How could I know that buying a new pair of shoes would so drastically change my life? I have purchased many shoes in my short history and only a few noticeably changed me: my first pair of Rebok pumps provided me with at least several hours of pneumatic enjoyment as I pumped then released the air in a satisfying cycle; my first pair of New Balance shoes provided me with great comfort and made me the brand’s staunch disciple… until (yes, that’s right) recently.
Enter the Pumas. How innocently I walked into the Shoe Carnival, upon the insistence of my cousin, who wished to take advantage of their buy-one-pair-get-one-pair-half-off deal; I expected nothing from the trip, knowing that New Balance 900 levels frequent shoe stores even less than myself. I wandered the isles browsing the large-healed running shoes, the gel-filled cross-trainers, and the fashionable Nikes, but nothing reached out and took hold of my imagination, saying “You could be wearing me; I could make you happy.” That is, until I saw a minimalistic pair of white shoes with a gray stripe and a leaping red puma on the toe.
At first I gave them little consideration. I’ve always wanted a pair of Puma cleats to add an international flair to my soccer outfit, and the Puma brand has an aura of elegance and speed that has always attracted me. But these Pumas were just flat-soled, with almost no padding. I was looking for an everything-shoe for everything at “Elite-Fitness”: running, weight-lifting, box-jumping, double-undering, etc. These flat-soled Pumas would fit the bill perfectly for weight-lifting, but everything else, especially the running, at the time seemed an ill-match. Anyways, just for fun, I tried them on; their leather exterior wrapped perfectly snug around my feet; their flat sole provided amazing stability and comfort and already were urging me to pick up some heavy weights and move them up and down several times. I could not resist their style, I could not resist their comfort; I bought them.*
*They were actually a gift, so I didn’t really buy them.
The reason that I did not wish to run, do box jumps, or jump-rope in those Pumas is because at one point in my “Elite-Fitness” career I wore some Adidas indoor soccer shoes with flat soles, in which I would sometimes run, but after doing so my ankles and knees would ache and hint at long-lasting injuries, especially if I ran on pavement. I felt rather bad about purchasing a shoe that I could only wear for limited “Elite-Fitness” WODs, and my guilt urged me to find a solution. I could not give up the shoes, so I had to find a way I could use them to run without injury.
Enter the (yes, that’s right, “enter the” again) POSE method. I found out about the POSE method of running by searching for “flat soled shoes “Elite-Fitness” running” in Google. I found that there is a running technique which encourages and almost requires the use of flat-soled shoes. In brief, it involves “falling forward” and lifting your legs to catch yourself; you run mostly on the balls of your feet, with your hands up against your chest, and your body doesn’t bounce up and down. The method is more efficient than the normal, I think because your center of gravity remains level, so you aren’t expending energy to push it up after it comes down; also because the lack of bounce it’s very kind to the knees and ankles, and strengthens them as you run.
I’ve run several 5k’s using the POSE method and never get injured and it feels very nice on my joints. Because the Pumas are so thin I can feel the texture of the road beneath them, giving me a sense of oneness with the earth, while still providing a sense of twoness with its cold temperature and its harsh pebbles. I use my Pumas in all my “Elite-Fitness” workouts; they are excellent for lifting the weights, they are fine for box jumps, and they are perfect for double-unders (I can almost feel the wind of the whizzing rope through their thin soles).
I hope you aren’t disappointed in the consequences of my Pumas in this story. In short, they are really comfy and they made me learn how to run using POSE. They also look really good (apparently) and have generated for me more compliments than any other shoe, even my Rebok pumps.