Tick, Yack, Toe; updates

Ha ha ha, I slay me.

So what’s next – locusts? GI issues? An ear infection? Or, hopefully, smooth sailing? Make your prediction, and feed my self-obsession personality disorder.

1. I’ll consider myself “back” once I have run five days in a row, for at least a total of 30 miles. That’s the misadventure reset button.

2. You can second someone else’s prediction. In the event that the winning prediction was made by more than one person, I’ll do the random number generator thingy.

3. Only one prediction per customer.

I’m working on the prize now. It’s a weird race against time – I must have it completed before either something bad happens that might render me artless, or before I get back in the game. And it will be AWESOME.

So apparently the cure for tick bites is a broken toe. Sure, I still itch, but I’m totally on to the next drama. I still look diseased, though.

The toe has swollen and bruised in a predictable manner. It doesn’t hurt so long as I maintain a wonky limpy gait. I’ve decided the third toe is more important than the second, or it just bends more in normal walking motion. This might take a few more days to be runnable.

Iris just ran ten miles this morning. Her longest run ever! I got to play support wagon – I drove to the halfway point to provide fresh beverages (gin and tonic being her drink of choice), fuel (baby back ribs), and a cheerleader (Tito).

Rah, rah, sis boom bah.

Speaking of going long, Jason Robillard is about seven hours into The Burning River 100 Mile Endurance Run as I write this. Good luck dude!

And the hits just keep on coming, and a CONTEST!

So I run a tough marathon, I take a week off. I’m all ready to start running again, then I get sick. No problem, it wouldn’t hurt to take another week off. Feeling better, I go for a hike in the woods and get attacked by ticks. Finding the idea of sweating into open oozing woulds unappealing to say the least (plus I was taking antihistamines), I took another week off. This morning I woke up, no coughing. The itchyness was tolerable, the wounds dry. “I’m going to take the dogs for a run,” I decided.

Figuring it would be easier taking one at a time, I started with Sunny (the dumb young one). Everything was going fine, Sunny running on my right side. Then… cat. To my left. I didn’t see it, but Sunny did. She darts in front of me, I accidentally kick her back leg as I trip. Snap! My third toe on my right foot is bent sideways at an improbable angle.

Seriously, world? Seriously? Seriously. I mean, it’s not a big deal; I’ll probably be good to start running again in a few days, but then what? An anvil falls on my head? Slip on a banana peel? Lose my pants in public? What?

How I wish for a boring summer of mindlessly logging miles. I’m supposed to be doing serious speedwork right now, smugly posting about how fast I’m getting. Instead? Sick, tick, and click (went the toe bone).

As far as barefoot ambassador-ing goes, I guess my setbacks don’t reflect too poorly on my shodless peers. Shoes wouldn’t have prevented my from getting sick. I was wearing shoes for the tick attack, but it might have been worse barefoot. Not on my feet, though; if the feet were exposed, the little evildoers probably would have scurried to the next shaded spot, which would be in my shorts. No thanks. A rigid shoe would have protected my toe this morning, and would have hurt Sunny instead of me, which at the moment doesn’t sound like a bad trade off.

So here’s the contest: post your prediction of what stupid thing will happen to me next. Make as many predictions as you want. If your prediction comes to fruition, I’ll mail you something arty. That’s a lose-lose scenario if there ever was one.

Wife in shoes

“The soles have to be flat, and they have to be black.”

That’s Iris‘ criteria for running shoes. Flat soles because she feels support and cushioning forces her to run in a way she doesn’t like. Black because that’s her style. She likes these.

I wonder what kind of shoe she’d be prescribed if she took the wet footprint test and was analyzed on a treadmill. She hates treadmills; like cushioning, she feels they make her run in a way she doesn’t like. Getting a bad case of sciatica after a few miles on a treadmill last winter (she’s had sciatica issues before, but never that bad) also has something to do with the way she feels about them.

But back to the shoe, the style she likes isn’t sold in running shoe stores. They’re not considered running shoes at all, which is probably why they cost $45 instead of $80. With no arch support and little cushioning, how does she determine when to buy a new pair?

“Um, when I want a new color…” she answered. “I wanted the blue ones because I liked the orange trim, and the gold highlights looked cool. The problem with those, though, is that they’re navy and don’t match most of my running togs.” She sounded a little guilty.

I tried a different line of questioning. “Do you notice a qualitative difference between your first pair and the most recent?”

“Well, the oldest pair are dirtier. They’re also a half-size larger than the others, so I guess that feels different.”

“So there’s no structural breakdown from the miles you’ve run in them for the last year?”

“Like what, the stitching?”

She was only vaguely familiar with the 300-500 mile rule. For her, the sole isn’t supposed to provide cushion, so any depletion of cushioning has gone unnoticed. When I told her the swap-out rule, she said, “Typical. Sounds like something men would make up as an excuse to buy new shoes.”

Iris’ attitude re shoes didn’t come from nowhere. She has worked in the fashion publication industry for years, always being inundated with the same ol’ product repackaged and sold as new and improved. To her, the claims made by Nike sound just like the claims made by L’oreal. Her mind is unsullied by the conventional wisdom of running culture.

She started running with a pair of cushy New Balance shoes. As she was learning how to run (note that she assumed there was a how in the first place), she felt the regular running shoe prevented her from making the adjustments necessary to be smooth. “They forced me to stomp and madeĀ  my knees clang together.” So she went to Target and found a flat-soled sneaker. She doesn’t wear them anymore. Why?

“They’re brown.”

Iris has also struggled with sciatica issues for years. Protecting her back requires the same fluidity as running barefoot. She knows what kind of movements lead to pain. She recognizes the warning signs. Instead of ignoring the pain or worse, hiding it, she listens to it and adjusts. The only demand she makes of her shoes is to look good and stay out of the way.

I don’t think Iris needs shoes, but I’m not worried about her getting injured. She’s running with the mentality of a barefoot runner, a mentality cultivated by a history unrelated to running, so the shoes don’t matter. Her sciatica provides much of the same feedback that bare feet do.Without her mentality and the feedback, I’d be concerned.

Barefootery isn’t a moral thing for me. The debate isn’t about shoes. It’s not barefoot vs shod. It’s critical thinking vs blind trust, learning vs magic pills, and evidence vs marketing. Runners imbue magical attributes to their shoes that don’t exist. They don’t make you run better, you make you run better. They don’t prevent injury, you prevent injury.

So what do shoes do? Keep your feet warm, protect your soles, and serve as a fashion accoutrement. The trade-off is hot feet, less ground feedback, and tan lines. And the cost of the shoe, of course. Anything else is just stuff ding dongs make up. Understanding that is a big step in the right direction. What you do about it is up to you.