An Ode to Old Running Shoes

I don’t know about you guys, but some of my best thinking is done while running. I’ve organized countless research papers, analyzed countless boy problems (all pre-Brandon, obvi), and had countless epiphanies – all while hitting the pavement.  On more than one occasion, I’ve been struck by some key realization or insight that helped me nurse a broken heart back to health or make an important decision about my future.

As a result of all this, I don’t see old pairs of running shoes as products that have served their purpose and been worn out. Instead, I see what those shoes represent. 
For example, my 2004 Mizunos propelled me through my first real job in DC (it was a “pay your dues” kind of gig, and it wound up being a particularly rough experience), cushioned my feetsies during long runs that helped me feel better after a bad breakup (the kind wherein, out of the blue, the guy you’ve been dating for two years says he doesn’t love you anymore), and pushed me through a critical period when I was torn between going to grad school or moving overseas (I chose to go overseas, which I never would’ve done had the aforementioned boy not dropped the aforementioned “I don’t love you anymore” bomb – so I’m actually really grateful that he did). 
My 2005 Adidas trail shoes were broken in on the red clay trails in my beloved Colorado, and they traveled with me throughout the Middle East. I wore them on the runs that helped me survive hours of language immersion (Hebrew and Arabic are effing hard, people), and really, these shoes deserve their own passport: I wore them as I hiked to the monastery in Petra, hiked though the Golan Heights, and trekked though Egypt. 
You can’t see them, but those shoes were awesome for climbing large rocks in Jordan.
Once I was back Stateside, I wore them when I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to hike up a fourteener with some grad school friends, which in and of itself was a huge accomplishment.
Chillin’, and being chilled, at the summit of Mt. Bierstadt. Note the kicks.
I stopped running in grad school due to the arthritis in my feet, but I started again when I found shoes that make my feet and knees happy – so my pair of 2010 Brooks Adrenalines were with me as I dipped my toes back into running and eventually ran my first 5K since 2002.
I realized the other day that because of what they represent, my running shoes feel like old friends. They’re familiar, comfortable, and broken-in – for example, with each pair, there’s a hole on the top of right shoe where my big toe has pushed through the fabric. (I apparently flex the hell out of my big toe when I run.)   

My logical side says I should throw out a pair or two to make room for my work shoes. However, the very idea of throwing out any of these ratty old things sparks a visceral response, and I have to fight the urge to say “Absolutely not!” out loud. It would be like throwing out a friend because he or she got old. 
These shoes, albeit old and dirty and falling apart, are part of who I am. They’re far too important to toss out with a week’s worth of banana peels. So, instead, I’ve decided that some day when I have the money and the living space I’ll bronze them and use them as book ends. 
That said, if any of you lovely people have ideas for how to re-purpose ratty old running shoes, I’d gladly take suggestions/ideas!

3 thoughts on “An Ode to Old Running Shoes

  1. Caitlin Helsel February 5, 2013 / 9:23 pm

    I love how your shoes hold such special memories for you. I feel the same way about my tshirts. I look at them and remember where they came from, how i felt, and the experience itself…pretty priceless,..and they will never be thrown away so joe will have to deal 😉

  2. therunwithin February 6, 2013 / 1:16 am

    I struggle to throw away old shoes too, I tend to keep the last four pairs and then throw away that older fifth pair and just keep moving through that cycle

  3. jessielovestorun February 6, 2013 / 3:43 am

    I'm not sure that I ever knew you went to Egypt. How awesome! And girl, Arabic isn't easy. Joshua and I decided we wanted to learn German, however I'm thinking we need to learn some Arabic as well since we are living in Kuwait & all, Ha Ha!

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