Running in the hippie shoes is completely different than how I ever ran before and while it's all mental, I can't say I ever consciously decided to change my approach to running.
In an interview with Amazon about the book "Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes and the Greatest Race the World has Never Seen," author Christopher McDougall describes our collective problem as "We treat running in the modern world the same way we treat childbirth—it’s going to hurt, and requires special exercises and equipment, and the best you can hope for is to get it over with quickly with minimal damage." I can't comment on the childbirth aspect, but that was my exact approach to running - it was painful and something that I knew was good for me, but I didn't enjoy it and wanted to get it over with as soon as possible.
Not only that, before I ran a single step I would plot out my distance and every turn of my route then continually monitor my time, to make sure I was staying within a 9:00 to 10:30 pace. With the hippie shoes, I knew I couldn't go far right away, and I realized it doesn't matter how far I go! That realization was so liberating. Now, instead of serving the arbitrarily chosen distance, I turn on the iPod stopwatch - just to make sure I'm increasing my time, but not going too far too soon - then I just go. If I'm a minute or two off, it's of no concern whatsoever. No longer do I run laps at the park; I haven't stepped foot inside the Y since I got the shoes.
Now I just go. I drive to a safe neighborhood I like, park the car, and go. If I feel like turning, I'll turn. If I decide to run the entire time in one straight line then turn around, so be it. Running along mostly empty streets without having anything to count (laps, time, distance) has started clearing my head and I sing along, but mostly my brain is filled with only one thought: "Man, this feels great!"
For what it's worth, I track my distance after I'm done, but just for my own curiosity. mapmyrun.com baby :)