“ Because they make me feel so happy!
I can do anything with them and they are all I need”
It’s been more than five years that I’ve discovered them and I have taken them in so many places through all sorts of situations. From serious trail running to serious hiking just as the everyday walking around. (Photographers walk a lot!)
My last big journey, from Beijing to Paris without money in two months. 16369km of generosity.
The craziest and most beautiful experience of my life by far! More about this here.
I was so proud that I only wore my sandals!
The feeling is what’s so special about them. It’s total freedom while keeping everything possible. On top of that you get a much nicer experience when you’re in nature.
I developed a passion for running on my first euro trip. I wanted to run simply to stay fit on the road. And I discovered how awesome it was to run always in new places. It turns into real exploration and I get lost most times which is a lot of fun.
Then it’s on my first long spontaneous journey that I wanted to replace my running shoes.
I was in couple, we arrived in Montreal and we ended up crossing all Canada, the west coast of USA, Mexico and Central America in 16 months only hitchhiking and Couchsurfing.
Life with a backpack, all you wish is to carry as little as possible.
I heard about the “minimalist” running movement, with the fivefinger shoes. Am then an article from expertvagabond, I saw those sandals, inspired by indigenous people of the mountains of Mexico, handmade in Portland by a crazy American running dude and his team.
Dead simple, super light and super rugged. All I needed.
A Vibram sole, a good grip and a high quality simple lacing system. No actual lacing needed.
I called them and had someone very nice on the phone. I was convinced.
(The fact that they are handmade not on the other side of the world, by people who work in decent conditions is a very important argument for me)
And so I received my first Monos. I was in Mexico and I was happy.
What are they like?
When you first receive them they are all flat.
It’s only after using them that they will take the shape of your foot, making them perfectly embrace your foot and become only yours.
Walking or running “barefoot” is totally different to what you are maybe used.
If you have been growing up in the same world as I did, it’s most likely that you have been used to wearing shoes, with a cushioned heel.
Which has got us used to walking/running, landing our foot more on the heel.
Each step, the shock is “little” absorbed in the cushioned heel, the rest goes in your articulations. First the ankle, the the knee and the hip.
Walking/running barefoot, you land your steps on the fore foot. Your articulations do their job and the shock is absorbed by your muscles.
Since your muscles may not be used to this, it is extremely important to start running very short distances. Otherwise you may seriously injure your calves.
So it can be frustrating when your used to running long distances. But after 2 or 3 months you will be good.
Then of course it’s important to run with the back straight and shoulders relaxed.
And instead of making long steps, like a machine robot that destroys everything on its path.
Make shorter but faster steps (around 180bpm, 3 steps per second)
This makes a much lighter and pleasant experience. It feels like you are flying over the ground. It’s also making you more stable, specially when running up or down steep hills.
You don’t need to buy minimalist sandals now to see if this walking/running is for you.
Just go actually barefoot on soft ground (forest, parc, beach…) and do around 5k.
That’s what I do anytime I get soft ground. My feet are even happier than with my sandals.
In terms of look, I like the fact that they make me look innocent. People don’t realize that I can do serious running and hiking with them.
Also, when I’m in situations of documentary, they make me look like a simple tourist who asks silly questions and takes pictures…
It’s also about rediscovering senses.
Our feet are very sensible and they don’t do anything inside shoes.
Our toes are meant to move around and feel.
I hope my path will allow me to continue adventuring in sandals. Only the cold and social pressure can stop me from wearing them.