My ‘barefoot’ shoes
I wrote a few days ago about deciding to buy some ‘barefoot’ shoes, specifically the Merrell Barefoot Pace Glove. After so much enjoying a couple of cautious runs sock-foot, I was really hoping that the barefoot shoes would feel that good. I loved the look of them straight out of the box. They are incredibly light, and I think much more stylish and less clunky-looking than most running shoes. Maybe I’m just vain, but I always feel vaguely frumpy doing errands in my tennis shoes, whereas I’d be delighted to be seen out and about in these shoes.
The standard advice regarding running shoes is to buy a half size larger than usual, so per that advice I’ve been buying an 8.5 in other running shoes. But I took a chance and bought these in an 8 and they fit perfectly. Plenty of room in the toe box, with good flexibility, and just enough ease in the elastic at the heel to feel comfortable and secure
As I first walked in the shoe, it felt like the sole under the front half of my foot was thicker than the heel, but I realized it felt that way simply because almost all my other shoes have a heel lift. After a few hours of wearing the shoes, I got used to the feeling.
My first run in the shoes felt good– not quite as free feeling as running in my socks, I admit. (I may still take an occasional short run sock-foot just for the fun of it.) But these new shoes are light-years more flexible and quick than large stiff ‘normal’ shoes. And I loved the sturdy protection of the Vibram soles. No worrying about puncture weed when running in these.
Since I got the shoes a couple weeks ago, I’ve mostly been limiting myself to runs of a mile or less. I’m concentrating on quick light small steps, upright posture, bent knees and quick foot-lifts. When I start to get tired, it gets harder to run with good form (my feet start wanting to slap the ground) so I’m just taking it slow. I have had only mild sore muscles in my calves and tops of feet with these new shoes, and my plantar fasciitis is improving week by week. Once it is gone all the way, I’ll see if I can gradually up my miles.
What’s most amazing to me is that I am markedly faster in these shoes. I can run a 10-minute mile pretty easily. And the other day I did 3 quarter-mile intervals (with walks in between) at around an 8:30 pace. A personal best. Running is just plain easier with less shoe. I’ll try to remember to update you in a month or so, but so far I am feeling very optimistic that these shoes are a move in the right direction for me.