I've never liked running.
I've often hated it.
I've always assumed it's too punishing a form of exercise to be worth doing, and that a lifestyle built around it would be riddled with constant injury and long-term damage to every moving part in my body.
Then, a month or so ago, I read Christopher MacDougall's five-year-old article in Men's Health entitled The Men Who Live Forever. I was intrigued. A few days later, I put on the thinnest-soled shoes in the house and went out for a 2.5-mile run on my tip-toes. My calves ached beyond description for the next four days.
I did some research and discovered a couple of critical errors in my form and method.
And now, as far as I can tell, I'm hooked.
I bought a pair of New Balance MT20s. I bought Michael Sandler's Barefoot Running and read it the day it arrived. I bought the book on which MacDougall's article is based: Born to Run. I discovered sites like birthdayshoes.com, chirunning.com, and runbare.com and concluded that we need a general corollary to Rule 34: for any conceivable topic, product, lifestyle, or area of interest, there is an online community devoted to discussing the matter in excruciating detail. (See also: straight razor shaving.)
I've been running barefoot (i.e., soft, tender skin on the hard, abrasive roads) for a couple weeks now. Within a few more weeks, I expect my feet to be strong and tough enough to go out in my MT20s for 3-5 miles every other day. I hope by winter to be running a few miles every day. And all without injury or long-term damage! Theoretically.
For what it's worth, Barefoot Running is a good book, but could be condensed from 320 pages to about 25 if you only need technique and training plans. Most of the book is philosophical and borderline religious. This might provide good motivational underpinnings for some people, but I just wanted to know how to get in good form and build up safely to good distances. The book does provide practical instruction in this area, and so far it's been helpful for me.
I will probably revisit this topic from time to time, but for now I wanted to get the above information recorded for future reference, and for anyone else who might find it helpful. I've become fairly zealous about this, and it will be more convenient to send friends a link to this post than to essentially re-write it every few days. I wish I'd had an outlet like this website when I discovered Eat to Live. That would've saved everyone I know a lot of patient listening and patronizing head-nodding.