Sneaking a peak in my father's closet when I was 7 or was it 9, I discovered a collection of shoes, brown ones, multiple black ones, a few cordovan and a couple of suede shoes were in the mix. Each of them were stuffed with wooden blocks. My father was a carpenter by trade and I couldn't understand why he needed that many pairs of shoes, they obviously weren't for work and why would he stuff them with wooden blocks? When the time was right I was going to ask about the seemingly odd practice. "Daddy what are those blocks you put your shoes?" I knew the first audible response was going to be a "chupes"-(a sound made by Caribbean parents when they suck their teeth to express disgust or contempt) followed by the answer. I waited patiently, and like London's Big Ben there was my long exaggerated "chupes"-and answer, they're shoe trees. Why would you put trees in shoes, I asked? Daddy said: "to absorb the moisture and keep the shape"-this is when my fascination with shoes started.
When I started running the obsession continued, minus the tooth brush cleaning era of my Rejects, Pro Keds, Converse's, Shell Tops or Puma's. During the early years my parents weren't buying a new pair of kicks each week, so I had to clean them to keep them crisp. When I started working and buying my own sneakers I wasn't beating the hell out of them and I wasn't going to ruin them with creases, by running in them. I've developed a relationship between my feet and shoes, cultivated through the years. My shoes talk to me.
Preparing for this post, I asked the question in a few online communities: "Do your feet talk to you during a race, get bored or tired of running in a certain shoe? If so, what are those conversations like?- Almertria said "something is seriously wrong with you lol." While there may be pinch of truth sprinkled in her comment, it doesn't stop my feet and shoes from talking.
I don't know about you but, new shoes are constantly trying to pick me up, offering to provide me with the ride of my life, whistling clamoring for my attention, can't a guy go out without being hassled-I feel cheap. My first running shoe convo happened after my 3rd pair of Asics. "If you put on those damn Nimbus one more time, I swear, I'll scream from the top of my tongue, loosen my laces and trip your Ars on the run". Whats wrong with the Nimbus? For starters they ain't nimble. What do you mean? They came highly recommended from the guy in the sneaker store, plus they had great reviews. I'll tell what's wrong with them, they're ugly clunky looking trainers that women tend to wear on their way to and from work on the LIRR, Metro North, Amtrak, any alphabet or numbered train in the evening leaving from Penn or Grand Central Station, seeking relief for their toes, from pumps that have tortured their feet all day. And since you clearly aren't a woman, and you don't wear pumps-please, not the Nimbus. After that tongue lashing, the Nimbus stayed in the closet for 3 years until this past Sunday when I recycled them at my LRS.
Our feet most certainly have feelings and a mind that wants to express itself, as we insist on pounding the asphalt, walk through the mall attend a wedding or sit through a long boring meetings or a dog and pony show. Well maybe its just me.
When I fled Nimbusville, I slid down to Glycerin Ave., the 9's were fine they carried me through my first Marathon. After 5:23 I was tired of lifting my feet off the ground and I'm convinced they got heavier after each mile and begged me to stop, slow down, just walk, please not another freaking step.
Everyone has their favorite brand, a go to shoe for race day, long slow runs, tempo, and track work. At a minimum we're talking about 3, maybe 4 pair of running shoes, some are stored in a gym bag in the car, locker at work, lined at the front door for easy access, in the basement, den or neatly boxed and filed away in a closet. Some of my kicks are stacked near my bookshelves, like reference material, some in the closet and others are air drying. I imagine there's someone who has a meticulous system of tracking the mileage of all of their kicks on a numbers spread sheet in which they receive mileage and maintenance updates, yeah I'm not that guy-not that there's anything wrong with that.
Shannon said "My toenails talk. They jump ship. Doesn't even matter what shoe I'm in or what size. They simple say, "bye, I'm out" and they're gone. We get mixed messages, when the great "sneaker debate" launches between our ears. Our feet want a break and ask for some cushion and our mind says we don't like cushion we're a part of the natural running movement. This summer I turned my ankle before the PA Grand Canyon Marathon and aggravated it during the race, My feet were pleading for the Stinson's, "please give us a break, Cmon man have you no decency, cut us some slack we just hooked you up with a decent time". After nursing the ankle it got better and wanted out of the Stinson's and Rapa Nui's, it was around the release of the Clifton's and then Huaka's.
As my strength and confidence returned I was rolling out in my Boston's, Skechers, Salming's, Sayo's, WR18 and Triumphs. With the weather changing and snow waiting back stage, I picked up a pair Newton BOCO AT's, for foul weather. Ok where's the snow?
If you're anything like me your feet are going to talk you into some new kicks in 2015, mine have already started dropping hints. Brooks Launch please, pass the Altra's, Yeah, I'll take two pairs. Hoka if you don't mind, I love a challenge, I'll have its namesake-Challenger ATR, Bondi 4 and since change is the only Constant in life why not through in the Constant. Tony Post's Runventure looks like a Merrell and the Zante is supposed to make Fresh Foam 980 marketing debacle disappear. Too many shoes to choose from checkout Competitors 2015 guide for glimpse of what's in store or Runner's Worlds wish list. Happy Trails in 2015