Saturday, January 22, 2011

DIY Huaraches!

If you read the book "Born to Run", you know about huaraches....the traditional Mexican sandal worn by the Tarahumaran.

(I read this book and found it a very interesting read, but I'll talk about that another time)

Anyway, the other day as I was closing in on the last couple of miles of my run, I saw a guy cross my path going the same way. Right away I noticed that he was wearing these sandals that were dead ringers for a pair of homemade huaraches. Curious, I sped up a bit and struck up a conversation with him.

I found out his  name was Richard Baugh, and a former HP engineer. He made the sandals himself ..riffing off of the design on the invisible shoes website.  He runs about 3 days a week in them...not bad for 73 years eh?

We exchanged emails and today I went over to his house (he lives really close to me it turns out) and he "walked me through" how to make a pair myself.

They have soles made from 4mm vibram (which he bought at Mid-Town Shoe Repair, very nearby), and the laces are made from very stylish blue polypropylene cord. 

Tools used: foot, marking pen, leather punch and mallet, scissors, lighter (for melting-sealing end of cut cordage), brain.

I walked home from his house in them and found them quite comfortable.  The bottom has a textured pattern that makes for pretty good traction on pavement. I wore them in the kitchen while preparing food and promptly forgot I had them on.

I'm not sure if I'll try running in them just yet...I'm happy to use them as a zero drop sandal at home and work to help keep the calves stretched out. If/when I do try them you can bet it will be for a very short fraction of a mile to start!

I took a few video clips of the construction process, although alas I was too busy during some of it to get any shots. I will post the links to the videos I have at some point and perhaps make some better ones when I make another pair ;)


My right calf muscle feels a lot better today..I did 3.1 miles at an easy pace just to sample the cramping. Tomorrow I'll try a bit more..perhaps 8-10?


UPDATE: I actually ran 12 miles at a 10:04 pace today.....the first 7-8 miles at about 10:20 pace then some fast running on the Paly Track until mile 10 ...with one mile at 7:50....that felt really good...then an easy jog 2 miles home.

I did feel a bit crampy near the end of the run, but I tried lengthening out my stride to stretch  out that muscle and that seemed to help. Sometimes the fast compact stride is a bad idea! 


  1. I see you saving some $$$ in your future. I have a goal this year to do some barefoot running.

  2. I'd be worried about the laces cutting into my feet.

  3. @Thomas: I don't think that's a problem for walking. This lacing design doesn't have the rope between the toes, which I don't like. The over-the-foot cordage is actually not that tight and can move around a bit.

    I also only plan to run in them for trivial distances.

    Those that do run in them seem to have no problems that they can't solve by tweaking the lacing.

    And, of course, the Tarahumarans have no problems with them ;) (A winner of the Leadville 100 was wearing them)

  4. Hi Paul!
    there is this guy in the Philippines marketing this type of shoes/sandals. It's a hot topic on the

  5. Hey, throw in some arch support, rear foot cushioning and motion control and you just may be onto something! :)

    Though I'm not into barefoot running, I'm just cheap enough to be seriously intrigued.

    1. It turns out that all the extra features aren't actually that good for you and may actually be causing the problems some people have when they run- these sandals allow you to walk naturally, how we were meant to walk, but with protection from rough surfaces.

  6. @dave: ha ha. I'm not into barefoot either..but walking around in them really stretches out the leg muscles during the day.

  7. @arthur: Hi Arthur! Having fun in PH? Never been there hope to visit someday.

    I was only interested in these sandals because I could make them myself..not sure I'd bother to buy a pair. (I have some Tevas that I like already).

    I do like that they are dead FLAT ("zero drop") and really stretch out my legs when walking around at work during the day. My legs feel great at the end of the day after a hard run.

  8. Just found your blog! Keep up the great work! :)

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  10. Please, there is no "Tarahumarans". Tarahumara is both singular and plural :)


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