The long and the short of it:
Going off life support did not kill the patient.
The transition to a minimal shoe from highly structured, impact-buffering footwear was a non-event, except for the sense of freedom I experienced. My kettlebell sessions, 3 per week, are all in Vibrams now, despite the vivid images going through my head of 16 kilo bells slipping from my fingers onto the unsuspecting toes below. I haven’t let go of a kettlebell yet, and I suspect it would be just as painful if I dropped one while wearing Nike running shoes.
Actually, I feel more in touch with the surface I am standing on, and more balanced on my feet. I am more agile, and here’s the best part:
The almost constant pain in my 1st metatarsals, has gone away altogether. The shoes I was wearing in order to give me support and keep me from forming bunions, were actually contributing to them! My knees and hips are looser, so their range of motion is greater. I feel I can do more, try more, and recovery from adding volume to my exercise load is much faster.
Now, please bear in mind, I went into this with an open mind. What that really means is that I could imagine several outcomes. In one scenario, I really wreck my knees and feet, retreating back to my old shoes in defeat and humiliation. My running days would end, maybe my riding days as well, and I would be confined to workouts usually reserved for nursing home residents. I would also have the added abasement of having to report it all to you, gentle readers. In another scenario, I become the poster midlifer for the Vibram company, breaking the strength and speed records of athletes half my age. The company offers me millions in sponsorships (which I accept) and wants prominently placed ads on all my blog posts (which I refuse, for ethical reasons).
Reality? So far, none of the above, but somewhere in between. The Vibrams, while providing a welcome avenue to foot freedom, are a bit of a pain (there goes the sponsorship). I still struggle with getting the right toes into the right “sleeves”. Also, I wish I could bend my toes. The sole, although very comfortable, is rigid by design, so the toe compartments do not bend. The net result is that I have shed my shoes altogether for most activities, and use the Vibram Smartwools for warmth in the gym and elsewhere.
Next: running at last!