Compliance, Running Socks, And The KISS Principle


Men are born soft and supple;
dead, they are stiff and hard.
Plants are born tender and pliant;
dead, they are brittle and dry.

Thus whoever is stiff and inflexible
is a disciple of death.
Whoever is soft and yielding
is a disciple of life.

The hard and stiff will be broken.
The soft and supple will prevail.

From: Tao te Ching, by Lao-tzu, translation by Steven Mitchell

Hi folks,

Choose the right running socks for you and the situation

Socks come in all shapes, sizes, materials and thicknesses.

Sometimes it doesn’t pay to think too much or ‘too complicated.’ I was out for a run on Saturday with four youngsters (ages late 20s to early 40s), on rooty rocky trails through the woods – great fun. At about 50 minutes in, whilst climbing some slopes I noticed that my toes were going numb on both feet. I stopped to walk and it went away, but it soon came back if I tried to run up slopes. I immediately thought of my abdominal aortic stent graft and its rigid nature (non-compliant).

Normal blood vessels have stretchy elastic walls, which respond to load by permitting more blood to pass through. My stent graft doesn’t stretch and what you get is whatever will pass. With my numb feet I thought, “Oh! Boy! Looks as though my effort level is going to be limited by blood flow restrictions through the smaller branches of my stent.” Then I thought, “But maybe I have more severe arteriosclerosis, or some other vascular restriction that is messing up blood flow to my feet?” And then I thought, “Or maybe it’s related to my Raynaud’s syndrome?” So I finished the run at a walk on the hill climbs and forgot about it.

The following day I had a long ride in really cold rain, followed by a run at the track. As I prepared for my run, with cold, wet, swollen feet, I reached for my shoes and thought, “Boy, these shoes are tight.” The light went on! I wear two kinds of socks, thin and thick, and I have to adjust my laces to get the tension right for each. I realized that I had not done this prior to my run the previous day. My feet had been going numb because my laces were too tight! I slackened them off, and boy those shoes felt great. I cruised around the track for an hour with no problems at all. We’ll see how the next hill run goes, but I think that tight shoes was what it was all about, not my stent or advanced vascular disease.

FitOldDog’s advice is to remember that it is easy to overthink a problem and to allow one’s mind to be led by your fears. Fear may not be amenable to clear thought, depending upon the circumstances.

-k @FitOldDog



  1. “Fear is not amenable to clear thought.”
    Sorry, do not agree. There is a time and a place for fear.
    Fear keeps you atuned and attentive in amid the battle’s heat.
    Fear has a role and in the right place keeps you alive.
    However, like fire is is not good if it becomes master and ceases to be servant.
    Yes, an uncontrollable and at time insolent servant, but a servant none the less.
    What you describe is just an imagination running amok amidst you darkest fear.
    Imagination again is a servant but a much less problematic one than fear.
    So accept my diagnosis.
    Try elastic shoe laces.
    They may well be the Tao of your toes.

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.