Part IV: The Choice
So for a (very) long time, I ran in a pair of canvas martial arts shoes called Feiuye. They are flexible enough to roll into a ball, so I still feel everything under my feet, but they are protected from sharp objects. They have a couple pluses: 1.They're cheap, so they are an easy way to try out barefoot running without a huge investment, 2.They have no support whatsoever, so it's a true barefoot style experience, 3.They are easily available.
In fact, I am still running in them today while I wait for my new shoes to arrive. But they also have some drawbacks: 1.They don't conform very well to my feet, so I slide around in them a lot. 2.They get soaking wet in the rain. 3.I must wear socks.
Finally, after a year and a half and while training for my first full marathon, I am ready to make the investment into a proper pair of shoes. Now, just because I run barefoot style doesn't mean I don't use fancy shoes. The new ones I got were fairly costly. But the difference is in the style. No padding and cushions around the heal, plenty of room for my toes to spread out. Think glove for the foot.
After a lot of research, I have chosen the Merrell Pace Glove. I tried on a pair, and I can hardly wait for mine to arrive. I think it will do nothing but improve my runs. Time will tell...
UPDATE DECEMBER 2011: I ran my first marathon in the Merrell Pace Glove, and they were everything I hoped and more. I cannot be happier with them, and will never go back to traditional shoes.