Monday I ran barefoot again, this time up the trail in Sawcut Wash. Achilles felt fine although within 2 1/2 miles I was done running on the gravel trail and so donned my shoes again. The fact that barefoot running does not aggravate my achilles got me thinking. Yesterday I took my pocket knife along with me over my lunchtime run. I started my warm-up walk in my Ascend Gloves and noticed discomfort in the achilles. So I stopped, took off my socks and shoes, and walked a bit as a test (an experimental "control")- no pain. So I cut the shoes vertically at the heel, deeper than I had cut them last week, put them and set off, et viola there was no pain:
With the heels cut so deep - all the way down to the molded rubber base-- the shoes still stay on just fine but feel a good bit looser at the heel. The run today felt great.
This calls to mind that it had occurred to me while training this summer that perhaps the heel pain I had been experiencing was associated with too tight a heel, especially as it was worst while walking/running uphill at which time my feet tend to be pushed back towards the rear of the shoe. Its not that the shoes are too small: my big toe has a good 1 cm of room upfront; conversely I can put one finger at the rear of my shoe behind my heel.. But I think the heel strapping is just a bit too tight / non resilient in these shoes at least in my present condition- namely, sporting a tender achilles. Its also recently dawned on me that wearing socks in the "barefoot" Merrells shoes may not be great - the liner is designed for skin, not socks; wearing socks, my feet tend to slip within the shoe so that the heel slides back into the rear heel cup. Running in the Ascend Gloves without socks is preferable in that my sockless feet do not slip -- resulting in less pressure on my achilles from being pushed against the heel cup.
As a sidenote I lost my left big-toe nail today...putting on my socks prior to run it peeled back. It looked spectacularly painful but wasn't. That caps the AC100 season I think.