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Shoes are tools

Updated: Oct 20, 2023

Everything in the picture is a tool. Modern societies tend to forget this, but shoes are a basic and primitive tool that we should treat as such.

The first thing you should ask of a tool is whether it fulfills its purpose. That's why you'll never hear a carpenter say, "This saw doesn't cut, but look how good it looks on my belt."

With this lesson in mind, choosing a shoe becomes much easier. A shoe that doesn't allow your feet to move properly, protect you from harsh weather conditions, or squeezes your toes may look good on you, but if its purpose is walking, it's not a good tool.

We can apply this principle to running, climbing, skiing, and all types of performance-oriented shoes. The main purpose of a performance-oriented shoe is performance, not health. So when you see a shoe like the Nike Vaporfly, which Eliud Kipchoge wore to break the 2-hour marathon record, remember that it's for performance only, not for your health. Furthermore, athletes are willing to sacrifice their health for glory in their sport. So if a shoe allows you to run faster but harms your knees in the long term, you should train to minimize the downsides. That's also the reason why, as average Joe runners, we should look for other characteristics in our running shoes. And that's the answer we can give anyone who asks us why top athletes don't wear barefoot shoes to compete.

This is also for the super radical barefoot guys who say, "I don’t need shoes!!!" If you're going to climb Mount Everest, you will need climbing boots. Protection from extremely cold conditions and fitting crampons are a must in such conditions. Although boots are not the healthiest thing for our feet and body, we must train to minimize the downsides and only wear them when it's strictly necessary. You wouldn't climb Everest in five fingers, would you?

I hope you think about this when you make your next purchase.

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