Showing posts with label barefoot running. Show all posts
Showing posts with label barefoot running. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Running and Relativism

I know, these two topics seem unrelated, but I'll try to explain.  First off I want to preface this entry with my intentions here.  Specifically, I am not here to proselytize you to any particular view.  In fact if anything, this is just a rant and a rather random observation.

As you may or may not know, I've been a barefoot/minimalist runner for about seven years and a runner in general for almost twenty years.  I'm not saying this to boast, but to give my background to show that I have an idea and know a bit about running.  I know, being a lifelong runner doesn't really make one an expert, but let's just leave it at, I know running and barefoot running.  I've been noticing a trend when people ask for advice about shoes and I recommend barefoot running.  They say something like "that's not for me," or "that might be fine for you" or something similar.  Anything seem familiar about those kinds of statements?  To me they sound just like things one might hear in a discussion about truth objective morality versus relativistic morality.  Is there really a right or wrong way to run?  I'd say there's no clear cut answer to that question, but one thing is certain, there is such a thing as a more natural way to run.

Does natural equal better?  I wouldn't say for certain, but I can say that millions of people all around the world spend millions of dollars (more than they really have to spend) to buy things that are "natural."  If you don't believe that check out Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, dōTERRA, Lemongrass Spa, Norwex, MovNat, and many many others!  All these retailers seek to capitalize on the overwhelming sense that most people have that natural = better.  All other things being equal (particularly price), wouldn't you pick the natural alternative over a chemical/synthetic/artificial option?  So, with regards to the question of barefoot/minimalist running/walking/living, tell me what would be more "natural."  I understand, we, especially in the West, fight an uphill battle against our nurture.  Many (probably almost everyone) since the 1980s have been indoctrinated into the idea that barefootedness is unsafe.  Like the mom in A Christmas Story, we're told not that, "you'll shoot your eye out," but that you'll cut your foot if you walk around barefoot.

I won't lie, there is a definite danger of cutting your foot, but I'll be honest, in my seven years (including a half-marathon) of barefootedness I've only cut my foot a handful of times and every time it hasn't been serious.  In fact the worst cut I ever got was when I was a teenager swimming barefoot and exploring an island in Michigan.  That one hurt (it was right on the arch) and seemed to last forever.  But, in reality the danger is minimal (pun intended)!  When you walk or run barefoot you're much more attentive than you are normally and your footfall is such that you don't drag your feet across the ground.  Even if you do step directly on a piece of glass you still probably won't cut your foot.

The key in all this is, I think, twofold indoctrination.  First, the whole it's dangerous thing, with glass and nails and rocks etc etc etc.  The second and I think more difficult portion of our indoctrination is the "I have low arches" or "I overpronate/supinate" or something similar.  Basically, and I blame shoe companies, we're taught from the moment we think about starting running, that everyone's foot and gait are totally different and each person needs a special shoe to deal with that difference.  While there is a real difference in how everyone walks/runs, and that can make a difference when it comes to speed or style/gait one runs with.  These differences do nothing to undermine the foundational truth that we are all fundamentally built the virtually same.  Obviously this excludes people born with deformities or various handicaps, I'm not saying there aren't abnormalities.  I'm saying that fundamentally humans are all born with the same basic bone and muscle structures.  If one has a "flat foot" or a "fallen arch" do you think that person was born with that or did that happen over time?  Does the person with flat feet have the same basic number of bones/joints/ligaments/tendons/muscles in his or her feet?  YES!  I'm not a medical professional and I haven't done direct research on why people have flat feet, but I can assure you no amount of flat-footedness will change whether or not that person can walk/run barefoot.  Whether you believe in God directly creating humans or evolution through natural unguided evolutionary process humans came to be what they are today, it doesn't matter.  Humans naturally are barefoot.

Let's bring this back around to the relativism issue.  People assume that these differences (which I feel are more the result of shoe company indoctrination) somehow preclude them from the truth that barefootedness is more natural.  If that one thing is true and true for everyone then why not follow the truth?  Perhaps people don't really want truth.  I know in all my discussions with atheists about things relating to God they definitely don't seem honest in their seeking of the truth.  I even recently read about Jerry Coyne's "conversion story" to atheism.  I think in both the shoe-wearing world and in the atheist world, sticking one's head in the sand to avoid the truth is much more comfortable than dealing with the truth.  It is more comfortable and easy to say, "well, that's true for you but not for me," than to really address one's views and look for the answers.  Is it more reasonable to believe this or that?

For more info about barefooting check out this book.  For more about how belief in God is more reasonable that atheism check out this book (there are many others but that is my main suggestion today).

It's kinda hard to see, but that's an octopus.  We found it on our last snorkeling outing.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

New Series -- Sort of, Random Thoughts While Running #1

I am going to start a new series (well, technically not a series) of posts about thoughts I have while out running.  I've already talked about my thoughts while running.  But, I'd like to make it a consistent category of posts.  Mainly because my thoughts while running are pretty random.

Let's start with this thought:

I recently (today) read a great blog entry from Evidence Unseen about the discussion between Calvinism and Arminianism.  I've blogged about and thought about this topic before and this entry has only strengthened my confidence in my view that Calvinism/Reformed Theology (C/RT) is a poor view of what the Bible really teaches.  I'm not saying I have all the answers, I'm just convinced that we do actually have true free will, and it is much easier to reconcile free will with sovereignty than it is to reconcile predestination with free will.  Also, despite some indications to the contrary, the Arminian view is more biblically sound and verifiable than I've read in the past.  Here are just a few examples (taken from that previous link): 2 Peter 3:9 key phrase, "not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance."  In the C/RT view, how can we reconcile God not wanting any to perish but He creates (presumably) millions upon billions of people that will perish without God.  Why would a loving God create people that He knows He will not choose to take to heaven.  More verses: John 15:10; Joshua 24:15; John 3:18, obviously, God wants people to choose.  If there's no such thing as free will there's also no such thing as sin, unless God is choosing or making people sin (which is impossible, Isaiah 6:3, and many other verses).

One last point on this issue (for now).  A friend of mine that is a staunch C/RTheologian, said that God is 100% sovereign, and that Adam and Eve were the only free moral agents, everyone since the fall/initial sin is a slave to sin.  Now there's still a problem...  If God is truly 100% sovereign, that means he made Adam and Eve with the plan that they would sin.  So God is responsible for their sin also.  It was in His plan all along.  They weren't really free moral agents to do what they willed, because God had already planned that they would sin.  All of this, and more, leads me to say that C/RT has the more difficult issue, both biblically and philosophically, to show how God can predestine everything and yet teach us to choose/believe, and judge us based on those choices.

On to less weighty thoughts!  I want to write at least two open letters.  I often see "open letters" talked about on blogs and other websites and I want to write at least two.  One, to atheists--well really to theists as well--that in discussions, we need to first discuss definitions of what we're to discuss before we discuss God, creation, biogenesis, etc.  The second and the one I was thinking about tonight as I ran was an open letter to all runners (I won't write all my thoughts out in this entry but this is my start):

Dear Fellow Runners,

Please try to throw off the shackles of your predisposition and prejudice and TAKE OFF YOUR FOOT-COFFINS!  Pardon the barefooter parlance, but "foot-coffins" are shoes.  I know it's tough.  When I first heard of the idea I was a bit sceptical.  But really I promise, you will like it.  Sure it might hurt a bit in different areas than when you run with your coffins on.  But I promise you will eventually grow to love the freedom and comfort, yes comfort that comes when you free your piggies.  I'm not saying that you must forever go barefoot.  In fact I'm really only encouraging you to try it.  I've not been running barefoot everywhere all the time since I started, but I'll tell you, my favorite "shoes" is when I'm not wearing shoes at all.

I won't lie, I recently restarted distance running training and tried to jump into it after a long break completely barefoot and I wasn't comfortable.  Since I need to train, and completely barefoot wasn't a viable option at the distances I need to run, I've been wearing my huaraches.  If you can't get around it, I recommend that if you cannot (because of whatever reason) go completely barefoot, try New Balance Minimus or Merrell's Barefoot line.  I personally run in Merrell Barefoot Trail Run shoes because I'm forced to by military regulations and they're pretty good, but just not as good as my huaraches, and I even prefer barefoot to my huaraches.

A few caveats: if you're planning or working on a PR in an upcoming race--that you're already pretty far along in you training for--don't switch.  If you're in an environment where the temperatures reach dangerous levels (though it is possible, I don't feel the danger is worth the risk).  If you struggle with real health issues like diabetes or some other significant health issue that affects your foot sensitivity (keep in mind I'm not a doctor, and I don't take any responsibility for your health).  Also, a word of caution and the reason I say hold off if you're working towards a PR or some other significant race, go slow.  I'm talking painfully slow.  I've heard some barefoot running teachers say only run one mile at a time for a couple weeks, and only add one mile a week for months.  Go slow, and immediately you'll feel the benefits, but if you go too fast and too far too soon, you run the risk of hurting yourself and you won't be able to enjoy it.

So do it, go out there, take off your shoes, and go run.  Set your piggies free!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Farmer Blow & Getting Hit by Age

This entry could be titled "Farmer Blow Getting Hit by Age Random Thoughts While Running Twelve Miles in the Rain on Okinawa" but I thought that might be a bit much!

So there I was, as I said, running; I've been doing quite a bit running lately as I'm training for the Okinawa marathon in February.  By the way there's a decent chance that I'll be off island for work during the month of February, so if any of you are going to be in this neck of the woods and want to buy my registration I'll sell it to you for half price.  Back to my run.

I was around the three-mile mark (of twelve), and I found myself in need of a handkerchief.  So. For the first time in my life, I performed what is commonly called the "farmer blow."  For those of you that have never had the pleasure, a farmer blow is when one places one's finger on one nostril to close it, takes a deep breath (as much as one can while running), and blows hard out of the other side of one's nose; thereby expelling anything lodged in said nose.  Usually much to the vexation of anyone who happens to be running near (especially downwind) the person performing this classy maneuver.  Fortunately there was no one around that night.  Well, as I was contemplating this act, it hit me like a rock to the side of the head: "This is the first time I've done this, and I'm thirty-two."

I got to thinking, I've been running about half my life and that is about sixteen years!  I've been running over twice as long as my eldest son has been alive.  I started soccer in my middle-school years, continued until my freshman year of high-school, then I started cross-country and track.  So I've been running since my '91-'98 school year.  Yeah, see I'm old, I graduated in 2000!  Wow, that seems like such a long time.  Doing simple math in my head as I run really makes time go fast when one is on a little over two hour run.  Reminiscing is rough though, it leads me down memory lane and it reminds me of how slow I now am.  Not really bragging, just remembering; In high-school I could run about five-minute twenty-second/mile, and now, I struggle to do ten-minutes per mile.  Even just a few years ago when I was in language school in California, I had just finished my first (and only full marathon), and I was training for more marathoning.  At that time I was running about seven-minutes forty-seconds  per mile, and I was up to eighteen miles at a time.  So, I went from high-school times around sub-nineteen minute 5K to somewhere around twenty-three minutes.  Though of course I was working on much longer distances.  I often wish I had the camaraderie of a team and the knowledge of a coach to get me back to faster speeds.  I read a Runner's World article many years ago that a distance runner's prime is usually in his/her thirties.  I've never forgotten that article, but life has gotten in the way so much over the years that I don't think I'll ever get down to those times again.  It's kinda sad, but hey, life goes on.

Anyways, I've enjoyed this little break from heavier topics, may God bless you this Christmas season.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Update on New Year's Goals

In case you've forgotten or missed that entry here's my goals for this year:
  • Read through the Bible cover-to-cover and post about it on Facebook
  • Read 50 books throughout the year
  • Train for and complete at least a half ironman triathlon
Well, if you follow me on Facebook (there's only one Samuel Ronicker on Facebook, there's a Sam Ronicker but that's my dad) you'll know that I'm not really keeping up with my daily Bible reading and commenting on my progress, but I'm not too far behind and I'm fairly sure I'll be able to catch up completely soon and that I'll be able to finish the year.  Of course it's still early, but it's actually not that tough of a goal I don't know why I haven't done it before.  I've read all of the Bible at one time or another but never from cover to cover over the course of a year.

On the second goal, here are some of the other ground rules I've added to just "read 50 books."  I won't count (nor read) books that I've read before unless I never read the whole book or it has been so long ago that I don't remember any of it.  I also won't count the children's books I read to the boys at night for their bedtime stories, I might in the future but in general I read things to them that I've read before so it's discounted by the first "rule."  I will attempt to read a wide(er) variety of works.  I generally read nonfiction, but there's some worth to some fictional works so I've tried to add some to my reading list.  If you look on the right border of my blog you'll see my current reading list.  It's in the order that I added them to the list so they're not in any real preferencial order or anything like that; basically, they have been added as I find them and decided to read each one.  Also, I won't quit reading any book I start.  I have only done that a few times anyways so it shouldn't be a problem.  I quit Hugo's Les Misérables because it was just too heavy and long, maybe I'll finish it someday.  I also quit Nabokov's Lolita because it made me sick to my stomach.  I DO NOT recommend that book to anyone.  It was sickening.  My progress is quite behind schedule on that front also.  I should be at about eleven books and I'm only at four!  I am about half-way through one other and I'm told Red Phoenix will be a quick read.

On the triathlon preparation...  This is turning out to be the most difficult one of all.  I know that may not be a surprise to most of you but that is a bit surprising to me.  I've done sprint-distance triathlons before (two of them, about four years ago) and I am an avid runner and I, prior to my trip to Southwest Asia, regularly rode with a serious biking club.  I couldn't keep up with the club, but I was working on it before my duty so rudely interrupted me.  Since I've returned little inconveniences have gotten in the way of me rejoining that club.  Namely, sleep and the desire to do sleep rather than ride on Saturday mornings.  I'm doing okay with my running preparations though I need to do more long runs.  My desire for sleep has hampered that as well.  Also, the club that I was meeting on Sunday mornings seems defunct.  I'm considering starting my own club or seeking out a new one.  I hope I can find one closer to home as the previous club was about a 30 minute drive (one way) to meet up for the run.  I'm signed up to do a half-marathon on 7 April, though I'm really not ready I'm sure I'll at least be able to complete it.  Though I'm intending to do it barefoot and that'll be the first time I've attempted that distance barefoot.  I've done as much of my training runs barefoot but unfortunately I can't run barefoot for official unit physical training because of the uniform rules.  Over this week I'll try to get in more barefoot time to be completely ready for the half in two weeks.

One last thing not really related to my goals for 2013.  I would like to start working on a book.  I've mentioned it before and I've been encouraged by my friend Steven Specht's success with Notes from Afghanistan.  I think I'd like to just start with writing about 100 words a day about learning a new language.  I'm a bit worried that it'll be very easy at first, then I'll completely run out of things to say long before I get anywhere close to enough to fill a book.  My attempts to work on updating that other book, How To Learn Any Language: Quickly, Easily, Inexpensively, Enjoyably and on Your Own, have hit a dead-end.  That is, I have NEVER heard anything back from the author or publisher about my desire to write an update to that work.  So, I've decided that I'll just start work on my own book and with the goal of writing somewhere around 100 words a day hopefully I'll have something to start with next year sometime.

So there you have it, I'm doing okay on one of three of my new year's goals.  How are you doing?  Did you even make any goals?

This place has such beautiful flora

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Relativity joke taken from Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar; "A man is praying to God. 'Lord,' he prays, 'I would like to ask you a question.' The Lord responds, 'No problem. Go ahead.' 'Lord, is it true that a million years to you is but a second?’ 'Yes, that is true.' 'Well, then, what is a million dollars to you?' 'A million dollars to me is but a penny.' 'Ah, then, Lord,' says the man, 'may I have a penny?' 'Sure,' says the Lord. 'Just a second.'”

What does that joke have to do with barefootedness you ask... well, nothing!  I just like that joke and wanted to use it.

First a bit of my running history: I started running because when I was on the soccer team my freshman year of high-school, the coach said I should try out for cross-country.  Well, since I went to a different campus that didn't have a soccer team the next year I "tried out" for the team, technically they didn't have tryouts, anyone who wanted could be on the team.  I did okay, I made it to the second level of state competition my senior year with a 5k time of 18:35 which, isn't exactly fast but not bad.  After graduating I didn't even try for the college team because I wasn't fast enough and I let my running go all through college and for a couple years after I dropped out, until I decided to join the Air Force.  The first couple years of being in the Air Force I was on a running team and I was getting pretty fast again, though not as fast I was in high school; got my 1.5mi time down to 8:45.  Also, I ran a marathon (first, and only so far) with a time of 3:53 which isn't bad for a first timer.  Just of note, I hadn't really even considered running barefoot up until about 3 or 4 years ago.

Now a bit of my barefooted history: if you don't know me in person you probably don't know that I'm a barefooter/barefoot runner.  I've  been wearing the Vibram Five Fingers (VFF) "shoes" for about three years, and when the weather is nice (mostly) I run completely barefoot.  Unfortunately, I have to wear socks when I'm in Air Force physical training gear so I don't wear my VFFs; I wear Merrell trail gloves.  I've done two half-marathons in the VFFs though I really do prefer completely barefoot.  I've also tried out a variety of other footwear options, including huaraches.  I started down my road towards barefoot/minimal shoes by reading the book Running Fast and Injury Free by Gordon Pirie and the book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall and a variety of blogs and websites.

All that to say I love running barefoot.  It kinda sucks that I won't get to run barefoot at all for the months I'm deployed.  Fortunately, I'm going to be in California (where I'm writing this) for about a month more and I'll be able to go barefoot (at least some) while I'm here.  I went for a short hike the other day barefoot and as soon as I can find more trails I'll do some more.  It kinda sucks, I can't find a place close by to go running.  I've been here a week and I've only been running once.  Hopefully this next weekend I'll get a chance to go to lake Tahoe and go for a hike/run there.

Anyways, happy trails to you all.  And, if you've never tried, go barefoot.  It's not as dangerous or painful as people think.

Edit: Since the writing of this original piece I've done a half-marathon barefooted, other than that I've been wearing my huaraches (updated link).