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The Warmup Lap | 5.15.12 - The New Yorker Looks At Minimalist Footwear

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It's not often distance running is featured in that august publication The New Yorker but today is the exception. Reviewer Nicholas Thompson has produced a superb review of two books; Alberto Salazar's "14 Minutes" and Christopher McDougall's "Born to Run."

The piece uses the famous 1982 Boston Marathon (recounted in John Brant's "Duel in the Sun") as the starting point to ponder the current minimalist footwear fad. Salazar, who won the race, had a highly unorthodox running style he now thinks contributed to his early decline. That question of mechanics is the nut of McDougall's argument against conventional running shoes.

Ultimately, we don’t really know whether the movement spurred by "Born to Run" will make us more or less hurt. My guess is that, ten years from now, we’ll see it as a useful corrective. Runners will spend much more time thinking about their form, and there will be lines of well-tested and well-designed thin shoes. But most of us, particularly those of who live in cities, will be training in relatively thick shoes.

The real upshot, Thompson insists, is that the popularity of books like "Born To Run" seem to be re-ignighting an interest in the sport -- something runners of his (and my) era experienced after watching Dick Beardsley and Alberto Salazar battle it out in Boston 30 years ago.

Running books: "Born to Run" and "14 Minutes" reviewed : The New Yorker

Of course that interest couldn't be more timely given the recent interest in public health highlighted by HBO's four-part mini-series examining the problem of obesity.

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At the rate we're going, children of today may become the first generation to die younger than their parents. And forget the brouhaha over math scores; if we don't get our weight under control, the majority of the population will soon be too fat and too sick to get off the couch, much less compete internationally.

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The Bali Marathon returns as the PT Bank International Indonesia Tbk (BII) Maybank Bali Marathon after a 20-year hiatus. More than 2,000 runners competed in the event this weekend.

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