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Know When to Let Go of Your Old Running Shoes

By John Luecke

Know when and where to use what pair of shoes at what stage in her life has been one of my many thoughts I’ve came across while running (and sometimes winning) marathons around the country.

STAGE ONE- running

The first stage is the happiest stage of a running shoes life.  She is in all her glory, ready to hit the road showing off her strong, fast, and beautiful self.  Her brilliant colors stand out and she’s the envy of all the other shoes.  Her brilliant, pristine laces, adorned at each end with flawless aglets, flowing through her eyelets with grace.  Her voluptuous tong and heel counter, showing off just enough of her inner self to let the running world know, she has perfect internal support. Her vibrant side panels glow with confidence.  She has that new shoe fragrance to lure any non-runner to poses her. Her sole is so soft and yet so very firm, it will support any runner.

STAGE TWO- recreational

As she enjoys mile after mile, showing off her talents, she is oblivious to the strain that she puts on herself.  Her new shoe fragrance eventually fades and is slowly replaced with that pungent smell of foot sweat. She still feels great, as if it were her first day on the road.  Eventually though, as the miles begin to pile up, she starts noticing some of the little things that now begin to change her identity. Her sole is no longer as soft and firm as it once was and the bottom has deep wear marks. The color has slowly faded from its original brilliance.  Her laces slowly become more and more frayed and the aglets have left altogether.  Her tong begins to sag along with her heel counter. The internal support that she once commanded seems to have slowly given way to all the miles of road that she has enjoyed. She is no longer the bright shining running shoe she once was. Eventually, sadly, she gives way to a bright new pair of running.


STAGE THREE- mud and dirt

Although her running days have passed, her brilliant colors faded, and her once firm support given way, she still has plenty of life yet to live.  She now spends her days walking from place to place, from chores to leisure, from job site to recreational venue.  Her daily routine now consists of standing, walking, and working in support of her new responsibilities.  She goes from the yard to the garage, from the grocery store to the mall, from the neighborhood park to the major league ball park collecting new and lasting memories.  She goes back and forth from place to place till the job is finished.  Grass clippings, dirt, grease and oil now cover her outer skin.  She collects food stains, beer stains, and paint stains as she forms her new character.  Gravel, dirt, twigs, stones, and even more grass trickle into her shoe and down to her inner sole.  Her outer shell now changes color as each new job brings with it a new coding of stain.  Her inner sole becomes tattered as the friction from the collected debris slowly rubs away the internal lining of her insole. Her outer sole now bears the scars from constant scrapping, scuffing, and tearing of foreign objects that she now comes in contact with on a daily basis. On lazy days, when her untied laces are hanging out because here eyelets are too rough to accept them, they take a thrashing.  As sweat and dirt continue to wear from the inside, her beautiful trim and her steady sole begins to wear even further.  Her once beautiful full of life disposition become more and more tired and tattered. As she continues to live, adding to her legacy, she slowly loses all her charm and support she once had.  Eventually she will no longer be able to walk or be seen in public as her otter shell has become worn and ugly. She no longer has any support from her toe to her heel to do the things she once did. Her laces have broken and have to be forced through the remaining eyelets that are now torn. Eventually she knows it’s time to move on.  The next pair of shoes will take her place.  Nothing lasts forever.

But there is still life in her!  New ventures wait as she knows there is still life after beauty and grace. She becomes reinvigorated. Although she now looks hideous and feels terrible, she no longer cares because now it’s time to get wet and dirty!  Let’s go ride!  Let’s find the wettest, blackest, muddiest mud hole to walk in.  Who cares!  It actually feels good.  The stench can be overpowering at times but there’s always a lake or river near bye to wash off.  Dust, dirt, grime, and mud; can collect in and out of her whole body.  She no longer cares because it’s time to get muddy.  If her laces beak, readjust.  If her insole falls out it’s no longer needed.  As her sole slowly separates from her body that just leaves more room to get wet, dirty, and muddy.  She knows that each trip to the mud hole might be the last, but she keeps going.  She remembers her running days.  She was once fast and pretty and has medals to show for it.  She has been to places and experiences where she has logged many of her scars and stains that have since faded but not the memories. Life is shot for a running shoe, live it to the end.

There is a fourth stage, but this is for the stages of life not the afterlife.


About John Luecke (2 Articles)
John Luecke is an avid runner that enjoys the physiological and physical benefits of running in (and sometime winning) races; 15 marathons, countless 5Ks and 10Ks, and is in pursuit to run at least one marathon in every state. He loves to spend time with his four daughters that joined him in the Bellin 10K in Green Bay Wisconsin and looks forward to running many more with them.
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