THIS BOOK CHANGED MY LIFE. Go read it. Now.
First of all, it explained why my feet always fall asleep and my calves hurt and what have you when I try to go running- it's the shoes! Also taught me a lot about proper running form, the proper mentality, and the proper diet, without being preachy. Also, it's a heck of an entertaining read, so I highly recommend it.
My first try at running barefoot and with proper form was hit and miss. I went a mile, though certainly I wasn't running the entire time. I noticed a distinct lack of calluses on the bottom of my feet, so I had to switch back into my shoes (ballet flats, not tennis shoes) part way through. In the book, it tells you that because you are retraining your body to run, it shouldn't feel easy the first few times- there needs to be a period of adjustment. I assumed the calluses issue and my inability to both flick my heels and pump my elbows properly simultaneously was my adjustment. And of course, there was my general lack of cardivascular endurance, but I figured that would go away with some work.
Then I woke up the next morning.
I have never had muscle pain so intense in my life. It was entirely located in my calves and ankles. I could barely walk. I was convinced that I had done something horribly wrong, but I got on the minimalist/barefoot running forum associated with Born to Run and described exactly what I had done and exactly what I was feeling, and they all assured me it was normal, and actually meant I'd done it exactly right. Don't run on the calves when they are that sore, they said, and in a few weeks the muscle pain should disappear almost entirely. And they were right, and I'm starting to get through a mile faster, which I can only assume means I am doing more running than walking. Also, getting through more with bare feet.
There are still issues to be worked out with my form- I'm running with more of a sprinter's stance than a long-distance one, I need to work on putting more of my foot down, not just the forefoot. I still need to figure out the elbow-pumping, heel-flicking dynamic. And of course I still need to be able to completely run one mile, at which point I will bump it up to doing whatever it takes (i.e. lots of walking if necessary) to hit two miles, and so on and so forth. My goal is to be able to eek out 5 miles by July.