EDIT....Sorry in advance: I don't know why the formatting is all jacked-up here.
I thought I'd start a new thread on this so as to not clutter the KSO review.
I did a 9 mile trail run this afternoon in my VFF Sprints and it all felt pretty good. So I can't totally rule them out so far. But over the course of this run I'm thinking about my feet, some of the topics of the last thread on this, and have a few new thoughts and questions to throw out there.
Long winded, I know; continue at your own risk. (That what happens when I run alone. I have also, on occasion, been known to solve all of the problems of the world during a single run.)
Overall, they felt good on this run, but certainly slowed me down a bit in rocky sections...as is reasonable and to be expected; they're faster than barefoot, but slower than shoes with a rock plate (protection). I know there are plenty of people out there that could dust me in them, but I can only speak from my perspective; they make me slower, which is OK for certain runs.
One additional gripe I've got about the Sprints is their uncanny ability to fill with dirt and pebbles, which is pretty annoying. I took a picture of them post run:
As you can see, I'm flexing my feet in this image...opening a half-inch gap on each instep that likes to gobble up dirt and rocks. No good. I'm sure the other models with a fabric top don't have this issue.
But the run today led me to a few other thoughts/questions, namely: What, exactly, am I looking for in a minimal shoe?
In the other thread, Javan mentions toe splay and sensitivity as benefits of VFFs/something he seeks in minimal footwear. I've heard Piper mention zero drop and wide footboxes. It occurs to me I have very different reasons. Based on what I hear, these are the main things that people are seeking in minimal shoes (not in any order of importance):
1. Zero (or close to zero) heel-toe drop. This is popular.
2. Feel. A shoe that gives good sensitivity, control, balance, etc.
3. Light weight/breathable/fast drying.
4. Anatomical fit.
5. Room for the toes to spread. Another one that is popular.
If I break down my preferences, I realize I'm really only looking for two/three of these in my footwear.
1. Zero drop: Allowing a fore/mid footstrike, low center of gravity (stability). This works better for me.
3. Light weight, breathable, and fast drying.
4. Anatomical fit: I hate socks so it should conform to the foot well enough to not slide around, rub, etc.
I seem to part ways with a lot of other minimal advocates on the issue of feel and toe spread.
I love the feel of dirt under my feet. That's the primary reason I run barefoot. But barefoot runs, to me, are an entirely separate category. Yes, I believe they toughen, strengthen and tone, helping with mechanics and a host of other issues. I run barefoot for the fun of it, but also as a component of general training. So i think I can say I love feel...but only to an extent. Feel is great when climbing the rigging of a sailboat...but not running scree and talus. Nor is feel a good thing for me when on a 20+ mile trail run on very mixed terrain. Unexpectedly landing on a sharp golfball-sized rock while running barefoot or in shoes with really good "feel" is not good. And maintaining the mental energy to watch out for them over the course of 20+ miles isn't a good option for me either. That's why my barefoot runs rarely exceed 6 or 7 miles. That's also why I think rock plates and toe protection are a really good thing for distance running on trails...I find the MT101s rock plate to be perfect. But I think the drop could be lower and the upper could be more flexible.
I had a few of those moments in my VFFs on today's run. Feel is generally great...until you land on something big and sharp. When I run barefoot, it's typically at slow pace for shorter distances (7 or under) and maintaining the energy to watch every footstrike isn't too bad. But how long can a person keep it up? For walking, I can handle it. For running for long periods of time? Personally, no thanks.
One toe spread:
Not an issue to me. I love freeing my toes, but at the same time, don't have any issues with a typical footbox. So I don't care about footbox size much...as long as it's within the realm of typical shoes I'm good.
I has become very apparent to me that while many are into minimal footwear, we have very different reasons/needs. Yet many manufacturers are trying to make shoes that fit all 5 points I listed above; when all five in a single shoes might/might not be a good thing.
I don't ask this in a judgmental or elitist way, please don't take me wrong...but how many people with VFFs or very minimal shoes on this site are running big miles in them? On trail? I'm not doubting anyone; personally, I just think it's pretty derned hard (unless you have the devotion to barefoot training of BF Ted or the likes). I'm curious on your take in this regard. Walking/backpacking, I think they're potentially quite comfortable in the right weather/terrain. But running is very different.
Which leads to another thought/question...I came into minimal shoes by way of running, so I see everything in that regard. But many others have different reasons; which entirely alters the review process and criteria.
What do you do in your minimal shoes?
What are you looking for and why?