I was one of those depressed, overweight, overstressed people who always had a reason why I wouldn’t or couldn’t run. The most pressing reason was that sneakers made my feet feel so hot that I couldn’t bear to wear them. Ever.
Lucky for me, I am the CEO of the company that owns Runner’s World, and David Willey, the magazine’s very nice editor-in-chief, was not about to let me off the hook. One day, I showed up for work and there were three boxes of fresh, new running shoes on my desk with a note from David that said, “Try these.”
Two of them were trail-running shoes; I had consistently said to him that IF I ever really ran, I would prefer running on trails, since a) I have lots of trails outside my back door and b) I wouldn’t have to worry about cars. However, on my trails I did have to worry about hunters, and even worse, ticks! Sometimes I’d come back with them crawling all over me. Yuck. But then there was the third pair….
They were Adidas. White with gold stripes. Adizero. I put them on. They felt light as air. They were mesh, so there was a nice airflow going through them at all times. I walked around a bit and suddenly had the strongest urge…to run! On the road! It felt like flying! Except that I was horribly out of shape and my running speed was about a 20-minute mile. That’s also my walking speed, by the way. The three-mile loop right outside my driveway is extremely hilly, and there are no shortcuts. It’s three miles. Period. So I started to run. Well, mostly walk, with a tiny bit of running. But on each run, I ran a little farther. It was cold and wintry. I ran in the snow and ice.
I took my “magic running shoes” with me on every trip. I wore them while running in the long northern dusk past a river with floating ice in Saskatoon, Canada. I wore them while running on a beautiful trail and halfway up a big hill with an “M” on it in Missoula, Montana. I wore them while running along Lake Michigan in Chicago. I wore them on a long run on Christmas Day when the run felt like it was saving my life. I’m not sure what exactly I was running from, but I ran and ran in the cold snow of western New York, and was thankful for those magic shoes. I wore them while fast-walking in Denver, Disney World, and Monterey. I wore them for a run along the beach in Barcelona, Spain. I wore them as I lost about 15 pounds and regained my sense of strength, balance, and happiness.
I wore them while running for the first time up the biggest, hardest hill on my three-mile loop. And with almost every step, I was thankful for those shoes. And for David Willey, for giving them to me. I asked him when I would need a new pair and he said every 300 miles. At my rate of running, that would take about two years. When I do get a new pair, I’m going to get as close to exactly the same pair as I can. But no matter where I run, or how far, I will always be grateful to my first pair of magic running shoes. They don’t do the running for me—I do that—but they do help me feel like I can fly.