I am training for a marathon.
There is quite a bit of anticipation and anxiety wrapped up in those six words, but the more I say it, the more real it will become. It’ll be a monster to tackle, personal uncharted territory, but a road well traveled by others before me. I’m excited for the opportunity.
As I embark on this journey, I have made my first truly new purchase of 2017: a pair of new running shoes.
The last time I purchased a pair of running shoes was around Thanksgiving 2014, a point of both pride and mild embarrassment. In the last nearly 2.5 years, I’ve likely logged over 3,000 miles, far surpassing the 300 – 600 miles at which changing out shoes is recommended. It wasn’t that I didn’t want or couldn’t get new shoes, it just wasn’t yet time.
Despite casting aside any conventional wisdom surrounding shoe replacement, I’ve remained injury free. These now beat-up Nike Lunarglides have accompanied me on this maturation of strength as I’ve developed from a formerly shin-splint laden mid-distance trackie to a content, sometimes-competitive runner who can now race a half marathon faster than she could once complete a single mile. They’ve listened in on countless hours of active conversations and tagged along on late-night solo efforts, tracing loops around neighborhoods and campuses. These shoes have seen me through this process of, quite literally, getting my feet under me, one mile at a time.
But yes, it was time for a new pair. I could harp on the principle of not buying new things for a year. But the fact of the matter is that this purchase isn’t really about the shoes themselves: the shoes are merely an item designed to facilitate an experience.
The motivation for the purchase isn’t a fixation on the shoes themselves, but the objective they will aid in accomplishing. I’m not buying shoes for the sake of having shoes, but to be able to log mile after mile in an attempt to complete a challenge I’ve never undertaken before. As Hannah says, running is a lifegiving exercise and, while some may be able to participate barefoot, that’s a bridge (or two or three) too far for me.
From the perspective of the runner, the shoes were not simply a want, but also a need. Anyone who has caught even a glance a the bottoms of my well worn shoes could tell it was time for them to go. While running can be almost meditative, an opportunity to connect with one’s surroundings, feeling every bit of gravel beneath my feet was not a desired part of the experience. I’d waited until the purchase was absolutely (arguably well past) necessary, especially to ensure a healthy body as I ramp up the mileage over these coming months.
In a break from previous purchasing habits, I’d also taken this as an opportunity to support (shameless plug) Raleigh’s sole independently-owned running store, Runologie. Thanks for helping get me into a new pair of kicks, y’all. Especially Anne.
Part of this challenge of purchasing no new things is to ensure that each of the items I use reach their full potential – that they do not lead a life cut short or gone unappreciated – and to see to it that all things are allowed the full life for which they are intended. The beauty of buying secondhand is found in both the pursuit of an item and the new life granted as its time with the previous owner draws to close. I can assure you that if my current shoes could talk, they have reached the point at which they beg to be retired with each early morning step on the sidewalk or trail, recognizing they are both well-worn and well-loved. Despite purchasing a brand-spankin’ new pair of shoes, the broader objective was fulfilled.
So, with shoes laced, plan charted, and running buddies on board: here’s to the miles to come.
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For those interested in the Raleigh running scene, check out the sites below:
Runologie: Raleigh’s only locally owned, independent running store. Cool staff, cool vibes and a whole lot to offer to the Raleigh area.
Carolina Godiva Track Club: Run club based in Chapel Hill that hosts a super fun and casual opportunity to hit the track during their summer meet series.
Second Empire Grand Prix: Raleigh-based race series with oppotunities to race distances from a 5K to marathon