Running Analogies I Never Get To Use At The Store

This is just the shit that rolls around in my head all day.

  • Imagine stepping off a 4ft counter onto the hardwood floor. What would you do? Instinctively you’d land on the balls of your feet with flexed ankles and bent knees. That’s your body’s shock absorbers. Now, imagining landing on your heels with your knees locked. How much cushion you would want in order to do that? Is there any amount that you think would make that feel good? No? That’s why no amount of cushion in your shoes is going to protect your joints. Your joints protect themselves if you let them.
  • Do you know the story of Cornflakes? A hundred years ago a guy thought bland food would cure masturbation and thirty years after that his nephew added tons of sugar so people would buy more. That’s it. That’s the whole billion dollar cereal industry and all the options you see in the super market. That’s also why modern running shoes are high heeled and max cushioned – weird assholes with dumb ideas start companies and then the priority is finding a way to make them appealing.
  • Everybody runs different? Sure, every car is different too but if your wheels are angling inward or outward and fighting against the efficient movement of the car, you don’t just say “Oh that’s just how she goes.” You fix whatever is misaligned. And not from the tires up but from the driver down.
  • And while we’re on the topic of Everybody Runs Different, don’t you find it just fucking quirky that only people with money for fancy science-magic shoes are afflicted with the problems cured by fancy science-magic shoes? God smited all the middle-class white women with dreaded over-pronation and not a single Kenyan school child, huh? Didn’t know Kenyan school kids were Moses’ chosen people on running shoe Passover.
  • If you tell me you need a Phillips Head Screwdriver…. and I pass you a Phillips Head Screwdriver… Don’t go “eww” then push it away and ask me if I have any other recommendations. If you want a fashion screwdriver go to the fashion screwdriver store.
  • Okay, a thing that happens every single day: People feel a bit embarrassed coming to a running store and saying they don’t run so, out of a dead silence, they’ll defiantly announce how far they walk or how long they’re on their feet for work. Which… fine. We need more people to think of themselves as athletes in the sport of normal life. The thing is, they’ll follow it up by saying they therefore need a shoe with tons of support and cushion. If you’re so proud of your damn bike why are you shopping for training wheels, tiger? I’ll happily work with someone who’s like “I’m a squishy little wuss and need all the help I can get” but I can’t tolerate some self-declared badass who’s suddenly all “Can you stwain the pulp from my owange juice?”

Okay, that wasn’t really an analogy and I’m getting dangerously close to just bitching about work so I’ll wrap it up. The funny thing is, I wrote this post because I used an analogy at work today and my co-worker was like “Will you write that down for me?” And when I opened this document to start I mentally couldn’t find a clue as to what I’d said to him earlier. So there’s more in there somewhere.

I Still Worry I’m A shoespirasist

I wrote a while ago about checking my confirmation bias and I feel compelled to rehash that before I start: I put up a poster in the store which references some studies about how pronation control shoes do nothing, max cushion shoes are hurting you, the usual barefoot zealot type stuff, and I realized that’s typical confirmation bias – I found what I wanted and then stopped looking.

So I looked some more and I found hundreds of studies confirming what I think. Well, one hundred fifty eight.

But what bugs me is I couldn’t find any “other side”. Not for running shoes anyway, I got into a rabbit hole of learning about tennis shoes and they made a pretty good case for orthopedics having performance benefits. (Here’s that link. Also this guy has a video where he buys one of Serena William’s shoes on eBay and buys the over the counter public version and cuts them in half to show the difference which is such pure shoe nerd I respect him forever.)

Even one of my go to shoetubers on the topic of heel drop was like shrug emoji. All the minimalist stuff makes sense to him but he still feels like cushion and heel are somehow normal. Like, they just have to be because otherwise why would most shoes have them? But also it’s worth pointing out that he’s had a ton of all the typical running injuries and had to learn exercises to correct them, not just buy more and more ‘supportive’ shoes.

Which brings me to the majority problem; the normalcy problem. Running is the only sport where a majority of participants report being injured every year. It’s weird to deflect to the idea of normal when the norm is injured.

Like, with smoking, everyone has some example of an uncle or someone who smoked a pack a day right up to the end and it never seemed like it was doing them any harm. The thing is the vast vast vast majority of smokers do see palpable harm and premature death from smoking so we can dismiss those anecdotes and say that smoking is definitively bad.

So here we are with most runners being injured and more and more of the gen pop having foot problems and kinetic chain problems and still everyone is like I guess we just need to smoke harder? Like, running injuries and foot problems have just gotten worse and worse since Nike debuted and took over the market and everyone had to copy them or go bankrupt but barefoot running is regarded as a niche trend that passed?

The thing is, particularly when it’s anonymous, anecdotal evidence still sways me. I worry that I’m the crazy one and I’ve just opted for certainty over… I want to say confusion but if I weren’t confused I wouldn’t be writing this post.

But you get it. It simplifies things to be dogmatic; To declare everything towards the center from me is just bullshit and never have to deal with any worry.

When anecdotal evidence isn’t anonymous though holy fuck am I elitist. I’ll get people in the store with feet that are just destroyed saying insoles relieved their Trinidadian cousin’s friend’s shin splints and I… I just die a little more inside.

Not everyone of course but it still shocks and disappoints me when I tell someone I can show them the stretches they can do for free and the much cheaper roller they could buy to surely solve their problem rather than a spend-and-hope, spending-is-solving, expensive-is-better strategy. And this is again where I sound like a conspiracy theorists because there is a dreaded they.

They want you to think expensive is better, they want you to be confused, they don’t want you to think you could solve your issues without them.

But really it’s that there’s 70+ shoes companies in an extremely competitive market and they’re all trying to make payroll by selling what sells. It’s like professional YouTubers – a sensational thumbnail and a clickbait title full of comments telling you you suck is, by the numbers, by the ad revenue, a better video than something sincere that’s totally true and useful but just a little dry.

It’s not evil to follow the sales numbers and worry about your employees feeding their kids.

And yet the thing is – this is me just turning into work venting now – people still get mad at me. In a personally impersonal way. I field complaints all the time where people tell me how much money they spent and their problem isn’t solved and I’m like I know! You spent your money dumbly like a dumb idiot and now you want my sympathy while you’re giving me attitude? Take my name down… ’cause you’re gonna be writing to customer service about me. I didn’t build the industry, I didn’t make the shoe or advertise the shoe, I didn’t chose the shoe to be in our corporate bullshit store, but sure act like the minimum wage employee you meet face-to-face is the author of all your pain. You righteous avenger, you.

I’ve already quit and everyday multiple times a day I wish I could quit again harder.

Anyway, anything left to say? Did I resolve anything for myself?

One thing I should mention that I don’t talk about enough is injury. Acute injury. If you just ruptured your Achilles, yeah, don’t get into barefoot shoes. Specific injuries, chronic and acute might have different specific needs. The problem is the gen pop has been deliberately mislead as to what’s an injury and what’s a weakness. A lot of things labeled as chronic injuries are in fact just weakness and you fix a weakness by getting stronger not by wrapping everything in a cast.

And because we’re talking about runners I have to say specifically I do not mean mental strength. Fighting through pain is being stupid not being strong. Being strong is your body being able to flourish when doing what you ask of it, not ignoring it. Mentally, if you want to be tougher, be tougher; physically, if you have plantar fasciitis, learn to stretch your fucking calves. Let your body do the work in a controlled way, let it practice, so that it doesn’t catastrophically fail you when it’s suddenly tested.

This has just turned into full on self reinforcement. I’d prefer a post be self exploration that gets me somewhere new but I’ll also take something that makes me feel better about where I am.

I Wish People Understood Running Shoes Aren’t “Good” Shoes

I feel like apologizing for sounding like a broken record but I think it’s because I have to talk about this every day at work, not necessarily that I’ve written about it too many times.

But regardless I will make my points immediately so you don’t have to read the whole thing to benefit – running shoes are specialty shoes, they are not magic cure-all good-for-everything shoes.

  • Running shoes are terrible “Everyday” shoes
  • Running shoes do not have “good” arch support
  • Running shoes are not good work shoes and telling me how many hours you’re on your feet won’t change that
  • Running shoes are terrible gym shoes
  • Running shoes will not “correct” anything about how you move unless the problem was caused by already wearing worse running shoes
  • You do not need to wear “good” running shoes just because you are old

A big part of my frustration comes from the fact those customers keep the lights on, they are actually my job’s core audience, and yet we don’t actually serve them well. The industry tells them we do but at the ground level we’re stuck serving them merely as best we can with terrible options. Like, we don’t even sell good running running shoes let alone good running shoes for non-running shoe problems. It’s like we’re a tennis shop selling badminton rackets to hockey players.

But that’s a corporate problem and I can’t hope to change that. I can only shout into the void and tell myself that I’m #informing people.

I think there’s two reasons at the heart of the problem. One is just marketing and there’s two sides to that coin too. Athletic shoe marketing obsessively uses words like support, structure, help, comfort, performance and promise you access to your best self; meanwhile medical advertisers treat feet like a Starbucks order where you gotta know if you’re a high arch, wide-foot, over-pronating, heel-striker; which is all nonsense to make you feel overwhelmed.

Now, some people LOVE being the Starbucks order of feet, it makes them feel unique and important. And like so many unique, important people they use tons of words they don’t understand. And those people I don’t think can be helped. At least not by me.

So top-down advertising is a problem. The second part of the problem is bottom-up. People have aches and pains and think athletic shoes will help. But, no, it’s being an athlete that would help. It’s what you do, not what you wear.

People want to walk in and buy the solution to a problem. I’ve learned that I have to sell someone a shoe first before telling them how to solve their problem for free with a few exercises or they will complain about me to national leadership.

Another part of the problem that I should acknowledge though is no one else is even trying to serve the market. Running shoes captured the whole make-feet-feel-good-please market because no one else is trying.

There are actually good running shoe manufacturers making all around great shoes but only marketing to hardcore runners so they don’t occupy enough of the market to be in in stores everywhere; while the Pop-Tart running shoe manufacturers make glorified lifestyle shoes that are actually worse than lifestyle shoes but they market them to everyone. Smartest of all they market them to women. Women make choices for themselves but also for their kids and for their husbands.

If you can convince parents they are doing the right thing for their kids by doing the magic voodoo gait analysis then you not only got them, you got the kid indoctrinated for life too.

And I think big lifestyle brands can’t risk looking like they care. Like, if Converse built an ad around being only 1/3 as bad for your feet as Nikes they’d be giving up their carefully cultivated care-free image.

There are some small companies that are really trying and I want to leave with something good and worthwhile so here’s a video from one of my go-to channels:

The Story Of Working At The Running Room

My time at the RR is coming to an end. So I keep mentally rehearsing what I’m going to say about it in future job interviews and subsequently thinking things we all know you never say in future job interviews.

So here’s the tip-to-tail story, to get it off my mind:

It all starts because Liv’s parents, particularly her mum, know I’m into running and was working on being a fitness instructor. There was a sign in the window of the shop looking for people to lead clinics and group runs. They texted a photo to her to show to me and I went in with my entirely cooking-based resume. And I fully expressed that I thought it would be good first chance to start building my coaching resume, since that was my life plan. And I expressed how much I love running which had a impact because everyone else there was only familiar with running as cross training for other sports. Actually hockey. Just hockey.

I got hired to lead the running group. Clinic groups had talks and I had no heads up when we didn’t have a guest speaker so I always had one prepared; I had no heads up if a route was planned so I always pretended I had one prepared.

It was the best of times. I liked who I felt I was to the group and to the store. It was technically a job which was better than technically having no job but really it was volunteering. I got paid 18 dollars per person. Which was astounding when I thought 18 dollars per person 3 times a week, holy shit but it was actually 18 dollars per person for the whole 8 week clinic.

So basically I was making 120 bucks for two month.

Or would have been. Because COVID happened before the first class wrapped up and head office kept all the money while cutting off all communication between the company, and me, and the group.

But that’s March and my story is still in December. Long before the lay-off I accepted some retail shifts behind the counter. And I had expected to be asked, I loved running and I was the only person of the entire staff of 8 part-time, random-shift, moms-and-students to have, frankly, any knowledge about it.

The manager at the time was enthusiastic about that. She even thought I’d be a good replacement for her. She was on her way out; She’d had enough of the corporate culture; Everyone in the company was a stupid jerk, she warned.

Honestly, I thought it must be that she was dumb and lazy. When someone thinks everyone around them sucks it usually means they just hate being called on their shit.

So I was working one night a week and she was leaving. Training was, shall we say, chill. I carried my notepad, I absorbed everything I could – which then all changed anyway but more on that later.

The assistant manager and I talked a little bit about what was going to happen next and then… she left too.

I was suddenly, officially, a full time employee and the defacto heir apparent because I taught the clinic, wasn’t in school, and didn’t have another job. I became the go-to guy when I’d spent about 40 hours in the store over about 3 months.

I was taking deep breaths and thinking I’d figure out all these challenges on the fly but luckily I didn’t have to. Because COVID.

I worked one of the last days before the big lay off and we took in no money while doing 500 dollars in returns. I imagine it’s that, with so much sudden uncertainty, people felt something like guilt about luxury purchases like running shoes and wanted to liquidate that money.

A different Area Manager called me in a confused fury and demanded to know what was going on, why were all Calgary stores in the negative?

I asked him, basically, who the hell he thought he was to yell at me about that and he hung up. And I thought that must have been one of the peeps the former manager was talking about, what a stupid jerk.

So, lay off happened the next day.

I started collecting CERB and living the dream. I always said, in answer to the office space question what would you do if you suddenly didn’t have to work, that I’d just train twice a day and read a lot. Which is absolutely what I did.

When the re-opening was happening I said yes immediately and took the pay cut. I wanted to show loyalty and show my hand’s-always-up.

So the store reopened with me and one other chap working open to close everyday and that was it. We were the staff.

Now he, by education, was a chemical engineer. By athleticism he was a volleyball player. By give-a-shit he was nothing. He had the school boy mentality of doing whatever he felt like as long as he wouldn’t get in trouble. If something happened and he was scared he’d get yelled at it threw him into a panic.

Luckily for him we never got yelled at for anything. The worrying lack of oversight was not worrying to him. He was actually pretty alright and I smile when I think about him – he did get a chemical engineering job and moved to Manitoba.

The first problem we diagnosed – before he left – was the daily paperwork. You see, at the end of a normal day we print off a bunch of stuff and put it in a basket. Back in the day the basket would be empty at the start of each week. And it was Charles who pointed out that it was not. It was just accumulating.

The baskets where overflowing and the drawer the baskets where in had also begun to verge on overflowing.

And I could not get an answer out of anyone I could contact as to what, specifically, to do with it.

There are, like, 8 envelopes you’re supposed to send off to Head Office each week and my A1 problem was how do I send things to head office. I only know a handful of store numbers if I’ve sent them customer transfers.

But, I figured, the stores are sequential based on when they opened (Calgary currently has stores 013, 065, 078, 086, and 1 more but I’m not looking up fucking Crossiron) so head office might be 001. So I jammed everything from the weeks before the lay-off and everything since into two envelopes and said okay, I know this is wrong but it’s probably so wrong that someone will scream at me about it and I’ll be able to say… thank you, now where is it supposed to go and how it supposed to be filed?

Doing something dead wrong in the worst possible way should be the easiest possible path to feedback.

Instead… nothing.

I wanted to step up, take a shot, and risk looking like a fucking idiot but it turned out I didn’t look like anything.

And that actually explains the tone of the company communication.

You are at best shouting into a void. The norm is shockingly worse.

My favorite bad examples are once receiving an email that was just a question mark and copy/pasted line from a spreadsheet and when I replied could they explain what they were asking they replied a few minutes later your manager should have told you.

And the second thing I can never forget I already wrote about, but when I’m enraged and talking about it I summarize it as me having to track down one pair of shoes by calling California, two people in Edmonton, then getting a call from one person in Kingston, finally to have Edmonton email me to say listen, we sent them wherever they’re supposed to go. But then the next day getting an email saying the shoes were coming direct to my store from Kingston and we don’t know what happened.

Motherfucker you happened. This must be one of the guys the former manager was trying to tell me was a twat.

And this is the whole toxic culture of the place – maybe they really didn’t know what happened. Maybe something got dumped in their lap with no context and no guidance and they did what they thought was possibly correct then felt an absence of gratitude when they got called out for guessing wrong.

Because that’s ultimately all this company is. The answer to every problem (unless you are exceptionally lucky and if you are exceptionally lucky we will laughingly tell you) is I don’t know why that happened and no I can’t fix it.

And it got to me, it toxified me. When customers, innocent and niave people, came to me with a problem my first reaction was to be so dismissive and cold because this wasn’t my problem and I couldn’t help. All i could do was want you to try elsewhere.

The store got a pseudo-manager in the form of the events coordinator. But all he does is tell people he’s the events coordinator. He resents the store and the company more than I do. Because he’s been in it longer. And he hates customers more than I do to the point it shames and appalls me.

But from the companies point of view there’s no one else.

You see, no store actually has employees right now. 2 Area Managers, 3 store managers, 1 Events Coordinator, and me represent the entire, dwindling, work force for the 5 Calgary stores.

And those Managers, over-worked as they honestly are, have vacation days. Vacation days they have no intention of missing.

So my job has turned into just showing up, opening the store, and having no idea if I’m solo for the whole day with no breaks or if I’m on for 3 hours and 1 or sometimes 2 salaried old men are coming in to relieve me.

Oh the email, oh the email I have to talk about the “thanks” email… When someone rage quit and the Area Manager was going to have start covering their shifts (and therefore not covering all the shifts they were already covering elsewhere) they sent out an email telling us that profits are up and it’s all thanks to us doing what we do to keep wages lean.

My highest concern, thanks. All day I had to repeatedly fight the urge to reply that the federal government has paid my rent 18 months in a row but I’m super glad corporate profits are up.

And that’s where we are right now. Everyday on a pad at work I write a number out of ten for how much I dreaded going in and how strongly I feel the pull to just leave. I’m on the verge of just leaving while a customer is talking.

Because… it’s retail. You know retail. I don’t know if I’ve written this point before but there’s bad, neutral, and good customer experiences. And the majority will always be that neutral category. That neutral category though becomes bad when you look back on a day or a week and feel that nothingness.

The bad becomes stories and stories give meaning.

The good… few are far between. I still light up when someone has sincere athletic questions and is receptive to sincere athletic advice; I still get customers who remember me and thank me by name. There’s usually one interaction a week where I’m glad and I feel I’m doing my service and I can sigh with relief. Other than that I’m just a listening-whore for old ladies for the remaining 150 interactions.

That’s a shit ratio for job satisfaction. That’s shit job satisfaction for minimum wage.

And yet I feel like if I could just be perfect this wouldn’t matter. Why can’t I be a listening-whore for old ladies, do I think I’m so much better than that, isn’t it egotistical to want to be valued for I want to give?

Maybe. But fuck it, life’s too short to dread your job.

The myth of gait analysis pt 2

So I said in the previous post that even if in-store gait-analysis told us something useful it still wouldn’t matter. I didn’t properly explain that. So here we go:

If I were going to do an analysis it would this one from Bob & Brad:

And yet if someone failed these tests I wouldn’t use that information to sell them a particular shoe I would just say you aren’t ready to run. Go exercise until you are and then come back.

Which would not be a store that could keep the lights on. So instead the business model has to be you’re a pussy? Here’s your pussy shoes. Gimme 200 dollars and go get weaker.

Okay, that was drastic and I wrote it when I was annoyed. But I stand by it anyway. Because, back on point, it wouldn’t matter anyway if someone did pass what should be a bare-minimum-human-body-owners-manuel test – there’s no shoes in most shoe stores for you.

People offer up, desperately, a ton of useless information to their shoe salesmen and it doesn’t matter. Not because you don’t matter but because all the 32 options you see on the wall are basically the same option. I am trying to do good and have a positive impact and give you a joyful educational experience when you’re in the store yet at-the-end-of-the-day all I can actually do is find you a pair of shoes you like.

It’s like tomato sauce. Imagine the store was called The Pasta Sauce Place and yet all we had was 32 different types of tomato sauce.

People come in expecting – Not because they’re bad people (although some are of course) but because they’ve been promised by marketing – that we’ll be able to diagnosis what the perfect food is for them and meanwhile we lowly salespeople with no control over what’s available in the store have to be like …let’s try 4 different tomatoes, then eliminate 2 and try 2 more, then do that again… over and over until we have 2 then it’s finally a technical discussion of if you get heartburn which will make it least bad.

I have this thing where I imagine how to be a happy Sisyphus and push my boulder up the hill each day and I think if I were to push the same boulder, up the same hill each day I could find joy in perfecting the path; doing the same work but having it be easier and easier.

The problem in my job is that sometimes the boulder is a lot farther down the hill than you’d like; farther than it was with the last customer; the farthest down it’s been all week – and you just want to not bother. One time I seriously had an urge to leave the store mid-sentence when I was starting my spiel for a basically pleasant, totally naive old lady.

I was even preparing a you-need-to-leave speech for customers where rapport has failed and they don’t get my process although I have yet to deploy it. Like, if I have to dig you so far out of such an intellectual hole just to get some okay shoes then you are best served by me saying no. Which is a favour people do not like receiving.

I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, I know, but I’m some people’s shot of whiskey. And it’s rare I go a whole week without getting to actually explain running form and the value of shoes and do what I’d like my whole job to be.

And I am trying, right now you’re seeing the trying, to get upstream of the problem and educate people before they come in the store. The world doesn’t really need me because we have Kelly Starrett but I’m doing the best I can each day to spread the gospel.

I Do Deal With Good Customers Too

I know that I inadvertently give the impression that I hate my job. It’s just that there’s nothing to dig into and talk about when it comes to good customers.

New runners hungry for advice, experienced runners trading advice or talking about upcoming shoes, just nice people in general, very occasional babes.

But what more do you say about that? It wouldn’t be bragging per se because it wouldn’t inspire envy to be like I had a good day at work. In fact times I’ve mentioned having a good day people are pleasant and encouraging, that’s not the response you get if what you’re doing is bragging. But it’s still a pointless thing to share. It’s sometimes tedious to be told someone is having a god day because it’s really annoying if you’re not.

When I talk about shitty customers I’m trying not to merely complain either. Because obviously that’s pointless and annoying too. I’m trying to dissect the situation to see if I’m at fault or if I can learn anything even about just not being a shitty person. And if I can learn then I can share – That’s blog worthy – or not worthy per se but it causes things to rattle around my head and necessitate writing.

And there are absolutely times when I’m just coming clean because I know I was the shitty one in a situation.

But back on the topic of good customers, something I should mention is that I rely on good customers. I put in a lot of emotional work into not staying angry, not reminding myself to stay pissed off long after a situation is over, not believing in bad days only bad minutes. So after a garbage customer or boss interaction I leap into the next encounter deliberately believing it’s going to go well.

And most often what happens at work is disappointment rather than any kind of confrontation. It’s odd when you say it but the majority of Running Room customers are not runners. It’s actually rare that I get to deal with runners and actually get to use the expertise I’ve been building.

And I can avoid the bad day/bad life feeling when dealing with problems but dealing with the pointlessness of ferrying grandma shoes puts me in a self-hating spiral, bringing out increasingly worse versions of me. So like I said, I cherish the good customers I get. Sometimes I think it’s just my elitism that I resent dealing with people there for non-athletic reasons but at the same time, a lot like working in kitchens, it’s also that I hate being merely a body. So of course I value when I get to be me and bring something I’ve worked hard for to the conversation.

Really, a good customer is just one that’s receptive to advice. Often times people want the advice they already think and can get upset if you give them something else – which sucks because the deliberate and accidental swirling misconceptions around shoes are legion.

Actually a long time ago, thinking about how I could take action to improve my job satisfaction, I started putting up infographic posters in the store thinking maybe I could sneak some facts into people’s heads and stop dealing with the same misconceptions over and over but no luck so far.

What Really Goes On In A Running Store: The Myth Of Gait Analysis

Opening definitive statement: Any gait analysis that doesn’t involve a treadmill and a high speed camera is nonsense and even then there’s no useful running shoe information gathered.

This video, so shockingly lamely produced, is actually the best informational video on running shoes I’ve found in my years of searching.

It’s short, it’s clear, it’s unequivocal.

And if it were widely seen I could stop being confronted with the same moronic expectations every day at work.

I serpticiously put a poster up in the store that contains a bunch of this information to try and preempt the tedium and nonsense but, naturally, posters just become part of the scenery.

Now of course I worry about confirmation bias so I’ve been digging back in lately, trying to find out what the other side says and I’ve found… nothing. There is no other side. There’s nothing I can find defending heel drop shoes, orthodics, stability shoes and pronation control, etc. It’s just all grandfathered into the industry and the cultural knowledge.

I used to keep my copy of Brian Metlzer’s Kicksology at work with a highlighted passage about a running shoe study. This study took two groups, one assessed and assigned footwear using conventional gait analysis while another group was assigned at random… And there was no difference in injury rates. So if you go to a running store and they have you walk around barefoot and they nod knowingly – they’re still as good as you guessing at random.

Yet, I deal with people every week who want that bit of smoke and mirrors. It pervades the industry not because it gains any useful information but because it builds trust. It creates the illusion of expertise and it reinforces the customer’s vision of their own specialness. Just like everywhere else in society a wildly above average number of people are convinced they aren’t average. They believe that if the situation was simple they wouldn’t be confused; if this didn’t require expertise there wouldn’t be so many experts; so many options; so much.

But the truth is that’s not expertise, it’s just marketing. It’s all the same capitalism where what we’re selling is feeling good. We’re selling the act of purchasing and all the noise and ritual is just to enhance that so you’ll do it again. And the incentive in the industry is to keep you buying and buying again sooner.

The exponential increase of capitalism means an industry that sold 3 billion pairs of shoes 5 years ago needs to sell 6 billion this year to stay afloat.

Because the truth is a holistic approach to fitness will get you what you’re really after but it’s not super profitable to any one industry.

There’s a study referenced a few issues back in Runner’s World where pronators and neutrals were assessed for power output and the stability shoe group was in fact putting out less power – then they gave them some exercises for arch strength and got that power balance corrected.

So even if you believe that you need a stability shoe the right thing to do is still not to buy a stability shoe or an insole, it’s strength train and get your arches back.

Everyone else, every manufacturer of shoes and orthopedics and physio who convinces you your feet are just broken and you’re weak and need something more just wants your money even if they don’t know it. Even if they are well-intentioned salespeople trained by well-intentioned salespeople.

Cheer Up, It’s About To Get Worse

I just learned about a study across 72 countries about age and happiness and it turns out there’s a huge trough from roughly 35 to 44. Great news for me and my core friends who are all closer in age than non-twin siblings can be.

And I was looking forward to 35 too because as a dude (which 2/3 of my core friends are as well) under 35 we’re most likely to die by violence or accident but over 35 it switches to the big 3 where we’re most likely to die by cancer, Alzheimer’s, or heart disease and those are things you can prevent with daily habits.

But no. Statistically I can expect to be more depressed for the next decade and having spent my entire life up to this point being severely, suicidally depressed that’s just, well, that’s depressing.

There’s light at the end of the tunnel though that all the people studied turned sharply upward after 44 and mostly got happier and happier until the end of days. Statistically speaking the happiest age to be is 82. So get stoked.

It’s not talked about in what I read but I wonder if there’s survivor bias in there. Like, all the unhappy people kept dying (which is true, loneliness is more deadly than smoking according to a different study) and therefore the study only included the survivors. Would they be grateful they survived or did they survive because they’re grateful? A hard study to design.

But it all got summed by Jim Jefferies a long time before this study. He talks about what he learned from his elderly father is that you just have to out live your depression. When you’re young (and this part is echoed in the discussion of the study I read) you think you’re going to get all these wonderful things like a fulfilling career and a wonderful partner and then you don’t. Pause for laughter. But eventually you look around and go it’s not that bad though.

In the grand scheme we know there’s two kinds of unhappy people, those who got what they wanted and those who didn’t. And it’s because happiness when you’re young is about purpose and you lose purpose either way. Happiness when you’re older is, seemingly and probably, about small gratitudes and that sort of lame shit.

So get miserable because you’re going to cheer up.

Follow Up To My Awful Company Post From Yesterday – It’s Still Awful

Got this gem of an email this morning.

From: Same fuckface @ My Work
Sent: Wednesday, August 19, 2020 11:47 AM
To: Me
Subject: RE: EPP Altras

An Ontario store just e-mailed me about your shoes – not sure how it ended up in Ontario but they are shipping it to you.


Oh, you’re not sure, Andrew? How they ended up in Kingston is you mailed them there, Andrew.

And like, you have no idea? But… Shouldn’t you though? Something came through your work flow and got fucked up and you have no idea? I’d be trying fix that, my guy.

And btw, apology accepted. Way to take ownership.

What’s great is my email exchange with Shipping contains this exact phrase, as part of their telling me to fuck off and I copy/pasted it into my email with Andrew to be like, hey look how your staff are telling me to fuck off rather than helping:

we went and asked Andrew and he gave direction on what store it was for so that is where we sent the shoe

So Josh in shipping got a package, didn’t know what to do (great for someone who works in shipping), asked Andrew who told him to ship it to Ontario, then they both blew me off when I asked if they knew anything about this missing package saying there simply aren’t any missing packages and everything gets sent where it’s supposed to go. Only to have Ontario receive the package and email asking why they were being shipped a random pair of shoes and that they were sending them back.

So A) Thanks Ontario for not just keeping and selling my shoes at your location and B) Again, my own superiors at my company had no qualms about fucking me like that for no reason and had no intention of dealing with it.

Yet I’d be endangering my job if I pointed any of this out in official company channels.

Sweet world, thanks crony capitalism.

This Is Just Workplace Venting But Holy Fuck Is It Awful Dealing With My Own Company

Everyone at my work has a go-to horror story of emailing with the higher ups. Here’s my latest.

This is the end of an hour’s work on my part trying to track down a seemingly lost pair of shoes that are already paid for.

From: (Doucheydouchedouche @ My work)
Sent: Tuesday, August 18, 2020 1:13 PM
To: (sincere hard working me, also @ my work)
Subject: Re: EPP Altras


They had a packing slip with them, I said to ship to whatever store was listed there and that’s the extent I know about it.

That’s the whole email. Thanks top-of-the-food-chain, glad you’re the person I got directed to by everyone else who also didn’t give a shit to help.

Like, you’re not a surly teenager at a record store, you are a high up, central figure in the corporation.

And here’s a summary of the phone exchange with the shipping department from before that:

Shipping: If we got it on the 11th then we shipped it on the 11th

Me: Who did you ship it to?

Shipping: Whoever.

Me: Whoever? Whoever who?

Shipping: Whoever we were supposed to.

And I’m like no motherfucker because I’m who-supposed-to. Then he emails me the tracking info for a different company sending something to Kingston and says he hasn’t seen anything from yet a different company lately.

On the phone before Shipping I had talked to head office reception and even they had this same company-wide attitude of yeah, I probably did my job, who the fuck are you to ask.

They have this not-my-job-don’t-talk-to-me attitude about everything. Like, they have a not-my-job-attitude about things that are their exact job.

And it’s not that they are just not helping, it’s that they actively act like we – the employees on the ground level dealing with inventory and customers – need to fuck off.

Like, what do they think the company does? What is the point if not to enable us to do our jobs? Why aren’t they concerned when an issue’s been raised and supply chain has broken down?

And even still why be a dick about it? We’re on the same team. I’ve met city road crews that aspired to be harder working and more helpful.

I know that to you, dear reader (mostly Heather), this seems an over reaction to a single email but like I said, we all have these stories and stand around baffled by them whenever we have to interact with them.

Like [name]’s story is the time he got an email with a subject line like ‘this still isn’t right’ and then no body to the email just a chart we had no idea what to do with.

It’s like if your boss’ boss sent you a weather map for New Zealand and was like why is this wrong? Answer: I don’t fucking know, why don’t give me any clue as to what you’re actually asking me?

Or [other name]’s story about how he tried to helpfully tell a higher up that something we have a lot of in our inventory didn’t show up as being in our inventory on the public website. To which that higher replied with a screen shot of an actually not relevant page of the website and the words “Sure does” as if [other name] was doubting that the website itself existed I guess? I don’t know, I’m not such a fuckstick that I actively try not to figure out what someone is telling me when I pay them to help me run my business.

Like, we’re always doing the thing that you would punish us for not doing and yet you just act like we’re cunts. WTF? How do you have a business?



Author’s note: Still fuming, this was written as a brutal rant and then edited to not violate an NDA or anything. Fucking stupid Boomer company man bullshit.