RunNerdier

musings on running, life, and everything in between


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When you fall out of love

With running

Life

The usual

It’s been a long hiatus. And to be honest, I’m not sure how often I’ll keep this updated either. It’s tenuous lately. My resurgence of interest in running and such. And the school year is starting, which for some parents is glorious, but for me means the startup of my regular work calendar again. So…here’s a stab.

The last couple of months have been rough. I’ve been pretty straightforward about my ongoing struggle with depression, but it reached a pretty bad low point a few months ago. I think what further compounded it was the fact that I felt like I was doing every possible thing I could to deal with it, but it wasn’t enough. It feels unfair that I have to be doing so much more to stay afloat or feel “normal” (whatever that is) than the average person. Is it a chemical imbalance, family trauma, psychic wounds, blah blah blah? I don’t know. But I cringe every time someone asks me if I exercise or sleep enough or whatever, because I want to scream, “All of it, I do all of it!”

And actually, the last couple of months, even the running has fallen by the wayside. Yes, I’ve been trying to get myself to grind out at least a run or two a week. I had been hating even that minimal amount, though, and was mostly doing it to stave off the creeping weight. I eat ALOT, and mostly run to eat. When you’re not marathon training, it begins to catch up with you. And while it really is probably just 3-5 pounds, it was enough to make me feel worse physically and emotionally. And I realize that nothing was giving me pleasure. I wasn’t interested in anything. Maybe sleep. More B horror movies. Escape. Not life, not my kids, not my writing. Definitely not my running. Nothing that required me to engage.

So I’m trying some new meds and starting to feel better. I’ve even begun ramping back up my running. I’m actually watching the Olympics track and field events. Hitting double digit long runs. Thinking about races. But it’s still a struggle. The new meds make me tired, so early runs have been difficult. I’ve had to play around with dosage and timing to figure out what doesn’t make me feel like I need a 3 hour nap at 10:30 am or that I’m treading mud at 3 pm. Which means running alone and in the awful heat and humidity. I’ll say that running while playing Pokemon Go has helped motivate and distract me (and give me excuses for stopping).

I’m not 100% sure if I’ll stick with these meds or need to get back on that merry-go-round, but for the first time, I’m being pretty open about my struggles with folks. Even the fact that I know a couple of my students read this blog, and I’m talking about this is something. My less-than-perfect behavior has probably been most indicative of my struggles. I’ve had alot of impatience, crankiness, and general snarl near and far. My ability to have any emotional reserve in response to life has been about nil. I’m sane and grounded enough to know (mostly) when I need to make amends for that behavior, but it’s still not fun. It would be better if I just didn’t do it to begin with. And I’m still leaning towards isolation. My general belief of, “If I don’t interact with people, then I won’t have to act out and apologize later” isn’t really a great one.

On the road back from this cycle of depression, I’d realized that I had slowly been socially isolating myself. Other than kid-oriented activities or running with friends, I was engaging in almost no social activities. A friend took me out for dinner in the city, and I realized it had been literal years since I had done that. Years. How did that happen?

So I’m not saying I’m cured, but I felt the impulse to write today. So that’s something. But one could say it’s something for any of us to show up in life today and engage. To do what you can. To try your best. Even watching the Olympics, I thought about all the athletes at the back of the pack. The ones with no chance to win a medal. How do they motivate themselves? How do they push to keep going? How do any of us? But we do. Onwards and upwards friends.


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Finding what feeds you or at least doesn’t kill you

I don’t know if other professions talk about their work or communities “feeding them.” Higher ed is definitely a strange place and not typical of many other contexts, so it’s hard to know what is “normal.” Awhile back, I saw a fairly well known scholar-educator post about their job not being one that “fed” them, and they felt like it was suffocating them if anything. The post didn’t say specifically (vaguebooking anyone?) about what they were talking about, but I can think of a million possible examples or scenarios from others’ situations. My response, though, was “huh, that’s a weird thing to expect.” Without getting into the politics of my own specific position or context, I have accepted that my job isn’t going to be what keeps me afloat emotionally. Even as a high school teacher, I snarled at the oft-quoted “teaching is the hardest job you’ll love” or some other derivative dribble. Teaching IS hard, and it IS rewarding, but if you expect that to be your sole sense of purpose and meaning in life, you will burn out faster than a Roman candle. I wish someone had told me that earlier…

I am not saying that you can’t find meaning, purpose, and fulfillment in your work. I definitely do. But I also don’t expect my work to be the only place where I get that, or even my main source of those things. And while that may seem obvious to some, it’s taken awhile for me to figure that out. I think one of the reasons I was so miserable in my 20’s was that I couldn’t figure out what I needed emotionally, spiritually, psychically, so I expected work or friendships to be the only place I would find validation. As I’ve gotten older, my priorities and understandings of the world have shifted through marriage, kids, running, adult jobs, etc. And I’ve realized that no one place can be my sole source of nurturing or cultivating of self.

Maybe that’s obvious for some, but that’s some hard-fought knowledge for me. Just as my life-long battles with managing depression happen through many ways–prayer, exercise, medication, therapy, community–I’ve realized that finding happiness in life has to happen through many ways. JUST surviving or NOT being miserable is NOT the same thing as actually seeking happiness and comfort. It’s not merely enough to not be suffering, but you also have to find ways to “suck the marrow out of life” (a la Whitman). And that will change throughout your life, which is why it can feel like a balancing act. Just when you think you’ve got it, another piece shifts and you have to reconfigure the whole thing.

Even though the trip to Boston was a whirlwind around the marathon, I was really happy to see and stay with my friend Swati. I can’t even begin to catalog the myriad things she’s gone through in the 8 years I’ve known her. But through it all, she is constantly on a journey to be balanced, to be happy, and to seek ways to be spiritually and emotionally positive. We talked a lot about what’s been going on in our lives–she just finished her doctorate, woohoo!!–and it made me reflective of how we have a choice in how we react or respond to various situations. Obviously we can’t control others or control the situations we sometimes find ourselves in, but we can choose how we react. And sometimes we have the choice to extract ourselves or disengage as well. But first, we have to recognize and acknowledge what our situation is and what our choices are.

 

Even in terms of my running, when I was beginning to feel disenchanted with all the speedwork and the demands of qualifying for Boston, I chose to start running types of areas and get out on the trails. I’ve loved how running has taken me to places I normally wouldn’t have gone. Case in point, down the street from Swati’s place is Forest Hills Cemetery. There are a number of famous people buried here, the most literary relevant being e.e. cummings. Sadly, I did not realize this until after my run so missed visiting his grave, but Mr. UnRunner did see it. It is a huge cemetery, with a mix of both old and new grave sites, and they day was crazy warm and bright.

I’ve always found the very fancy statue tomb stones (is that what they’re called??) intriguing. I loved the pose of the woman on this one.

I loved the idea of this one. This was a tomb stone (I’m just going to keep calling it that because I don’t know what else to call it) that had a very large birdhouse built onto the top of that. Even in death, you can continue to be a source of life 🙂

There was a section where a large number of Chinese were buried. There were even some families celebrating/holding a memorial at some of them. Burning incense, eating, meeting as a large group, etc. There was one group of plots that obviously belonged to an entire family. These Chinese dragons marked the entrance to that section.

And there was even this gorgeous water feature sent on the side of the cemetery.

I’ve been wrestling with the post-race blues, or maybe just the blues who knows, so I decided to try a new running route. I’ve been meaning to head south on the Centennial Trail by the I & M canal near work, and I finally did it the other day.

This area/trail is a very odd conglomeration of heavy industry and nature, as you might be able to see in the picture below (on the far right edge of the picture are a series of smoke stacks belonging, I think, to a petroleum processing plant).

The path itself is a pretty straight crushed limestone path that runs parallel to a rail line hidden by bushes. There were some pretty features along the path, though, including this fireplace/structure thing.

The path runs between two parts of the canal. To the right (or west of the canal) is the rail lines I spoke of and some industrial buildings set way back behind tree cover. To the left was some kind of excavation site. I saw bulldozers and earth movers at various points, and I know that it wasn’t public land. This was a particularly pretty spot and there was an even a snowy egret but my clumsy feet made too much noise and scared it off. If you look towards the back of the picture, though, you can see some kind of yellow metal barricade from the site.

The children are rumbling so it’s time to get the day started. Hope your running adventures take you somewhere new today, and you find ways to feed yourself emotinally!

 


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Happy new year!

Happy new year, friends! There is no day so full of hope and promise as New Year’s Day (unless you’re nursing a hangover, in which case, I’m sorry). I generally don’t “do” New Year’s resolutions, but I do like the contemplative aspect of the global turning of the calendar page. 2015 was an interesting one, filled with the amazing reaching of some goals (hello, BQ, and running 2015 miles with a friend) and the ongoing battle with some struggles (balance, depression).

The ending of 2015 was filled with friends and family.

And also some snowy running in Wisconsin.


  
I really love the quiet of running in Door County. The woods always evoke lines of Robert Frost poetry.

I also got a chance to catch up on some podcasts in those runs, which included Another Mother Runner interview with Suzy Favor Hamilton–celebrated middle distance runner who gained notoriety when the Smoking Gun divulged she was working as a high end escort in Vegas (while married and a mom in Wisconsin). It turns out that her behavior was fueled by untreated bipolar disorder, an illness which took the life of her older brother. She explores her experiences in the book Fast Girl: Running from Madness.

The interview was such a teaser for her book that I promptly downloaded it when I finished my run. It’s intense and scandalous and powerful. I have friends who have been diagnosed as bipolar, but I hadn’t understood how intense and out of control the mania could be for some. One of the main points Suzy underscores in the book is her hope to destigmatize the illness and her desire to heal and help others.

This book intersected with an article I recently came across about a 19-year-old University of Pennsylvania runner who killed herself last winter. The article I read (a different one is linked here) seemed particularly fixated on how her Instagram account was so highly curated to only show her life as fun and happy. No one had any idea she was struggling. Down to a post of twinkling holiday lights right before she killed herself. It is always heartbreaking to hear of someone so young and promising taking their lives.

These two stories remind me of why I talk about depression on this blog. I run and eat relatively healthy (I had to bite my tongue recently when someone suggested I exercise to help my mood), connect with others, take medication, and do a host of other things that should make me ebullient. But I’m not. I still struggle periodically with depression, and it’s ok. Many people struggle with it. And the more we talk and support one another, the healthier and happier we can all be.

So my best wishes for all of you. For a healthy, happy, and hopeful new year. May 2016 bring peace and love for all.


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Playing catch up, the solstice, and trying new things (including signing up for my first ultra)

Well, it’s been some time since the last post. And I still owe you a race recap of the Hateya Trail race. Sigh. I have to confess, though, that between the depression and the holidays, it’s been rough. I had assigned a ton of symbolic meaning to the winter solstice and my deep need for the light to return. I can’t recall the last time the solstice was so close to Christmas either. I had even planned a tiny solstice party with friends, which was to include my first attempt at an pineapple upside down cake. Both attempts were botched. The depression was at its zenith those few days, and I couldn’t get myself to rally the effort. This was what made me decide to change some things around medication, including quitting the birth control I had been on the last two months. I’ve had depressive reactions to the pill before, and while I was depressed before starting the pill, it did seem to get worse after starting. Considering I had started the pill to help stabilize hormones and emotions, it didn’t seem like it was doing its job.

The change up in meds has started to help make a difference.  Finally.

It’s interesting, I was out to dinner with some old friends and we talked about depression. My friend’s wife asked me what depression looked like for me, because she imagined it as someone who could not get out of bed or face the world. And here I was laughing and out with friends. There have been times years ago where my depression did look more like that, but with two small children, it’s virtually impossible to hide in bed. For me, it’s been a sense of irritation and frustration, as if I have no ability to deal with even the smallest difficulty or trouble. I go straight to anger. There is no emotional reserve to deal. It also feels as if everything takes a Herculean effort. I have to rally every bit of myself to get dressed, go to work (and stay there), make meals. Every ounce wants to scream, “I can’t.” I am unable to focus on anything. There is a deep sense of both restlessness and inertia. I can’t focus. It all feels too much. And all that has begun to lift. Speaking, writing, and being proactive about actions to address the inertia have all been helpful. So I encourage everyone dealing with anxiety and depression to try things to address it, and get help. Interestingly, a lot of the women I run with deal with anxiety more than depressing but that’s another post…

I HAVE been running through all this, although unable to follow the training plan we had selected. This far out, it’s all just base mileage so I’m just working on keeping my weekly mileage up. The idea of doing speed work and such when I feel so heavy emotionally is unbearable. Here I am pretending to be in thei holiday spirit.

My lovely ladies did a morning before Christmas Day run. I met up with Patty and Emily to run some miles before and it was great. We even had time for coffee after. It was so perfect to get some good face time with the awesome, strong women before the chaos of Christmas. I really do love my running group.

We found it amusing that all of us wore black and then such bright shoes. So here’s my first obligatory shoefie. I will admit it was not my idea.

I also got another chance to get out to Palos and run the Bullfrog loop. Sadly, I was the one leading the group…which meant there was some map reading and general orienteering. It also didn’t help that they had updated the trail map, so I was running with a map that didn’t even have some of the colors on there–like the purple trail wasn’t on the version for the map I had. Sigh.  So lesson learned. Make sure you have the most recent map before getting out there.

The ladies I ran with were awesome about it, though, and just enjoyed being out there. They were good sports about stopping and checking maps and gps phones. It was Corinna and Jen’s first time out there, and Amy had run the Palos 50k this fall but didn’t remember all the parts either. It was muddy and fun, and Corinna’s longest run in a while so she appreciated all the stopping.

Amy is also the one that has gotten me to sign up for my first ultra, the Ice Age 50k in Wisconsin in May. I figure 4 months after Boston is good training overlap. We will see 🙂

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Anyhow friends, I hope you are running and staying sane. It just snowed like crazy last night so I might get to try out those micro spikes from Christmas after all!


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Catch up

It’s the end of semester, so it’s been hectic. And I’m behind on everything. Almost to the end, though…just a few more days.

Last week was all about hills and trails. To stave off the growing gloom (or “The Nothing” a la Neverending Story as I’ve been calling it), I tried to get out into more natural sunlight. That meant some running on Waterfall Glen and the Salt Creek Trail. The Waterfall Glen Run was gorgeous, perfectly clear sky, warm (50’s!), and quiet. I couldn’t help but play tourist and snap a bunch of pics.  

There were surprising bits of bright green. I think nature is confused by the spring-like weather.

  It’s funny how things can look different with small changes. I usually run the loop counter-clockwise, which admittedly, is the “easier” way to handle the hills. This time, I decided to try something different and run it clockwise. Wow, big difference. For one, it felt like I was going up hill quite a bit more. According to the GPS, looks like it was! (I ran an out and back so that’s why the elevation map takes a big dip in the middle and is mirrored after that).

The scenery also looked new to me and I paused at some of the forks in the route, confused. It felt new to me to run it differently. Sometimes it’s good to mix things up 🙂  Gets you out of your normal rut!

I’ve been trying to enjoy the smaller things more as well. The other week was the most gorgeous sunset I’ve seen. I felt a bit silly, but I actually stopped and pulled over to take a picture of it (safety first, friends). It was funny because a cyclist headed in the other direction also stopped, walked across the street to the park, and took a picture. I grinned, and he responded, “How can you not?!”

I had a trail race Saturday (my first! but race review will be another post) so I decided to do my long run Friday. I didn’t feel like running the neighborhood blocks so did it out at Salt Creek Trail. And look! I found a section of real trail! I realized I usually don’t run that far out (or I haven’t lately) so I’ve missed the sign previously. Turns out it’s only 1.1 miles, but it was still fun to see unpaved bits out there.

It’s no Waterfall Glen, but the Salt Creek has its own tiny hills…


Finally, I did my first trail race, the Hateya Trail Race in Kenosha, Wisconsin. It was very funny, if a bit bloody. But you’ll have to hang around next post for the race recap.

Between that (there was an optional river crossing, which I took) and the very rainy cookie run my running group did, I spent much of this weekend with wet running gear and shoes on. I think it might be time to break in a new pair of shoes. I did a bit of research and bought a pair of Altra Superior 2 trail shoes. I might start breaking them in today. They’re my first Altra’s so I’ll let you know how that goes!

Anyhow, friends. I hope you’re hanging in there. It’s a tough time of year, but my runs have been saving me. So get out there!


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Trails, Tuesdays, and Heartbreak 

It’s a tough time of year. In the last week, two friends have lost people in their lives to suicide. Between the forced merriment of various holidays, the quickly darkening and dreary days (seriously, I’m more concerned about the countdown to the winter solstice than Christmas at this point), and the seemingly endless supply of horror in the news lately, it’s hard. So let’s start there. It. Is. Hard. But it’s not hopeless. One thing I started thinking about was how rarely we hear how appreciated we are–both from those close to us and those we barely know. The outpouring of love, support, and kind words for these two individuals is overwhelming. But I also remember hearing a story about someone who wanted a funeral for themselves while they were still alive, because then they could hear it. It is of little use to us when we’ve passed this mortal coil. Granted, it helps those left behind, but maybe it could help all of us.

I recently saw a comic, which I can’t place right now. Maybe The Oatmeal? Or Yeti? Anyhow, it was a boy and his dad discussing superpowers, specifically how the boy wondered if anyone really had superpowers. The dad said, “Yeah. See that guy over there with the ugly hat?” (Said guy is a sad sack-looking fellow). And then the dad turns to him and says, “Your hat is awesome. You are doing a great job wearing it.” The sad man straightens up and smiles, and the dad turns towards the son and says, “See, you have the power to change someone’s day.” I’m sorry if I’m butchering it, and if anyone can help me place the comic, that would be better. But, it ultimately got me thinking about how changing someone else’s day can also change ours. In our modern age, we are so disconnected from the humanity of others and ourselves. Ironically, the more plugged in we are and the more crowded we live, it seems we pull back into ourselves even further. I don’t have to reach far for pieces from the news that illustrate this.

My friend recently sent me a link to another blog that gets at this idea of connecting, of trying to feel hope in a world that seems awful. The post is titled “Fifteen Things for When the World Is Shitty and Terrifying.” I loved it because some of the things were about being gentle with yourself, and others were about reaching out to help others and express gratitude.

Through my job, I help provide gifts to a child–both their “wants” and “needs” lists. However, I selfishly don’t feel all that excited about it, because I don’t feel connected to the giving. I don’t have firsthand experience with the organization that we work with. I haven’t been there to deliver or distribute the gifts. I didn’t seek out this way of giving (it’s just something my workplace has been doing for a long time). In this manner, I don’t feel personally connected. In contrast to this experience, though, is the homeless person that approached our car the other day (coming back from a trail run. I swear I’ll get to the running part of this blog, ha). I have never given roadside solicitors money, mostly because I don’t know what they’ll “do” with it (I have friends in recovery who were homeless because of substance abuse, and I don’t feel comfortable helping prop that situation up). HOWEVER, I also don’t regularly find ways to help the homeless either. So, in some ways, I continue to ignore a large problem and am potentially dehumanizing them and their situation. At the end of the day, I’m assuming they’ll use the money for dubious things and I’m not helping them better their lot in even a small way.

I’ve been thinking about this alot. One thing I saw last winter was a local mom and her daughter creating homeless hygiene kits and distributing them to people. While I find the idea of roving the countryside looking for potentially homeless-looking people to give your kits uncomfortable, I have long thought about creating kits to give to roadside solicitors when they approach my car. In that manner, I’m acknowledging them (versus furiously looking at my phone) and I’m doing something to possibly help them. These kits are ziploc bags that contain some food and water, gloves or hats, socks (a much-needed yet oft-neglected item with this population), soap, hand sanitizer, travel shampoo, toothpaste and toothbrush, deodorant, lotion, baby wipes, feminine products, and transit cards. I’m stopping by Target later to pick up some things for the house, and plan on picking up a few of these items as well.

As promised, there is actual running on this blog. Last week was pretty good, and Saturday I got to do a REAL trail run. Single-track, muddy, through the woods, skipping roots and rocks. And I didn’t fall. MAGIC. It was hard. I swear I thought I was going faster than the 10:30’ish pace my watch told me at the end. We did the Bullfrog Lake loop down in Palos. About 9 miles total.

It was super foggy that morning as the weather was changing a bit. Bianca and I got there early and ran a mile before hooking up with the group (we were doing the run with the Flatland Ultrarunners). It was a good-sized group that included folks who did 50 milers and 100 milers. Crazy! I was glad to run with other people as the single-track loop breaks up a few times to other loops and I would have gotten lost or spent alot of time on my phone debating which fork to take. Especially since everything looked the same out there. Brown and grey. Bare. There were a couple times that made me nervous barreling down a hill, but it was awesome overall. I don’t think I can make the time commitment to do it every week (it’s a 30 minute car ride each way), but I definitely want to regularly work in the trail runs into the mix.
One thing I realized is that everyone was wearing trail shoes. One woman, who runs 100 miler’s, said she used microspikes in the winter, which is exactly what they sound like. Similar to Yak Trax, they strap under your regular running shoes but they have spikes instead of the coiled wires of the Trax. She said she has no problem running on straight ice with them because they grip really well, and they don’t change your stride. I know what I’m asking for Christmas 🙂

While it wasn’t muddy enough for my shoes to feel super-challenged (I was wearing my regular Kinvaras), it was muddy enough to make things a big mess afterwards! I swear I had mud in my socks too. I’m beginning to see why people wear gaiters when they run now. Bianca, the seasoned trail runner, had another pair of shoes in the car to drive home in. I just scraped as much of it off as possible before getting in the car. 

I’m hoping to get in another trail run later today by my work. We’ll see if time allows. It’s end of semester, which means there’s a ton of grading. Sigh.

Anyhow, lovely people. I hope you are kinder to yourselves and to others. Tell someone something nice today and what you appreciate about them. Even if it’s a stranger. Perhaps it’s even better if it’s a stranger (if you’re a man, though, God help you if you try to tell a woman to smile!).


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Giving/Technical Tuesday

It’s Giving Tuesday. I’ll be honest, the idea of someone telling me what day of the year to give to charity is one I found annoying. But then this morning, I was struggling with feeling overwhelmed with the chaos, horror, and injustice in the world as well. And I write this while basking in the neon glow of my SAD light, but I also just finished donating to two organizations that are in the crosshairs of the craziness around us. And I am feeling better.

My parents, because they’re old school, had sent me money for my birthday. I had debated going to the spa, buying a new Garmin watch (slobber, slobber), or buying a cute outfit. After much wrestling with the idea, I decided that my Garmin 305 worked fine, if a “tad” big and that the 220 wasn’t so much more amazing that I needed a new watch. On my drive in to campus, I was really feeling like I was emotionally drowning with all the horrible news lately. I also felt a little frazzled and raw after going on a small rant in class last night. And I realized that I needed to do something, so I donated my birthday money (that really makes me sound like I’m 7) to two very worthwhile and important groups. While I don’t love just giving money, I also know that with Illinois’ state budget, organizations are really financially struggling. You don’t have to give today, but I hope you do consider giving to an organization this holiday season. Do you really need more stuff? Or do you need to live in a more just and equitable world?

OK, on to the geeky running stuff and the “Technical Tuesday” bit. I bought some running shoes on Black Friday online. I’m not gonna lie, it was 30% off of an older model so it was dirt cheap. However, this made me re-assess (I know, I shouldn’t have done it post-purchase…) whether I needed to rotate these shoes in right away or wait on it. Considering I had 4-5 pairs of shoes in rotation, that was a big question. I realized that I wasn’t sure, which led me down the rabbit hole of Googling “when do I need to replace my running shoes.”

Here’s what I found in short:

  • Running shoes GENERALLY last 300-500 miles. For the average runner running in the same shoe, this is around 4 months. However, a 200 mile difference is pretty big and can mean a 2 month difference in replacing your running shoes. e.g., Buying 3 pairs of shoes a year or 2 pairs, or ~$130 (depending on the shoe). This “rule of thumb” is going to vary drastically, though, depending on what kind of runner you are, how you strike the ground, how heavy you are, and what kind of shoe you’re wearing.
  • Lower drop or more minimal shoes tend to run down faster because there is less material all around. I run alot in the Saucony Kinvara and they probably last closer to 200-300 miles.
  • If there is obvious wear, particularly if it’s uneven or through a layer, on the bottom of your shoes, it might be time to replace them. This is for two reasons: 1) You’ve worn through a layer that is meant to absorb shock and you are now increasing the amount of shock on your legs, which can lead to increased chance for injury. 2) If you are asymmetrical in your stride and it’s obvious from the bottom of your shoe wear, I would consider rotating your shoes out earlier. This is because the more you wear them unevenly, the more likely it is to contribute to your continued asymmetry. I’ve noticed that my Newtons show the greatest difference in wear. The lugs on my left shoe show wear more than my right–and this is visually obvious because I’ve worn down to a different layer of color (I’ll try to upload a picture later). You can even test for unevenness in wear by putting your shoes on a table and gently rocking them to see if they move or checking the heel stack.

This video actually does a nice job of showing you how to check the heel stack.

  • If your shoe is abnormally “flexible,” it’s time. So if you can twist it in the middle like you’re wringing a wet towel or if you can bend the toe up and back towards the heel a good amount.
  • Finally, the easiest test? Try on a new pair of the same shoe and see how it feels. If it feels amazingly better, you’re due for some new shoes. If it’s “meh,” you’re ok. That’s a hard one to not have a “scientific” test. If you look at the data, though, you lose a pretty significant amount of shock absorption and bounce from the first run out (this is not unlike how you start losing value on a new car the minute you drive it off the lot). This is why you should generally try to use your running shoes for just running and not keep them on all day. You’re losing value!

So how do you keep track of mileage? Back in the day, when I only bought one shoe at a time, I used to write the date I started wearing them on the shoe. However, since I rotate through so many pairs at once, that’s alot harder to keep track of. There are apps out there, or I can even note what shoe I’m wearing on what run in my Garmin Connect. BUT, I’M LAZY. That’s alot of work. Easiest and probably best way? How you feel in the shoe. If you’re feeling like your shoe is starting to feel icky, it’s probably PAST the time you should have swapped them out. I know, it’s a money-making industry. Unless you’re planning on being a barefoot runner, though, that’s part of a good injury-prevention plan.