My personal barefoot revolution is over.
Since my comeback from my ankle sprain, I had done a lot of research, read some books and magazines, and a ton of online articles. I started getting blisters and assumed it was because my size 10 Inov-8 Terroc 330s were too small and/or too old. I got some Merrell Barefoot Trail Gloves (after a lot of research), and bought my wife a pair of the womens’ Pace Gloves. Three months into my training, the blood blisters and purple toenails kept coming on my long runs. My physical therapist looked me over and decided I needed some inserts, and recommend the ones they sell at Fleet Feet in Chico. (My wife also ended up with Achilles tendinitis after her first run in her new shoes; the physical therapist told her to get orthotics as well, and I assumed he meant the expensive kind and freaked out a little bit, but these ones are only $22. I’m going to try to get her into the store soon.)
You can’t wear inserts in the trail gloves, as they’re designed to wrap your feet (like a glove) and aren’t even meant to be worn with socks. Also, while I was in the store, they sized me up and it turns out because if my arch length, I need to wear a whole size larger than the 10.5 my feet measure at. So putting the insoles in my old, too-small Inov-8s wasn’t going to work either, especially since I’m going to start doing some serious distance training here really soon, and after 5 miles my feet seem to suddenly grow. So I had to find some new shoes.
The sales staff are very knowledgeable, and were able to observe exactly what was going on with my bad foot while walking across the store in my bare feet. They even used a skeletal model foot to demonstrate just how my arch was collapsing as I walked, and how that’s the reason my toes were ending up crammed into the edge of my other shoes even though they were technically the right size.
After trying on several pairs of trail shoes, it became apparent my feet were just made for Sauconys. Then we decided to go with the Saucony Kinvara 2 running shoes (in size 11.5), instead of the trail shoes, since my feet have become accustomed to the more minimalist, lightweight approach. I really like the width of the sides of the forefoot. In some other shoes, I feel like my feet are falling off the edge, and in these the outsoles go out at a slight angle, to provide a stable base. I also got some Spenco Walker/Runner insoles, since the hard plastic edge of the Superfeet insoles dug into my foot too much.
So I’m going from a zero-drop to 4mm, which is still a remarkably neutral design (and even better than the 9mm drop in my old Inov-8s). I’ll probably probably alternate (I hear that’s a good idea), and I’ll wearing the trail gloves in my 5K races and in shorter training sessions, and the Kinvara 2 on long runs. (I’ll need a few days to break these babies in, so I won’t be running in them until next week. My first 5K race is on Monday!)