Archive for July, 2010

a different kind of free – running barefoot

07/19/2010

Never before in my life have I been excited to run. It was always a necessary evil to stay healthy and in shape and occasionally relieve some stress. Plus, during high school track season it made my ass look great! But lately I’ve been seeing it differently, as I’ve been taking a different approach. And that approach is to hit the pavement barefoot.

It’s a different kind of free. This type of running allows you to experience something you can’t enjoy whilst huffing and puffing along heel-to-toe with typical running shoes, and for the first time in my life I have looked forward to running. I honestly can’t explain WHY I feel this way about barefoot running. I’ve always preferred the hobbit-like lifestyle, but never has it given me this much enjoyment. It’s just…fun.

“it’s science”

But aside from the aesthetics, there’s also a science to it. A running shoe is essentially a cast. The most expensive running shoes that have the most padding and “support” inhibit the natural pronating movement of the foot. For years doctors have said that pronation is a bad thing, that it leads to injuries such as shin splints, plantar fascitis and various knee problems. But a host of recent studies have shown that the running shoe, in fact, could be the true cause of all of our running problems.

Padded, arched running shoes have only been around since Nike’s experiments with a waffle iron and rubber in the 70’s. And since the 70’s, running injuries have increased at an exponential rate. Nowadays, eight out of 10 regular runners get injured every year. As Nike has evolved and come to realize this…well, check out one of their most recent commercials:

born to run

I recently finished the book Born to Run. It’s about an adventuring journalist’s voyage to simply discover why his foot hurt when he ran. Throughout the novel, you follow his journey to discover a hidden tribe of superathletes in Mexico, meet and befriend a host of eccentric ultrarunners, and learn from some of the world’s best scientists, anthropologists and evolutionary biologists. His ultimate conclusion is that homo sapiens were literally born to run.

We evolved that way for a reason – by shodding our feet in padded running shoes, we’ve taken a step back in the evolutionary process. One of the best lines in the book refers to the fact that supporting your arch is inherently wrong – why would you put a support under an arch? It only weakens the structure. If you let the arch stand alone with no support, it is more architecturally sound.

Now it definitely takes some getting used to, that’s for sure. For the past few days my foot has been wrapped to pad the blisters that have begun to populate the soles of my feet…but they’re getting tougher. More calluses are already forming and my calves are consistently sore as my muscles grow.

Bottom line: Barefoot running is an exhilarating experience and one that will hopefully last 26.2 miles this fall for me and my brother.

Here’s a nice wrap-up video about barefoot running (and I strongly recommend you purchase Born to Run – it’s one of them life-changing books folks keep talking about):

is too much good bad?

07/14/2010

“Adversity is like a strong wind. It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are.” ~Arthur Golden

Matt Barnes

I sit in a Lay-Z-Boy and eat bon-bons all day.

You know how people say bad things happen to the best people? You know, that family whose house was destroyed by a tornado. That humanitarian who contracts cancer. That community-oriented teenager killed by a drunk driver. You get the idea.

Well if that’s the case, I’m a really bad person, because bad things simply don’t happen to me. And I truly despise that.

Stick with me here. I know it sounds crazy but I’m being completely honest.

I’m 23 years old. I have a loving family, who have raised me the right way. I have great friends, who have not only stuck with me despite my propensity to be an asshole at times, but also driven or flown long distances

just to visit me. I went to a university that gave me numerous opportunities, from being on TV, traveling across th

e nation, winning an Emmy and a commercial/billboard. Oh, and I got a full scholarship to that university and because of that, am debt-free. At 23.

I could go on and on but I think you get my point. And I’m not laying all of this out to brag about my good fortune, but instead give you an idea of why I might feel the way I feel.

So why is all this bad? Because there’s no challenge to overcome. There’s no epiphany moment ever. In other words, it’s almost boring.

I have a friend who lost his job recently. For many, especially in this economy, that’s a traumatic experience. But he didn’t lose faith. He stayed positive and now, is in the midst of a 40-day tour playing at Open Mic nights across the nation. He’s making the best of an awful situation. And I’m truly jealous of him.

Do I want to lose my job right now? Not at all. But to be able to test myself and see how I would react to that situation would be great. I would like to think I would handle it with grace and maturity but I don’t know that. Because I truly have no precedent.

Another reason too much good may be bad is that I have a hard time understanding the pain/grief others feel in bad situations. In other words, I can be sympathetic for the person but not empathetic. I may feel for them, but I can’t feel with them.

Now don’t get me wrong. There are lots of bad things about me. My lack of athletic ability. My weakness to watch just about every reality TV show known to man. My love for losing teams like the Indians, Pacers and Blue Jackets. And so much more. But none of these are are bad things that happen to ME.

So what am I gonna do about this “problem” I have? Am I going to purposely break my leg? Try to contract some awful disease? Quit my job and “rough” it for a while? Nope, because that’s just stupid, as my feeling towards my distressful life is. But I hope someone out there can understand my thought process.

All I want is to be able to test myself. I want something bad to force me to bring out the best (or worst) in me. I want to become a better employee, better Christian, better friend, and a better person. It’s something that can be done without something awful happening to me, but it would also mean so much more.

For example, raising money for cancer awareness is great anytime. But when you’re raising money for cancer awareness in memory/honor of a loved one, it has more of a personal impact. I’m lacking that feeling, and it’s one I think I need to have to really see who I am.

Say what you want about how dumb, crazy, egotistical, heartless, or pathetic my thought process is. Trust me, I’ve heard it before. But I think I make a valid point. Becoming a better person takes more than just a change in heart or belief. It also takes a drastic change in your daily routine or lifestyle, that throws your world sideways. Unfortunately, mine is just filled with mini speed bumps and I would love nothing more to than to see that change so I can change for the better.

we are cleveland

07/07/2010

I know for a fact that I’m one of many Clevelanders tired of the seemingly unending debate over LeBron’s soon-to-be home town. We’ve been hearing about it for months: on ESPN, on the front page of the PD and via Twitter, where every tweeter is his or her own sportscast. Conjectures on LeBron’s potential move have been made by respected sports authorities. Predictions have been put forth by nearly every season ticket holder. But ultimately, as we all know, there is only one man who will decide: The King, himself. So I say this: let him choose his own fate, and let us Clevelanders determine what really matters to us as a city. As a people. Because LeBron is not Cleveland.

We are Cleveland.

To state the obvious: what LeBron has done in a mere six seasons as a Cavalier is incredible. He is undoubtedly one of the best basketball players of all time and one of the most inspiring athletes of our generation. Hundreds of people will go watch his pre-game warm-up – at away games. He not only boosts the local economy, he drastically increases game attendance in cities across the country when he struts into their town with nothing but his uniform, sweatband and pair of sparklin’ Nike Zooms. His poise, his confidence, the camaraderie he shares with his teammates – it all comes together every game like a birthday magic show. All the kids are entertained by the feats whether they like the magician or not. This is all well and good, but it so easily lets one simple fact slip through the cracks.

We are Cleveland.

LeBron is not a permanent fixture, however much we would love to claim the opposite to be the case. If he leaves, he will be missed. No doubt about that. He’s done much for this city by his mere existence and raw talent, and both our wallets and our hearts will hurt at his loss. But I hate to break it to you LeBron: you are not Cleveland. Cleveland was a great city before you got here. Cleveland was a great city while you were here. And Cleveland will still be a great city after you leave. Why? Because

We are Cleveland.

We are the common folk commuting every day to work. We are the revelers on St. Patty’s day downtown. We are the laymen drinking Dortmunder on the patio of Great Lakes Brewing Company. We are the Westpark businesses trying to save St. Pat’s. We are the former frat boys and wishing-we-were-still Alpha Xi’s partying on West 6th. We are the speed demons getting pulled over in Linndale. We are the ones with tattoos of grilled-cheese sandwiches simply to get a 25% discount at our favorite restaurant. We are the mosh pitters at the Agora. We are the chicken and waffles at Southside in Tremont. We are the paths of the Metroparks. We are the exhibits at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. We are the opening acts at PlayHouse. We are the guitars at the Rock Hall.

We are Cleveland.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you leave LeBron, we’ll move on. We’re used to disappointment – that’s part of our DNA in Cleveland. We haven’t had a winning football team (and at one point even a team at all) for more than 40 years. We haven’t had a World Series title since ’48. And we’re currently being hit hard by one of the worst economic downturns in U.S. history. But we’ve been loyal. We’ve been patient. We’ve been resilient, adapting to the ebb and flow like a fisherman on the lake. Those of us who were born Clevelanders and those of us who became Clevelanders via new employment or simply the fortuitous winds of Fate.

We are Cleveland.

We may not have a flag or a tattered banner waving romantically in the smoke-filled skies above a burning battlefield, but we are in a war that is currently raging around the central figure of LeBron James. A war that is not for land. Not for power. Not for love. But for our souls. No matter what happens, no matter who plays professional sports for us, no matter how many corrupt politicians infect our bureaucratic structure, no matter how many times our river catches fire, and no matter how many bullshit magazine articles tell us we’re the most miserable fucking city in the country:

We. Are. Cleveland.

And you best remember it.