Would it be smarter/better/easier to train in my VFF's, but race in a shoe with a more rigid sole, like the New Balance Minimus or other minimalist shoes, that might allow the calves to do less work and save me energy?
While I don't run long distances, my understanding is that if you're running correctly in minimalist shoes THAT should save energy. I remember my first run in VFFs was exhilarating, and it made me realize that up until then I'd been fighting against my shoes. Maybe it's different if you can avoid heel striking in regular shoes, but I'm afraid to go back so I couldn't say. The one time I wore my old running shoes on a trail that I thought would be too rocky for VFFs (ha ha), I ended up seriously straining my Achilles tendon.
Thanks for sharing! I'll keep these in mind for next winter but can't bring myself to buy boots right after getting through a heat wave with temps in the 90s a couple of weeks ago. It just feels wrong, somehow.
What about Soft Stars? They come in wide widths, but the regular width actually fits my very wide feet pretty well. The leather uppers are really soft and stretch to conform to your feet after a few wears. Also, I've never tried the Altras so I can't compare the two, but I like Lems...well, actually I really like Stems, which were a little more flexible, but the newest version isn't too bad.
And just out of curiosity, what exactly are you referring to when you say toe balls? Do you mean the ball of the foot?
They look cute but I can tell already that they'd be too narrow for me. I'm thinking of trying a pair of these, though, to save on wear and tear on my relatively expensive Lunas. http://www.zappos.com/crocs-sexi-flip My only concern is the raised heel, but I'm being optimistic that it's not as pronounced as it looks in the photo.
No, VFF's are for covering ones bare feet up in a semi-socially acceptable manner. There are some of us that desire and enjoy the tactile feeling of different surfaces.
I'm actually surprised how many people here are squeamish about going barefoot. I'm guessing it's because of the "no shoes, no service" society that we've grown up. I work as a massage therapist and it's always so strange to me when people are ashamed or apologetic about their feet. And usually it isn't even an odor issue...rather, they're worried about callouses or that their feet are too ugly.
I definitely don't have to worry about moose poop here! And if I were in a city, I wouldn't be going barefoot either. I know people do it, but I agree that human waste is far more disgusting and scary than anything animals make (though I don't know if I could ever be that blase about stepping in dog poop, vffjeeper...maybe it's different if it's your own dog? ). At the moment I live in the country, so really the only threats are the aforementioned horse droppings and prickly things that have fallen from trees, which are easily avoided by staying mostly on roads.
I went for one of my usual runs tonight and decided to ditch the footwear altogether. It's mostly on roads but there's one section of trail that's frequented by horses. I avoided the fresh piles of poo, but the flattened, dried out bits that kind of look like hay just didn't bother me and were not at all unpleasant to run on. Especially after spending a lot of time around horses for the last few months, it just didn't seem like a big deal. However, I shared this with my husband when I got home and he thought it was absolutely disgusting (and yes, I hosed my feet off before going in the house!). This made me wonder, has anyone else become comfortable running through things, either barefoot or minimally shod, that would make most of us a little squeamish?
That being said, I'm not a big fan of running bare on the treadmill.
Personally, I would avoid treadmills regardless of what's on your feet. It alters your gait and you end up running in a really unnatural way, so even if it feels okay at first it's going to have a negative impact on your body in the long run.
I say go for the thinnest one (not sure what that is with all the new model names )! If they're going anywhere near water, though, I highly recommend the MGT footbed - the others become really slick and unpleasant to walk in once they're wet.
I briefly had a pair of Dash RunAmocs (the style didn't work out for me) when I was living in Seattle, and in my opinion they aren't the best option on a rainy NW day. The tops of my feet actually stayed relatively dry, but water started to seep in around the edges to the point where the foot bed got soaked, which in turn soaked the bottoms and sides of my foot - especially unpleasant when wearing socks! I regularly applied a lot of the Bee Natural, to no avail. I've since then bought some of this - http://www.amazon.com/Obenaufs-LP-Boot-Preservative-Preserves/dp/B0002X520S - which I like so much more than the Bee Natural...so who's to say, maybe this would be more effective.
Do you want socks for warmth, appearance, or other reasons? Personally I really like the feel of the leather and would go sockless, but if you need to wear socks I recommend Darn Tough. Their lifestyle line is quite thin and last a lot longer than Smartwool socks.