This is all for you, Laura. Before I forgot to say anything about it. Yes, I've read Born to Run, and read some other things about the barefoot running revolution. These are all just my person opinions. I'm not an expert, but I guess I have some idea about this stuff. Here's my take on it:
If it isn't broke, then don't fix it, right? If you're running and everything is feeling okay, meaning that when you are in decent shape, you can run 3-5 miles without any unusual kind of pain, then it seems that regular running shoes work well enough, right? I have run 4 marathons. I'm partial to the Brooks brand of shoes. I have a neutral gait, so everything works pretty well for me.
I think the answer is probably somewhere in the middle. One of the biggest reasons why people get injured is because they don't have the muscle composition to support the activity that they are doing. Being strong and having good muscle tone is the biggest factor in preventing injury. I think I've been able to run with so little injury concerns is that I've always done running activities my whole life, and before I even took up running, I was regularly working out 4-5 times a week. That, in addition to eating well, are the two biggest factors in allowing a person to exercise without injury concerns.
Anyway, the people who are the most fit are fit in every way. That's what's so good about people who do Cross Fit, because it's a whole body work-out regimen. That's why triathletes are so fit, because they are wholly fit. They can run, bike, and swim. The best runners are the ones who can do all of those things, and will do a variety of different kinds of runs - hill work, speed work, long runs, interval training, etc. Running only short runs, doesn't necessarily mean you are fit. It just means that you can do short runs. And runners should try and run on a variety of different surfaces: grass, sand, dirt, asphalt, etc.
I think the same applies to barefoot running. Although the type of stride is different when running barefoot as opposed to running in shoes, I think it gives you dimension in the way your body can bend, flex, react, and absorb different patterns of running.
I'm actually interested in trying it out at some point, just to see if it can help me add some depth to my running. The Vibram 5 fingers are popular. I think I'm most interested in some of the other minimalist running alternatives. The Nike Free shoes sound pretty cool, Nike Zooms, FeelMax, among others. I think all the major brands are coming out with their own variety.
Anyway, take it for what it's worth.