Running Fiesta

Writing and running in Austin, TX.

On Snarkiness and Shoe Reviews

If you don’t read the RW Daily blog on runnersworld.com, I strongly encourage you to start. Mark Remy is, in a word, hilarious. Mark is the same guy who authored the 2010 classic, The Runner’s Rule Book, which currently sits in my bathroom. (Don’t take offense, Mark. In this house, that’s a place of honor.)

This week, Mark’s time has been consumed dealing with a controversy he started by posting a link to an essay some nut-job submitted to Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail. The essay itself wasn’t anything special — just the usual “all you slow people are ruining running for those of us in the front of the pack who can’t see you anyway” — but it apparently caught Mark’s attention by claiming that magazines like RW are “afraid to be controversial”.

Mark’s response, Controversy? Yes, Please, lists the 4-5 controversial articles RW has published in the past couple years, the most infamous of which featured the Sarah Palin spandex shot that Newsweek later co-opted to create this hilarious but morally questionable cover:

(PRNewsPhoto/NEWSWEEK)

But I digress. The real humor began in the comments on Mark’s post, which ranged from the supportive, “I love Runner’s World, rainbows, and ponies,” ilk to the bizarre (and this one’s a real quote) “[RW]’s not a serious running magazine; it’s “Cosmo” for Runners.

Naturally, Mark responded in a mature and professional manner, creating several prototypes for the new Runner’s World that he featured in this post. This one’s my favorite:

Runner’s World/Mark Remy

(Be sure to enlarge the image so you can read the article titles.)

Cosmo Dude did make one good point, though, and he did so in passing. In his list of Cosmo-esque article titles, he included, The Best Motion Control Shoe Under $100.

This immediately set off my own ranting urges. Runner’s World, my absolute favorite magazine ever (but I love you too, Oprah!), publishes a shoe review every other freaking month!!! And I don’t mean a review of one shoe, I mean ten pages of GIGANTIC pictures of shoes, accompanied by 3 lines of teeny-tiny 5-point text.

Let’s be honest, Runner’s World. You’re lazy.

Either that, or you’re confusing us runners with our seemingly similar yet radically different brethren: cyclists. You see, cyclists are such crazy gear-heads that any respectable cycling magazine must be at least 50% gear reviews to have any hope of competing in the marketplace. I’m serious. These people drool over shifters and trade in their firstborn children for new forks. (That’s the part attached to the front wheel. On a mountain bike it is rather satisfyingly bouncy.)

Runners are not like this. At least, not any runners I know. Sure, we all have to find our perfect shorts and shoes, but once we find them, we stop looking. We’re not going to go out and buy the latest, greatest neon-orange Nike offering just because you gave it a great review. No, we’re going to go online and order 10 pairs of our favorite shoe because it’s the one that got us through the marathon without getting hurt and we’re superstitious as all get out. (The shoe manufacturers have hit upon a brilliant scheme for encouraging such behavior — every year they use a completely random pattern to change all their model numbers and make finding your favorite shoe feel like a game of Where in the World is Carmen San Diego? If I can name all the countries in Africa will you give me my shoe back??)

And ANOTHER thing (because this is a rant after all). Why, why, WHY must they always present the “Motion Control” category–the shoes meant to stabilize flat-footed soles like my own (pun intended)–as “ideal for heavy runners who over-pronate.” Just because I over-pronate doesn’t mean I’m a 200-pound man! I just have flat feet, dangit!!!

Whew, that felt pretty good.

Anyway, if you’d like to see a not-so-intentionally funny video of what I’m talking about with this motion control thing, check out this one that accompanies the Fall 2010 Running Shoe Guide. Kind of makes me want to pelt the guy with memory foam.

That’s all I have for criticism of RW. Because honestly, I’m a running geek, and I’ll happily read the same inspirational running-themed sap over and over again. Heck, I’ll happily write the same inspirational running-themed sap over and over again.

I think Mark Remy has my dream job.

5 comments on “On Snarkiness and Shoe Reviews

  1. Jeanine
    August 10, 2010

    Yes, I drool over bike gear (mainly clothing) and would trade in my firstborn children for a new tri bike (but not new forks). However, I think I am a rare breed of cyclist/runner – maybe the "not so awesome at sports, but still love them" cyclist/runner as I fall into a loophole – I don't read product reviews. I just stick with what works for any sport I am doing. Although, I will read reviews on clothes and food for cycling and running and drool over those options. Lame. What was my point? I don't know. But alas, now I am hooked on yet another blog. So many blogs!

  2. Robin
    August 10, 2010

    Have you ever read those Calvin and Hobbes cartoons where Calvin gets a subscription to "Chewing" magazine (a magazine for gum chewers)? I think of those comics every time I read a running/cycling/triathlon/yoga magazine…

  3. Chris
    August 10, 2010

    So I was not in fact a Calvin and Hobbes reader (don't worry, I get plenty of grief for this already) but I just found a Calvin and Hobbes wiki about the magazine! Based on this "feature", I have to say you're probably right on:"An article that compares the top five brands of chewing gum based on flavor retention, elasticity, bubble capacity, and chewing rebound. It was accompanied by a computer graph which demonstrated compensation for various acidities." =)

  4. Pingback: What’s the BEST Running Shoe? | Running Fiesta

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This entry was posted on August 10, 2010 by in gear, rants, shoes.
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