When to buy your first running shoes

I still remember what I felt the first time I tried on my first pair of running shoes. White and gold Asics. My feet felt so free and so light. The toe box felt AMAZING and I felt like I was flying. Of course I was not used to wearing shoes that were a size larger than my regular shoes, so I felt like I was going to trip every time I climbed the stairs. But I got used to that pretty quickly.

This pair of running shoes I did not buy before I started to run. I did not buy them before my first or second race.

I started walking-running 2 weeks before my first 10k using a pair of Nikes that used to be my brother’s. A couple of years before. But because I did not know how important running shoes were and because I thought this 10k race would be a once-and-done deal, I did not even think about buying running shoes. Or a running bra. Or running shorts. Or a good watch.

With absolutely no idea what I was doing or what I needed, I embarked on this running journey. I ran for a year and a half, about 3-4 times a week, 3-5 miles each day, and about 5 10k races, using those shoes. Blisters were part of my life, but because Dr. Google said that it was completely normal for runners -especially new runners- to get blisters, I thought I was ok.  runn-shoes

Even though this might have been a terrible mistake -and I ended up with more blisters in a year than I’ve had over the next 10 years altogether,- I don’t regret waiting to get my real running shoes. I made sure I would be pursuing running long-term before committing to buying shoes, outfits, books, magazine subscriptions, etc. I waited exactly until I accepted a friend’s challenge to run my first half-marathon.

I know a lot of people who decide they want to pursue an activity/hobby. They go and buy absolutely every article and gadget specific for it, they tell everybody their plans to take this up, only to end up trying it once or twice. What about everything they bought? It is left in a corner in the garage gathering dust. A very good example of this is my husband. A friend of his was selling a road bike. These things are super expensive, but he was selling it for $600, which my husband said was a bargain. He wanted to take up cycling, so he bought a million little gadgets, cycling shorts, shirts, helmet, shoes, and gloves. He bought the bike, tried it once… and a year later he sold it to another friend (after it had been sitting on our basement for 364 days, unused).

I watched a very nice TED talk about ‘Keeping your goals to yourself.’ It perfectly illustrated this practice. When we tell everyone our goal -running for instance- we release a hormone that satisfies our need to work towards it, and we feel much closer to our goal without even getting out the door. I teach English to adults and I hear my students telling each other  about their plans to start exercising or to take up yoga… they never get them done. I am convinced (through my own experience and others I know) that heading out to buy everything available for runners will NOT make you a runner. First become a runner, and then go get the expensive shoes…



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