Last summer I came across a book called Barefoot Running. Since running is a hobby of mine and since titles like that appeal to me, I decided to give the book a quick flip-through. It turned out to be about a runner with a heroic nickname: ‘Barefoot’ Ken Bob. As you’ll understand, Ken Bob does his running barefoot. And judging from the book, he enjoys being a barefoot runner.
Just like all of us, Ken Bob used to wear thick-soled and shock-absorbing running shoes when running, but even so, his legs often hurt. He looked into the cause of his pain and realised that it was the shoes that were causing the problems. So he decided to start running without shoes, and after a while he didn’t even want to wear shoes anymore. His injuries seemed to be a thing of the past.
Mr Barefoot then wrote a manifesto in which he argues that modern running shoes stop you from feeling pain. And it is precisely this pain that taught Ken Bob how to run in a way that stopped him from getting injured. ‘Sticking your feet in shock-absorbing shoes is like turning off your smoke detectors,’ he wrote.
When I read this quote, I thought, well, that sums up my behaviour… Admittedly, not with regard to running – I still wear shoes when running, and I’m still injury-free. However, his words did seem very applicable to a recent resolution of mine that was not getting any closer to being followed through.
You see, I moved house a while ago, and I really feel I should go and introduce myself to my neighbours at some point. For some reason, though, I’m not getting round to it. Even though the thought occurs to me every single time I come home (my smoke alarm), I will then turn on my laptop after dinner, only to spend the entire evening watching videos on YouTube, or something like that (my way of turning off my smoke detector).
Having been inspired by Ken Bob, I decided to give my laptop and the videos a miss this week. If I remove the shock absorber that is YouTube, I will probably go and see my neighbours, I told myself. Unfortunately, this did not happen: I did close the lid of my laptop, but ended up staying at home, listlessly staring into nothing. Thankfully, such indecisiveness is a logical consequence of the removal of one’s shock absorbers, says Ken Bob. It kind of hurts at first. Just like running, which forces you to use muscles you have never used before.
So I’ll try again tomorrow, and maybe I will actually ring my neighbours’ bell this time round. So that we can meet at last, and perhaps start watching YouTube videos together…
Marnix ‘t Hart studies Philosophy at the EUR