Top of Foot Pain
I recently (3 months or so ago) purchased a pair of VFF shoes and tried my damndest to swear off running in "running shoes" from that moment on. Problem is, 2 weeks into running 3x a week (not long distance, 1-3 miles tops, but on pavement) with my VFFs, I developed moderately intense TOFP. After some online research as to what it was, possible causes, etc, I decided to take a few weeks off of running and see how things felt after a break.
To make a longer story short, the break helped some, but my feet always felt better in my work boots, (thanks to the arch support) rather than walking around my house/outside barefoot. A month ago I tried running in my VFFs and within minutes had severe TOFP ripping through my right foot.
Is this common with newcomers to VFFs or is it more of a form issue? To this day I still have times throughout the week (a couple times a week) where I experience very mild TOFP when walking barefoot. I really want to solve this issue, as I'm supposed to start training for a sprint triathlon soon.
P.S. I eat Primal/Paleo 90-95% of the time and my only regular deviation is heavy cream in my morning coffee.
That sounds like what happened to me and it ended up being a stress fracture.
When I first got my VFFs a couple years ago and began to run in them, I got a stress fracture in my foot from not running with proper form. I had to lay off running for 6 weeks or so and when I started back up again I promptly got ANOTHER stress fracture in the other foot! Another 6-8 weeks off.
The way I was able to stop this happening was to learn to run properly barefoot. When you run with VFFs, you still have some amount of cushioning which lets you slap the ground with your feet harder than you should, whereas running barefoot forces you to be more gentle about how your foot strikes. Be sure to run with a mid foot strike and not a heel strike. Striking with your heel while running without running shoes will make your forefoot smack into the ground, not to mention being really bad for your knees and back.
I'm sure as hell not a doctor, but my recommendation would be to stop ALL running and try to stay off your foot (within reason) until it stops hurting and then take another week off to be sure. You don't want to start back too early and undo all the healing in one 5k run.
Check out http://barefootrunning.com/
I think you've answered your own question...."but my feet always felt better in my work boots, (thanks to the arch support)". The boots restrict motion, VFF allows free range and causing the bones on the top of your feet to jam...thus the pain. An easy way to see if this is the issue, stand barefoot, have someone stand behind you (about 10ft) and look at your feet. If the person can see the edge of your big toe and the edge of your little toe all is good. If they see no big toe and 2 or more of the lesser toes you've found your problem. You could also have them watch you run in the VFF's and see if your feet are in the same position or worse than standing.
Think of the bones of your foot as a brick archway
When you get the pain on top of your foot the arch is sagging causing the bones to jam together at the top of the arch and spreading underneath. The boots restrict this and support the arch.
Checked out the link and I appreciate the helpful comments. I'm going to try out a different approach as soon as my feet are in tip-top shape. Thanks!