Of course new shoes can make your feet feel better. But can they really help your soul?
I ran a trail yesterday I have run many times before. I did not see the Great Blue Heron I once saw there feeding not 15 feet away. Nor did I see the Northern Oriole building its dangling hollowed ball shaped nest I’ve seen before nor the spring irises lining the trail here and there. Yet I felt newly exhilarated despite the sameness of the scenery. What was different?
Not much. Just my shoes.
New shoes I had researched and pondered, read reviews about and weighed pros and cons before arriving at my decision. I looked for them in stores and ultimately ordered on the web. Even guessed right on the European size.
I am loyal to my shoes. Not the brand specifically but actually to the shoes. I do not part ways with them easily. I wear them until they are frayed. Until chunks of rubber are missing from the sole. Until I am pretty sure the mid sole layer has lost its cushioning. Yet, I have seen pictures of the poorest of the poor running around or carrying water in tattered shoes, or no shoes and I know even at their worst my old shoes are quite adequate. And so I relinquish them reluctantly and don new shoes undeservedly.
But I am attached to old shoes for quite another reason too. We have traveled together for so long. The rubber rand covering the front of the shoes is peeling. The lining around the heel has worn completely away after thousands and thousands of steps on streets and sidewalks and grassy fields and trails criss crossing county and state parks, as my shoes and I have hiked our way together across rocks in a fast flowing brook or run across a wooden bridge while looking upstream at riffles of frothy white water. They were with me when I ran a trail race and badly sprained my ankle and they were with me the following year when I redeemed myself on the same course.
I look at the worn sole but don’t see shoes worn out. Rather I see miles walked, hiked, run.
Yet the trail does seem more fresh and alive and spirited with my new shoes, a feeling which I attribute to more than better cushioning and less fraying. I am inspired by the possibilities of the new, real or imagined. The shiny sole of my new shoes with their special features to provide traction on uneven terrain beckons the deep forest trail. And I will even take inspiration from the picture on the shoe box, of men I know not, running toward towering mountains I know not where in a place I will likely never be.
(Old shoes: Asics Trail Sensor. New shoes: La Sportiva Wildcat)