Thursday, December 9, 2010

and I ran

3.18 miles in a little under 30 minutes and in 30 degree weather...and it felt great.

This should be an unqualified positive, but when you are neurotic like I am, you end up asking some annoying questions:

  • IF I enjoy it and it's good for me, why do i go long periods without running?
  • what changed in me from when I was NOT A RUNNER to when I suddenly was?
  • why are people resistant to the idea of running barefoot or minimalist?
  • how does conventional wisdom become conventional?
  • how does common sense become common?
  • once wisdom is conventional or sense is common, is it possible to lose that status?
(The last three are not necessarily related to running)

The Wife* asked me last night to confirm our decision to circumcise our new baby boy (he's still not here, for those of you keeping track) and I said "Well, we should, um..." and my brain ran into the wall.

See, we had already made this decision, complete with hand wringing and deep thinking, and in the end it more or less came down to "he's going to look like Daddy"  (TMI?).  We both like to think that we are open minded, culturally aware, progressive, and appropriately sensitive, and both of us (one of us more than the other, but still) are resistant to doing things just because "that's what's done".

As far as I can tell, there are no conclusions to all of the current research on snip/don't snip.  There are plenty of arguments, and some of them are literally ad hominem, but the gist seems to be centered on just a few basic ideas:
  • circumcision is a barbaric, old world, sexually disfiguring and unnecessary practice
  • it's a sign of the bond between God and His chosen people
  • it has positive health benefits relating to cleanliness and disease prevention
And here's how we respond: I got my junk snipped (at birth - I don't remember it happening) and it seems to work pretty well, I can't imagine sex feeling much better than it does now, and I've gone quite fond of the aesthetic - you could say that I'm quite attached to my junk.

And while we're not that sort of religious, we wouldn't choose to forgo the snip to avoid association with any given religion; we're basically ambivalent on this point.

As to the health stuff, I just have to say I'm not sold one way or the of the recurring themes in this literature has to do with the high incidence of AIDs among uncircumcised men in some parts of Africa, which sounds like sampling error to me.

So we came back around to where we started: the boy is going to look like his old man, at least in this one small way.
*I've gotten some criticism and feedback regarding my use of the expression "the wife" and I would like to respond here; I didn't give it much thought in the beginning days of this blog (and it's completely a blog thing; in real life I refer to her as "Hey!", as in "Hey!  Did you put any more Mexi-Cokes in the 'fridge?"  or sometimes, "Babe", as in "Babe, is it time to go to Costco for more Mexican Cokes?"

Anyway, the upshot is that this is not her blog, she didn't ask to be written about, and I respect her privacy and her primacy...she's my wife but I don't own her, she has a name but it's hers to share on her own schedule...until I come up with a better nomenclature or we go more public with this blog, she's going to be "the wife"


  1. I have two things to say. Okay, three.

    One) I WISH I was a runner. I have started the whole "12 weeks to a 10k" thing MANY times, but something always derails it -- usually pregnancy or winter. Maybe I need to read this "Born to Run" book I keep hearing about.

    Two) I am against the idea of barefoot running because I have been sucked into the "conventional wisdom" that says that your knees and ankles need the shock-absorption of good running shoes. However, I recently read in O magazine (where I get most of my world-altering information) that because of the added cushion in our shoes that we are all used to, we have trained ourselves to put most of the weight on our heels when we walk/run, which is actually MORE stressful for our knees than walking in a more flat-footed fashion, which is how we would walk naturally if never introduced to shoes. When R told me that shoes were bad for your feet and we should delay putting our babies in them for as long as possible, I scoffed at him, but now I'm re-thinking.

    3) R and I argued VEHEMENTLY over the circumcision issue. His argument was that it would be potentially harmful for sanitary and infection reasons NOT to do it. My reasons were that it was an unnecessary procedure that brought risks of complications and it was not the way we were meant to be. His REAL reason, of course, is that it would look funny. My REAL reason was that I like to do things that are pretentious and obnoxious and European and thereby distance myself from the common folk. Luckily, we had all girls so it didn't end in ugly arguments at the hospital.

  2. Jessica - thanks for the comments!

    You're right; having girls saves you this particular decision, but I'm sure there are things that come up on the other side of the scale.

    The whole idea behind the barefoot/minimalist running idea is that shoes are counter-productive, cushioning something that doesn't need cushioning, and altering a "natural" stride to one suited to the shoes. So listen to Oprah, in this case at least.

    I may also suggest that the "X weeks to Y distance" is a low percentage plan. My goal (after reading BTR) was to just try to enjoy running for once and to let my body dictate the pace of my development. And running in FiveFingers or barefoot helped my body communicate with me more directly.

  3. Hmmmm...I'll have to think about this. Don't your feet get cold?

    I am always suspicous of "natural is better" arguments unless there is a reason other than, "because that's they way we were meant to be". (ignore my previous circumcision argument) While it might be more natural and better for you to go about your daily business barefoot, does that still hold true if you are running long distances for recreation or exercise, not something we would be doing when our bodies were originally designed?

  4. Also, the idea of doing something just for fun with no goal is terrifying to me. I need a plan for EVERYTHING. I definitely need to read this book...

  5. @Jessica - your "plan" is to become a runner. Having longer term, specific goals are fine, but I think that shorter term goals beyond "have a nice, comfortable run today" are to be avoided.

    If you're going to read the book I'll save you the explanation here about how we ARE designed to run long distances, and barefoot to boot (ha!).

  6. Running barefoot is for crazy people who live in Tennessee. Come back to Chicago and say that! Miss ya Dave.