These Old Shoes

Running literature indicates that running shoes should be replaced before they show visible wear.  The rule is to buy new shoes after having run in them for between 300 and 500 miles.  It’s hard to believe that might be true, especially the part about before showing any wear, but most serious runners, whether they are professional, competitive, or recreational, take this advice to avoid injuries.  We runners will do anything to keep running— and avoiding injury is essential to being able to sustain the habit.  For me, the thought of not being able to run causes a feeling of panic.  It’s not just about the fitness.  It’s not just about the miles.  And there are plenty of other ways to get cardiovascular exercise.  It’s the running.  The anticipation of the run.  It’s the miles that fly by  on hot summer days and I am wearing the least amount of clothing possible without embarrassing myself or my kids.  It’s the the miles logged on days like today, when the temperature is in the low 20s, with a vicious wind pressing against my chest with every stride, and I’m wearing so many layers I don’t recognize myself in the front hall mirror.  It’s the feeling of power and peace.  It’s the creation and maintenance  of  strength and clarity that settle my physical being and my busy mind. Running makes me feel good.  And happy.

Running daily, I have been encouraged by running friends (and yes, Runner’s World magazine, again) to own two pair of running shoes, designated only for running, and to alternate them, to give each pair a break in between runs.  Funny, I think, I’m not giving my body a break, but should give one to my shoes…but I found a great pair, so bought a second online, less expensive but the same model, and since October, have been giving my running shoes a break.  Ha.  With this thinking, though, I should have to buy shoes half as often, so there’s no money difference anyhow.  And after the last pair, which were so worn so suddenly that one morning after a run I could see my sock through the sole of the shoe, hopefully I won’t be caught in a shoe panic again.

Old running shoes are super comfy.  I could wear them all day; however, they do not look so hot with my little black dress, or even with my khaki pants when I go out to dinner.  They are perfect for gardening, though, and also for just kicking around in, even for a light hike in the woods.  I have no trouble figuring out what do to with my favorite trainers when they are past their running prime.   So I get lots of wear out of them.  I get my money’s worth.

But there comes a time when they are just done.  When the soles are separated from the upper, when the laces are frayed and my toes show through the top.  It takes me a long time to decide to pitch a pair of old running shoes.  I get attached to them, remembering how many speedy miles I put on them, how a certain pair felt like running on clouds, another like wearing snug gloves that held my tired feet as I finished a last mile or two.  Silly, I know, but still, that’s how I am.  I have tried to pawn them off on my daughter, for her to use while she does her landscaping job, but she curls her lip in disgust and I look at the shoes and see she is right.  Time to throw them away.

So how many pairs of running shoes do I go through?  And how many pairs do other runners wear out? All together, the US tosses more than 300 million pair each year.   What happens when we toss them into the trash bin and they go into a dumpster?   Nothing except more trash.  What if we recycle them?   I am compulsive about recycling.  My family of four produces less than one bag of actual trash in two weeks.  We recycle every single thing we can.  Thanks to my friend Julie, who sent me the link below, I can add my old running shoes to my list of used but still useful things, and my old sneakers (and yours. too!) can have a new life in the world of fitness.  The treads, foam, and upper fiber of athletic shoes are all used to create tracks, courts, and indoor courts for sport use.  The shoes can be any brand and any type of athletic shoe.  Check it out.

Happy Recycling.  Happy New Year!

Explore posts in the same categories: Run notes that run into life, Tips

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