First there were the blisters. And then the sore calves. And then a week or two of my feet just plain hurting. But now, now I love running my Vivobarefoot Ultra Running Shoe. I don't bother using the 'sock' or 'tongue' that comes with the shoes. So yeah, effectively I'm running in Crocks. Doesn't matter, they are lightweight, comfortable and generally fun to run in.
So, should you go out and buy a pair? Almost certainly not.
Here's the thing, the Vivobarefoot's truly give you the sensation of running without shoes. It turns out, however, that most of the time shoes really are handy. Specifically, when the terrain is anything other than smooth pavement. Seriously, I feel every single stone and rock when I run with these guys. On my last run, I came across this section of stones:
In nearly any pair of shoes, this section would be no big deal. But in the Vivobarefoot's, traversing those stones are like walking through a mine field. And scenarios like the above one are actually easier to navigate in some respects than a random rock on the sidewalk. On a number of occasions I've neglected to notice said rock, and I've nearly done serious damage to my feet. That little chunk of rock you casually walk over with your Nikes is like a knife blade when wearing these shoes.
Another catch with these shoes: they do terribly as "water shoes." It's true, you can step in a stream or on the beach without worrying that your feet will get waterlogged. However, when the water does drain , all that's left are rocks, sand and mud. All that grit makes for the perfect environment for blisters.
I don't think I've ever been this conflicted about a pair of shoe. On one hand, they really are comfortable and make for a unique running experience. On the other, they don't provide the most basic protection against the elements, which is pretty much the first thing a shoe should be doing. So while I'm not ready to part with them, do yourself and favor and don't purchase them. You don't want to fall in love with them, and then have your heart (or feet?) broken when you use them in any sort of real world conditions.
By the way: if your goal is to attract attention, then by all means, pick up a pair of these guys. I've never had some many questions about my footwear in my life. People love these guys.
Perhaps some True Barefoot Running Guru can chime in and tell me what I'm doing wrong. Maybe it's just wimpy, tender-feet that are to blame here.