Early this morning, I was sitting on a rock, watching waves roll in. The air was mostly calm, with just a gentle breeze. The sun was warm, but hidden some behind the ridge behind me. I had on my running shoes, some old and well beaten socks, and my shorts, nursing water from my camelbak after a pleasant 6 mile run.
I noticed that my shoes are starting to show their age. The wife and I have been debating how best to get them into and through the washing machine, without killing the shoes or, more importantly, the machine or anything in the load with it. But sitting there, enjoying sole quiet time in the isolation of a lovely morning on Oahu, I could see that, literally, my shoes are starting to some apart at the seams.
It’s bad enough that my shoes stink to high holy hell. They really do. I don’t dare bring them in the house, but keep them in the backyard. I think they’re part of the reason the grass has grown greener in that part of the yard, too. There’s no animal life in that part of the yard anymore, and we had to move the swing set because the daughter (who loves the swings) had started to grow a third arm. But still, we don’t smell them much, though when you get close to them, there’s no missing them.
The shoes are only starting to come apart. Trust me, I have no plans to retire them early. There’s at least one hole in the fabric, likely from getting snagged on something on a run through the jungle here. Of course, if asked, I would not hesitate to tell my son that it was from a wild boar. And where the rubber-like-material that forms the sole, folds over the toes and fastens, well, it’s starting to peel away on one shoe.
The shoes, they’re just a little tired.
Now, if you asked Nike, they’d surely tell you that running in these shoes today was near-criminal in action. They and the other shoe companies would like you to buy new running shoes every 300 miles, or 3 months, or perhaps every three runs, depending on which one comes first (the first two are actually true). But these are the folks who want me to pay extra for arch support I don’t need, for protection from overpronation when it’s never been a problem for me, and a big and super-cushiony sole that really does nothing for me.
And as I sat there, looking at the shoes and their emerging bits of charm and character, I began to wonder — just how many miles have I put on these shoes? I think I started wearing this set just as I started my training for the marathon — so, I probably started to use them around the start of August. And the training plan for the marathon — I know I am suppose to have several sets of shoes, and I know I am suppose to alternate them, etc., but I never do — that was a 460 mile training plan. So, by now, I’ve probably put 500 miles on these shoes.
And no, I am not about to retire them. They are fine and functional, though smelly. A wash and they should be good for a good bit more. They should be good for another 100 or 200 more miles, I would think. But how long is that? When do I need to start thinking about new shoes.
Really, the question is — how much am I going to be running this year?
Well, the Army is going to make me run 5 days a week. Or it’ll try. The Army is big on running — it likes it, it loves it, it wants more of it. The Army would be thrilled if I did 5 miles a day, 5 days a week.
No, really. I’m not kidding. The Army would think of me as its proud son if I did that. Push-ups, sit-ups, and running, every weekday. I do cheat and add in some swimming these days, but only because I have time after the running and before I have to be in the office (there are showers at the pool, so I can swim and get clean).
So, that’s 25 miles a week. And on the weekends, I am trying to get out and run and explore and see the hidden beauty of Oahu. Half-marathon distances are my comfort zone. Yes, that really is 13+ miles. Let’s call it 15.
And then there may be times when I run a lot more. Sure, I may slack some weeks — I am an underachiever, after all — but if I decide to train for a marathon or some other sort of longish run, well, that’ll mean more miles.
40 miles a week, 52 weeks a year? I suppose it’s true — I really could run 2000 miles in the year.
If I were a racer, and not a runner, I would probably be worried about swapping out shoes every 300 miles. I’d want them to be fresh and perfect and ready for speed and crap like that. But I’m not. I’m a runner. I run. I get there when I get there, with a goal of enjoying the run. not that it’s ended.
So, I will put off buying new shoes for a few more weeks. Honestly, I’ll probably pick some up in a month or so, but stick them up on a shelf — break glass in case of emergency. And I’ll probably keep pounding away on these ones, because really, I like these shoes, and I love that I’ve had such great adventures in them. Why would I ever want to see them go?