The RunAmoc shoes from Soft Star arrived just as we were setting off for our weekend adventure in the Peak District. I whipped off my Nike Frees and socks, slung them into the back of the car and slipped on the moccasins instead.
Apart from a brief interlude where I had to review some hiking shoes, the RunAmocs became a bit of a permanent feature – much to Lynn’s disappointment – I’m not sure she approves of my new obsession and it’s associated crusty geography teacher fashion accessories.
My initial thought on the sizing was that perhaps they were too big. There was a very big gap, lets say an inch, between my big toe and the end of the shoe but I’d measured my foot according to the guidelines on the website so decided to try them out. Despite having loads of room in the toe area they didn’t slosh around my foot and felt generally very comfortable.
It’s normally my toes that suffer the most in standard shoes so it was quite a blessing to leave them feeling so free. The roomy toe box creates an obvious point of difference between the feeling of running in the RunAmoc vs the Vibram Five Fingers. Although there is a huge degree of movement available with the Five Fingers, I still feel constrained by the toe compartments while the RunAmocs left me feeling as though I had only a very light drape across the top of my foot.
I ordered the RunAmoc with the slightly thicker sole. At 5mm it is not huge but it is designed to give maximal protection for trail running while still enabling you to feel in-touch with the ground surface.
On Sunday we were running along the Manifold River in Ilam and the tracks varied between limestone paths and root laden trail runs. I was grateful for the protection and managed to run amongst the pebbles without too many exclamations of pain. These soles are thicker than on my Vibram Sprint Five Fingers and were noticeably more comfortable on the rougher surface but I didn’t lose any of the barefoot feel.
As I was running up the limestone steps built into the side of the valley I was aware of my feet bending and hugging the surface. It was a huge contrast to the previous days hike in the solid Merrel Walking Shoes.
Barefoot or minimal running can become almost a spiritual experience where you begin to feel part of the landscape and the track you are running along. It’s a much more involved and gentle way to interact with the trail.
All this barefoot running is reminding me of a trip to Vienna.
At Kunsthauswein I tuned in to the amazing architecture of Hundertwasser and tried to scribble down his writings on the uneven floor.
It seems that Hundertwasser may have been an early adopter of the barfoot movement, this photo shows him wearing a pair of his handmade shoes (summer & winter) – very minimal.
The Uneven Floor
The flat floor is an invention of the architects. It fits engines – not human beings.
People not only have eyes to enjoy the beauty they see and ears to hear melodies and noses to smell nice scents. People also have a sense of touch in their hands and feet.
If modern man is forced to walk on flat asphalt and concrete floors as they were planned thoughtlessly in designers’ offices, estranged from man’s age-old relationship and contact to earth, a crucial part of man withers and dies. This has catastrophic consequences for the soul, the equilibrium, the well being and the health of man. Man forgets how to experience things and becomes emotionally ill.
An uneven and animated floor is the recovery of man’s mental equilibrium, of the dignity of man which has been violated in our levelling, unnatural and hostile urban grid system.
The uneven floor becomes a symphony, a melody for the feet and brings back natural vibrations to man. Architecture should elevate and not subdue man. It is good to walk on uneven floors and regain our human balance.
Hundertwasser, April, 1991