I’ve been running for about 42 years and my estimate is that during that time, I’ve probably broken in a new pair of shoes about every two years. Using that logic, my guess is that I’ve run through more than 21 pairs of shoes. Who knows. The number could be much higher. Earlier this week, I began breaking in my latest pair of shoes during the summer’s heat. I’ve always thought that breaking in a new pair of shoes was a neat thing to do and I thought it would be fun to capture the experience in a post. So, here’s a brief look back at a bit of my running shoe history and a connection between these shoes and my Christian faith.
As I recall, my first pair of running shoes were the Adidas Italia. They looked very similar to the Rom model with red stripes pictured here, except the distinguishing three stripes that identify the Adidas brand were green in color. The year would have been 1966 and I was running cross country at Therrell High School in Atlanta on the southeast side of town. My father was in the Army stationed at Ft. MacPherson at the time. Coach Wall trained us. I remember the state meet was held that year at the Atlanta Water Works, pictured here. If you look closely at the shoes worn by the runner on the right of the photo, you can see they are Adidas, similar to the Italia model.
In the mid 70’s while running at West Point, one pair of shoes I can remember running in was the Nike LD1000. Bill Bowerman, employed by Nike and the University of Oregon track coach at the time, invented the concept of the waffle running shoe. I recall having many Nike shoes with these waffle-type soles. Each year at the Academy, we were fortunate to be able to update our shoes to be able to wear the newest style. One thing I didn’t like about these yellow shoes was that they quickly became soiled-looking because the dirt easily discolored the upper part of the shoe.
On more than one occasion over the years I’ve used a product called Shoe Goo to extend the life of the soles of the shoes. The concept would be to squeeze some goo on the sole at the heel of the shoe to build up the area that had worn. In fact, I can remember back in high school, before the days of Shoe Goo, that I used adhesive tape to build up the heel. I would roll up some tape and put it in on the outside edge of the heel area. This is the spot of the shoe where my foot first strikes the ground and would wear the most. The problem with this techniques was that about every other time I ran in the shoe, I’d have to re-apply the tape because it would come off. I have often wondered if there have been other runners who ever used this technique.
Over the years, I’ve also worn shoes manufactured by Brooks, New Balance, Saucony, Asics and others. Last week my youngest son, Dan, had a new pair of running shoes sent to me direct from Nike. This is the first time that I have not gone into a store and tried on several shoes before making a choice on which ones were most comfortable. I had concerns how they would fit and feel.
These Air Max 2009’s were a Father’s Day gift. Dan told me that he wanted to treat me to a really nice pair of shoes. Knowing that I’ve been running for such a long time and worn so many shoes, he wanted these to be special. I’ve run in them three times now and each time out I’m happy to say that I’m liking them more and more. I told Dan the other day that these shoes have more cushion than any running shoes I have ever worn. It must be that air pocket under the sole that provides the extra cushion. Well done Nike!
My runs are no where the distance that they used to be years ago. I’m typically covering about two to three miles a run and make it out three to four days a week. And my fitness level today isn’t quite what it was back in the day, but I can still appreciate a really comfortable pair of shoes and it’s still with lots of anticipation that I lace up a brand new pair of running shoes and head out the door for the first time. It’s often felt like I’m ‘running on air’ that first run in a new set of shoes. And, for this pair of Nike Air Maxes, that’s pretty much what I was experiencing. I look forward to the day when I slip on my next pair of new training shoes… but that won’t be for a year or so. Some experts suggest replacing your shoes every 300 to 500 miles. If I follow this guideline, then at the earliest it I’ll have to wait another year minimum. Meanwhile, I’ll enjoy breaking these Nike’s in!
This last picture reminds me of running among the wheat fields in Moscow, Idaho where I finished high school. If you follow the link provided, you’ll see a picture of rolling hills similar to those only a mile from where we lived on the outskirts of town. What great memories!
Well, I’m off for another run….and I’m back now. This is the first run in my new shoes this week where I haven’t stopped for a short period of time to walk just a bit. The weather has been hot and very humid. I was aware of this on the last stretch of my run and I wondered if anything made this one different. It dawned on me that I was wearing my Ipod today listening to my Christian music. I am certain that the songs kept me moving!
Another thought I had on the run was how to make a connection between a pair of running shoes and our faith. I had been wanting to do that as I began this article but the right thought never popped into my head. It did on my run.
Hands down, my most important piece of fitness equipment is my set of running shoes. As I indicated at the onset of this article, I’ve been running for over 40 years. It is my favorite type of exercise… always has been and always will be as long as I can keep at it. One cool thing about running, and walking for that matter, is that it requires no special equipment other than a good pair of shoes. You can walk or run just about anywhere so it’s a convenient type of physical activity. My most important piece of equipment regarding my Christian faith is my Bible. I couldn’t do without it. I start most every day reading from it during my devotional time. Looking around my home office and into the living room I can see many Bibles. I have a few New International Versions(NIV), a New Living Translation(NLT), King James, and a New King James. Most days I read from the New Living Translation and the NIV Study Bible.
Reading the Bible daily helps me understand more about God and what He wants me to do with my life. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”
Whether I want to exercise to maintain my fitness level or sustain my faith, I know right where to find my most important pieces of equipment. My running shoes are in my closet and my Bible is on the side table.
Be well and stay fit!
Questions to Consider
What’s the most important piece of equipment you own that keeps you spiritually fit? How often do you use it?