The Last Pair of Shoes I Ever Wore

You didn’t think you’d come to Powered By and see a guy running in shoes did you? If you did, I’m sorry to disappoint. There will be none of that nonsense here. Only kidding, no hate to shoed runners!

I get asked all the time “Are you running in sandals?” More frequently I am asked if I’m running in flip flops. Depending on the situation I just reply with a simple “yes” or “pretty much!”. Apparently I’ve become known for this around the City of Pittsburgh. One day I was running across the Rachel Carson Bridge downtown and some lady(non runner) yelled across the road and asked “Are you the guy who runs in sandals?” I laughed and responded with a resounding “Yes!”

So why do I run in sandals? It all started after my first full marathon, the 2015 Pittsburgh Marathon. I became injured during the race, with what seemed to be IT Band Syndrome (ITBS). I had no idea this injury was going to be as debilitating as it was. Being a new runner I had no idea how to recover from this so I did what any new runner does, I rested for approximately 5 days after the marathon and went to the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail(LHHT) to do my first trail run of ‘Gate to 8’ which is a very difficult 16 miles. I had fun, but after the first 8 miles I could no longer bend my right knee, and by this point I was 8 miles into the middle of the woods with no other option than turn around and go back. After Gate to 8, I began my approximate 6 months of rehab, rest, and the occasional run that made me confident I was healthy. Then, I would go run the next day and not be able to walk after 3-4 miles.

What does a runner do when they cannot run? They read about running, talk about running, and get depressed over the fact that they are not running. I remember hearing all about the book ‘Born To Run,’ that it was an incredible book and that I should read it. I bought it and read it within a 2-3 day period, which for me is fast. This book is primarily about the Tarahumara people who live in the Copper Canyons of Mexico and how they are these incredible endurance athletes who can run for 200+ miles at a time and do so without being injured, and without the modern running shoe. After reading the book I met a few runners who run as they do, in sandals, and they said how it changed the way they run. I, with nothing to lose and wanting to do anything I could to run, decided I was going to get a pair and try it out.

The Last Shoes I Ever Wore

By this point I was able to start running again, in shoes, and still with aches and pains every time. However, it was enough that I could deal with. I just kept to short distance, 3-5 miles. My Girlfriend found out the brand I wanted was Luna Sandals, the size I would need, and the model to get. She got me my first pair for Christmas that year, and it was by far my favorite gift. Within three weeks, I was fully switched over to sandals and I never ran in a pair of shoes again. During those first three weeks I had been alternating shoes and sandals and I realized quickly that when I was in sandals I no longer had the pain and discomfort and then the very next time I ran I would run in shoes and be in a world of pain again. I dealt with this for those three weeks and came to the conclusion that every time I was in shoes I would hurt again. So I did it, I kicked off my Saucony Kinvaras and never looked back. I’ve now been running for over a year with much higher mileage, many more long distance races (marathons to ultra marathons), and currently training as you’ve read for the Run Across Haiti, a 230 mile 7 day race across the country of Haiti. All in a pair of sandals.

My First Pair of Luna Sandals

Why have sandals helped me become a better, healthier runner? The theory behind running in sandals or barefoot is that you are running just as you were made to run. Your feet are not being conformed to a shoe, no false support changing how your foot impacts on landing, etc. A lot of shoes can feel good because of all the support and that you don’t feel the feedback from the ground but over time of running in them, they may promote poor form and can cause injuries like I had, or worse. Sandals and barefoot can help improve your form and promote a forefoot strike, because you’re in your most natural setting and simply do what comes natural. Remember running barefoot as a kid in the yard and how fun and free it felt? No one taught you how to run, you just ran.  And that’s exactly what Luna Sandals have done for me. I would never say this is a solution for everyone, as it’s simply not that way, but for me it has made me a much happier and healthier runner.

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