Hey all, longtime lurker but this is the first time I thought I had something worth posting.
I started out in high school as a cross country runner using normal squishy shoes such as Nike Pegasus or Asics 2150, 2160, etc. and used those types of shoes for a long time. After I discovered crossfit a few years ago I started getting into the minimalist shoes and picked up some Onitsuka Tigers as my workout and running shoe (Do-wins for lifting days). The tigers were ok for running but it took a lot of getting used to the lack of padding so my gait had to change. As a side note I haven’t really done crossfit Per Se in a while. My training goes through cycles of Oly focus, running focus, rock climbing focus, and Mountain Bike focus...sometimes concurrently.
Then I read “Born to Run” and got psyched about barefoot running and went and picked up some VFF Sprints. For running only; didn’t really feel like they were suitable for anything else really. I built up some mileage in them then I started running in them all the time only on trails. Not really taking them on the road very often only one or two road races in the VFF. I really enjoyed how the VFF changed my gait but yeah I agree with a lot of people that they look kind of weird so I didn’t really wear them in public often, just trail running. The places I ran there were usually rock shards, short stubby roots, and other things that would really suck to run on while being barefoot for real. The VFF Sprints were really good at providing that “barefoot” feel while adding a layer of protection although there obviously wasn’t much tread so they were a little slippery turning corners on leaf cover trails. As a side note a friend let me try on his VFF Trek Sport and its sole was a lot thicker/stiffer and I didn’t like it as much. Anyway…I ended up “stubbing” my pinky toe while running in the VFF and it turned out to be a broken toe which took me out of lifting and running for a while.
After that incident healed I quit running in the VFF irrationally thinking I’d break another toe which would keep me away from the barbell again…however I really did like the way minimalist shoes felt for me. I also didn’t really like the way I had to run “carefully” in the VFF. “Real” shoes just let you run much more confidently in uneven twisty terrain. Now I run in New Balance Minimus trail shoes and they feel like wearing really hefty socks with awesome traction and a very flexible sole. It isn’t a “barefoot” feel but it is the next closest thing that I’ve ever felt after a VFF, but for a minimalist shoe it is better than any VFF or Tiger. Although the Minimus is expensive too I think it was worth it for _me_ for the conditions and they way that I run.
I may have gotten off track a little, but to directly address the topic I think that real barefoot running on grass like a golf course or soccer field is probably best. And if you build up your calluses then running on smooth asphalt is actually decent too because there usually aren’t random rocks or roots on a nice smooth road. Vibrams are good if you want to run _as if you’re barefoot_ but the conditions are poor i.e. many small rocks, hidden roots, stumps, etc. Good minimalist shoes are, IMO, the bees knees because you get good foot protection and they still let you run sort of like you’re barefoot. The extra $ for the protection provided by Vibrams or Minimalist shoes is worth it to me, even if overpriced, for my trail conditions. If you have optimal running conditions then go for barefoot, just ease into it if your feet aren’t used to it.
Last edited by Joshua Williams; 04-07-2011 at 08:19 AM.
Reason: finished a sentence