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.

Sleep Cues

I’ve written in the past about my hunger cues. In fact, the lack thereof. And even though I’ve written it I still get annoyed about it. I have to deduce that I’m hungry like a detective – am I quickly irritated, do I feel unmotivated yet antsy? And then I have to do the math of how long since I’ve eaten to know that I should eat. I wish I could get a signal while I’m still in a good mood that it would be a good time to eat.

And as I was thinking about that I got thinking about how I do have good sleep cues.

I can stop for a second, take a self scan and go I could sleep, 10 minutes ought to do. And then go lay down and fall asleep. Almost anytime, almost anywhere.

I know so many people who are really tired but they’re not sleepy. They’re physically and neurologically in need of sleep but they don’t have the mental and emotional awareness. So they fall asleep as soon as they sit still for a while like watching Netflix or in the passenger seat.

And because they don’t feel like going to sleep they think they can’t sleep, so they keep their phone in hand and/or laptop open visually blaring one of their comfort shows.

Maybe you’re not actually hungry, you’re tired; maybe you’re not actually bored, you’re tired; maybe you’re not actually existentially depressed, you’re tired. So sleep.

If I skip some sleep I end up doing nothing anyways. I’d stay up late and get up early then just zone out on twitter for all the hours that I might as well have slept in.

But if I sleep in uncontrolled my routine falls apart so there have been days where I’ve gotten up and done my while morning routine and then gone back to bed.

A friend mentioned a while ago that as people age they need less sleep, which I’d never heard before and turns out is a myth. What’s true is that as people age they’re more susceptible to sleep problems and they merely adapt to it. According to Daniel Levitin in Successful Aging that loss of sleep is mistaken for cognitive decline much more and much sooner than a person is actually mentally declining with age.

Everything else about sleep hygiene you already know so go take a nap

Consistency Is The Priority

I know 2020 was a weird year, an easy year to not be consistent – or to excuse one self for not being consistent at least.

Because actually the best part of the year for me – in terms of consistency and fitness – was the lockdown here in Calgary. The store closed, I got the CERB, I worked out twice a day. Which is what I always said I’d do if I could get paid for nothing.

But after that with the re-open it got chaotic. Nothing was ever settled enough I could build a routine around it. I just figured out each day but there was no way a day fit into the larger context of a week or a week into a month and everything felt like limbo.

And my goals for last year – to be Tidy & Prompt – slipped all over the place. I was my best self in a lurching and sputtering way.

So to start the new year off my goal for 2021 is Consistency. Because consistency is the meta skill that makes all the other skills work.

And, as I’ve said before, you gotta standardize before you can optimize. It’s better to have an imperfect daily work out routine that you’re trying to improve than a bunch of notebooks full of weekly routines you should be doing and hate yourself for not.

It does tie-in to my desire last year to be Prompt. Procrastination is my worst habit that will go away if I just stop doing it. Like, you can be a dry drunk and still have a fuck ton of problems but if you can stop stopping yourself from doing thing then you’re fine.

There are other specific things I want to do this year but life is more about what one doesn’t want to do. Because ultimately we all want to do everything. We want to be everywhere. Living is about figuring out what isn’t worth it. You can’t be an astronaut and a world class ballerina.

And all I really know for certain currently is that I don’t want to drift. Even in inconsistent times I can be a consistent person with a little focus, with just gentle self-reminders.

Toxic Philosophy At Work

We had a garbage day at work. One of 3 days in my memory where I thought I’m so angry I should leave not because I’m rage-quitting but because I’m actually being a liability.

Like, I won’t go to work shitfaced because that would make me bad at my job; and I’ve been so angry that I’m equally as bad at my job as I’d be while wasted.

I almost berated 3 customers today and one of them wasn’t even my customer. She was just being so stupid with someone else that I wanted to interrupt and fucking destroy her.

But anyway…. deep breath… We had a chance to talk during a lull and as I explained a philosophical difference between my co-workers and I, I realized a difference between my bosses and I too. Because all I really do is philosophize.

So my peers hate work. They represent a work philosophy that I see as typical middle class teen where to them work is no different than school – you’re forced to go and your goal is to do as little as possible. So their goal isn’t to get something done but instead their goal is find a good enough reason it can’t get done. And then do nothing.

And I felt superior because I like getting useful information and then using it to accomplish something. I thought I only got pissed off when people gave me useless information and expected me to use it.

Customers, as you can expect, are often a well of useless information they expect to use. My co-workers don’t get upset when customers waste their time because they’re looking for an explanation as to why they can’t help so the more useless the better. I’ve seen customers get passive-aggressively infuriated lobbing more and more basic questions at them when they realize that all my co-workers are doing is shutting them down.

Meanwhile customers can get openly furious with me because I reflexively treat people like they’re stupid when they act stupid. When people want my help they get the best of me, when they just want me to do something for them they get the worst.

And now, my bosses hate people too, they’re disgusted with customers – with every customer – to a degree that I can’t imagine having that vile black inky hatred inside me. But I realize that they hate everyone. Preemptively. They don’t ever hope that an interaction goes well so they’re never disappointed, they don’t see anyone as human so they can’t feel like someone is dehumanizing them.

It’s why I’ve seen them use the exact same joke, at the exact same time in the conversation, and laugh the exact same way, with everyone they interact with in a shift.

And I put all this information in the spin cycle of my extremely caffeinated and angry brain and realized that for my philosophizing and superiority it’s just that I don’t do emotional labour.

My co-workers don’t want to do intellectual labour, they will blatantly say they refuse to think for themselves because that’s the bosses job. They will leave things broken and blame the boss for not showing up and telling them to fix it.

Meanwhile I’ll do all the intellectual labour you want, I love organizing and solving problems. But I won’t do the slightest thing to make a stranger I don’t think is a good person feel welcome. I won’t squash my emotions, I won’t lie, for money. And it’s no different than people who won’t work any harder than they have to for a job they don’t consider a career.

My life long relationship with food

10 years ago, working in pubs, I had a reputation for eating huge amounts of rich and bizarre foods while being very skinny. Stuff like poutine pizza or a steak sandwich that was a literal steak between burger buns.

Naturally peeps were like oh how can you be so skinny eating like that? and I took it for granted that I just could.

But really it’s because I was an accidental anorexic. I’d eat nothing all day and then naturally crave the most high fat, high carb, most oversized meal by the evening at work. And then I’d have nothing but beer and Jameson for the rest of the night. So I was eating like 800 calories a day and drinking 800 more.

And that habit was built on the time before I drank and worked in bars when I was in school and I ate nothing. I’d wake up too late to eat breakfast or make any kind of lunch, plus I thought eating breakfast or especially making lunch was just too keener, so I’d eat nothing until dinner. I was probably eating 500 calories a day, which qualifies as starvation.

And that habit was built in early childhood where no one cared or noticed if I’d eaten at all. I’d inadvertently being living on soda for days because my body craved high energy foods and I couldn’t distinguish between sincere malnutrition and feeling like a pop.

The first time it was ever questioned was the final time I was in school mandated therapy and, after a lot of sessions talking about depression and authority and all that, my therapist just asked what have you eaten today?, it was like 5pm and I said nothing. When she finally understood that I meant literally-nothing not just nothing-special she was aghast and started thinking I was anorexic.

And she, when I was 17, was the first person to ever to imply there was some connection between how I felt and what I ate or to ask me to eat breakfast.

Which I did for the sole reason that I didn’t want her to think I was anorexic because that wasn’t my brand – I was rail thin and depressed and looking forward to being a heroin addict, sure, but anorexia was somehow extremely lame to me. Thank god, I guess?

Curiously I did wind up being an accidental anorexic again later when I went no carb. My normal eating pattern was fine, I was eating 3 meals and snacks and drinking beer so I was caloricly supporting my lifestyle no problem. Cut out sugar though… I went from eating huge burgers with buns and cheese and fries and soda to eating a burger patty in a bowl with a diced tomato, for example. From 800 calorie meals down to, like, 80.

After a few weeks of eating like that I did the math just out of down-time curiosity. I was living on 400 calories a day.

So that was the start of me eating tons. Try eating 3000 calories a day – just a ball park number for an ‘active’ person – and getting one gram of protein per pound of body weight and not eating carbs. It’s a mountain of food.

Which was kinda fun and then on the weekends we’d eat some big treat we’d looked forward to all week and that was awesome too. We, Liv and I, found our favourite restaurant by Googling best lasagna in Calgary and ending up at La Brezza. Fingers crossed they survive this era.

Being no carb and having designated cheat days turned into cheating just a little when I was tired or bored or someone offered me something.

Funny how I can be such a zealot and such an excuser – one day I was fasting, not a single calorie from going to bed thursday until waking up saturday and I went to a show where the band bought pizza for the whole crowd.I just laughed, not tempted in the slightest thinking when you do something bold the most amazing and surprising things will be thrown at you; yet months later it’s just I didn’t sleep well, better eat these doughnuts ’cause they’re here.

And all that brings me to now. I had a good thing going when I was working full time where I obviously had to eat breakfast before work and I obviously had to bring a lunch and I obviously planned a good dinner when I got home. But then not working full time – yet still working just a little – I could, on my days off, forget to eat or think I was doing myself a favour by fasting a bit until midday when I’d confuse a craving for mere calories with a desire to have a drink, and/or I’d wait to eat all day and then feel like only pizza would make me happy.

A complete myth. A wise man once said “How hungry you feel should dictate how soon you eat, not how much you eat.”

Nevertheless that’s my thoughts on my life long relationship with food, like all thing in life I feel a bit cheated that seemingly no one tried, or at least nothing did, get through to me about food and health. When you’re young and can just roll through anything on bravado you never make the connection between how you feel and what you’ve eaten – I still don’t honestly. I know it objectively like a cheat code. I was empty-stomached at work the other day when a shockingly rude customer came through and while I was deliberately calm during the interaction I saw myself spiraling up and up afterward. Alone in the store, telling myself the story of why I’m mad over and over again, just getting into a frenzy I was like Alastair, break the fast, have a snack and I bet you’ll notice you’re not as angry about this. Sure enough, by the time I got home and talked about how my day was I couldn’t find a tenth of the anger I had, it was merely a funny story like any other.

It’s a thing I know I need to check myself on daily – have I eaten my good foods? Eggs, sardines, my vitamins; or have I fucked up and tried to make myself feel good by eating bad? Which, you’ll notice, never works anyway.

I Need To Rebuild My Fitness Rituals

There’s a terrible pattern I’ve gone through a bunch of times where I notice that I’m not working out as much as I’d like and I try to work with that rather than against it.

Like, after the re-open my work days took up 9am to 7pm with immovable schedule stuff. So not a lot of time before work and I found myself planning a lot of work outs and never doing them.

Then I was planning more, better stuff for the coming week. I became one of those people that was satisfied doing nothing because soon, so soon it’s basically now, I’d be more on track than ever.

And I read Body By Science. Curse that book.

When you find you’re work outs dwindling to a few times a week, a book that promises you you only need to work out once a week is just too damn tempting.

But really it’s like every other thing in life – a change in schedule became a change in routine became a change in lifestyle became a different person.

And I’ve written about this in the past – you can never go back. When people say they need to go back to the gym or they need to go to not smoking it never works. You need to go for the first time, as the person you are now rather than the former version you wish you still were.

You can try and get back old rituals but if they were actually strong enough for the current situation they wouldn’t have changed anyway, right?

When it came to work outs I was always planning the big stuff, the work out itself, the time, etc but I forgot to plan the little stuff that truly makes it happen.

When I took up running I did it right by laying out my clothes each night and putting them on first thing each morning – once the running clothes were on (and they were clothes that I only wore for running) the running became inevitable.

I don’t know how I lost that with strength training in this latest round of being a lapsed athlete but I’ve got to figure out some modern equivalent.

And it’s got to be every day. All the times in the past I’ve tried to have a plan anymore intricate than just do it everyday I’ve fallen off. Even in marathon training when I followed a great plan for months I didn’t set the weekly plan like ‘Thursday is speed work day’, my plan every day was open book, do as told.

Thinking back, there was a time that I was doing follow-along work out videos in the morning and that could be a good solution again. Open laptop (which I’m going to do everyday anyway), pick video, follow along. Sometimes you gotta put the training wheels back on I guess.

Really though I think it’s as simple as committing to something kindergarten-level, every morning, before coffee. Because my morning routine is so autopilot I suspect only a major interruption will work. And once I start checking the time, and doing the math backwards from have to leave to have to make lunch to have to get dressed to oh it’s right now and I’m on YouTube, I just emotionally shut down. The feeling of possibility goes away, I feel locked into the trajectory of the entire day. Which isn’t true or helpful – and your self-talk should always be at least one of those things, preferably both.

And if you’re not diligent about it then it won’t be. Most people’s self-talk veers negative when left on auto. Just like habits veer towards using the least amount of energy.

Bad habits have a gravity because they’re easy – even when they’re not fun and you hate them – they’re just going with the flow. And when you, when I, think about the whole day and my whole self and what is my life anyway there’s no point to anything… It feels too hard to go against all that flow.

But the truth is, I don’t have to. I have to start somewhere, with a small stone, and damn the flowing river of habit until it flows somewhere I do want it to be.

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.

YouTube Recommendation: JimmyTheGiant

Jimmy and I have something in common, something odd for dudes who don’t skateboard, we LOVE old school skate videos.

Also we’re into parkour and we’re not good at it but that’s actually less important than the skate videos.

So how I got into James’ channel is thus: I saw this video

And I was like, hey Liv, didn’t you tell me you saw some professional tag? Was this it?

And she was like, no, this is it

And then because I had both those things in my watched list YouTube introduced me to this video

And from there I ended up watching a bunch of videos because Jimmy, as he says in a video, is doing for parkour what those old California skate videos did – exploring the whole history and the culture rather than just showing dope clips.

I’ve love rockstar biographies and documentaries as well, for my whole life and I learned when I fell into the rabbit hole of watching Epicly Later’d (Vice’s series on skateboarder with addiction problems, bane of spellcheck) that I was like man, I’ll watch anything where young, go-nowhere dudes have a great group of friends and a get to hang out doing a thing they all love and then some of them get tragically famous and it all goes off the rails.

And we’re not the only ones who see a rhyme between how skate works and how parkour could work, and of course how business corrupts:

And how a group of dreamer kids thinking they can do better always learn it’s not that easy and purity doesn’t do good business:

It all comes from a desperation to belong. To belong to a band or a skate team or be some parkour bums, just anywhere super closeknit friends are all passionate about the same thing.

Otherwise you’re always in negotiation, getting to be a little bit of yourself sometimes only in exchange for being the person other people want you to be most of the time.