I've only been running for a couple of years but have really started to enjoy it and am looking forward to some fun races, posting about them here with pictures and videos.
I wrote in my bio that I've been running barefoot or minimalist for about a year now. I started out July 2010 in Vibrams with short 1-3 mile runs but was able to increase my mileage quickly. Previous to that my longest runs were in the neighborhood of 5-6 miles and they were pretty miserable. I was one of those people who is trying to decide whether to stop with every step. When I say that I want you to understand that even as a personal trainer for 6 years I rarely ran and when I did it was with the same feeling you have when you wash the fish tank...ok if I have to.
By Sept last year I was logging 70+ miles a month and my standard get out and go was about 5.5 miles. I slacked off in Winter as will happen, but picked right back up in March. As of this moment my weekend long runs are anywhere from 10-14 miles and my 2-3 weeklies are between 4-6. The thing is, none of these runs suck! That seems like something I wouldn't need to say but I'll say it again, 14 mile runs don't suck. They are super fun, especially when I have the sand to do the whole thing barefoot. Yes, you do have to look at the ground to check for rocks, and yes you do bruise your feet up from time to time, but by and large being barefoot just feels like ridding myself of something I didn't need. Minimalist shoes like VFFs, Merrill trail gloves, and New Balance Minimus all try to give as little support as possible and allow your foot to behave as though it were bare, while protecting your feet from rocks, etc. I run in them quite a bit, especially on trails as I often get cold feet (heh) about barefooting those, but I've never really had a problem that made me regret barefooting a run.
I don't think that everyone should throw their shoes out and go off to the lumber mill to work, or immediately swear off of shoes for every type of exercise. I do think that many more people could spend much more time without shoes. If you do this your feet get stronger, and they get better at being out of their shoes. I also think that many people who dread running will find that it can help your form and that many will really enjoy it. At least it might distract you from not liking it, and maybe like me all of a sudden you'll realize that what you are doing is fun.
My plan is to run the Chicago marathon in October and at least start out barefoot. I want to say I'll run the whole thing that way but I haven't run a full 26 miles without shoes yet, so I'll refrain from making any promises. I'll write at some point about running form and what happens to your gait when you take the shoes off, it really is quite remarkable, but in this post I just wanted to talk about the experience of trying it out.