I love to tell my minimalist running story!!!
I am a new runner, just started this past July (I'm 35). I always wanted to, my family are all runners, but I would get the worst shin splints. and i hated that jarring feeling in my brain every time my heel would hit. So painful and disconcerting. I like to read just about anything and had read about minimalist running in the past. I decided to jump on the treadmill one day in my socks and ran a mile, no problem, and no pain (although my feet an ankle muscles were noticeably tired). I kept running w/ my socks for a week and decided I really liked it. But needed real shoes so I could go outside and run. I did some research, threw on my sauconys (used for walking) and tried to run. Yikes! It is hard to run minimalist style in typical running shoes. that high padded heel is very hard to avoid when you are putting your foot down.
So i bought the Nike frees. Bad move. I hated them for running (walking is very nice). they were hard to run in and uncomfy. i felt off balance in them. i put a total of maybe 8 miles on them and went shopping for the five fingers. got the bikilas and love them. you must run correctly though. the woman in the running store would not let me give her money until she was sure i wasn't heel striking.
the pain i have had in my right knee since i was a teenager (i always thought it was a little arthritis) completely disappeared after about 2 weeks of minimalist running. what a blessing! it was hard to sleep sometimes it ached so much.
i do suggest trying out a padded sock on a treadmill to perfect your stride. I still use socks on the treadmill (and get stares at the Y). my knee pain had transferred from right to left and i figured out it was my stride because of my socks. interestingly, if you use socks with some type of shading difference running from toe to heel and run on a treadmill and you see your sock rotating around your foot (i noticed it on my left foot) your stride may be imperfect. i concentrated on making that left sock not rotate and poof, left knee pain gone.
try them! take your time, learn to run again and you won't regret it. (never read the book Born to Run, curious about it but haven't had time).
ps - my sister has been a long distance runner since she was 6 and she thinks i am crazy but is very curious and wants to try my shoes. i told her she couldn't until she got on the treadmill w/ socks and practiced.