Feet Tech: Running Shoes and the People That Love Them

A lot of people enjoy running. I confess that I am not one of them. But I still find the construction of my brother in law’s running shoes interesting. And I have tried on running shoes and found them immensely comfortable. And that is, of course, the point. When running, one expects to be wearing shoes for a long period of time. This means that running shoes have to be durable and comfortable at the same time.

Early running shoes

Early running shoes were hardly ideal for serious athletes. While there were shoes made with soft rubber soles in the early 20th Century, they almost always wore out too soon to be of much use. Indeed, running shoes (sneakers) grew out of the plimsolls which were made in the 19th Century for those who worked on ships. When people began to see their use in running, shoes began evolving.

At first, though, even with the rubber soles available, many runners preferred leather soles for their sneakers. The soft rubber simply fell apart too easily for professionals. Running shoes for sprinters had kangaroo leather for the soles, and they were spiked slightly for traction. Marathon runners chose heavier shoes, with thick and stiff leather soles. But, even with advances introduced at the 1936 Olympics, it wasn’t until nearly 30 years later that we saw the first truly modern running shoes.

Modern running shoes are born

In 1962, an orthopedic shoe company introduced a novel design adjustment to running shoes. A rubber wedge was placed in the back of the shoe, between the upper and the sole. This allowed for increased comfort, since it change the position of the foot while running. Then, not too many years later, a University of Oregon coach, Bill Bowerman, got serious about designing an ideal running shoe for his track athletes. Some of the changes he introduced included:

  • Nylon uppers (as opposed to leather or canvas).
  • Sole made from urethane (instead of straight rubber or leather).
  • Waffle sole, resulting in better traction without the need for spikes.

Bowerman started the company Nike, and the innovations of that company led to the creation of the midsole. The midsole in running shoes is an extra layer of cushion that lies between the sole and the upper. It adds to the stability and comfort of the runner — and eases pressure. (After all, when a runner strikes the ground with his or her foot, the pressure is equal to three time his or her weight.) Today, midsoles are made from silicone gel or from some other type of cushioning material.

Today, as well, there are running shoes that come with pumps. These pumps allow you to fill bladders in the shoe with air, creating a tighter fit. This can increase comfort and stability. And, manufacturers of running shoes are always coming up with ways to increase your natural ability to run, while at the same time providing comfort. Mesh, lacing schemes, air cushioning and different sole patterns for traction are just a few of the ways that technology is constantly improving the design of running shoes.

Running Does Get Easier - Really.

One of the best running tips I can give anyone is this – don’t forget; it does get easier.

When people first start to run, many of them expect it to be easy. When they realize it’s not and that it requires a lot more work, a lot more energy and a lot more persistence than they thought it would, a large percentage of them give up. “Running isn’t for me“, “running is too hard,” – I’ve heard all the excuses, but none of them are true. Running isn’t always easy when you start out, in fact, but most of the time it eventually becomes second nature.

When you first start running, your body goes through all kinds of trauma. For some people, they’ve barely lifted a finger to exercise in more than 30 years then, overnight, they decide they’ll take up running. Not being prepared for this and wondering what the heck is going on, their body goes into shock. Muscles ache, joints stiffen, feet hurt and toes begin to develop corns and bunions. It’s at this stage that many people quit. It just seems too difficult, it doesn’t feel like it will ever get any easier and the aching limbs and sore feet are simply not worth it.

If this is happening to you and you’re thinking of giving up, remember, it does get easier but you have to push your way through the aches and the pains, the annoying out of breath feeling and the fact that you feel like you’ve run across the state….. and you’ve barely run a mile. Persistence is the key and persistence will ensure that, eventually, your runs will get easier and you’ll enjoy the experience more and more.

When I first started running, the first month was a nightmare. Every run was difficult, just getting myself motivated to go was killing me and, often, I’d turn around halfway through my run and give up for the day. But, as the weeks went on, I started to push myself a little bit more. When I’d finished my planned route I’d force myself to run another block, another two blocks, another three blocks and before long my run was naturally lengthening by itself. After about six weeks, I noticed I wasn’t as tired when I got home after my run and, soon after that, I found myself getting home positively invigorated from my run. It was then I realized how easy running had become for me and how much I looked forward to going every day. Since then, I’ve run almost every day for the last six years.

So, keep running

Get out there every day, run as far and as fast as you’re comfortably able to do, and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t make your goals that day. But, if you keep at it, one morning you’ll get up and set out on your run and it’ll be easier. The day after, it’ll be easier still and, the day after that, even easier. Eventually, it will seem so easy to get out there and run you’ll wonder what all the fuss was about. That’s when you’ll feel like a real runner and realize all your effort was worth it.

827 Retired

As of June 13, 2008 Stephanie Tang’s photographer ID is no longer in circulation. Her ID, 827, was retired today as she left through the studio doors one last time. The Photographer ID is a number that is unique to each photographer in the Photo Dept. For the last month and a half team members have been at a loss with the ever so rapidly approaching departure of Mrs. Tang.

We consider ourselves blessed to have worked with her during her 5 year tenure at Zappos and none of us were ready to see her leave. Sure, we are all lucky. Who wouldn’t consider it an honor to have known and worked with Stephanie. She paved the way for so many of us and we are all very thankful for what she has done. When you work with someone like Stephanie you realize that the Zappos.com Core Values are more than a mission, they are a lifestyle. She embodied each and every single Core Value and when you work with someone of this caliber it is hard to say goodbye! We wanted to do something special, in her honor, to let her know just how much we appreciated all that she’s done.

We were able to fashion two Zappos t-shirts with the addition of her Photographer ID and the name of her last round. One of the shirts was given to her as a going away gift and the other will hang from the rafters of the Photo Studio. We felt that this would be the ultimate sign of appreciation, just as it is done in all major sports. As she continues to pave paths for others we hope she has a blast under her umbrella, drinking freshly brewed coffee, while splashing through puddles of water in newly purchased galoshes. So, from all of us here at Zappos, “Have fun in Seattle!!!”

Written by: Mike M.


Makeup for men? Rockers, goths and Pete Wentz wannabes all wear makeup, would you love ‘em or hate ‘em if your guy wore makeup? More importantly, would you share yours? Our faves, whether you are male or female, for dramatic eyes are Lola’s Cream Shadow in Lava and Paula Dorf’s eye pencil in Ebony. But do tell us what you think, we really want to know.

Coolest Thing You Can Do With a Shoe: Zappos TV Contest!

Win a $500 Zappos Gift Certificate!

What’s the coolest thing YOU can do with a shoe? Show us by uploading a
video response to this video and you can win a $500 Zappos gift
certificate. It’s that easy!

Some rules:

1) You must subscribe to the Zappos channel on youtube (youtube.com/Zappos)
2) Video must be a video response to this video
3) Video must be under 3 minutes long

Full contest rules here:

Hiking in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

If your idea of a vacation is seeing how many miles you can cover through dense wilderness, Great Smoky Mountains National Park might be your dream destination.

If your idea of a vacation is seeing how many miles you can cover through dense wilderness, Great Smoky Mountains National Park might be your dream destination. There are more than 800 miles of trails through America’s most visited park, and if you wait until Fall for your vacation, or head out in the early summer, you’ll have less competition from other visitors.

Some people prefer to spend their vacations in the numerous Great Smoky Mountains campsites, taking day hikes over the trails that wind sinuously through the Smokies. However, you can also take two-, three- and four-night backpacking trips and sleep out under the stars. Either way, you’re guaranteed a fair amount of exercise and a close-up encounter with several forms of wildlife.

Maddron Bald Overnight Loop

If your legs have been parked under a desk all year, this might not be the trail for you, but experienced hikers who have kept in shape will find the hike invigorating. The two-night adventure takes you along the foothills of Gabes Mountain and into the woods toward a campsite known as Sugar Grove, which has developed a reputation for bear sightings. On the second day, you’ll follow Maddron Bald Trail and camp along Otter Creek, and finish the trail on the third day down Snake Den Trail.

This particular adventure on your vacation will take you to 5,800 feet in elevation, and you’ll constantly want to stop not to rest your legs, but to admire the stunning vistas that appear through clearings.

Fontana Lake Loop

For those inexperienced hikers, or the vacationers who haven’t kept in shape, Fontana Lake is the ultimate destination for beautiful scenery without as much burn. Start out your morning at Fontana Lake, and try some jet-boating before you head up into the mountains, or simply take the chartered boat service from the marina to the other side of the 29-mile-long lake.

The hike itself is magnificent, providing interspersed views of both Fontana Lake and Eagle Creek, carrying you up relatively gentle inclines and long, sloping declines. You might get to see some deer, and you’ll find birds of all species flying among the trees. Children in particular will enjoy the view of the Appalachian Trail, which is intersected on the last leg of the hike. You’ll end up at Fontana Marina, where you can return to your campsite or enjoy another opportunity for fishing or boating.

There are thousands of different combinations of trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, each of which has something different to offer. Just make sure you bring plenty of water on your hike, and if you come during the middle of the summer, choose non-rationed campsites for more seclusion and less interruption on your hike.

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Coolest Skate Parks: Intellect Ramp Ranch

If you are looking for a great skatepark near Austin, Texas then check out the Intellect Ramp Ranch in Liberty Hill, Texas. This is just half the fun, as the sister park of Intellect is located in Round Rock, Texas.

If you are looking for the coolest skate parks in the country and are either visiting or living in Austin, Texas, then you need to try out the dual skateparks of Intellect Ramp Ranch and Capital Skatepark. These sister parks will offer you both ramp action and trick accessories. While a little driving will be involved if you want to enjoy both parks, the drive will be worth it.

Intellect Ramp Ranch

Intellect Ramp Ranch is located at 10355 Highway 29 in Liberty Hill, Texas. This is an indoor/outdoor park with over 20,000 square feet of skating terrain. This park’s specialty is ramps. It offers a twelve foot vert ramp, a four foot half pipe, a three foot spine ramp and a seven foot half pipe. In addition to these ramp features this park also offers two street courses. What makes this park great is that it offers lesson and also is a great spot for buying items you need to skate.

If you are a skateboarder, BMXer or inline skater then you are welcome at this park. However, in order to use this park you will need to sign a liability waiver and follow the rules of the park. Helmets will only be required if you are under 18 years of age, and rentals are available on a limited basis.

This park is open six days a week. It is open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 3:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. It is also open on the weekends. On Saturday the park’s hours are from noon until 10:00 p.m. and on Sunday from noon until 7:00 p.m. This park holds weekly specials. Monday night is “Old Man’s Night” and people over 18 skate for half price after 6:00 p.m. Tuesday is “Young Man’s Night” and people 17 and younger will skate half price after 6:00 p.m. Wednesday girls skate half price for the whole day, Thursday bikers get a 50 percent discount after 6:00 p.m. and Friday you can skate or bike for free if you bring a paying guest.

The cost of this park is fairly affordable, compared to some of the other private skateparks in the area. VIP members will provide you with unlimited entry during normal hours of operation for an annual fee of $350. A basic six month membership costs about $30, and the daily member’s fee will be $7. If you are a non-member, then your entrance fee will be $12.

Capital Skatepark

If you are interested in more than just ramps, then you will want to take your boards to Intellect Ramp Ranch’s sister park, Capital Skatepark. This park is located at 2008 Picadilly Drive, Round Rock, Texas 78665. This park not only offers a great selection of skating features and terrain, but it also offers skate camps, a pro shop, contests and equipment rentals. This park is a little more expensive. It will cost $45 a month, $395 for an annual membership and a $12 non-members daily entry fee. You can save $6 a month by signing a 12 month contract with auto bank draft.

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Cool Recipes for the Scorching Hot Summer!

When warm weather arrives, nothing beats the refreshing taste of a salad.

When warm weather arrives, nothing beats the refreshing taste of a salad. Salads are quick and extremely healthy. Best of all, they’re the type of meal that requires little to no cooking . In just a few minutes, you can prepare a meal that your family will love.

Obviously, the most popular salad choice is a lettuce based salad. Just because this choice is so obvious doesn’t mean that the taste has to be boring. There are several ways to spice up a classic salad. With just a few unexpected ingredients, you can turn a classic meal into something new.

*A Vision of Fall Salad*
Serves 4

During the warm summer months, it’s nice to sit back and think about the weather of fall. What better way to that than to create a salad that includes classic fall flavors?

  • 8 cups of romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 2 cups of green apples, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup of roasted turkey breast, cubed
  • 1 cup of dried cranberries
  • 1 cup of cinnamon sugar pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 8 tablespoons of orange vinaigrette

1. Layer the romaine lettuce, sliced apples, turkey breast, cranberries, and pecans on four plates.

2. Measure the salad dressing into small cups and place on the side of the salad.

3. Serve with whole wheat rolls.

Tip: You can roast a boneless turkey breast the night before, you can use leftover turkey, or you can even visit the deli and have them cut thick pieces of turkey luncheon meat.

While lettuce based salads may be the most popular choice, they aren’t the only choice available. Many people enjoy pasta salad as a side dish, but why not make it into the main course? You can even prepare this meal the night before so that it’s ready when you get home the next day.

*Chicken with a Bowtie Salad*
Serves 4

Your children will love this recipe simply because it has a fun name. You’ll love this salad because it’s a great way to sneak vegetables into their diet.

  • 4 cups of dry whole wheat bowtie pasta
  • 12 ounces of refrigerated southwestern chicken strips
  • 2 cups of grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup of yellow bell pepper, chopped fine
  • 1 cup green onions, sliced
  • 1 cup of low-fat ranch dressing

1. Prepare the bowtie pasta according to the package directions and let cool.

2. In a large bowl, combine the bowtie pasta with the rest of the ingredients.

3. Refrigerate for at least two hour

4. Serve with cornbread muffins or garlic bread.

When preparing a salad for supper, why not round out the meal with quick and healthy fruit salad?

Creamy Berry Salad
Serves 4

Your kids won’t mind having fruit for dessert when you doll it up a bit.

  • 1 cup of strawberries, sliced
  • 1 cup of blackberries
  • 1 cup of raspberries
  • 1 cup of blueberries
  • 2 cup of fat-free vanilla yogurt and honey, to taste.

1. Combine the berries and place in four bowls.
2. Drizzle with yogurt and honey.

Happy warm weather eating!

If you have any recipes ideas, improvements, suggestions, please comment below and let us know! Let us in on some of your secret recipes!