Happy feet

Week 7: Putting a new spring in my step on the road to DC

Growing up as I did with three sisters, and now being the proud father of three daughters, I am well versed in what I shall call, ‘the magic of new shoes’. My sisters, but especially it seems, my daughters, love buying shoes. In fact one of the moments I officially realized I had become my father was when my then 16 year old came downstairs in the heeliest pair of high heels, and I heard myself uttering the words “you’re not going out in those” (of course, she did).

I would go as far to say as that in my house, the best indicator that the seasons are beginning to turn, is the inevitable delivery of a large box from Nordstrom, replete with this year’s new winter boots for Mrs. G. Were this a scene from Game of Thrones, I could picture myself holding said box aloft and saying, ‘Winter is coming Jon Snow, the Gods have sent us a message and the boots have arrived.’

But here’s the thing, as a runner, I get it. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE getting new running shoes. What is admittedly a little weird about this love of the new shoe is that unlike my daughters (with their high heels, ballet flats, wedges, sandals, trainers, Birkenstocks, Converse, I could go on but I won’t….), I almost always just buy new pairs of what I’ve already got. They are not new models, or different brands or styles, it’s just “can I have two pairs of exactly the same thing I bought last time?”

Happy Feet
Happy Feet

There are of course some very practical considerations. Running shoes are to most runners, the single most essential piece of kit we own, and we spend many hours (and if I’m honest about this after 6 years of running, several thousand dollars), finding the best type of shoe for our feet, weight, running style and type of running. Once we’ve found the perfect shoe, we tend to stick with it come hell or high water, not wanting to change what we have found to work for us. More than once I’ve made the mistake of changing brand and type of running shoe, and have found myself injured and uncomfortable pretty much every time. So when I find a winning shoe, I stay with it, and I can tell you, there is nothing worse than hearing that the model of shoe you have grown to love is being ‘discontinued’.

If you are reading this and are new to running, do yourself a favor and spend the time getting a good pair of shoes that are fitted well. If you plan to run regularly it really does matter, and can make the difference between a happy, uninterrupted start to your running career or discomfort and maybe a more debilitating injury that will slow you down. There is a great guide to finding your ideal type of running shoe here at runnersworld.com, and beyond that, I strongly advise going to your local specialty running store and having yourself fitted for shoes by an expert.

Beyond the practical stuff, I have to say there is also something quite zen-like about the act of pulling on a new pair of running shoes. Given that I put upwards of 300 miles on every pair of shoes, I always find value in taking a moment to pause and to wonder about the places I’ll go, the things I’ll see, the thoughts I’ll have and the problems I’ll solve when I’m out on the road. To think about the improvements I can make in my fitness, the calories I’ll burn, the pounds I might lose and the stamina I’ll gain. To imagine the changes that might incur in my wider life, what job I might be doing, how my oldest will get on at college, how my wife’s new job might pan out, and wonder if Arsenal will actually win a few games. There is something quite renewing and hopeful even about new shoes, and I would say that they literally, and metaphorically, put a real spring in my step.

As for my old shoes, well they always go to a good home either at Goodwill, or to a charity collection point that are found at most marathon expos. They go with my thanks for taking care of me through the miles of training and racing, and for propelling me from my past to my future.

For the record, I run to the moon wearing Adidas Energy Boost running shoes, which you can read about here, and I can assure you (and I say this with genuine regret) that absolutely no promotional consideration has been paid to me by the manufacturer for mentioning their product in this post.

Finally, and in defense of myself and no doubt many other runners who have to deal with questions at home like “why the hell do you need so many pairs of running shoes?” I will leave you with the words of wisdom from the Queen of Shoes, Imelda Marcos:

“I did not have three thousand pairs of shoes, I had one thousand and sixty.”

Lace up and keep moving people.

For the record, last week I did this:

wk7

And through 7 weeks of training I’ve done this:

wk7_cum

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