I’ve admitted this before in this column. But, I suppose if confession is good for the soul, repeating the confession can’t hurt. I’m crazy about running shoes. I like to look at them, read about them, try them on, and buy them. And I’d be more worried if I didn’t know so many runners who were the same way.
Have you ever been with another runner when they opened the trunk of their car?? BUSTED. Old shoes, old socks and shorts. Maybe a towel and a t-shirt with sweat that’s 4 years old. But… shoes for sure. Dirty shoes. Worn out shoes. Shoes with broken laces. Shoes that look like they have been in the trunk for years. Guess what? They have been.
It’s hard to let go of a great pair of shoes. It’s hard to say good-bye to a faithful companion that has carried you for miles over pavement or through the mud. It’s hard to look at this once proud pair of shoes and tell them that their best days are behind them. I mean… shoes have feelings too.
My shoes are like soldiers in my war against the ravages of aging and a less than healthy previous lifestyle. And I am the general. I am the commanding officer over the brigade of shoes in my closet. I can choose my shoe weapon from my arsenal. I can prepare for the battle.
Like Patton himself I pace back and forth in front of my assembled shoe-troops. What shall we confront today? Long run? Where are the cushioned shoes? Heading for the track? Where are my lightweight trainers? Is today an off road day? Got to find the trail shoes.
Eventually, though, the pile of used shoes becomes dangerously high. Even then I can’t bring myself to simply throw them away, so I take them to a local shelter. The shoes may have outlived their usefulness for me, but they can have entire second life on the streets.
I wonder if the new owners of my old shoes know what they’re getting. I wonder if they feel the magic when they put on the shoes that I wore to my marathon PR. I wonder if they feel the power in the shoes that I wore to run up Pike’s Peak. I wonder if they feel the pain of enlightenment in the shoes I wore the day the marathon humbled me.
If they will listen to the shoes on their feet, they can learn the lessons that the shoes taught me. If they will pay attention to the shoes, they can avoid making the same mistakes I did in the same shoes. If they are really lucky, the shoes they are wearing will change their lives like they did mine.
Maybe they think that they are stuck in the life they’re living. Like I was. Maybe they think that there is nothing they can do to make their life better. Like I did. Maybe they have given up hope that they can have a life of joy. Like I had.
If so, they need only look down at their feet to find the answers. Those shoes that they’re wearing hold all the secrets to living. Those shoes can carry them as far as they want to go.
I wrote once that my shoes were like erasers, rubbing out all my previous failures. I hope that in their second reincarnation my shoes can help someone else escape the pain of their life. I hope that my old shoes can help someone else start a new life.
That may seem like a lot to ask from a simple pair of shoes, but I’m willing to believe that it can happen. And I try to leave a little bit of dream in every pair.
Waddle on, friends.