Tag Archives: Running

Soft Star Dash Review

It has been a little over a month since I completed my custom Soft Star Dash project.  I wanted to wait to review them until I had sufficient time to test them.    Overall, I would say that the Dash is a great shoe.  Anyone that is used to wearing traditional shoes will feel at home in these.  Since they have laces, generally feel and look like a shoe, I’m going to say that they are definitely a shoe not a moc.

If you are coming to the Soft Star Dash from a traditional shoes, I think you will be pleasantly surprised at the improvement in comfort the Dash will provide.  The toe box is wide enough to let your toes spread without any compromise.  The heel and midfoot are nice and fitted which provide for a more secure and sleek feeling.

However, if you are coming from the traditional RunAmoc you may be a bit confined feeling.  The Dash is confining in the sense that a sock is confining.  There are no hot spots or pressure points but there is an overall feeling that your feet are being squeezed.  This never would have been an issue had I not been spoiled by the Original RunAmoc’s.

Comparing size of Dash vs Original RunAmoc


Why is the Soft Star Dash is better than any other minimalist shoe on the market

First off, it is a shoe so it is competing with all of the other shoes on the market.  Next, it employs one of the best principles in life – the KISS principle.  By keeping things simple Soft Star has made a shoe that is everything it needs to be but nothing it doesn’t.  Let’s break this down piece by piece to show what I mean.

A shoe is essentially made up 4 parts, the heel, midfoot, toebox and sole.
Heel – The heel is reinforced with an additional layer of leather and some thin EVA foam so that the heel keeps its shape and ensures your heel is positioned where it should be.  There is no ankle padding or ‘extra features’ to rub or cause problems.  I have worn these mostly barefoot and never had an issue with the heel or ankle enclosure.

Heel cup on Dash


Midfoot – This area is dominated by one amazing feature, the tongue.  Shoes have had a tongue on them for over 100 years, but this is what causes me the most discomfort in traditional shoes.  Soft Star got it perfect.  The tongue fits smoothly over the top of the foot and never moves and never causes any discomfort.  Did it really take 100 years for someone to get it right?  I don’t know, but I do know that the Dash has it right and this alone is a reason to get the Dash.  Besides the perfect tongue, the midfoot fits snug and give you the feeling that it is just an extension of your foot.
Toe – You can’t beat Soft Star when it comes to the toe box and the Dash is no exception.  They provide ample room for toes to splay, wiggle, or bend.  Additionally, the leather will conform to your feet and will soon feel like they were tailor made for you.
Sole – Mine are different from what Soft Star offers, but I have tried all of the soles they offer and it come down to simple performance.  You don’t need computer models to perfect a sole, you only need a little protection and some traction, which is exactly what they offer.

Since I’m raving, I’m just going to continue.  This was my first pair of perforated leather shoes.  I love my smooth RunAmoc’s but when it gets hot the perforated is the way to go.  This leather is so much more porous than I had thought.  I said porous since it lets stuff in and out.  Sweaty feet are never an issue, as the breeze blows straight though, which is why I wear these barefoot so often.  They aren’t sandal airy, but very close.  A plus and minus is that I get tons of stuff in them, but I can usually just bounce it out.  Water, rocks, pine needles, and dust all make their way in an out fairly freely.  I rarely take them off to clear them out as the stuff usually makes its own way out.

Now for the grumbling
What I dislike about the Dash is that it is not the Original.  It is not as comfortable, as easy to put on, as simple, or as weird looking.  Ok, my only real complaint is that the midfoot is a little too narrow for me.  I have ridiculously long toes so I think my midfoot is back further than most.  In the future I will probably order a wider pair to accommodate this.  Just realize that it fits like a sock all the way through the arch and then loosens up for the toes.

I don’t love the Dash like I love the Original RunAmoc (1 year review coming soon) but they are a fantastic shoe.  For people that aren’t sure if they want to try a moc style or (as in my case) you need a shoe that will stay on through mud and water, this is the perfect option.

One last note on the newflex sole that I put on.  First, it is exactly what I wanted as far as protection and ground feel.  I just hiked Stone Mountain in Georgia and they did great.  Really, I couldn’t find a fault with them.  Actually, the shoes in general were almost perfect for this all granite steep hike.  My only disappointment is that they are wearing much faster than I had hoped.

Ok, one more last note.  My coworkers say that the Dash look better with my dress clothes than the Original RunAmoc’s.  I think the tighter fit and laces make it look more normal.  However, my wife says that I’m weird enough that I can pull either off.

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Filed under Custom Shoe, Dash, Long term test, Review, Running, Soft Star, Soft Star RunAmoc Review

Luna Sandal Review Summary

I’m about to switch gears and start a new project but I thought after so many posts about my Luna’s it would be helpful to summarize my experience and put everything in one place.

In my experience there are three aspects that make a huarache or Luna sandal

Each of these three work together and can dictate weather you love your sandals or hate them.  Laces come in three varieties:

  1. Elastic – Quick and easy to put on, these laces provide the least security but are great for casual wear.  Since they are elastic there is a constant snugness that I am not overly fond of.  My Equus sandals (which I don’t run in) have the 5/8″ Equus laces and I find them to be the most stylish and publicly accepted option.
  2. Leather – Comes in different sizes and colors.  In my opinion, this is the best overall option.  They are aesthetically pleasing, secure, and comfortable.  Since they are inelastic they allow for a looser fit without sacrificing security.  I like both the 1/4″ and 10mm laces.  Most people will get used to either just fine.
  3. Wool, hemp, rope, etc.  This is sort of the other category.  Since I haven’t tried the hemp I can’t comment personally, but from what others have said they work great and are comfortable.  From my experience with the wool laces I can attest to the fact that there is nothing more comfortable to wear.  Style and security may be half a notch below the leather but the comfort fully makes up for that.

The sole options have gone through a transformation.  When Ted started he had the Originals, then added the Equus and the Leadville’s.  I actually have all three so I will give a short summary of each.

  1. Originals – 6mm neoprene.  It is the original for a reason and is still one of my favorites.  The neoprene has the right combination of flexibility and thinness to provide great ground feel and allow for natural foot movement.
  2. Equus – 2mm rubber and 2mm cordovan.  The cordovan feels amazing but is stiff.  Moisturizing it helps but I am not a fan of stiff and thin.  These sandals look great and have become my church sandals.
  3. Leadville – 10mm newflex.  10mm!!  That is what I said, but the properties of this sole are deceiving.  The material is extremely light and flexible.  Ground feel is better than the Originals but in a muted sort of way.  It is hard to explain but I’m excited that Luna is taking this amazing (and very expensive) material and using the 8mm and 5mm versions.  The Leadville Pacer is being made in my shop now and I’m excited to test it out.  I think that this is the sort of natural progression that comes through testing and striving to create the best sandal on earth.

Once you have decided on the right lace and the right sole the last part is to connect them all together.  My advice – experiment – a lot.  In the end I went with the very standard tying method (the way the Equus are tied on Luna’s website).  I don’t wrap or double up just lace them and tie it off.  I cut all my laces so there is no extra cord since my new knot design will allow for many more miles of wear and I don’t have to worry about knot breakage.

After several months of wearing these exclusively, my originals have molded to my feet and feel like an extension of my foot in a way.  My advice, if you are looking at getting a pair of Luna sandals, is to get the originals with the 1/4″ leather lace.  This is the cheapest way into a truly magnificent sandal.

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Filed under Equus, Long term test, Luna Laces, Original Luna Sandal, Review

Luna Sandals Review

The time has finally come.  My beloved RunAmoc’s are starting to feel like a wet blanket in this 100 degree 97% humidity summer and my feet are screaming to be set free.  When it comes to minimalist sandals Barefoot Ted’s Luna sandal company is the premier place to go.  I have debated purchasing a pair for about a year now and finally pulled the trigger.  I read a lot of reviews about Luna sandals but none really gave the full story.  For all of the wanna be Luna fans I am embarking on a long term test of my Original Luna sandals.  I will update this blog as often as possible.  I will do my best to show how I transitioned into these and the struggles along the way.  When I’m done I hope there is no question about what owning a pair of Luna’s is really like.

The test: Original Luna Sandals

Laces:

  • 5/8″ Equus elasticized laces
  • 1/2″ Equus elasticized laces
  • 1/4″ black leather
  • 3/8″ black leadville leather
  • 1/4″ Felted wool laces
  • Other laces after I test these

I wasn’t sure which lace I would like best so I decided to get an assortment.  Of all the laces I am the most excited about the felted wool laces.  I have read many stories about laces cutting and causing pain.  I was lucky enough to have my friend over at http://baringmysoles.blogspot.com/ send me a pair of her amazing felted wool laces for this test.  Since wool is one of my favorite things and I can’t see it cutting into my toes like the leather might, I am excited to get these on my feet and give them a good testing.

Unboxing

The crew at Luna sandal was very busy and my order took almost 2 weeks to receive (a week longer than normal).  My first impression after pulling them out of the box was “wow, they look small” followed by “wow, they are really light” and finally “wow they are flexible”.  Yes, that was three wow’s.  I have size 13 feet so all of my shoes always look like clown shoes.  For some reason the sandals looked more like a regular persons shoe.  I quickly tried them on and they fit my foot perfectly. (custom foot tracing highly recommended)

Besides being light, flexible and fitting perfectly they looked very nice.  The leather was nice the edges were cut perfectly.  They looked and felt like I got my money’s worth.  My wife’s first reaction “Great, more ugly shoes?”

First Run

I decided to take it really easy at first.  I played with the 5/8″ Equus elasticized laces and ended up tying them rather loose.  I ran about a mile and noticed two things.  The loose tying allowed the sole to catch air and separate from the ball of my foot.  This was not a bad thing just different.  The second thing I noticed is that my form was much more apparent.  As in my bad form became clearer and more noticeable.  I have an imbalance in my stride.  I do something different with my left foot that causes more heat than my right.  While running I noticed that my right foot landed almost silently while my left slapped the ground.

After an easy mile I started to get some rubbing between my left toe.  The right however felt perfect.  After another 30 steps the left began to get much worse.  It suddenly felt like the plastic compression piece that folds the strap was cutting my toes.  3 more steps and now it felt like a screwdriver was being driven into my 2nd toe.  I stop and walk.  The pain is gone.  Run and I get the screwdriver, walk and its gone.  I opt to walk home.  My first task will be to replace the plastic compression piece with a softer smooth fabric piece and try again.  Right now I am dreaming of the wool laces.

First success – My wife says “They actually look nice on your feet”

Fit notes:  5/8″ Equus elasticized laces with the toe strap running diagonally towards my outer ankle bone.  Tied very loose, toe strap had almost no tension on it at all.

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Filed under Long term test, Original Luna Sandal, Review, Running

My running story

For posterity sake I though I would write down my story since as I get older I tend to forget what happened in the past.  It has been an interesting journey so sit back and enjoy the story.

I grew up on the south shore of Lake Superior in a small town full of interesting people and more interesting adventures.  We lived on the edge of town atop a big hill.  Our driveway was about ¼ mile long and made of crushed limestone.  As a kid I had one speed and it wasn’t walking.  My sister and I ran everywhere which included barefoot races down the gravel driveway to get the mail.  Barefoot wasn’t “in” it was all we had.

As I got older I started running in races and did quite well.  I realized at about 8 yrs old that I was more athletic than all of my friends.  I started winning every race I entered.  By 15 I was undefeated for several years racing every week of our short summer.  Running for me was such an effortless joy.  I felt like I could hold a 5 min mile forever (7 was the most I ever did).  I never got tired running, I felt free from my legs, like I was just riding someone else’s legs.  When this happened I realized how hard I was hitting the ground because I could feel my cheeks bouncing (in my face).  I learned to become smooth and got even faster.

Then it happened.  While waterskiing, I crashed, …….bad.  I spent months in physical therapy recovering.  At the same time I grew 6” and later discovered that everything was different.  I was weak and tired.  It was mono.  After 6 months recovering from that I was a whole new person.  I could barely run 3 miles without passing out.  I couldn’t get under an 8 min mile pace and running now sucked and I quit.

I channeled my athleticism and passion for the outdoors into biking.  I biked slowly at first, then faster and further.  As I got stronger I started liking biking more and more.  I started racing and did ok.  Running was gone, an inefficient waste of time, I was now a mountain biking maniac.  I would bike 15 miles on the road to get to the best trails then bike 20 miles on trails and then ride home.  I did this routine everyday for many years.  I kept up over 300 miles per week all through undergrad and into my first years working.  I would bike 26 miles roundtrip to work and then hit the trails after work.

Then I got married.          [Insert screeching sound here]

Biking was not something that my wife did then.  She liked hiking and walking so that’s pretty much what we did.

Fast forward about a dozen years and I’m in an office job feeling weak and pathetic.  My wife and I are walking the dogs every day but I’m feeling like the guy on Wall-E.  Just a blob on a chair.  As the kids have gotten older we have started biking much more which was a plus but it was slow and casual.  One day my wife says, “Wanna go for a run?”.  I wasn’t sure what to say.  I hate running, but running has to be better than doing nothing so sure.  First run: ½ mile.  I’m pretty sure I lost a lung on the run.  The next three days were agony.  I could hardly walk.  I was so out of shape it was repulsive.

Now to the interesting stuff.  My wife has had flat feet her whole life.  She got orthotics 15 yrs ago and has worn them religiously.  After only 3 weeks of running she said that she just isn’t a runner.  Her legs, hips and feet hurt her so bad she was crying from pain.  Enter VFF’s.  I convinced her to give them a try and she hesitantly started running in them.  Like so many other people, her pains went away.  Even more amazing, the girl that had board flat feet her whole life now had a regular arch.  For the first time in over a decade, she could wear sandals.  Running for her became fun and ………easy (gasp).

I followed a somewhat similar path.  I had been wearing semi minimalist shoes for comfort and started running in them.  Something amazing happened the first time I did.  I remembered running.  I could feel the muscle memory from my fast days.  I was anything but fast but I could feel it.  I was smooth and well…..slow.  But it was fun again.  My wife and I have been running in minimalist shoes since and have enjoyed every minute of it.  I have been running to the store rather than driving.  We have been running and playing with the kids.  I feel strong and connected again after 10+ years of atrophy.  I never imagined running would be so fun and freeing again.

That is my story of running, not running and then running again.  I now realize that anyone can run and as was stated in Born to Run we are all meant to run.

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Random thoughts about running

Recently I looked back on the past six months.  I was astounded at the changes that had occurred.  Overall, I feel much better now than I did 6 months ago.  Here is what changed:

  • Started running
  • Running in my RunAmoc’s
  • Eating less meat
  • Eating more fruits and veggies
  • Most everything is now organic
  • Completely cut out all high fructose corn syrup
  • Started baking all of our own bread
  • Replaced most plastic storage containers with glass
  • Started carpooling
  • Consistently stretch each day
  • Got back into rock climbing

My wife has commented that I seem much happier and nicer now than I used to be.  (Gee thanks)  When I look at this list I see three definite factors that have helped to improve my physical and mental well being.

  1. Improved diet
  2. Increased exercise
  3. Reduced stress

Overall I have felt much happier.  I have also not had any back pain for six months.  After switching to an office job, back pain has plagued me.  Ditching my regular shoes has also made a huge difference.  I now feel much more connected and solid.  It is hard to explain but strong feet seem to effect your whole body.  I think the strong feet in combination with the stretching have helped my back.

Half a weeks veggies

I’m not sure if it was the chicken or the egg but running has made me “want” to eat better and eating better has made me feel more like running.  These two really made a difference but the stretching really completed the picture.  Stretching is something that I usually hate to do and now look forward to it.  It makes me feel loose and relaxed.  It makes sleeping SO much more comfortable too.

It is funny that none of the changes were really decisions, as in New Years resolution decisions.  They were natural progressions through listening to our bodies.  It all started with an email about the Warrior Dash.  We thought it looked fun so we signed up.  We started running, first on 1/2 a mile, then 1 mile, and on it went.  My wife soon had so much pain running that she said she was done running for good.  She switched to a pair of KSO’s and tried again.  This time there was no pain and she felt great.  I picked up a pair of RunAmoc’s and running became fun.  I mean truly fun.  The kind of fun that puts a smile on your face and keeps you running longer than you had planned.  The rest sort of fell in place and here we are 6 months later happy as can be.

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