2010 was my first year competing in the exciting sport of triathlons. I’m not an Ironman or really care to be. So far I’ve competed in two triathlons, both short courses. Short courses are generally (at least in my short experience) around 500-700 meter swim, 10-15 mile bike, and the run can be anywhere from 2.5 miles to over a 3K. Being a triathlon equipment geek, I went in search of some good sockless triathlon running shoes. Of course my research started online.
I also started reviewing a lot of photos from local triathlons to see what shoes triathletes were wearing. I found that many just use regular running shoes but get some elastic shoe strings so they can slip the shoes on without tying them. But then came the question of sock or no sock? Even though I hadn’t been a triathlon before, I knew from experience that trying to put on socks over wet feet can be frustrating, not to mention time consuming. However, I’ve gotten a ton of blisters in the past, even with expensive running shoes, and wasn’t sure I was cut out to run sockless. But then in my research I discovered something interesting which made sense.
Blisters are caused by friction, and the more layers of things you have the more chances there are for friction to occur. Like between your sock and your shoe. Think about it, socks basically keep your skin off of a surface, the inside of your shoe, and it’s just another layer causing movement and friction or rubbing. So logically you have two choices, reduce friction almost completely or use a lubricate to allow the friction and reduce the heat caused and thus blisters.
OK, this may all be completely wrong and not scientifically accurate, but that’s how it made sense to me. So trying to find a good shoe that fit well and allowed me to go sockless seemed to be the best option. Plus, I wanted one that I could slip on without lacing and felt good. All perfect ingredients for a good triathlon shoe; no socks and quick to put on.
I looked at a few different types of shoes and mainly just triathlon shoes or ones that many triathletes said they used. But the main ones were the Zoot Ultra TT, Asics Gel-Noosa, and Perl Izumi (isos, which now the closest ones are N2). I ended up getting the Perl Izumi Iso Transitions and am really glad I did. They’re honestly the most comfortable shoe I own. I looked really hard at the Zoot but there was a common complaint of the back tongue loop (that also helps make it easy to slip on quickly) rubbing on the achilles part of the heal and blistering.
Actually I probably would have purchased the Asics Gel-Noosa because when it comes to shoes I always prefer to try them on first and those were the only ones that I found locally. But in the end, the one local store that said they had them didn’t have them in size. I have small feet, (7.5 mens) and so it’s hard sometimes finding shoes.
So, it was back online for my search. If you’ve never purchased shoes online, or prefer to try them on before you buy, don’t fret!!! Amazon is amazing with their return policy. All I did was use their sizing chart listed with most shoe listings and really made sure I measured correctly. I even took my socks off and measure exactly the way they suggest and the shoes were spot on. Best fit I’ve ever had. And this was also a little different as the shoes don’t require socks so I was double nervous about them fitting properly. But the best thing about Amazon is, it’s free return shipping and they make the entire process hassle free if you have to return them for a different size. In the end I’m so freaking glad I got these shoes as they’re awesome.
I didn’t have any blistering at all with them and it’s really like running in soft slippers. I did make sure to get them several weeks before my first triathlon and practice transitions with them. But the transition practice really isn’t a big deal with these because you just slip them on, easy peasy. Regardless of if you plan on doing any triathlons or not, any of these shoes should be great for sockless running. Although I didn’t try them all, I can definitely vouch for the Pearl Izumi. And I can also state that it’s really nice to not have to worry about wearing socks. I know what you’re thinking… what about the stinky sneaker issue. Yes, I have that too and not wearing socks for some makes it worse. For me, it’s not too bad, I just keep a can of Odor-Eaters Sneaker Spray powder and spray it into my shoes each night when I get home (I take them in my gym bag to work for workouts over lunch). And that seems to keep them pretty tame. No worries! One reason why I might not have got blisters also is I eased into running with these. The first few times I took them out was only for a couple miles at the most. But since, I’ve ran over 7 miles with them and they feel just as great regardless of the distance. I’m pretty sure this pair will last me through one more triathlon season probably but by mid next summer or fall I’ll probably be due for another pair.
I also just recently purchased a pair of New Balance MT20 trail running shoes. We go on vacation about every 6 months and it’s always near or on a beach so I wanted something light, minimalist, and good for running on the beach besides just barefoot. I’m not a huge New Balance fan but these are awesome and exactly what I was looking for. Watch for a review on them coming up.
Sockless Running Shoes
Update Spring 2017: So it’s been a while since I revisited this topic and article. But since writing this, I’ve found another pair of running shoes that I’ve been wearing (mostly) sockless. My most recent pair are the On Clouds. Again as discussed above, I was unable to actually try them on before purchasing online, but they fit perfect.
This shoes are amazingly light. “On” is a fairly new (at least to me) entry into the running shoe market. But I’d read some good reviews of the shoe and decided to try them out.
One of the selling features for me of the “On” cloud shoe, was the elastic ties that come with them; they also come with standard shoe strings. But since I like to be able to quickly slip on my running shoes, the elastic shoe strings are nice.
On my first run with these shoes, I had to stop a couple times and get the tension just right with the elastic strings, but soon I was flying. And since these shoes are so light, I actually didn’t even think about them after the first couple miles. My first run in them as just over 3 miles and no blisters.
Look for a more in-depth review of this shoe in the future, after I’ve put a few hundred miles on them.