Most people want to talk about shoes. Personally, I mean, it’s ok, but there are things I’d rather talk about. Running shoes are still an object of my affection, and the geekometer goes apeshit when a new shoe drops on my radar. My affinity for running shoes started with my first real pair–Nike Internationalist, 1981ish–and has continued, mostly unbroken since then. My employment in running specialty began in 1997 and that is where I am happiest. One of the things I’ve found, after all these years, is that most of the shoes on most of the walls in most of the running specialty shops in the country are pieces of shit.
And I mean that it the kindest possible way. Most of the running shoes you find in running specialty shops, and almost equally in the big boxes–are not really made with running in mind, exactly. I mean, they are, but they’re not. If they were really made for running, and not for sorta-running-and-mostly-fashion, they wouldn’t have all that “technology” crap they have in them. They’d be biomechanically appropriate by design. They aren’t, so this is what we have. It’s like the Allegory of the Cave or something. Except running shoes. We’ve been told for decades now that this is the stuff you need, this will cure what ails ya, you overpronate, whateverwhateverwhatever. Mostly, running shoes in running specialty have been the pathway to increased revenue, which is totally to be expected, except that the shoe companies got our attention with misdirected or misapplied science rather than designing product that works with the body. I’m not going to go further into it, except to say that we can run in whatever we want, but I’m sorry, it just isn’t probable that we–humans–need all that shit under our feet in order to run. We just don’t.
I know really very little about biomechanics. The scientific part anyway. But that doesn’t mean I don’t know what I’m talking about. For every scientific, peer reviewed journal piece supporting one thing, there is another that refutes it. All I have is experiential, anecdotal knowledge. And to me, in this particular case, that weighs more. I know very little about any of that shit, but I know this: If either of my boys get to the age where they want to run for anything other than play, and they come to me and ask what they should run in, there are probably no more than a couple handfuls of shoes I would suggest. Of all the running shoes on all the walls in all the running specialty shops. Really. One, maybe two per brand. That is all. Some you might call minimalist, but some you might not. That word is not one I use to describe shoes, because true minimalism doesn’t really apply, does it? I like “biomechanically appropriate,” but that doesn’t have a lot of marketability, methinks.
Moreover, I think if we are to tell ourselves we can’t do something if we don’t have some piece of fucking plastic or gel or whateverthefuck under our foot placed just so, we are being naive and creating barriers for ourselves. Infinitely more important than your footwear is how you treat your body. Find a shoe that disappears under your foot, or that disappears the most, and you’re more likely to be happy with that than anything some dickbag in a labcoat will tell you. If you’re thinking about your shoes, you’re thinking about the wrong things.