the saga of Stuart's feet

Poor Stuart loves to run, but he's having a tough time with it. For the last several years he's had various injuries and pains in his knees and feet. He's tried physical therapy, deep tissue massage, even surgery, and he keeps getting hurt. Then over the summer he (and eventually I, too) discovered barefoot running, and it was a revelation. You can either wear regular running shoes with all the cushioning and padding and work and work and work for a proper stride. Or you can just go barefoot and your body will automatically adjust. Watch this video from the New York Times of their Roving Runner reporter with author of Born to Run Christopher McDougall for discussion and demonstration of barefoot running. Go ahead. I can wait...I've gone on and on (and on and on, to anyone who will listen) about that book and the benefits of barefoot running and frankly, this probably isn't the last time I'll post about it, but I need to continue with my story, so just go watch the video and you'll see what I mean.

For a while there barefoot running was going great for Stu. He eased into it, but was eventually going between 3 and 3.5 miles at one time. His feet were toughening up and he was feeling confident and healthy. Then, as always happens up here in Wisconsin a few weeks before you're really ready for it, the weather got cold. Not super-cold; we haven't had a hard freeze yet. But early one morning Stuart went for a barefoot run in the grass when it was only about 50 degrees, and his poor feet were starting to get numb when he came back.

Now Stuart was in a conundrum! Running shoes hurt his joints, running barefoot will eventually lead to frostbitten toes, and the Vibrams, I'm so sorry to report, aren't doing the trick, either. Let me say at this juncture, that I love my VFFs (Vibram Five Fingers). They are like gloves for my feet, and if I could, I would just wear those all the time. Stuart wants to like his, he really does, but unfortunately something about the separated toes bothers him and gives him toe pain. He's hoping they'll break in eventually, and he's found he can run in them for a few minutes at a time, but he needs something else for his feet in the meantime.

He tried his old running shoes. Definitely a no go. He tried flat-soled sneakers and even those didn't work. Finally, one evening last week, he came up to me and said "Do you think you could make me a pair of moccasins?" That prompted much internet-searching for instructions on how to make moccasins (there are several free sites, as it turns out), and some thinking on just where exactly one might obtain shoe-quality leather and other supplies for sewing it up. I did some calling, and it turns out that finding moccasin leather in Madison is no picnic. (You know, we live in a state full of people who hunt deer. Don't you think finding cured leather wouldn't be that hard?)

We don't know yet if I am capable of making running moccasins for my husband's fickle feet, though, because he has found another solution, at least for now: Aqua Socks. That's right: Aqua Socks. Those funny shoes with the meshy top and flat plastic soles you wear...where do you wear these things anyway? To wade around in ponds? To shower in locker rooms at the gym? They were fifteen bucks in a big old bin at The Shoebox in Black Earth. He's gone running twice in them with no complaints, and I personally hope they can carry him through until his feet are used to the Vibrams or it's warm enough again to go barefoot. Because Stuart might have enough faith in my crafty skills to fashion him running mocs, but I'm not sure I do.


Jessi said…
I would be terrified of the prospect. I don't even like to make booties.
Anonymous said…
Believe it or not, the Boy Scouts sells moccasin kits. I made one many years ago. They might not do what you want them to do, however.

Look at ""

More in an e-mail, coming soon.

Mrs. Allroro said…
That's what I was thinking when you said the thing he didn't like about the vibrams was the toes--water shoes. Some ladies wear them in water aerobics, so that's why they were fresh on my mind. I don't think my vanity would allow me to run in water shoes, though I think they might be the best thing for me. (I have fallen arches like Stuart.)

I'm too scared of blisters to run barefoot. I think I'm going to try my tightest high top Chucks.

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