Yes, I have tried barefoot running and will try it again soon, but I'm not about to tell you that your shoes are the devil. There are plenty of barefoot acolytes out there already doing that. My caveat for running is do what what works for me.
As I have said before, I started to run because I thought it was the cheapest option for a fitness lifestyle change I made in February 2006. My goals then, as now, were better health and fiscal responsibility. Despite some lapses into expensive technical clothing, I have tried to stay true to my financial motivations behind running.
I search for the lowest prices and I shun those who say I need to spend a fortune on a pair of shorts. I lost a lot of respect for Runner's World when its editors had such a hard time finding a running outfit for less than $100.
Sure, I buy light-weight, moisture wicking apparel, but I buy most of my gear from either Target or Joe's New Balance Outlet, where I can find almost anything for less than $20. I still wear cotton socks (if I wear socks at all), which cost less than $10 ... for six pairs. And they don't chafe because of the super high-tech design: they're seamless.
I made myself sick this summer buying an $18 Nike visor from Dick's Sporting Goods. I balked at the purchase a couple times and left the store empty handed, but after a few visits I finally decided to splurge.
I rail against Garmin not because I think such devices provide superfluous data, but because I think I can collect that data in a much cheaper way. I'm not willing to pay hundreds of dollars for something that tells me where, how far and how fast I ran.
I have used the same $25 Timex for three years. I map my routes with free online mapping programs like MapMyRun.com or trust in sometimes mismarked mile posts. Despite my frugal ways, I bet I'm every bit of a numbers geek as any overly gear-clad runner.
Shoes are the most expensive items I buy, but I try to limit my spending. I have bought only two pairs of running shoes at full price. I have sought discount prices ever since I got properly fitted for my last pair of full-price shoes.
For a while I admit I went a little shoe crazy. I acquired four pairs of shoes from August 2007 to September 2008. Two pairs were purchased and two were free as giveaways from running the Akron Marathon. But this year, I decided enough was enough.
I can't justify spending anywhere from $40 to $100 every 500 miles, as the experts and shoe companies suggest. I need to get more out of my shoes -- especially if I want to continue racing (another $20 to $90, depending on the venue and distance).
First, I ignored the mileage on my shoes. I am currently running on three pairs of shoes that collectively have 1,529 miles and counting between them, and that's after retiring one pair that started to wear through the bottom after 630 miles. With Bill Rodgers as my witness, I like that broken-in feel. These shoes got me through my strongest, fastest and most injury-free marathon training cycle. I no longer believe the hype.
Aside from those well-worn shoes, I now have two fresh pairs of soles I'm now running in. My new Brooks T6 Racers (10 miles), which were on sale at the Akron Marathon expo, and my bare feet (two miles), which were included with my birthday suit.
The minimalist trend in running shoes is something I can support because so far it has worked for me and if it continues to do so, it means I am staying true to my goals of a fit and fiscally healthy lifestyle.
I won't tell you to try barefoot running. But I will say, if you decide to try something new with your running, whatever it is, ease into it and progress with caution. Listen to your body and do what works for you.
Sip the Kool-Aid, but if it tastes funny spit it out.