Tag Archives: sneakers

My Relationship With The Converse Sneaker

-Marissa Tomko

I’m not one for pants. I feel like they try too hard.

I’m not running around breaking public nudity laws though, don’t worry. I would just rather pull on some leggings, or shorts if the weather calls for it. I don’t dress badly, but I’m also no Rache’ll. My style just goes where the wind blows it. For instance, right now I want to look sporty. I don’t know why, I just woke up on Monday and was like, “This will be a sporty week!” Last week though, I wanted everything I wore to match my favorite hoop earrings. So that was fun.

With all of these pant-less fashion ups and downs, there is always one thing that remains constant, one thing that if I’m not wearing, I feel empty and incomplete: my Converse sneakers. I love those guys! Their white hightop-ness just makes sense to me.

When I love something as deeply as I love Converse, I like to know its story. So I tightened my laces, and delved into the history of this iconic sneaker.

According to the Converse website, the Converse company was started by Marquis Mills Converse in 1908. Unlike other companies, Converse was able to send his shoes to Boston stores without using a middle man. In a catalog published in 1913, Converse stated: “Our company was organized in 1908 fully believing that there was an earnest demand from the retail sneaker dealer for a rubber sneaker company that would be independent enough not to follow every other company in every thing they do.” This spirit is still with the company today.

It’s common to hear Converse sneakers referred to as “Chucks.” This is due to basketball-loving man Chuck Taylor. Converse’s history writes him in around 1920, citing him for wanting to promote his favorite sport by helping it thrive through selling footwear. Basketball was Converse’s initial niche, and it’s crazy to think how much the sports shoe has evolved.

In addition to being a shoe worn on the courts, Converse became a symbol of rock and roll in the fifties. The culture of the musical movement was made for the nonconformist. Consequently, Converse sneakers became associated with the free spirits and the rebels.

In the early seventies, the sneaker branded itself with a star stamp. The shoe continued to be made for basketball players, but it also appealed to the non athletes who wanted to be different.

My favorite shoe, the All Star, came into being in 1996. Since then, Converse has continued to sell itself as not just a shoe, but a lifestyle. Converse has become a symbol of fun, excitement, and comfort, things that we could all use a little bit more of if you ask me.

Don't Worry Be Healthy: Running Wild

Don’t Worry Be Healthy is a weekly health and fitness column by Marissa Tomko covering new and old ideas to help keep you in shape physically and mentally.

 

-Marissa Tomko

I have always loved to run around barefoot. As a kid, I was in a constant battle with my parents about my freedom to do so because they did not want me to destroy my feet or dirty the just-mopped floors. You can imagine my surprise when my dad called me up to fill me in on his new workout regimen—running barefoot. His inspiration? Chris McDougall’s 2009 bestseller Born to Run. This book researches the running techniques of the Tarahumra Indians in Mexico, and challenges our culture’s view of running as being high-tech and laborious. The best part about McDougall’s work, in my opinion, is that it popularized the argument for running sans shoes, giving the 8-year-old inside of me something to fight for.

One defense for running shoeless is that it is more natural. It makes sense; I doubt that the first Olympics were done in highly cushioned kicks with arch support. When you run without shoes, your body starts its running stride in the middle of the foot as opposed to the heel, which is what cushioned running sneakers allow you to do. The latter causes more stress on the spinal cord and promotes a hunched over posture. Running without shoes creates a better platform for what is called the 100-Up Technique, which promotes healthier running habits.

For those of you not sold on the idea of running around barefoot in the mountains, you can achieve healthier running habits by mastering the 100-Up Technique in shoes that are lightweight and free of all the crazy bells and whistles that advertisers say you need. Two of the most popular brands of minimalist shoes are the Nike Free Run and the Vibram Five Fingers, a shoe that looks like an actual foot with a space for each toe. Your shoe should protect you from sharp rocks and the rain—they do not need to double as a weight workout for your legs.

While there is no universal way to run that will work for everyone, this technique deserves some recognition. Whether you are a seasoned marathon runner or a newbie trying to find your stride, it is worth a shot to prolong your run and preserve your energy.