The sandals blog

Running saved me today. Not for the first time. Sanity has been restored again, although it does always seem to be a temporary solution needing another fix soon enough.

But there were reasons for running happiness today. First, it’s the first day of my training programme for next year’s Edinburgh marathon. So in 25 weeks it will all be over. And taking a down period (admittedly, it’s relative, not absolute) after the last marathon was a good call by my (online) coach. I come down pretty hard after a big race like that, which has something to do with the amount of training that goes into it. I am back to being super-optimistic about my next race, helped by the fact that my paces are currently about where they were just before the last race, and this time it’s at the beginning, not end, of the training cycle. My long run this weekend was so much fun that I decided to do an extra couple of miles at the end. I think it was partly relief at not having to run through driving sleet and snow like the previous weekend.

And then today my new sandals arrived. What? Another pair of sandals? Let me explain. These ones are special (OK, they are all special in their own way, they are like your children, each has their good and… no, I’ll stop this analogy now.)

So what’s with the sandals anyway? It’s probably one of the oldest technologies we have. Strap something to your feet to protect them from the worst of the surfaces you will be running or walking on and away you go. Nowadays, with a bit more finesse perhaps because the materials available to us have improved over the last few thousand years. You might remember that I get all my sandals from Luna Sandals, partly because of the story behind them, but also because they are available in Europe, unlike the other running sandals which are available in the US (don’t say it too loudly, but a lot of them look very similar to each other). A runner colloquially known as Barefoot Ted participated in an ultramarathon race in Mexico with a tribe who live there and spend what even I would regard as a disproportionate amount of time running. They also run either barefoot or in homemade sandals, made from old car or truck tyres. So not exactly natural materials, but what they have to hand. Manuel Luna showed Ted how to make these sandals, and Ted turned this knowledge into a business based in Seattle, where all the sandals are now made.

I’m not going to get into all the reasons for running in something other than the trainers which most people use because I’m really not that bothered what other people do. I just know that I’m always happy when I’m out in my sandals and that’s enough. Plus I do get extra cheers and supports during a race, as well as sympathy from some of the people I’m running with. That in itself is worth a lot.

But let’s face it, the weather can be an issue. But perhaps not in the way you might expect. So here’s the ones I use throughout the year, depending on what’s happening outside.

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After a couple of years in running only in sandals, these are my go-to ones – the leather top is super comfy and amazingly effective at dealing with sweaty feet on warm days when I’m running fast. And on most other days. The only thing they are not good at, in fact, is when it is properly wet.

For water, these are the business:

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I can run through any amount of water and they will be dry a few minutes later from the combination of the heat from my feet, the circulating air and the pressure of foot on sandal with every step. The straps stay wet for longer, but I don’t even notice that as they’re just keeping the sandal nice and snug. And if you think I enjoy running in sandals generally, you should see me when there’s a puddle or stream I have to go through. Although I confess that I did go around the one that was about twenty metres long and several inches deep at the weekend.

Offload? Just need more grip. Like this:

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These are going to come into their own when I finally crack the marathon next year and can move onto something else that’s longer and doesn’t involve quite so much asphalt.

And snow or ice? Meet the new sandals – which go back to the beginning and are made from a car tyre:

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As you can see from the tread. They are heavier than my other sandals and I’m expecting these ones to last for a very very long time before I wear through them. Apart from cats taking a like to the straps and ripping sandals to bits, the only time I need to replace a pair of sandals is when I wear them down so there is nothing left in parts of the sole. My theory is that the Michelin car tyres these are made from are good for many thousand miles so, even though there is a difference between a circle rolling very fast on a car and me making contact on the ground 190 times a minute (yes, I know this, I find things to amuse myself with during long runs), I think they will last a lot longer than the other ones. And I like that the straps on these are leather – something new to experience. I’m planning on taking them for a spin this week to see how they feel.

And finally, the ones for wearing all summer long, but for walking in rather than running. Well, I would wear them all summer long if I were allowed to…

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So whatever the conditions, I have the sandals for them. And I am so done with needing any more for a very long time!

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