Parable of the shoe (satire)
New initiatives and professional development seem to be ‘hauteur de la mode’. Just like that pair of shoes. You were not shopping – in fact you are very happy with your current shoes. They may be a wee bit worn, and you know you will replace them, but you are sticking with the brand because, prior to getting this pair you did your homework. You established your strengths and limitations in your feet, ankles, knees, hips and general cardio output. You even walked and ran on a special treadmill which assessed your weight distribution through your feet. Carefully you considered the terrain you’d be conquering, the frequency of use, the fit, the look (after all, we want to feel that the shoe complements who we are), the cost and longevity.
Shoes were bought and since then you’ve stuck with the brand – you’re not old fashioned or outdated, you just know what works best for you. In all fairness the first model from the brand does not exist anymore. Over time, the shoe has been modified and tweaked to ensure safe, professional and sustainable use and practice, but the essence of the brand has remained – a reliable product of great quality which delivers results time and time again.
That other pair of shoes
But there it was, that other pair of shoes.
You know, the shoe everyone has been talking about. It ticks all the latest research boxes; it has incorporated advance technology, through many post-its and meetings its design was brainstormed and the final product implemented across a range of different shoe wearing activities – even in its short time since being on the market, has proven to yield results.
You’ve not actually seen the shoes in action – but if all the research, conference speakers, book releases and general hype are correct, then this shoe is about to revolutionise the way we sit, stand, walk and run. In fact, the belief is, just putting the shoe on, having it, will make a dramatic difference. In short, the shoe ticks every box about feeling good, sounding good and looking good.
According to the shop owner and fitness guru, Steve, you are lucky the shoe is in your size. While he proceeds in regurgitating data, stats, names, places (all in favour of the shoe), you wince a bit when you find your Achilles heel in a vice grip and a tightness around the widest part of your foot. A rapid-fire question: “What does it feel like, sound like, look like?” is followed by a bombardment of reassurance by Steve, “changes are difficult but this is the right shoe for you and the discomfort will only be while you get used to the shoe”.
And, you straggle out of the shop - unsure about what has just happened, trying to be happy about your new purchase whilst your phone beeps with messages to complete a short survey about the store, about Steve and about the shoes – it won’t take more than 3 minutes, each.
Plantar fasciitis and club culture
The shoes, in near new condition are now 2 years old. After the plantar fasciitis diagnosis, and your physio’s insistence that you reconsider your footwear, you’ve decided to wear them less. You’d love to not wear them at all, but the shoes were costly and in some Harrier clubs they are still all the rage and at your own club you are frowned upon should you not wear them for eventing because new (pinching) shoes are a big part of the club’s culture.
They now sit in the shoe rack by the door, amongst the other shoes that were deemed the best new shoe since insoles and arch supports. There they sit, visible, but not useable. You’ve turned up to events wearing them, and sneakily changed back into the more “reliable” shoes just before you set off. Your closest friends and family know the blistering pain, stress and anxiety the shoes cause. The Harrier club management has had numerous meetings about the new shoes, has listened to your concerns, but when it comes to walking in your shoes, their suggestion is you invest in plasters.
If the shoe fits, wear it
You have started to look for other clubs and events not associated with your current club. Clubs where people trust you will do what is best – that you will use your professionalism to find shoes that fit you, shoes that support you through the race, over tough or gentle terrains, shoes for your specific gait and footfall in order for you to not only complete the race (albeit sweaty, tired and happy) but also see regular and improved performance.
Clubs who appreciate that your well-worn shoes signify numerous tracks traversed – tracks that you can navigate skilfully and confidently – you know the twists, the turns, the hill work, where to go slow and where there is room to sprint. Clubs who smile knowingly at your scuffed soles – a signature of running among fellow participants – from the ones who zoomed ahead to the ones who needed encouragement to cross the finish line. If that means you stick with a reliable brand which will be modified over time to suit the changes in you, the terrain, your needs, then so be it – basically if the shoe fits, wear it.