Earth Runners minimalist sandals

It all started quite innocently, like many conversations do these days.  On Twitter.

I got one of those “random” followers, as happens almost every day when your Twitter profile is public.  Usually I don’t pay much notice to them, but this one caught my attention.  So, half joking, I sent them a message:

Honestly, I wasn’t expecting a response.  But, to my surprise, shortly afterward I did get a reply!

It turns out that Earth Runners is a new company, and just ramping up on a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to produce their sandals.  So they were looking for some people to try out the shoes and give them some feedback.

I’m one of those millions (?) of runners who read “Born To Run” and became fascinated by the idea of barefoot, minimalist running.  I had already been following Pete at Runblogger, and the idea of running naturally, the way our bodies were designed, appealed to me on an almost-instinctive level.  I know that some people feel that this is a fad, that things will change, and the minimalist trend will reverse.  I honestly don’t think it will.  This just feels right.  Not necessarily for everyone, some people will always continue to run in padded shoes.  But I think there will be a market segment of those of us who have tried running “minimal” and have found that it works best for them.  I, for one, am encouraged by the diversity of running shoe options out there, and now I really do believe there is a shoe for everyone.  As someone who has in the past been placed in orthotics, in “stability” shoes, and suffered through shin splints and stress fractures, I know that some people will still need to have these options.  But, also as someone who has gone through these, I’m finding that as I have made the slow transition to “less” shoe (it has happened over 5 years), now I can run faster, farther, and (so far) without injury.

Now, I’ve said already.  I am not a barefoot runner.  I don’t know if I ever will be.  I like a little cushion when I run, the pounding of the miles seems to take a toll on my feet.  But I don’t see myself ever going back to the built-up heel, thick padding, and heavy structure of the shoes I used to wear.  I would definitely try barefoot running for short distances (and I have), but for long distances, at least for now, I want shoes.

So back to Earth Runners.  I had long (since reading Born to Run) been fascinated by the idea of the huaraches worn by the runners in the book.  Although I didn’t know if I could run in them, I loved the idea of minimal shoes, and the thought of wearing next to nothing between me and the ground.  So I was thrilled that Earth Runners were willing to send me a pair to try out.

I looked over the list of options on their website – they really do have a multitude of options to fit almost any foot type.  I decided on the Quantum Earth Runners, slim fit, with a brown leather sole, 2mm Vibram tread, and the nylon lacing.   I opted for the Quantum style because it has a bit of arch support, and I felt that as I am still not a “barefoot” person, that little bit of arch support would be really nice.

Ordering was pretty easy – I traced my foot and marked a few key points, then scanned it and emailed it to them.  Within two weeks, the shoes arrived.  I was surprised Thursday when I opened the mailbox and saw a package inside.  Why the surprise?  Well, first of all because it was so small.  I even had to take pictures before I opened it.  I could hardly believe there were shoes in this envelope.

Can you find the shoes?

I mean really. There are shoes in here?

I wanted to rip the package open right away, but had to wait a few hours until the boys were settled down, then I opened them up.  The first thing I noticed?  The smell.  They smelled good and natural, not like plastic or packaging materials.

Just out of the package

See those little copper circles?  This is supposed to connect your body to the ground and to the earth (it’s called “earthing” or “grounding” – those of us who are electrical engineers understand the concept!)

I tried them on, and they felt, well, good.  I didn’t get to wear them long that night, but already I was excited about the idea of testing out these shoes.

I have worn the shoes virtually nonstop for four days now.  I wore them all day Friday, running errands, taking the boys to the bus stop, and around the house.  I then wore them all day Saturday to a college football game.  Tailgating, the game, and the 1 mile walk from the car, and my feet felt great.  I didn’t feel like I was more tired than normal, my feet and legs weren’t sore.  I felt great.  I wore them more on Sunday (although I didn’t go anywhere Sunday), and they are on my feet again right now.  I really like them.

I like them so much I even posted a picture of them on Twitter.

Ready to test them out!

But you know when I really knew that Earth Runners have gotten something right?  When I found myself wishing I had these shoes on my feet.  Each time I take them off, I instantly wish I had them on again.  They feel that good on.  I’m usually a “shoes off the moment I get in the door” person.  Not with these.  I’d rather wear them all day.  I think that says something.

If you’re interested in learning more about Earth Runners, I would recommend you visit their website(s):

Earth Runners website
Earth Runners Kickstarter website

Note:  These shoes were provided free of charge, and I was not compensated in any way for this review.  These are my opinions and mine alone!

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