Good for you! I know what you mean, it's been 2 years and I still have that feeling when running in my Bikilas, I feel like I am bouncing around like a gazelle! . I was unable to run anymore before as well.
During an eye exam yesterday, while wearing my Stormy Sea Classics, the optometrist said: "Is there really space for each individual toe in your shoes?" and then the unavoidable "Are they comfortable?", which always makes me want to reply: "No these are instruments of torture"
I wonder if the issue would not go away with time and wear. ALL my shoes give me blisters the first few times I wear them, even the VFF's, until they are broken in. In the meantime I just wear a bandaid, as paulr pointed out. Not only does the shoe break-in but the skin in the offending area toughens. Just my 2 cents.
I would go barefoot on a forest trail without worrying about it much, but I can't walk in old or new droppings, or city muck. I have too many cute Classics not to use them anyway. And I take them off as soon as I walk in the door, barefootin
It depends on the discomfort. The first year I started running in VFF's I had disconforts of one kind or an other at every run: a ligament here, a muscle there. But I knew they were temporary, all JUST discomforts, not PAIN and I can always trust my judgement as to whether or not I can still run. You are the only one who really knows the answer. In some cases running through a disconfort was the only way for it to go away. The warming up in those cases becomes vital: a stiff structure often becomes a damaged structure if you use it while cold. The stretching after also makes all the difference.
If the discomfort stops when your muscles are warm, then just warm them up before running (the little walk is not quite enough).
Just stand up and lift (so you are on your toes) and lower your heels repetitively for a few minutes quite fast, some lifts straight up, others with some rotation to warm up the ankle and feet muscles as well as the calf. The calf should start burning by the time you are warm enough. And when it does burn, take a small break and do it again a little longer. If I didn't do this, something would hurt somewhere in my lower leg each time I go running. In your case it's the heel, so make sure that when it has to work it does not do so while cold and stiff, it will only add to the small injury it already sustained and that created the disconfort. I hope it makes sense.
In regards to the toes touching the ends of the pockets, that is only crucial on the big toe or your longest toe if you happen to have Morton's toe. My big toe gently kisses the end of the toe pocket on almost all of my VFF and my other toes are not even close.
In your case Mr Leigh, from the picture on your sizing thread, you have tiny toes, I'm surprised they touch any pocket at all . And I can't help you with the KSO's or Komodos, ScottishBFR, since I don't own them. Bad enough the Bikila ended up being the wrong size anyway... I am not worried about your big toe in the 38.
No, unfortunately they look big, most of the toes should touch the end of the pocket, and there should not be room behind your heel. So now you know that for VFF's your base size will be 38, it's hard to be sure until you really try them on.
24.5 inches, Morton's, neither wide nor narrow. 39 or 40 in Classics, 39 in Sprints, 39 in Treksports and Bikilas, 40 in Bikilas LS, 40 in Flows (39 is good in length but toes are squeezed), 39 in VB Boxing Boot and Lucy Lites, 40 in Off Road Hi and Evo II, 39 in Stem (now Lems).
My experience with calf pain is one of 2 things: too much too soon, or wrong form. By wrong form I mean specifically either leaning forward when running or landing too much on the forefoot (i.e. not using letting the heel touch down enough), therefore making the calf work too hard. I would be extremely surprised if "lack" of cushioning had anything to do with it.