Have you tried the Nike TR+Fits? They are only available from Nike themselves, Sports Direct have their own version- its not the same. I found a big difference between these and the other Free's yet quite a bit more cushioning then the Vivos (not tried the Vibrams or Merrells yet).
Maybe look at how your running. I began wearing minimal trainers before going down further towards barefoot, when I began I got blisters on the balls of my feet but I just put on some plasters and they went in a week and didn't return when I took the plasters off. If your still getting blisters and pain after the initial 2 weeks, maybe look at your technique. As you say your trying to alter a habit of a lifetime. Maybe look at it as if your just re-learning to walk, you wouldn't expect a child to run an hour first time so start off slow. Remember its not just a case of getting used to a new pair of trainers, its also about running differently- bending and using all your body as you run to disperse the impact you make when you hit the ground rather then just trying to tolerate it.
And don't forget rest days, they do make a difference when in the right place.
Have you tried the Saucony Fastwitch? I got sick of overally cushioned road shoes as I usually only run off-road in inov-8's but these fit the bill - good and low, decent cushioning without too much in the way of support.
Are you running midfoot? I wear Newton Motions for mileage - they keep the low drop of the more minimalist shoes (don't need a big cushioned heel if you aren't landing on it), but the lugs provide quite a bit of midfoot cushioning, which is what I need.
Good choice Bumhead!
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