Baby, we were born to run 3

Mankind is amazing. Only our species could take a basic life skill — like running away from a saber-toothed tiger — and turn it into a competition: “Hey, Ugg – I bet you five rocks I can run to the volcano faster than you.”

If you’re a runner, you could just pull on a pair of Nikes and head out the door. But what fun is that? Here’s three things designed to make your workout more fun and more rewarding.


Running’s first major step forward (so to speak) was something to protect the feet. “Hey, Ugg – check out these things I made from mastodon hide; I call ‘em shoes. They’ll keep stickers out of your feet when you’re running away from that freakin’ tiger, and they also ought to help with your pronation problem.“

Running shoes have come a long way since then, but if you wait long enough everything comes back around. Today, the trend is to get back to basics; as a result, many runners are exploring running in “barefoot” shoes.

Proponents say barefoot running lets the body assume a more “natural” gait, which in turn cuts down on injuries that are actually caused by modern running shoes. I don’t know about injuries, but they are great protection against STDs – show up for a date in a pair of these five-toed bad boys and there’s no way you’re getting laid.


There’s an app for everything else in the world, so it’s not a surprise there are a bunch for runners.

One that caught my eye works with iTunes; it lets you program in your desired pace, and then the app plays DJ — selecting music from your iTunes library to match the tempo of the tunage to your selected speed.

This would have been huge for me back in the day. I used to carry a Walkman when I ran. If you have never seen one on the Antiques Roadshow, it was a small (by the standards of the day) cassette tape player. In a runner’s eyes, it was basically a battery-powered brick with earphones.

I made a mix tape of a bunch of my favorite tunes, thinking this would inspire me through my run. Bad idea. My musical tastes are all over the map and so was my tape. One minute Bob Marley would come on and slow me down to a stroll (not to mention make me want to sit down and fire up a spliff).

The next minute, the chilled-out island riddims would be replaced by a blazingly fast Clash tune; I’d blast off and spend the next two and a half minutes feeling like I was having a stroke. Looking back, I think I may have invented high-intensity interval training.

Running on empty (mind)

Ever wished for divine intervention when you run? On particularly tough runs I have begged God to kill me and put me out of my misery, but that’s not the same thing.

This isn’t the same thing, either but it’s still kind of cool. Sakyong Mipham, the youthful leader of the Shambhala Buddhist community, is an avid runner. Not surprisingly, he’s written a book. It’s called “Running With the Mind of Meditation,” and it’s about using basic skills gleaned from his lifetime of meditation to improve one’s running.

The Sakyong says that this sort of running is much the same as sitting meditation: practitioners focus on their breathing and free their minds of distracting discursive thought.

Again, I am way ahead of the curve; when I run, I always concentrate on my breathing. However, I need to work on my discursive thoughts – thoughts like, “I think I’m dying – who stole all the freaking oxygen?”

All this talk about running – combined with three double espressos – has gotten me primed for a run, so if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to sprint to the head.

This post originally appeared in


    • And don’t even get me started on shot put and javelin throwing. Can’t you just imagine a couple of cavemen standing around, waiting for a woolly mammoth to come by: “Hey, Ugg, see that tree over there? WAY over there? I bet I can TOTALLY hit that with this pointy stick…”

  1. I’ve already spent more than 2 grand in the past six months on a bicycle and accessories (thanks a lot, Ginger!), so I don’t think I’ll be taking up another activity that sounds potentially just as expensive. But I do think those “barefoot” shoes are a brilliant idea. I may get some just for my usual daily futzing around. But you’re correct in pointing out that they aren’t real attractive. If you take the famous photo of Marilyn Monroe trying to hold down her skirt as she’s hit bit the updraft from a manhole vent — and sub in green Vibram FiveFingers for her pumps — the sexy goes right out the window.

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