An admitted shoe geek waxes philosophical about running, triathlon, and life in general.
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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

We evolved to run in shoes?

My purpose here is not to delve into the creation vs. evolution argument -- my personal view is that the two are not mutually exclusive. But I wanted to address something I keep seeing pop up in the Big Shoe Company literature. To wit, this was quoted in Pete's Runblogger post today -- from ASICS International Research Coordinator Simon Bartold to questions posed by Sneaker Freaker Magazine:

We have been wearing shoes for thousands of years and have actually evolved to
adapt to a ‘shod’ situation.

As I understand it, evolution boils down to "survival of the fittest", meaning the herd is culled by general living conditions. Like if you're too slow, the predators get you. And if you can't get food, you starve. Especially in western societies, when was the last time having a pair of shoes (or not) made the difference between survival and slaughter? When was the last time that one starved because of lack of shoes? Okay, I'd have to give the point that if one couldn't afford food, then likely one couldn't afford shoes either, but the cause isn't the shoes...

So I see this argument, that "we evolved to wear shoes", pop up occasionally, and my BS meter just pegs out.

Sure, we adapt to wearing shoes -- that's just a testament to how adaptable we are as humans. I'm NOT saying that shoes are forcing a genetic adaptation. That's just not happening, unless we can say that shoes are killing off those who can't adapt. [Oh, man, that thought is just too comical.] Pete did an experiment, and there was some official study (which I can't remember off the top of my head), both of which that showed that the subjects footfalls and running form changed immediately when they took their shoes off.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm not trying to espouse barefoot running. I'm not a barefoot purist. I love going barefoot around the house, and kick off my shoes at work every chance I get. But I like wearing shoes when running. I just don't think that the shoes should alter one's stride from what we REALLY evolved to do.

Back when the saber-toothed tiger took the slowest runner, and we had to chase down deer or starve.

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