Monday “What Went Well”: Get good gear!

It’s one of my favorite takeaways from the book Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy – Until You’re 80 and Beyond. Get good gear. Not just to look good and feel good, but to be well-protected against the elements when you’re out there getting your workout on.

So what went well last week? For the first time in recorded history, I tracked how many miles I was running in my running shoes, because once you hit 500 miles, you’ve more or less worn out the midsole of the shoe (the part that gives you all the good shock-absorption and such things) and it’s time for a new pair. I tracked every mile as well as I could: with my GPS when I had a GPS watch on, approximates based on time spent out there running when I didn’t have my watch on. And, drum roll…

We hit 500 miles yesterday!

And that meant one thing: NEW SHOES! Check them out:

Ah, the changing of the guard. Goodbye old shoes that carried me through 500 miles of bliss. And, hello 2014 model! Shoe companies like to get cute with color schemes year to year. (Brooks Arial, by the way, if you're wondering. Excellent motion-control shoe for overpronators like me.)
Ah, the changing of the guard. Goodbye old shoes that carried me through 500 miles of bliss. And, hello 2014 model! Shoe companies like to get cute with color schemes year to year. (Brooks Arial, by the way, if you’re wondering. Excellent motion-control shoe for overpronators like me.)

And here’s why getting new shoes every 500 miles is so important:

Check out those treads. Old on the left, new on the right. Those old treads say one thing: It's time for NEW SHOES!
Check out those treads. Old on the left, new on the right. Those old treads say one thing: It’s time for NEW SHOES!

The treads. Check ’em out. There’s a LOT of wear on those little buggers after 500 miles. Those treads are meant to tell you something: specifically, that you need new shoes. Because you do not want to be running around in cast-off old shoes past their prime. Especially if you’re, ahem, running.

True story: My first pair of running shoes were somebody else’s castoffs. And then…

When I was about 12, a young married couple who were friends with my parents introduced me to running. I still have a memory of going to the local high school track with them and running about a mile – four laps. The woman was training for what was then called the New York Mini Marathon (it’s gone through lots of sponsor changes over the year so I can’t remember if it was L’eggs or Bonne Bell or some other product name on the front of that race, but it’s a big deal now: a Central Park women’s 10K that attracts top talent from all over the world). So it must have been around April or May of my seventh-grade year. Something like that.

And the woman wore the same size shoe as me, so she gave me an old pair to run in. I loved running. So I kept running in them. Until I got the inevitable shin splints and knee pain that result from wearing shoes way past their prime. Lesson learned, really early in life. Invest in your running shoes.

(By the way, despite that wake-up injury call with those old shoes, I’ll always be grateful to that young couple for introducing me to the sport. Something about the idea of running just stuck with me, and at an age when it would have been very easy to become a lump and watch TV all the time. I started subscribing to Runner’s World. I read up on the sport. And I’ve spent some of my happiest adult days covering the sport at the elite level – and running my own marathons. All because a young couple said to a 12-year-old thirty years ago: “Hey, Nicole, would you like to join us to run?”)

Here’s how I think about the economics of Getting Good Gear:

500 miles at $100 per pair of shoes = 20 cents per mile.

That’s basically how I think of it. It’s an investment in good running. Good, safe, injury-free running. That’s what it’s all about. How about other gear? My $80 Gore-Tex jacket (purchased at the REI discount online outlet, marked down from $200) that I bought around 2007? That’s seven years of waterproof happiness on trails, hiking up hills, and even trekking up Mount Rainier (we didn’t get to the top due to windstorms – but the Gore-Tex kept me protected all the way up and down that mountain). What’s that – $12 per year or something? Yes, good gear is a bit of an investment, but it makes major-league long-term sense.

Plus, there’s just the cute aspect. I’m not a skirt-runner, but if you want running skirts, they’re out there. Hot pink? You got it. Crazy patterns and colors and nifty knee-highs and headbands and hats and singlets with cool sayings on them? Check.

So, get good gear. I’m just sayin’.

Recent Every48 workouts: We’re back in the saddle. Friday, a lovely 90-minute YOGA class. Yesterday, the last six miles RUNNING that my old shoes will do before going to the great recycle bin at my local running shop. (You do know that running shops collect old running shoes to recycle them, yes? Indeed they do.)

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