It is said that confession is good for the soul. In my case, it’s more that confession is good for the soles. I admit, until recently, I’d been a 33-year member of RSO. Better known as Running Shoe Obsession. I had more than a slight eccentricity as it concerned hanging on to old shoes.
Some may have a wine collection in their basement. If you had visited me, you’d have found a shoe cellar. It wasn’t stocked with Italian hand sewn tassel loafers crafted from natural exotic leather but, instead, I was overloaded with racks of my retired running shoes. We could revisit 1991 together, revel in the full body aroma of the aged synthetic leather upper and rubber outer sole, and caress the worn heel and tattered laces. Remove it from its box and let it breathe while reminiscing how that indeed was a very fine year.
I could give you every detail imaginable regarding the personal relationship I had with my running shoes. I could pull out that old 1998 model from the Pre-Advanced Combination Construction era and recite, “The peak of this 10.2 oz. shoe with enhanced motion control and traditional eyelet lacing was setting a half-marathon PR on a point to point course. The shoe and I had already experienced some wonderful training runs together by that juncture in our relationship and I came away from the race completely free of any sign of foot blisters or black toenails. The shoe lasted three more months until replaced by a more attractive lighter model. But I won’t ever forget what that shoe and I had together in that summer of ’98.
Truth is I’m not an obsessive collector of all things and don’t need an off-home storage facility to maintain my running related magazines and race T-shirts. Nonetheless, with running shoes, I had the mentality of the pack – - rat that is – - and couldn’t part with any shoe in which we’d comfortably traveled together at lease one enjoyable 20 mile training run. By that point, the shoe and I had created a personal bond. We were attached at much more than just the foot. The end of some relationships often warranted a tearful ceremony before delicately placing them in their tomb of a shoebox. But then something changed.
I happened upon a stream of numerous articles on more beneficial usages for old running shoes than stockpiling them and boring friends with a tour of the shoe cellar. I knew that each time I moved on to the latest in running shoes, like some pathetic footwear philanderer, that there might be some more miles left in my prior pair. Nonetheless, I stored them away and had an inability to completely say shoe sayonara.
But then my compulsion came up against my compassion. Many of these articles came with pictures and videos of young runners training without shoes. I was beseeched with information regarding organizations that would collect, size, clean and ship used shoes to these hard-working athletes. I realized there comes a time when even the strongest of obsessions must come to an end.
As I packed the last pair away, I shed a small tear upon a recently occupied toe box. I knew that they’d be going on to a better life. They’d breathe the fresh air again, feel the trails under their carbon rubber soles, and bask in the warmth of a loving touch on their heel counter. It was time for me to cut the proverbial shoelace.
But before I sent my old shoes off, I decided to do what any longstanding member of RSO would do. I grabbed the DVD camera.
Give me a call sometime if you want to see the cinematic chronicle of my life with running shoes. It only lasts fourteen hours.