Here is my short story how I became a Luna sandals enthusiast.
Three month ago I decided to have another attempt of barefoot /natural running. I tried it 3 years ago with some fake Fivefinger shoes and without any knowledge and got a stress fracture in my upper shin bone straight away. Now, with some thousands miles of running experience, knowledge and patience I tried it again.
After some research I decided to get a pair of Luna sandals. The model „Mono“ was the pair of my choice as it is a good allrounder. Btw, many people who buy Luna Sandals first read the book „Born to Run“ and then they go out and buy their Lunas. For me it was different. I got first my Lunas and then, during Youtube running style investigations, I heard more details about the book. So I just read it some weeks ago. And hell yeah, it’s an eye opener! 🙂
On June 20th my journey began. I
am was a typical heel strike runner and walker, so the first steps with the Luna sandals were very painful. The first 2 weeks I only used the sandals to walk around but calves and hamstrings felt like under a constant torture. But after 10-14 days this pain was gone, and I used the forefoot strike as my normal walking style. During the first days I always had to concentrate on every step to walk in the correct way, and I felt a bit like walking on a catwalk, because the backbone and whole body is very straight in this walking style. It felt strange but my body liked it. I felt that I’m doing something good , very good, to my body. Beside this I started to train my toes. At home, while sitting at the PC or in front of the TV I take a small AAA battery and use my toes to grab it from the floor. It is a simple exercise which can be done everywhere and anytime. I also use a silicon toe spreader at home to help my toes getting back their flexibility. Finally I looked many many Youtube videos about natural running where I got very helpful information.
All this I did BEFORE I started to do my first running steps. I recommend this to everybody who think about to switch into minimalistic natural running style. Get a pair of Lunas or Fivefingers and go out for a run without any basic knowledge will end up very painful and frustrated. Well prepared, it will be an amazing experience. A freedom for your feet, you experienced the last time as a baby.
So, after two weeks just walking, I went out with my running watch. 3km later I was back at my home door. 3km!!! I usually run 15-20km in the morning, and now the pain in my calves brought me back after just 3km. Very frustrating feeling. But because of all information I got before, I knew that this will happen and that the body will need a long time to get used to this new running style.
The magic word is: PATIENCE
Again: If you start too fast, the experience is over also very fast. Slow increases of time and distance at the training sessions is the only way to switch from heel strike to forefoot running. During the next weeks I increased slowly my running distance. If I got blisters (and I got some serious blisters 🙂 ) I switched to a pair of Vibram Fivefingers or I had a rest day but I never went back again to „normal“ running shoes. The Fivefingers are also very nice shoes for natural running but now in this hot tropical summer I prefer the more minimalistic Lunas. For longer races (not training sessions) I still have to use a pair standard shoes. I was running the Angkor-Wat marathon in Cambodia and the Matterhorn Ultraks in Switzerland in August and I used a pair of Inov-8 shoes with a big toe-box for these long distances. I still feel it to unsafe to run a 40 or 100km distance just in sandals.
Around the World with my Lunas
4 weeks after I started to walk in Lunas, I knew that that this would be my way to run in the future. So I bought 2 more pairs of Luna sandals. The „Venado“, a super thin street running model and the „Leadville Trail“, a trailrunning model with enough grip on rough terrain.
During August I increased my mileage, most of the time in the flat Luna Venado here in Suzhou city around the blocks. Right now I can run 15-18k before my calves starts hurting and legs getting tired.
Last Saturday i managed a big milestone. I finished my first half marathon in Luna Sandals. I got again after 2014 an invitation for a half marathon in Helong / Jilin province, close to the Northkorean border and I decided that this race would be a nice test to run races in Lunas. My intention was just to survive and manage the distance of 21km but at the end I crossed the finish line after 1h:38m.
What will be my next steps? I plan to run my first natural running full marathon next year April or May. This all depends how I will survive during wintertime in my sandals and how my training will be. So far I only used them in hot tropical sommer and the upcoming autumn and winter will be the next challenge.
To be continued…!
But at the end one more time:
The magic word is: PATIENCE