Back in the Goodle Days
Some rambling thoughts in response to this New York Times article on the question of whether we were born to run, trends, fads, and marketing:
As cool as it is to think that our evolutionary history was driven by distance running (and I believe it to be the case--I recommend the account given in Our Kind, which was published back in 1989, long before the argument was applied to barefoot running), giving an account of how the foot developed is very different from giving a justification for how it should be shod in any particular case.
It amazes me sometimes when I think of the miles I have put on these legs, which are still made of flesh and gristle, and how well they have stood up to the asphalt over the years. The vast majority of those miles have been in shoes, though I do have a tender spot for barefoot strides over dewy fields.
These days it's hard to sort out the difference between education and marketing. The marketers educate us. The educators market to us. Harvard and Vibram are mentioned in the same sentence: which is the brand, and which the school?
Seems like before the internet all we had were running shoes. You'd go to the store and try a couple pairs on, and if they felt good, you'd buy them and run in them and basically forget about them until the rubber wore off or the upper ripped or what have you. I remember people talked a little about pronating, underpronating, overpronating, but I never knew what the heck that meant. Still don't, really.
If you got injured, you wouldn't blame your shoes, you'd look to that dumb day when you did too many hills. Or the day that you had to get in the car and drive 8 hours right after a meet, and you stiffened up. Or the day when you tweaked your hamstring playing frisbee. You'd put some ice on it, take a day or two off, rearrange a few workouts, and that would be that.
My freshman year in college, I remember that my feet hurt--I could feel all the tendons in them, just kinda raw. And no wonder: I'd gone from a 40mpw runner to a 95mpw runner in a year. I never once considered changing my shoes. What did I do? I kept running. I used to tell myself: it's running, not football. How bad can I really mess myself up moving down the road?
Fifteen years later, 30,000 miles later, I'm still headed down that same road. Was I born to run? Was my body made to run? Those questions seem less important than the simple fact that I'm still running. I kept running. The thing is, it's hard to wrap that up in a cardboard box and sell it.