This post comes from my lovely wife Ellie, enjoy!

I feel weirdly girly in saying this, but I am really excited about my recent shoe purchase! But these are not just any shoes. I bought new minimalist running shoes!

In an effort to satiate my new addiction to outlet shopping, this past weekend my mom and I headed to the Niagara Fashion Outlets. Mom was on a hunt for boots, so while she was looking through those, I took the opportunity to check out the store’s selection of women’s Merrell shoes. I fully intended on buying new running shoes anyway because, though I love my Vibram Five Fingers, after running a half marathon, I realized that I just don’t want to feel every crack in the pavement, which starts to really get to you around mile 8.

After quickly eliminating most of the stock (too much heel, too much fabric in the back, ugly colors), I found the perfect ones. The Merrell Barefoot Contour Glove in dark gray and lime green/yellow. Now, being an outlet store, these shoes were only $35. Yeah, that’s right. Brand-new, quality running shoes that normally cost up to $100 were selling for almost one-third of that price. I didn’t care if I wore them just to take the trash out, these babies were coming home with me. Impulse buy: check.

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I was nervous to run in anything but VFFs. I’ve been running in my Bikilas since October 2011 and, aside from some mud stains, a little wear on the bottoms, and the distinct eau de Ellie feet, they are in really great shape! (I plan on literally running these VFFs into the ground. Like, until they fall off my feet, I will wear them.) I decided to try out my Merrells while Jon and I walked the dog. I was concerned because my heels were moving around quite a bit, almost popping out of the shoe completely, even though I was wearing thicker socks. Then, after about a half a block, the sides of my feet started to hurt. Badly. It felt like they were in a vice. After adjusting the laces about four times, the pressure on my feet eased slightly, but not enough that I was jazzed to run in these shoes. When the walk was over (and after I ripped off the shoes as we walked up to our apartment), I thought I’d try thinner socks. Magic! The pressure on the sides of my feet was gone! I cannot tell you how good it felt, mostly because I was getting really disappointed in my impulse buy and this gave me new hope.

So we put the pup away and headed out for a six-mile run. Now, I think this is something they tell you in Learning to Run 101: Don’t run long distances in new shoes; break them in first. Whatevs, man. I figured a walk around the block was enough. (But actually, it’s really not smart to run long distances in brand-new shoes. Thus the second half of this post’s title.) We started out and I felt great. My heel wasn’t popping out of the shoe anymore, though I’m not sure why. But I’m not about to ask questions. Around mile 4, I started to really feel the blister developing under my second toe on my right foot. And like any sensible person, I said “Screw it! I’m finishing this run! The rest of me feels great! Never mind those feet.” Ke$ha kept me at a great pace and, before I knew it, we had completed the six miles. Again, I tore off my shoes as we climbed the stairs to our apartment. Lo and behold, I had two blisters: one on each of my feet, both under the second toe. I guess I had gotten used to having each of my toes wrapped up and protected from rubbing any insole. So tonight I think I’ll wear my five-finger socks, as long as they are thin enough.

The point of this story is that I highly suggest trying outlet stores if you are looking to try a new type of running shoe. You can buy something you normally wouldn’t (I’m talking to you, people who are afraid of finger shoes!) without making a huge investment. If you don’t like ’em, you can probably take them back or return them directly to the company rather than the store. Or you can just wear them when gardening or washing your car, or you could even give them to your weird friends who run barefoot. I am really happy I made this impulse buy, and now (I can’t believe I’m saying this) I am actually kind of looking forward to the Buffalo Half Marathon!