The Solemate

When I walk, my foot doesn’t strike in the same place twice. Upon impact my right step may feel the most pressure under my metatarsal pads. While my left may strike hardest in the heel. As someone who worked as a “sneaker specialist” for several years, I’m surprised it took me so long to consider running shoes to a critical part of my run.

To be a certified sneaker specialist our whole team had to learn, study and pass a test where you not only had to know the anatomy of the foot but you had to be able to break down a sneaker from the toe box to the sole. You had to know that when you run you put about five and a half times as much pressure on your knees. (Imagine a small saturated woman such as myself, I’m 5’2″, with about 600 lbs of weight concentrated on my knees while running). I have high arches, so I have a tendency to supinate. Which is really just a fancy word for when your foot rolls outward (as opposed to pronate when your foot rolls inward). Typically I buy replacement insoles to give me better arch support.

Even though I wasn’t a runner then, selling running shoes was probably my strength. I often worked 50+ hour weeks so I was always on my feet. I even walked to the bus stop to get to work so comfortable shoes were a must. Luckily sneaker companies often sent free sneakers with new launches. It helped sell a sneaker if you actually wore it.

Now that the weather has been nicer, I’ve been running more. As I run I try to make it a point to be present in the moment with myself. I check in, how am I feeling? What are things I notice? What is my intended purpose for this run? Last week I realized that my feet ached before I was even a quarter of the way done with my run. I knew it was time I invested in better running sneakers so I channeled my inner sneaker specialist.

It felt strange to be in a sneaker store trying on running sneakers, for actual running. The sales associate reminded me a lot of myself when I worked in retail. He was approachable, friendly and very knowledgable. He made suggestions based off of what I told him I was looking for but wasn’t trying to sway me towards anything particular. After trying on a few pairs and jumping around, this one particular shoe stood out the most to me. My achy metatarsal pads rejoiced in this shoe. At that moment I finally understood my old customers who when looking for a good shoe didn’t care about what they looked like. Though the fit was impeccable, they were probably the ugliest shoe I have ever seen.

As I put them on to break them in I immediately questioned if I made the right choice of going with no laces. The sneakers have what they refer to as “quick lace,” a drawstring that you pull to tighten and a convenient pocket on the tongue to store the extra lace. In the store this seemed appealing because I hate stopping to tie my shoes, which I tend to need to do often. However I immediately questioned if I would like it after tightening my drawstring. The sneaker felt snug, and secure but it was something I wasn’t used to. But the more I ran the more it felt like the sneaker was molded to fit my foot.

I noticed how super light weight they were. I forgot they were even on my feet. But when I hit the cement I felt major stability, and noticed how the sneakers gripped to the different surfaces, providing me with security in my step. My heel felt hugged and secure, no slippage and the toe box felt like there’s enough room to breathe but also enough room to grow. Perfect for the way the toes spread with each step. I’m not familiar with the sole of these sneakers but I imagine there to be some kind of cushioning technology. Because with each step it felt as though cushions caressed every curve of my foot. Wearing these sneakers I imagine is what it’s like to walk on clouds (as cliche as it sounds).

At first I hated the color. They were so ugly. But the different colors and patterns gave me something to focus on when I needed it. Instead of focusing on how tired I was, I was questioning why someone chose to add yellow polka dots to this area, or purple to that area. Zoning in on the sneakers made me faster. All I could see was a small radius in front of me, the contrast of the brightly colored sneakers against the maroon track as I picked up my pace making it a point to stay in between the white lines. This was a challenge for me since I can’t make moves without knowing what is ahead. I plan, than over plan for every possible scenario. But on this track I knew I was alone, and I knew that if I stayed in between my lines I wouldn’t run into anything. I had no choice but to trust myself, which I often struggle with.

I ran my fastest mile the first day I wore these sneakers. On our second run I finally hit my 3 mile mark. I was breaking my own personal records each run, becoming better than the person I was the day before. Though I knew it was my effort that made those things possible, as crazy as it sounds, my sneakers helped push me that little bit extra and I quickly became attached to them as if I were running with a best friend; a sole mate. Ha! Get it! 🙂 IMG_4963-2.JPG

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