The Nike God

It has been a real battle changing running technique to a more natural form. The problem is that the Nike invention of heel striking and soft shoe soles is a bit like a fast food addiction; great at the time but extremely damaging in the long term and very hard to change. This problem is compounded from a lifetime of walking around with thick heels on shoes and so always reaching ahead with the feet and heel striking even when walking. On top of this an entire pseudo-medical industry has developed to deal with the problems this generates, all with an extremely pious air of respectability and authority. My own experience at age 25, with serious back trouble, was to have the country’s leading podiatrist jack me up on even higher heels and plastic foot supports. Almost 30 years later I can now see the complete stupidity in this and how it damaged my posture and back even more – but when young, inexperienced, uninformed and guided by society we are vulnerable to this self-generated expert authority. All of this masks the simple fact that the body contains it’s own wisdom and knows what’s best. If the noise of civilization can just be quietened enough so that we can listen to the body then all the information required is already there. The first thing to understand when changing running in this direction is that the “fast food” days are over; no more instant gratification. Say goodbye to Nike and all the copycat products everywhere; the “motion control”, “anti pronation”, “shock absorption” junk food equivalent. This all means that a whole new mind set is required to work along with a whole new set of muscles, tendons and ligaments doing a whole new job. Shock absorption and motion control now come directly from the muscles, tendons and ligaments so the demands placed upon them are dramatically different. This change is major and so it changes every aspect of running and what to expect from it. It takes longer to build up distance and speed due to the direct demands placed upon the body. Interruptions in training cause a more significant impact on performance and it takes longer to get things back together again on returning to running. Good mechanics of movement require awareness, focus and attention at all times, instead of mindless abandonment to the Nike God. Adaptation towards “Conscious” running is the easy part. The hard part is in dealing with long term effects of “fast food” style withdrawal and the slowed and changed patterns of progress, yet rapid set backs due to interruptions. Over time however it is noticed that interruptions are no longer due to chronic injuries, but are only due to priorities. The aches and pains after running (doms) and aching tendons are very predictable and noticeable with each increase in distance or speed, so with just a little experience it is very easy to avoid those issues becoming injuries. The Nike God in contrast has a tendency to directly mask those issues and allow you to forge on through until something breaks. Frustration at the slow build up of speed or distance is easily offset through patient appreciation that the quality of the build up is much greater and deeper. Whether this eventually leads to a better overall performance is debatable, but what isn’t debatable is that it definitely leads to a better overall experience in several different and fundamental dimensions. Just get used to more progressive and methodical build-ups in training. Quality can’t be rushed. We are off the “fast food” and preparation takes time. The heartening thing for those who persist is that as the level builds so do the rewards, on every level. Awareness grows steadily like a solid and massive oak tree from a tiny acorn. Performance itself takes second place to this other development. Each slow build up after an interruption also gives time to let fresh water and nutrition get to all the existing branches and leaves of this oak tree – letting you get properly back in touch with the body as the physical side sorts itself out. Awareness and good mechanics are necessary together to fight off the omnipresent Nike God.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *