I don't know when I'll be leaving this earth, or where I'm going to be buried* but I do know what I want it to say on my tombstone:
Not to be ghoulish, but in the spirit of Halloween, and in mournful acknowledgement that Atlanta's awesome 8 month long barefoot season is coming to an end, that's my headstone, and I'm sticking to it.
Besides, this post isn't about death, it's about footwear.
If you know me well, you know that hate sneakers, running shoes, tennis shoes, whatever you want to call them. Hate 'em. Sneakers are fugly, like wearing cement blocks on your feet. I particularly hate the "walk-to-work-in-sneakers" look one sees in walkable cities like New York or Chicago. I don't like the way sneaks make your feet feel "bound." And mostly, I hate the technical hype and specious specs that come with the cult of running shoes.
Well, apparently the latest thinking is that barefoot running is actually better for your feet. And now comes more evidence that the human body, particularly the human foot, is ideally engineered for distance running.
Remember the Kenyan runners, famous for barefooting? Abebe Bikila raced barefoot to a gold medal in the 1960 Olympic marathon. Herb Elliott, the 1500m victor at the same games, ran 17 sub-four-minute miles barefoot and was never defeated at either 1500m or one mile.
The new minimalist footwear -- the so-called "glove" shoe -- protects the bottom of the feet with a thin layer of neoprene, but simulates the biomechanics of the barefoot experience, which is how humans ran for millions of years.
Man, they are fugly too, but more in the creepy way than a butt ugly way. I wonder if these babies will catch on. Converts to minimalist footwear are ecstatic about the experience. They say once you get over the initial shock, you start to build up strength in the ankles and calves, and that plantar fasciitis can completely disappear. Here's a pretty compelling review of the Vibram FiveFingers shoe. And here's another from Wired magazine. They retail for about $75.
*Oh, and just for the record, I would like to be buried in Gould Meadows, a beautiful bit of land in Lenox, Mass, right across from Tanglewood that overlooks the Berkshire Mountains. Unfortunately, it's not a cemetery. I'm just sayin' ...