaning, theoretically, they should have minimal impact on running form.

Sized, Trimmed, Laced, Finished....or are they?
 Now, they were just in need of a trim to, not only, reduce weight, but to keep them from flapping as much.

So, I grabbed a pen and my trusty utility knife (xacto), and went about trimming them a little closer to my foot shape, but making sure not to cut too much at once.

Here, you can see the finished result.

Notice how, when trimmed, they conform quite well
The idea of using twine seemed quite first.

However, a couple of stints around the house awoke me to the fact that my tender instep and outer heel were not up to the task.

So, I did the only sensible thing a burgeoning barefoot runner could do...

I scavenged the shoe laces from my old trainers and set out for a "proper trail trial."

Shakedown run complete. Runner Happy. Good Times.
I did a familiar trail loop, with a 2.5 mile loop, and several spur-trail options that can add up to some decent mileage. 

At mile 2, I was so comfortable I decided to run the south loop and came out to a total of 6mi.

Not a bad trial run with absolutely zero issues.

Overall, I like the tactile, and audible, feedback they provide.

Scuff your feet = gravel/dirt/rocks in-between foot and huarache.
Breakdown in form = slightly annoying slapping sound.

 Best of all, they allow this tender foot to minimalist run "on-the-cheap."

Total Investment = $2, some pre-owned shoestrings, and about 2hrs. 



Pre-race - Nighttime Trail Half-Marathon
Since making my huaraches, I've not had any issues other than occasional knot-wear due to prolonged running on pavement. 

Here's a pre-race photo, of myself and a few friends, for a trail half-marathon we did in Kansas this past summer.

Here you can see various progressions of "shodness."  From shoes, to huaraches and socks, to just "plain old barefoot."

1 comment:

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