A very important part of running for those of us who run in shoes is getting new ones. We are either fascinated by all the cool supportive and stability-related technologies that go into the high-end running shoes you have to drop a bill for (or more), or we seek out the least substantial shoe we can find if we think of ourselves as "minimalists."
As all feet are not created equal, minimalist running shoes may not suit everyone. I'm fortunate enough to have pretty neutral feet, however, so I've been able to get away with being a 'moderately' minimalist with regard to footwear. What I mean by that is that I like a light weight neutral shoe with minimal heal-toe drop. All of the little foot problems I had when I followed the running store recommendations to get a shoe with light stability features went away when I tried my first pair of neutral shoes. Best yet, the cost of my shoes went down!
I've been running comfortably in neutral shoes for awhile now, but I've had this feeling that I could go even lighter if I really wanted, at least for speed work, so I started toying around with the idea of racing flats awhile back. After looking around a bit, it seemed to me that about the lightest option was a cross country flat, and luckily, those about the least expensive flats out there. So, I recently used a nice discount coupon to get a pair of Saucony Kilkenny XC3 flats, a tasty and bad-ass looking pair of black shoes with some hi-vis highlights.
Because I'm still not certain about whether I will have any problems going with a 'less shoe' shoe, my initial intent is to use these for some speed work and maybe tempo runs at the track, where the rubber surface is pretty forgiving. So far, running around the hard in these, I can sense that the lug pattern on the outsole provides some cushioning in the forefoot that I wasn't expecting though, so I'm hoping my feet will be happy on the track, and I can justify using them in my next 5K race, where I think a lighter shoe might help shave a couple seconds off my time (who knows, right?).
I'm looking forward to using them at the track for a tempo run tomorrow, although I'll be bringing my Asics Gel Speedstar 4 shoes along as an alternative in case I find the flats uncomfortable for some reason. The experience should be educational, although I hope the outcome is positive, because I really like the looks of these shoes. They're edgy; kinda bad ass, lookin'. Plus, a size 12.5 is only 6.8 oz. per shoe--nice.
UPDATE (9/22/2010): I have run two 5K races and and around 200 miles in this pair of shoes, and as I have come to prefer more minimalist shoes, these have earned their place as my favorite. Not only do they qualify as lightweight and truly minimalist with regard to shoe structure, but I also find them comfortable. More than once I have put in 10 or more miles (14 one day) on the track, even. I like them so much, that I when I found them on special for $19.99 (yeehaw!), I bought two more pair - this time in spikes. The spikes are removable, leaving them virtually identical to the spikeless flats, so I anticipate my experience with the new shoes to be about the same. Plus, I might get some shorter spikes for my speed work at the track. I see no reason for more substantial shoes unless I'm running well over 8 miles, now.