Mom says that because I was born in late August, because I was a summer baby, I never had baby shoes. She says this is (likely) also why I prefer to not wear shoes: barefoot or anything close to it is usually my preferred state. If the sun is out, forget about it! Unless I’m trail running or road racing, you’ll find as much epidermis as possible exposed on my tootsies.
As time has gone by and my running form has changed, I’ve also moved to more and more minimal running shoes.
There came a point in time where it just made sense to go for it.
Over a year ago, I took the plunge. I traced my feet, sent the scanned images off and a short time later, they arrived: the sandals that have become my favorite footwear. Meet my Gladsoles.
I know what you’re probably wondering: uh, why am I supposed to be excited? What exactly am I looking at?
The original 6mm ‘street’ Gladsoles give the most barefoot “feel every nook and cranny” feel, the 8mm ‘trail’ Gladsoles have the most aggressive tread for grip on off-road terrain and the newest style 8mm ‘hybrid’ Gladsoles are a good “do it all” middle ground.
Knowing that I would mostly be using mine for everyday wear, some gym work that requires flat shoes and hopefully move my way to doing pick-ups and other speed drills for running, I chose the ‘street’ version. They’re also good for things like watching soccer games, hitting the pool, after a long trail race, putting in mileage at Disneyland and the like. I’ve done all those things with mine without a hitch. They’re also super easy to clean. I’ve been known to wipe mine down with yoga mat wipes in a pinch just to help keep ’em fresh, or I bring them into the shower with me for a bit of a scrub. They dry fast. The laces I’ve laundered before in a net bag with my clothes. Easy!
They aren’t just customized in terms of the sizing. The lacing is easily replaceable, comes in a wide variety of colors as do the toggles and can be tied in a variety of ways. As you can see from pictures, such as the one below, the “lazy ankle tie” as I call it is my favorite for ease, speed and general style.
Okay, mostly for the lazy part.
Enough that you can see a lot of images on Gladsole’s Twitter feed that are from my old Twitter and Instagram accounts (as utilized in this post) – and occasionally ones from my new accounts. Enough that I happily and eagerly tell anyone about them who asks. Enough that my dogs know way better than to ever think to do anything to the soles or the laces. Enough that I think I need a second pair in a different weight, and that I am already thinking about ordering a teeny pair of Gladsoles for when my little one is walking. Sure, she has to finish baking still, but have you ever watched a wee one learning to walk? They grip the ground with their toes, so a barefoot style shoe is a natural choice to help protect their feet while letting them move naturally. Plus, Gladsoles knows kids grow fast and will give the kiddo 30% off their second pair. Yes, I am passionate about this footwear — with good reason. It’s not just because someone comments on them (as opposed to my black runner toes) or asks about them practically every time I wear them.
In my 30 plus years here on the planet, I’ve never met someone who had “mirror image feet.” “They” always say that one foot is bigger than the other. In my case, I, like Scott Jurek, have one foot that wings out slightly thanks to scoliosis – for me, it’s the right foot that wings out a bit. This means that even if one foot fits perfectly into a pair of flip flops or shoes, it always fits the other foot in a slightly different manner. Because each sandal is custom cut to my foot tracing, they both fit perfectly, and comparison shows they aren’t the same shape or have the center hole in the same place, because my feet are unique. I can bet yours are too.
Additionally, I personally benefit from wearing barefoot footwear. Couple Gladsoles with my standing desk at work and the daily hip aches and pains I used to get due to scoliosis pelvic tilt are gone. My feet are stronger, require less rolling, seem to be more stable on trails, and I have found that I haven’t run into any of the issues other women warned me about when it comes to feet and pregnancy. I’m not hardcore enough – yet – to road and trail run in Gladsoles, but I love knowing that there are options if I wanted to. Plus, who doesn’t love walking through a puddle while wearing sandals, but leaving footprints as though they are barefoot as they walk away? Gladsoles mold quickly to your feet, so wearing the street style is essentially just making what nature created better with a little Vibram protection for the crazy modern world.
Notably, some folks may need a bit of time to transition into a barefoot style, and that’s okay! I’ve heard many stories from folks who threw out their expensive orthotics and “support” running shoes as they increased the strength of their own feet. Modern shoes have made it so our feet aren’t as strong as they once were, but man, once you start wearing minimal-to-barefoot style footwear comfortably, you may never want to stop!
Have you ever tried Gladsoles, or would you? What style would you choose for yourself and where would you wear them?
In no way did Gladsoles influence this post – I’m just a huge fan!
All thoughts and opinions are my own.
EDIT, 05.04.15: Only one thing has changed since writing this post – I am excited to announce that I am now an official Gladsoles ambassador! Use code ‘littlebeastling’ to score 15% off your order — and holler if you have any questions. I am happy to help.