Wednesday, March 20, 2013

UPDATE on MONO Buckle Issue...


As you may recall from my last post, I was having trouble with the buckle (primarily on my right sandal) keeping tensioned and tight during my runs.  This is of course a pain during training runs and could be very problematic during races.


After several emails back and forth with one particular Monkey (thanks Dylan!) at Luna Sandals and some experimentation, I finally realized that I had the STRAP that traverses my metatarsal plate TOO FAR FORWARD - shoot!

Below is the INCORRECT placement of the buckle for my foot:

So, duh, I moved the buckle back about an inch and now the buckle stays firm and snug.  I ran a quick 8k last night and had no issues.

Below is the CORRECT placement for my foot:

I am extremely confident that this buckle slippage issue is now solved...

Thank you Dylan @ +Luna Sandals.

I know you're probably thinking, "What's with this guy?  He's been wearing LUNAs for four years, he can't get the buckle situated correctly?"  Here's the thing - when your foot becomes accustomed to feeling the buckle positioned a certain way, you are reluctant to change it for fear of an improper fit leading to these sorts of issues on a run.  The MONO felt fine and normal on my foot out of the box and I didn't want to fuss with buckle placement.  I guess I just needed Dylan to be like, "Dude, move the buckle back a bit!"  This is the thrill of being a LUNA Product Tester - trial and error, tweak and re-tweak.  Report findings.  Excelsior!

I will be going out for a long run today to confirm...

Stay tuned.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Luna Sandals - MONO - Out for one month trial...

Out for one month trial... 

So, I've used the MONOs in training for Boston exclusively for the past month.  I was reluctant to try the MGT footbed since I thought that having grippy rubber underfoot in immediate contact with my skin was going to precipitate hot-spots and set me back training wise...thankfully none rubbed out since I have some pretty Calloused Soles!  That said, I do miss the silky smooth feel that the Shell Cordovan Horse butt leather offers...There is nothing quite like quality leather on human skin either in boot or sandal form.  I have a few pairs of quality European Alpine hiking boots and some American made logger boots that are leather lined.  I wonder what the Pittards High Performance Leather footbed feels like and grips like in comparison to MGT.  

After a few weeks of using my MONOs, I was having some issues with the excess strap material at the end of the buckle loosening and going back through the buckle instead of tensioning on every stride.  This caused my sandal to loosen mid run which necessitated pulling over and snugging up the sandal.  I spoke with the monkeys at Luna and they suggested a few things:

1) Try and shift where the buckle sits on your foot so that it is as flat as possible and does not sit lopsided on a bone or tendon.
2) Try securing the excess strap material in the lace holder better.

Since Luna Sandals stands behind their products, I was told that I could send the sandals back in and they would take a look at them.  It could just be a faulty buckle.  I was told that I am the first to be having this issue.  I said I would like to try and experiment with them for a bit longer and then if need be, send them back in or inspection.  My feet could be those one in a million pair that just wont work for these sandals.  My wife has told me that I have ugly feet, but come on, I just want to run in my MONOs without a care in the world.

I don't think I ever once fussed with the elasticized leather straps on my Catamounts.  I was washing the MONOs after each run since the salt and sand from these New England winters can weather and do a number on Nylon - especially the sand dust, it gets in between the fibers of the Nylon and starts abrasively tearing them down.  Perhaps I was washing away salty grime and dead skin build up - yum - that would otherwise allow the polypropylene straps to have some friction and stay put at the buckle.  

Aside from that, these appear to be very competent contenders particularly for long distance road or trail runners and hikers.  I look forward to smattering them with thousands more miles.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Luna Sandals - MONO - Out on first long run...

Out on first long run...

I went out for a 13miler last week and ran a PR in my MONOs.  At this point with ~100mi on them, the Vibram neoprene or whatever polymer Vibram chose to use for this sole (Ted do you know?) have begun to mold to my feet and are starting to fit more slipper-like, like my Cats.  These sandals give the runner confidence at any speed, any terrain, and so far any distance.  They are anchored to you by a 3-point harnessing system with a quick release buckle and stretchy elasticized leather heel.  Running through the occasional puddle and snow patch, I got some water on the tops of my sandals.  The MGT footbed became even more grippy and yet my feet dried off in about a quarter mile.  At the end of the run, my feet felt fresh as they always do - no complaints.

As a side note, I am running the Boston Marathon again this year for Team TAN.  You can support my running efforts by clicking here: 
Eli Chernin's Donations Page I intend on running Boston in my MONOs.  

Luna Sandals - MONO - Out on the first run...

Out on the first run...

I need to be up front with you.  I've labored thousands of miles in Luna Sandals (Originals, Equus, Catamounts, DIY Kits, MONOs) and I am extremely partial to my pair of Catamounts (DISCONTINUED - boo!) with a Shell Cordovan leather footbed and elasticized leather laces.  Back to the MONOs.  That said, the simple feel of the MONOs is reminiscent of the Catamounts in that regard.  They are also easy to slip on and off like the Cats.  About 5seconds per foot.  I felt myself getting shin splints in my right leg on the first run...whether this was due to low mileage the week prior or the fact that the MONOs sit 12mm off the ground, 4mm more than what I was used to in the Cats, I don't know if I was subconsciously picking up my foot a little extra so that I wouldn't drag and scrape it on the concrete or if in fact I did have to lift it higher than what my muscles had memorized when wearing the Cats for 1,500miles.  The shin splints went away completely by my third run and its been about a month or so of running in the MONOs, so I think I'm in the clear on that front.  The ground feel on the roads is very supple as is on the trail.  I have a hunch that on the longer training runs the extra 4mm of Vibram neoprene will be a welcome addition.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


For the past four years I have had the privilege of product testing some of the upcoming running sandals from the Luna Sandals company in Seattle, WA.  The Monkeys at Luna are seemingly well fed as they are exceedingly polite and helpful in responding to my requests, comments, and concerns.

I was sent the NEW (released to the public today!) MONOs which are rumored to be the ULTIMATE do-everything minimalist sandals; great for hiking, running, hanging out, strolling around, around the house, etc.

Here are my ramblings...

Out of the box...

The MONOs have a handmade in the good 'ol USA look, feel, smell and taste - yes, I bit them.  They are slightly reminiscent of Chacos and of SOURCE sandals - that is a huge compliment.  There is conscious branding by Luna with a sewn in Luna tag and malleted Luna stamp. The seemingly painstaking process of hand-sewing/handcrafting each pair of Lunas by the Monkey manufacturing team in Seattle is astounding.  I mean, there is a piece of MGT (Monkey Grip Technology) rubber sewn onto the bottom side of the lateral strap-  its purpose, just like its big brother footbed - to reduce slippage in wet/muddy conditions.  Luna has also reinvented the wheel with their new lacing system with the introduction of a "backpack buckle" type closure called ATS (All Terrain Strapping) laces so that you can shift, adjust, tighten and loosen on-the-fly.  Only like-minded runners who are conscious of every detail would or could care about this sort of minutiae and be able to take 3,500 year old sandal technology concepts, keep them true to their roots and upgrade them to today's standards.  Again, combating slippage under wet conditions, an issue I had with the Original Lunas and others with Shell Cordovan leather footbeds, Luna has started using MGT to keep proprioception real and your feet on course.

[As a side note, on my other Luna sandals with leather footbeds, I treat them every few months with a generous coating of Obenauf's Heavy Duty LP - an all vegetable and honey bee propolis waterproofing product made by a wild-land firefighter for use on leather smoke-jumper boots, saddles, and to revive and rejuvenate leather products.  This has allowed me to have pretty minimal slippage during rain and snow up to about 16mi at which point the leather does take on water and becomes slick.  Perhaps if I treated them with Obenauf's immediately before running during inclimate weather there would have been no issue - have you noticed yet that I have a thing for boots and sandals!]

Listen up...The guys and gals at Luna Sandals have done it again in this minimal market which isn't so minimal a market anymore!