my running adventures – barefoot or otherwise

Barefoot running – my first in-run conversation! AND an initial review of Saucony Hattori LC running shoes

My new running shoes!

My new running shoes!

I couldn’t wait to get these new running shoes on my feet! I’d researched far and wide for minimalist running shoes and my conclusions are:

That you pay A LOT for not very much!

That there seems to be a premium on anything with the words ‘barefoot’ or ‘minimalist’ in the shoe description – a bit like when you prefix any word with the word ‘wedding’ in front of it, the price suddenly shoots through the roof!

There are a fairly limited range, at least in the UK, of sensibly priced running shoes in this category. Perhaps I’m being a bit backward, but I’ve only recently needed to start purchasing running shoes again and they seem really expensive! £80 plus for a fairly tame-looking pair of running shoes seems a lot and I for one am not going to pay that kind of price! Who’s with me?!

Anyway, now I’m off my running-shoe-price-soapbox, I managed to find the Saucony Hattori LCs for less than £40. I have two pairs of Saucony trainers already – the minimalist transition shoe, the Saucony Fiya (UK 10.5 – which are pretty awesome, by the way!), and a pair of Saucony Grid Tuned trail running shoes I bought before I changed my running style from heel-striking to fore-foot landing running style. As such, this pair have a lot of cushioning and make it difficult to run fore-foot first. I don’t tend to wear these very often, as most of my running is on roads. They are also quite tight-fitting as I chose a 10.5 (UK).

Saucony Fiya running shoes - I really like these!

Saucony Fiya running shoes – I really like these!

Saucony Pro Grid trail running shoes

Saucony Pro Grid trail running shoes

Bearing the sizing in mind, I decided that I should plump for a size 11 (UK) because the other two pairs of Saucony were quite tight fitting.

These Saucony Hattori LC running shoes are in the minimalist category, designed to give the experience of running barefoot, and are therefore anatomically designed to ensure your toes have room to move and aren’t squished together like they are in traditional running shoes.

The other big difference is that there is a ‘zero drop’, meaning that there is no differential in the height of the heel and toe from the sole of the shoe.

I put these on for a whole evening (well, about three hours) the first day I got them when I got home from work and instantly they felt great! My toes had room to move, I could really feel each footstep like I can when I run/walk barefoot. They felt a bit roomy around my heel though, even after lacing them up tightly. This was a bit of a concern as I was hoping to run in to work in them the next day. Incidentally, the initial Hattori model didn’t have a lacing system, just Velcro-style wraps and this introduction of the lacing system seems to be a good idea to keep the shoe in place better.

Saucony Hattori - old model

Saucony Hattori – old model

I couldn’t wait to leave the house in the morning in my cool-looking running shoes! The weather was beautiful outside and I set off at a decent 4:00/km pace. After the initial first kilometre, the ‘Honeymoon period,’ I’ll call it, I noticed that my feet seemed to be moving back and forth inside the shoe. This didn’t concern me too much as it is easily changed by wearing a slightly thicker pair of socks – something I’m going to be testing out tomorrow on my run home from work.

Alternatively, I could try running in them without socks, and perhaps the lack of socks will allow my foot to stay in place in the shoe better? Something again for me to play around with.

I got to 5.5km and I was conscious that I was now in the realms of blister territory, wearing a new pair of trainers for the first time! However, I was still 3.5km away from work and the only option I had, other than continuing in these trainers was to run barefoot…so I carried on till 6km and then stripped my trainers and socks off for the final 3km to run barefoot.

You can see my 6km Hattori LC run here:

And my 3km barefoot run here: (Sadly, it seems Strava got a bit confused with my first km pace. No way I did it in 3:45ish!)

I noticed on taking off my shoes that my feet were very sweaty. I’m not sure yet whether the trainers are to blame, or the socks I was wearing, so again, this is something for me to check out on future runs.

I ran the next 3km barefoot and my feet were almost stinging at this point. They calmed down over the next 1km though, as the sweat dried off and they became accustomed to the surface I was running on. I really enjoyed the last 2km, even though I was running uphill. I also had my first barefoot running conversation while in the process of running barefoot!

First of all, I heard a ‘Yeah! Running barefoot!’ from a youthful-sounding voice behind me. I waved my arm behind my head in recognition of the shout out, but pressed on as I was now only 500 metres from work. A few seconds later, a couple of young schoolboys on bikes caught up with me, albeit on the other side of the road and one of them asked, in the same voice I heard before, ‘Hey, why are you running barefoot?’ I didn’t take long to think of my response, ‘Because it’s fun…you should try it!’

‘Oh, right,’ came the reply. A pause. ‘Doesn’t it hurt your feet?’ One of them asked.

‘Not really. You get used to it, but you have to start slowly over short distances and watch out for sharp objects. It feels great though!’

‘Oh, right,’ they said again. ‘Bye!’ They left to go their way to school presumably and I felt great that I’d had my first conversation about barefoot running. Strange that it has taken so long for anyone to ask me about it while I’ve been running, and that it was children who enquired, rather than adults. I love that children are so inquisitive, and not afraid to ask questions. I guess adults just think I’m weird…either that, or I run so fast only kids on bikes can keep up with me?!

When I got to work, I realised that I’d been spotted by a couple of colleagues who’d seen me on their drive in to school. I was running late (pardon the pun), so normally I’m not seen running or cycling to school. They asked me about it and concluded that I was either brave or crazy. My mind is clear – I’m enjoying running barefoot and I enjoy the benefits it gives me: a fun experience, sensation for my feet, strengthening of lower leg muscles and relief for my toes from being squished in shoes.

How do people react to you running barefoot?

What conversations have you had about barefoot running?

Have you tried out the Saucony Hattori LC running shoes? What did/do you think of them?

I’ll say more about my new pair of trainers when I’ve spent a bit more time in them.

Enjoy your run!



4 comments on “Barefoot running – my first in-run conversation! AND an initial review of Saucony Hattori LC running shoes

  1. Chris @ Amplify
    May 16, 2013

    I like your review of the minimalist shoes. I’m interested but haven’t taken any step towards it. I don’t anyone who’s crossed over yet. I might be the first.

    So even though you’re a barefoot runner would you still run with a running app?

    • barefoottc
      May 16, 2013

      Hi Chris,

      Thanks for your comment. I enjoy barefoot running and yes, as I’m a competitive person (largely with myself!), I like to see how I’m progressing regardless of whether I’m running shod or unshod. Obviously, I only compare barefoot runs with other barefoot runs – at least for the time being, until I can go as fast as I do with shoes on.

      I read your article about 5 running apps and I hope you don’t mind me saying, but you’ve overlooked a really great one! It is called Strava, and perhaps initially was put together for cyclists. Now, however, it is great for runners too and I’d really encourage you to give it a whirl yourself. There is a free app available for various smartphones, though it is not yet supported on some platforms.

      Also, I used to use endomondo before I replaced it with Strava. As such, I reviewed the apps against each other and blogged my review. You can find it here where I review Strava and endomondo running apps.

  2. chococatania
    July 25, 2013

    I recently ran barefoot for the first time last week. It was pretty interesting, to say the least. What I was amazed by was that even though I have been running for years, I realized that my feet didn’t know what it felt like to truly run on pavement. It was pretty thrilling to really feel running. I will admit that there were times when my toes were hurting a little bit (not used to the pavement, I guess I’ll need to develop callouses), but it was worth it, and I only ran about a mile, so it wasn’t too painful.

    I’m really interested in seeing how barefoot and minimalist running will go.

    • barefoottc
      July 25, 2013

      Yeah, I completely agree with you about how nice it is to really feel the ground beneath your feet. I’ve experimented with different terrains, but I think I’m just too much of a wuss for anything other than smooth pavements or grass! It does help too with your running form with regard to picking your feet up off the floor (or you end up with loads of blisters on your feet and toes!). Keep me updated on your barefooting progress, but remember to build it up slowly. Too much too soon is a big problem for people starting out barefooting (I know from experience as well as from my reading on the topic!)

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