almost barefoot running

A few weeks (months now?) I purchased a pair of Merrell Barefoot Pace Gloves on sale. I had been reading up on the barefoot running trend and since I needed a new pair of running shoes I figured I would give them a try. The whole process has not been without its share of uncertainties. First, there was the matter of trying on a pair before buying them. I was able to go to a local store that sold Merrell shoes, but not this specific style. I figured out that my foot felt best in a similar model in an 8.5 but many reviews online said go a 1/2 size up.

These fancy shoes:

So, without being able to try them on, I waited, debated and thought some more. Should I wear a “true” foot-sized shoe or go up a bit and be sure I had some leeway? These were my concerns. Also, there is the very matter that I still debate to this day: is this type of shoe appropriate for my go-to running surface (the pavement)? I continued to read up on this and I have yet to reach any solid conclusion. Plus, I am realizing more and more that every single runner is different.

We all come to the pastime of running with different abilities, goals, habits, and methods that will undoubtedly affect the way we run.

My first thoughts on trying them when I finally decided to buy the 8.5- “Ahhhhhh! Are these right? Are these wrong? Do I have room? Do I need room? Will it matter? Will these mess me up completely?” Possibly because of the curve of my spine my left toe seems to jut out just a bit more than my right toe. So my right foot felt great in the shoe, but my left toe seemed to almost push at the material trying to make trouble. Walking around in them felt weird as well. Was this a normal experience? Yet, I felt good in them, lighter, I noticed the smaller, slimmer look and feel right away and enjoyed it.

Here is a helpful video you can watch to familiarize yourself with the shoe: 

My first run in them was short, just to get a feel for them. I took my dog up to the next street and back. I noticed the change in the feel immediately. Basically, once I got into my running form and rhythm, my feet moved in the shoe “where they were supposed to be” is the only way I can describe it. It was not easier to run or harder necessarily, but it just felt different. Many people talk about ground feel when they describe barefoot running. I would say that being more connected to the terrain is definitely a new element of running thanks to these shoes. Of course, there are surfaces (i.e. unstable rock fields)that I would choose not to run over, but that would be true with any shoe.

Wearing these shoes more regularly (right now I’m still adjusting to them, so I wear my traditional New Balance shoes on and off) has made running a little more interesting for me. It has me seeking out different running routes: the beach, the dirt trails, the treadmill (that I normally would not use) as go-to routes. I am training for the 7-mile Bridge Run in April. After my 1/2 Marathon experience, I kind of lost momentum in training. I still enjoyed running here and there, but I did not get that bug, that need to keep seeking out new races. Now that a year has gone by, I have been motivated to more seriously train and I am enjoying it greatly. I never wanted to run to collect medals, or to beat other people, or to be famous. (Ha ha ha. That one is easy to avoid.)

But the thing that I have gained from running and that keeps me running is the discipline it has taught me, the health it has given me and the mental endurance it has made me realize I have (and need to continue to develop).

These are things I am always gaining and forgetting and re-learning but so far the journey has been great.

So to come back to my experiences in the Pace Gloves- they are a solid shoe that takes research to buy, to adjust to the way they feel and respond to your feet.  However, they can be worn in a variety of situations and on a multitude of terrains. This shoes allows me to experience running in a whole new way.

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