For two years in a row I reviewed my armchair trail running impressions. Haven’t got much to add. Most trends have deepened (more business, more attention to FKTs and its variations, more extreme events, many more races) rather than much new emerging. So I didn’t bother for 2015.
Also the visuals are mostly more of the same, so let’s go with this German band the name of which celebrates the subject of one of the trends that haven’t caught on. Grossstadtgeflüster, way more poetic than any translation (metropolitan whispers?) that I can come up with; such a great image for what my kinda urban running aims for, Maybe never even was a trend, who is to say, all this trend watching business is as much goat entrails/rorschach blots/coffee grounds/man-in-the-moon illusion as anything else, anyways (if you can find three examples of something you can call it a trend– quote about journalists from a stand-up comedian I really like, Steward Lee).
City trails, cityscapes, running as urban habitat exploration, it doesn’t do it for the imagination, some brands have fiddled with it for a bit but seemingly decided that the money is elsewhere. Cities lack the diversity of surfaces that allow for the marketing of a plenitude of specific foot wear and they lack the vicissitudes and dangers of the wilds that allow for all kinds of protective gadgets, accessories and clothing marketing. And as environments they are just not conducive enough to self-discovery (what are you made of) rhetoric by way of ‘just’ running. One needs to cross-over into parkour/freerunning for cityscapes to open up to that.
Most of us are city dwellers for whom the lame simile of fish and water is a daily reality. It would be incredibly naive to expect the commercial interests behind trail running to crack a hard problem like that. That they even tried (but see quote above) is laudable. It’s up to us city monkeys ourselves. And many probably do. But their exploits, perspectives, experiences don’t show up much in the culturally scripted representational universe of (trail)running.
Another trend that has seemingly peetered out is minimalist footwear. The narrative producer that is my mind tells me that after vibram was successfully sued for making health claims it couldn’t substantiate Big Shoes had won the marketing battle. I hardly ever click on running product reviews but had a peek at a recent one (here): not a minimalist shoe in sight.
By way of closure, I’ve compiled my thoughts on running shoes here. Those who click will be rewarded with some great songs about my favorite drug: black coffee.
We, thus me included, are suckers for stories, be they the one vibram latched onto (born to run) or any other. That is never going to change. It’s the stuff we’re made of. The personal lesson I take away from this is that what seems to underlie a lot of the stories that attract me is a notion of simplicity (one could label it a meta-story if one wanted to present an intellectual persona, but as I’m on a simplicity hobby horse here, that might rhetorically not be a good strategy).
Caveperson didn’t wear foot condoms. Ultimately, companies, all of them, try to sell us stuff we don’t really need, to do what we like to do. Stuff may make it more comfortable, thus ‘easier’, but what does that add to any activity like trail running that is at least partially fueled by some kinda performance/see-what-I-am-made-of motivation? It only moves the goal posts.
So? Well, so nothing because anything beyond this observation on why’s or therefore’s is dangerously subject to more narrative illusion.
Really nothing? Well, it does upset that one what is so great about running maxim that it only needs a pair of shoes. Sure, I wear shoes most of the time, but it really doesn’t require a pair of running shoes, like it doesn’t require other ‘running’ gear, nor does it require anything else running specific. Running, which shares its conceptual space with walking, is as pedestrian as it gets (the list of synonyms that google produces should be understood as a batch of honour: dull, boring, tedious, monotonous, uneventful, unremarkable, tiresome, wearisome, uninspired, unimaginative, unexciting, uninteresting, uninvolving). It’s in the simplicity of the ordinary that the wondrous is revealed.
Told you, the narrative illusion is overpowering. Happy to admit that, but I assume that we can agree that the wondrous is not revealed through/because of fancy shoes, fancy gear, gels, gadgets or shades.
So? Yes, this post is as much about the music as about pedestrian thoughts. And its about cities as much as about running trails. Their joys are very different, but their grooves, once found, are kindred. And no stuff you can buy is gonna help you much to discover those grooves.