Friday, November 28, 2014

Black Friday, Bare Feet

Began the day at the local running store, a place I still visit even though I haven’t worn the kinds of running shoes they sell since 2008. I stick to FiveFingers, Luna Sandals, or my bare feet for running. We were there because my daughter and wife want new pairs of the minimalist shoes they prefer for everyday use. The store didn’t have any on display so I asked the salesman if they still stocked them. Things went poorly from there. 

“Those things aren’t a good idea. You know, there’s a class action lawsuit against them, don’t you?” Maybe he wasn’t talking to me as though I was a child, but it felt like it and I’m hardly ever in the mood for a lecture from some yahoo who looks for his science from the companies most trying to sell a certain brand of science. 

Yeah. Okay. Vibram had a bad slogan in their ads that made a claim that wasn’t scientifically proven. I know, shocker, an advertising campaign based on something other than fact and truth. Someone got the idea to sue them and it went to a class action and so on and so forth. I’ve bought three four pairs of FiveFingers since 2008 and refused to join the suit and cash in because it’s the perfect example of a frivolous lawsuit. People switched to a new way of running without thinking about it or doing what you need to do when you make a drastic change. They hurt themselves. Rather than correcting or moving on, they sued. Screw those people. Their feet might be hurting, but it’s their mindset that is most injured and in need of repair. 

Instead of explaining all this to the salesman, I pointed at the typical shoes that he wants me to buy and said, “those things were killing me.” It’s true, but I said it mostly because my back was up and I wanted to take a swipe at him and his damn padded shoe mentality. I could have said that I didn’t ask what he thought of the shoes and only wanted to know if they had any in stock. And I should have just let it go and thanked him for his time. Instead, I left angry. I really don’t like being told what’s what, especially when experience shows that, for me, this guy is completely wrong. 

The thing about running is that everyone does it just a little differently. If what you do works, do more of it because it will only make you stronger and more healthy. I have my own way of running. It doesn’t involve headphones, a lot of gear, or typical running shoes. I’ve bought four pair of FiveFingers and one pair of Luna Sandals in six years and even that was me spending more money than I needed to. One pair of FiveFingers was for walking around, one pair wore out after three years, I use one pair for coaching soccer and an occasional run. The last pair were my go-to runners until I got the Luna Sandals. My guess is that I’ll buy those again instead of the FiveFingers. 

None of them have any padding and no one recommends replacing them after a certain number of miles. Wear them until they wear out, until there are holes in them, until the straps fall off. It should only take about three to five years. It’s a concept foreign to the Black Friday mentality of shopping. Running stores and running magazines emphasize that shoes have to be replaced long before they are worn out. It’s how they make their money.

My mistake was letting the guy at the running shop get on my nerves. The easy solution is to not shop there anymore. That’s what I’ll likely do. There are other ways to get the few running things I need. The bigger mistake would be to doubt what I’m doing because it’s not the usual thing to do. The bigger mistake would be to cash in on some foolish lawsuit or buy into any of its results. The bigger mistake would be to substitute what I know and feel for what someone else thinks I should understand and believe. 

I’m not going to make those bigger mistakes and I feel better now having gotten some of this stuff off my chest and into your ear. Hearing it, I feel how foolish it was to even get into it and I know that my anger comes from the anxiety I feel when I’m doing something not run of the mill and someone questions me. Overcoming that anxiety isn’t easy but the process is simple: put one foot in front of the other and forget what anyone but I think those feet should be wearing.