One of the nice perks about working for a running store is that we periodically get free pairs of new running shoes from the manufacturers (even part-timers like me). I ran for the first time yesterday morning in a bright yellow and red pair of Newton Gravitys. They’re super light and the fabled Newton design is a wonderful marriage with my forefoot-focused running style. In the highest compliment I can pay a shoe, I forgot I had it on, and I can hardly wait for my next run in them. The revised Newton design for 2014 (more open in the toe box) was very comfy. Wonderful! Your mileage, of course, may vary.
Finding a good pair of running shoes is simpler than you might think. In fact, once you start thinking is when the trouble starts. Stop reading online reviews, stop listening to friends, and go with what really matters: how they feel on your feet. Go to a reputable running store in your area and start trying them on. And don’t get your mind too involved in the decision. I’ve watched customers put on a pair of shoes and stand up with an utterly lost “what next?” look on their faces, walking gingerly around in their prospective new shoes like someone tiptoeing through broken glass, eyes darting back and forth in a labored attempt at concentration. “What am I supposed to be feeling?” a customer will say. Whatever you feel is what you’re feeling! Whatever you feel is right. If it doesn’t feel good to you, if it doesn’t feel comfortable and gets out of your way so you can just run, then it’s probably not the shoe for you.
And don’t give up on a shoe in the first 10-20 steps. If your store has a treadmill or a space to run, take advantage of it. Really run in the shoe for a minute or two and wear it around for 10-15 minutes minimum. Your foot and the shoe may need a little time to get acquainted, which is fine. If some of those odd things you felt in the first 10 steps persist, then try other shoes to see if you have the same problem.
And if you can find two or more different pairs that work for you, buy them and switch them out during the week. Alternating shoes and running surfaces means you’re going to hit different stress points and pressure points, and I am certain that has helped keep me very healthy over the past 20 years or so of running.
Besides finding a favorite new shoe, the past few days have been filled with larger matters of life, death, and loss. A friend died too young, and we said goodbye to one of my favorite writers, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. As often happens, thoughts of death brought me back to the Han Recitation, a Zen gatha that I posted on my Facebook page:
Resolving the matter of life and death is of prime importance
Everything bears the mark of impermanence
Everything passes quickly by like a fleeting arrow
Let everyone be mindful each moment
Do not let a moment pass by unaware!
A friend jokingly commented: “It doesn’t rhyme.” So I wrote my own rhyming version and posted it:
This whole life and death thing is pretty severe
So I humbly say to those who will hear:
Everything’s temporary, no, nothing will last
The future is fiction and what’s past is past
So when mowing the yard or washing your hair,
Enjoy every sandwich, be fully aware!
My friend commented again: “Now I’m just hungry.” But Carol wrote, “I’m thankful for every day I spend with you.” Which was unexpected and very sweet. There is always, always something to be thankful for, like new running shoes and life partners who are just that: partners for life.