Thales was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher circa 585 BC. “Western philosophy begins with Thales” according to Bertrand Russell (i.e. the guy who wrote the book about the history of philosophy). . He is one of the first thinkers to try and explain the natural world without mythology. These pre-Socratic philosophers were trying to discover the substance of things, i.e. what they were made of and looked to the elements, wind, water, earth, fire, etc. Similarly, today scientists are continuously looking for the substance of things at the atomic level; dark matter and the infamous “God particle” (think Dan Browns “Angels & Demons). Thales theorized that “water” was the principle of all things. There is disagreement with whether he literally thought water made everything or if he was seeking a unifying principle, but I think his contribution was action. I think his biggest contribution is being the first to leave the easy explanation of looking far and deciding to look right in front of him. Instead of taking conventional wisdom he looked for the essence, instead of bowing to the gods he looked for solutions in nature.
Likewise, running for me has been a roller coaster. As I mentioned before, I went straight VFF and barefoot, then back to shoes, now back to a minimal shoe. I found that when I ran in VFF I became more efficient and ran because it felt right. I added a shoe because I wanted more padding for the longer distance and never considered my form as a “work in progress” so it went downhill fast. I looked for solutions everywhere but where I started. I read reviews, articles, etc. I was reading voraciously looking for that magic bullet, a’ la sketcher’s shape up. But the truth is that there is no magic bullet, there is no gain without a little sweat equity and long term caloric financing. Instead of looking to the running guru’s I should have simply taken a pause, remembered what worked and prayed for the patience to work hard. The fact was I should have looked right in front of me, just like Thales.