For those who don't know, I generally hate shoes, socks, and, well, just about anything I have to wear on my feet. To her dying day, my grandmother would rebuke me for apparently having been born in a barn. It's not uncommon for me to be seen prancing about in shorts at any time of year (provided I'm indoors), and I'll doff my shoes whenever given the chance.
When it came to running, things were different, at first. I often sought out thick socks and was known to run in rather clunky, heavy shoes from time to time.
(Little known fact: when you see your running shoes' weight in an ad or magazine, that weight is for a men's size 9D. There's a specific size/width for women's shoes, but I can't remember what it is for the life of me. In any case, what that means is that while your size 9's weigh 12oz, my 11.5-12's could be up near 1lb!)
I grew to be quite picky about my shoes--perhaps "finicky" would be the better term. I wanted to try on everything every time I went to the store (back in Canton, that'd mean the now defunct Runners Supply). I pined for the shoe review editions of Runner's World magazine to see what was new. I was eventually lucky enough to get to work at Runners Supply and, even more importantly, for a certain shoe store here in Cincinnati, but that is another story for another day!
Now, you have to understand that besides wearing heavy running shoes, I was also the heaviest runner on my team way back when. 160lbs put me about 20 or more pounds ahead of the next guy (even though I wasn't the only 6-footer) and, at the time, made me a bit of a hoss. Therefore, I did everything I could to at least feel in my mind that I was a bit more graceful than my frame and running style would indicate. Senior year, I bought a pair of spike for Cross and Track that were bright red, neon yellow, and most importantly, light and built for Kenyan runners (I'll have to grab a picture of them next time I visit my folks). To that, I taught myself to race sockless.
Now, running sockless isn't running barefoot, but it's about as close as I'm likely to get. It certainly didn't start well. I remember less than .5mi into the Malone Invitational feeling like someone had set my feet on fire. By the time I got to the finish and got my spikes off, I found that my right foot had nearly been ripped open due to a blister that'd formed and eventually ruptured during the race. For the rest of the season, I made a habit of keeping a small tub of Vaseline in my spike bag to rub on the balls of my feet each time I put on my spikes--problem solved!
I raced through Senior year sockless and even would doff my socks whenever we did speed workouts. I had never, however, tried to run normal distance work without them. I finally got brave and decided to try it with my current set of shoes (then a pair of the excellent Asics GT-2040, one of my faves). The habit didn't stick until my Sophomore year in college, and I've been doing it ever since!