I loved everything about it. I love that it literally pulled me out my door to run on a Saturday night at 7pm—when I’m a certified, card-carrying, morning runner. I love that I think I’m going to go again tonight. I love that it has made me feel like anything is possible. (When you read what these runners have done (eg. running 100 miles straight across mountains in the dark), you suddenly know that you can make it for a measly ten.)
Most notably, I love that I learned this: cushioning is bad for us. Sounds weird, right? Many instances spring to mind where I would literally beg for a little cushioning—feedback on my writing, the end of a relationship, a pillow when you’re trying to sleep on a plane…I could go on and on.
Killer cushioning…since 1972
Did you know that running shoes, as we know them, were created as recently as 1972. 1972. Remember Chariots of Fire? It looked like those dudes were running in jazz shoes. Go back farther and farther until you get to the people who didn’t even have shoes (or go to remote places today where they still don’t)—they were still running. For sport, for survival, for food and because it feels really, really good. Many of them ran 50, 75, 100’s of miles at a time. Barefoot.
Duh. Of course they did. But in our westernized minds, we think we need fancy cushioned shoes to run. Because that’s what we’ve been told. By these guys:
Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman, Nike’s founders, created the concept of ‘jogging’ and they created a running style that had you reach forward with your leg and hit the ground with your heel first (up to that point, everyone ran by landing on the fat of the midfoot pad with shorter strides). Because there is no natural padding on the heel, you simply couldn’t land on it unless you suddenly had a shoe with a cushioned heel. [Note: read that last sentence again.]
In an astounding marketing move, these two men created a new sport (jogging) that depended on a new way to run (the heel strike), neither of which could exist without their brand new, never before seen, bright and shiny, product.
Excuse my French, but, holy shit.
I read this part of the book five times in a row, my mind churning. How many other ‘cushioned shoes’ have we been sold? And what have they done to our bodies, our minds, our crafts? How else have we cushioned ourselves and therefore deprived ourselves of our true connection to the art and pure love of what it is that we do?
- With the advent of cushioned shoes, running injuries skyrocketed. While they promised to make us go faster.
- With the advent of processed and fast food, obesity and degenerative disease skyrocketed. While it promised to make our lives simpler.
- With the advent of marketing schemes, bad writing that is unconnected to heart or soul skyrocketed. While it promised to make our lives successful overnight.
- And with the advent of _______ , _______ skyrocketed. While it promised to make our lives ______.
Go ahead, fill in the blank. And then kick off those shoes, bring your feet back to your ground…and see what happens.
Image credit: R. Motti