LUNAS: THE PREVIEW

Where do I begin with my review of Lunas?  I guess I start a few months ago.  I was running a lot…every day.  I was at DAY 74 (which was the last day of the streak but my first day towards recovery and the first day towards purchasing my Lunas.)  The pain in my foot was not getting any better and I knew that my run streak would have to end or I would risk really hurting myself.  It turns out I had a stress fracture and that was making my runs highly uncomfortable.  I was sad to bring the streak to a close but my foot needed to heal.  This was the beginning of my personal minimalist running movement.

I did what I do when I am hurt and I can’t run.  I read books about running or, more specifically, I read Born to Run for the fifth time.  I reflected on my running and what I hoped to achieve.  I over thought everything…because that is what I do when I can’t run.  It is a wonderful combination – reading, over thinking, and not running.  You never know what will become of it.  What became of it was that I started thinking more and more about my running.  I read again about Barefoot Ted and the Tahumaras and their lesser footwear.  I thought about my own running philosophy.  I asked myself what I wanted from my running.

I decided that I wanted a more organic running experience.  I was seeing other runners passing my house and it seemed that they were all about “more.”  More equipment, fancier shoes, and more help to get them to where ever they wanted to be.  I wanted to be more about “less.”  Less crap and less on my feet…and less money going to shoe companies whose advice is to switch shoes every 300 or 400miles.  That is insane…that is four pairs of shoes a year for me.  “They” say that once your shoes wear down you run a greater risk of injury.  What kind of trash are “they” talking?  I suppose it is all about the money and their business seems to self generate all kinds of that…the more you run, the more shoes you need and the more money you need to spend.  Do you really run risk of injury in older shoes?  Do the shoes make you a better runner?  Do they make you faster?  I don’t know the answer to any of these questions but something in the back of my mind keeps telling me that the answers are all NO. 

What makes a good runner?  Not shoes.  I think desire, joy, strength, and endurance make a good runner.  You can’t buy those things.  I decided that I would embark on a different journey.  I wanted to make my legs and feet stronger so that I could battle injury better.  I wanted to learn to rely on my own muscles to absorb the constant shock of running instead of relying on spongy shoes to do it for me.  AND I wanted to do it by going back to basics.  I looked at numerous minimalist shoes and other footwear and eventually decided that the Lunas were for me.

I liked the Lunas’ natural approach to running.  All they are is a piece of rubber attached by simple straps to your feet.  I liked that they were inspired by the Tarahumara tribe’s sandals and they run for life so they must know a thing or two about what to put on your feet.  I eventually chose the Mono (Spanish for monkey) sandals.  They are 12mm of rubber attached to your feet by the Luna strap system.  They employ something called MGT (Monkey Grip Technology) to avoid slippage.  Other than that they just look like a basic pair of flip flops.

My first run in the Lunas was not my best run.  I had been off for six weeks to let my foot heal and I had lost a good amount of endurance and fitness.  I took off for a short 2 miler.  I had to stop several times to readjust the straps.  My foot steps made that horrible slapping sound of rubber smacking pavement.  I wasn’t sure what I had gotten into.  However, that first run contained some major gains.  I had adjusted the straps to where they should be.  I haven’t had to readjust since (and it has been about a month.)  I also learned a little something about form.  That slapping sound, I think, was due to my poor form from running in shoes and becoming reliant on the shoes to cushion my foot falls.  My next run was very quiet as I modified my form and went with lighter, shorter steps and higher turnover. 

Now I am a month in to running with the Lunas and things couldn’t be better.  My form has been greatly improved and I feel like my lower legs, feet and ankles are getting stronger by the day.  My runs are getting longer and faster as my endurance and speed is coming back and the sandals feel like a natural extension of my feet.  My last run felt incredible…it was the best run I have had in ages.  I felt like I was flying.

There are absolutely no negatives to my Lunas.  I feared that chafing due to the straps would be an issue but I have not had a single problem in that area.  The quality is fantastic…they really do look like they will last forever.  These sandals are exactly what I wanted when I was thinking about going minimalist (unlike so many expectations we have for items we purchase, the Lunas have met and exceeded all of these and more.)  They are a lightweight yet rugged sandal and I look forward to seeing how many miles I can log on them.

WARNING: Yes…I said warning.  If you are new to minimalist running, TAKE IT EASY AT FIRST.  You can’t go out in these guns a blazing.  You will tear up and toast your calves and Achilles.  It’s all about the baby steps.  I am still experiencing these baby steps but my Achilles is really starting to let me know when I am biting off more than I can chew.  OTHER WARNING: My feet fell right on the cusp of two different sizes for the Lunas.  I opted for the larger size.  I could have easily gotten away with the smaller size.  That would be the only thing I would have done differently.

One further note on these sandals.  They look great too.  The other day I was out for a run.  Coming from the opposite direction was a local running group.  They were being led by two women.  As we exchanged morning pleasantries, I noticed the two women do a complete and obvious double take when they saw my Lunas…and then the jaw of one of the women actually dropped.  I am looking forward to my first race in them so I can see more jaws dropping as I pass people.

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