The Sunday Read: I’ll just lace up my paleo-Nikes

What’s that? You haven’t heard of paleo-Nikes? I’m pretty sure that’s what Fred Flintstone ran in. Learn about paleo-Nikes, shirtless runners and more in this edition of The Sunday Read.

On, editor Christopher Keyes calls Born to Run author Christopher McDougall  “the most influential runner in America.” To his credit, McDougall laughs it off, replying: “That’s the sorry state of American running.” But it’s true: with his book, McDougall sparked a footwear revolution, moving many runners away from cushioned shoes to minimalist and barefoot styles. And in the last couple of years the footwear industry has reacted, introducing lighter shoes featuring less protection and often designed to help encourage mid-or-forefoot running. McDougall calls a lot of the newer shoes excellent, but adds: “But I see people wearing them and they’re still running the same way. And so the message is ‘buy’ when what it should be is ‘learn.'” Read the full interview here:

Over at NPR, biological anthropologist Barbara King wonders if barefoot running is just another “paleo-fad.” While King doesn’t offer a whole lot that’s new to the debate, she does sum it up concisely. What started her pondering the minimalist trend is reading that homo sapiens wore shoes as early as 40,000 years ago. And King correctly notes – citing the research of Daniel Lieberman – “runners were either barefoot or wore minimal footwear such as sandals or moccasins with smaller heels and little cushioning relative to modern running shoes.” As she wryly notes, since no “paleo-Nikes” were available, any shoes back then fit with the evolutionary pattern. Read King’s musings on minimalism here:

From Edmonton, Alberta comes the remarkable obituary of a 91-year-old who ran – no matter what the weather -shirtless. Chi Ping Chan became a “legend in southwest Edmonton through the 1980s, 1990s and well into the 2000s: running shirtless down a snowy sidewalk in the dead of winter, head covered with a tuque, arms wrapped up to his elbows with massive mittens and shoulders slightly hunched in his distinctive running style.” Anyone whose ever lived in the Western Canadian city knows winter temperatures can plunge well below minus-30 C.  Yet Chan stripped off layers because he felt too warm.   ” What touched us and others is his willingness to give his best and his determination to persist even when conditions get difficult and the weather nasty,” one of his sons told the paper. The full obit is here:

Police are looking for any information that may help them solve an assault that led to a death at San Francisco’s iconic and often rowdy Bay to Breakers 12 km race.  A 31-year-old Santa Clara man died after a confrontation a few hours after the race’s conclusion. During the fracas, a man punched the victim, who hit his head on pavement and never recovered, according to the Sacramento Bee. The paper describes the race as “infamous for its wild costumes, nudity and daylong revelry,” adding that  “in recent years, police have cracked down on runners drinking during the spectacle.” Forty thousand runners participated in this year’s event, “some of whom were dressed as penguins, superheroes and fruit.”  Police arrested 19 individuals.  The story is here:

It would be almost Hitchcockian, but for the cheerful intonation of the CBC reporter who clocks in with a piece on redwinged blackbirds in Ottawa attacking “ladies.” It’s a little amusing, particularly because of the anachronistic male reporter who seems to relish making comments such as “then it was back to pouncing on ponytails,”  and who at one point actually stumbles telling one woman, “You’re fairly attractive to black redwinged…” before trailing off.  Too bad there’s no explanation as to why the birds attack the runners, except for the line that they seem to be attracted to the runners’ “shining, bouncing hair.” If you want to watch this piece of top-notch science reporting, check out:


About subthree

A multiple award-winning journalist, I'm currently a contributing editor with both Canadian Running and Canadian Cycling magazines. My articles have appeared in Explore, Canadian Geographic, enRoute, The National Post, The Globe and Mail, and many other magazines and newspapers. Formerly a competitive cross-country mountain biker, I switched to running in 2006. I've run seven marathons, qualifying for Boston five times (and which I've run once). Generally, I've placed or won in my age group in races, in distances ranging from five and 10 kms to half and full marathons. I've also taught spin classes at a number of leading Eastern Canadian gyms. Sub-three was a 2012 #Runchat finalist for Best Overall Blog.
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