My initial plan was to run normally in my running shoes, change shoes, and run for 5 minutes in the huaraches. I did this a few times, but realized that I was tired after my normal run of 3-5 miles, so there were a few runs I didn’t run in the sandals.

My huaraches. Originals in speckle.

One day last week, I felt inspired to take a longer run just in huaraches to see how the shoes affected me (3 miles). The only noticeable change from the short runs had been newer blisters near the tops of my big toes. I wanted to know how the shoes would affect my joints and muscles.

Running in these shoes encourages you to have better form while running. My Dad taught me from a young age to land more on the front of my feet when running, and this is certainly better form for huaraches. Speaking of my Dad, you should have seen his face the first time he saw me running in the sandals.

It is better to run landing near the front of your feet in huaraches mainly because you might scrape your toe if the front of the sandal folds under. One of the thoughts about huaraches (or plain barefoot running) is that people should run in the grass or on a softer surface than asphalt. I often have to move to the grass when cars approach and notice that I actually have to lift my knees higher in the grass because the uneven surface affects the shoes more.

Near the end of my 3-mile run, I did notice some joint pain in my left ankle, which returned again today during another 3-mile run, but a little bit later in the run. The muscles around my left ankle apparently need some building.

What really surprised me was that in the days following the first longer run, the only pain I endured was calf pain for about 2 days. I have high arches, so I thought for sure I would feel a strain there, but I didn’t. My knees, which I have had trouble with before (especially on really long runs), were also unaffected.

I notice while I’m running in huaraches, my knees do lift more, and I feel that I run a bit faster.  I’m really interested in running a 5K in huaraches to see if I can improve my time.

I have only done one 5-minute complete barefoot run, and while things go reasonably well on the asphalt, I get things stuck in my feet when I’m running in the grass. Just for fun, here’s a picture of my foot after a complete barefoot run.

Interested in getting your own huaraches? I highly recommend them. I find that they offer a new way of running. It’s like knowing how to play guitar, switching to another stringed instrument, and then going back to guitar. You work different parts of your body and enjoy learning something new. I find that I run with a lot better posture in my regular running shoes as a result.

You can contact Andrea here if you are interested in purchasing her handmade shoes. Her company is called 8 1/2. That’s the size of our feet.

My friend Andrea had told me about making her own shoes. She had often talked to me about barefoot running and introduced me to Vibram Five Fingers,  which I was excited about, but reluctant to try, especially since I had a 1/2 marathon coming up at the time (I finished in 2 hours and 33 minutes). When it was time to buy new running shoes, I bought a lighter-weight shoe, thinking I’d eventually make the transition.

A few weeks ago, Andrea and some friends came to visit. She brought with her a pair of huaraches,which she made for her feet, but fit mine perfectly. She wanted me to test them. Her boyfriend (who also had a pair she made) and I watched a few videos for inspiration and took to the streets.

This article by the Roving Runner for The New York Times includes a video link, which inspired me most. Fidelman takes a 6-mile barefoot run through Central Park with absolutely no trouble.

Having been instructed to try this for 5 minutes daily, Andrea’s boyfriend and I took a short run outside my parents’ house. It went remarkably well, which inspired me to continue.

novice heart

May 10, 2010

I’m working on a sermon.

I find this particular task one of the most difficult about being a minister, especially if I get a few weeks’ notice. God works every part of the sermon into my life in the days before. It’s easy to talk about being a Christian; it’s a lot harder to live it.

What will I preach this Sunday? What will this particular congregation (a church I’ve never attended and doesn’t have a website) need to hear?

Preach Love. Love is not grand ideas: die for your faith, sell everything you have, never take a nap. Yet, it is all of these things.

I just restumbled over I Corinthians 13:3-5: “And if I donate all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind. Love does not envy; is not boastful; is not conceited; does not act improperly; is not selfish; is not provoked; does not keep a record of wrongs. . . ”

I’ll stop there because there is much more. What is frustrating about this passage is that there is no specific plan for love. Paul starts with specifics: 1) take it all to the thrift store and 2) die, but then tells us this isn’t the way. What does it look like to be patient? To not be selfish? There are 1,000 ways to do these things, and we are given hundreds of opportunities daily.

What’s challenging me is that I’m completing this HUGE task of being a missionary. I am selling almost everything I own. I am going. Yet, nothing amazing will happen in Scotland if that were simply enough. I have to be always aware that how I live daily is so much more important than my career, my calling, and the people around me.

Lord, thanks for the opportunities. Teach me to love.