My Magic Running Shoes

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.


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36 Responses to My Magic Running Shoes

  1. Holly July 15, 2011 at 8:01 am #

    Love this and you.
    Opmeklar (kisses, in Turkish;-)

  2. Donna in Delaware July 15, 2011 at 8:10 am #

    Bless you. I haven’t the energy or strength. Always wanted to run, but now I have a bad knee and would dream of making it worse with all of the pounding. No running shoe will ever fix that!

    You are definitely a brave soul. Have a great day.

  3. Donna in Delaware July 15, 2011 at 8:10 am #

    Sorry, would not dream of making it worse.

  4. Laura P July 15, 2011 at 10:09 am #

    I’m an ASICS girl all the way but I totally get how new mesh running shoes feel like magic. That is all it takes to get moving. I’m now training for my first 1/2 marathon on Oct. 9th. Thanks for keeping me inspired. I’d love to try trail running next but does require a different type of shoe. Although there are days that I feel just to avoid my usual clutziness that I should have trail shoes for extra balance.
    Keep on enjoying running in your majic shoes…

  5. Catherine Breheny July 15, 2011 at 1:39 pm #

    Thanks, need a pair of light and airy sneaks. Also need a kick in the you know where to get motivated! Got any of those??

  6. Bobbie D July 15, 2011 at 3:50 pm #

    I always have some excuse of why I can’t get my run in fir the day, but I try my best to run a few times a week. I know you are in love with your adidAs and my daughter will agree with you. She runs cross country for her school team and swears by them. Although, she tried some Brooks and this year was the first year with no shin splints. I bought some asics and I can tell you that they were well worth the amount spent. It’s all about whether or not you can accomplish the task at hand and it sounds to me that we all have that in common. Running is so exhilarating and I have tried different ways to exercise but NONE compare. Thanks for sharing your story with us!

  7. Emily July 15, 2011 at 7:32 pm #

    Donna in Del–you might just try 🙂 Vibram Five Fingers or another minimalist shoe. They correct knee and foot problems, but you must start slowly. Just a few minutes at a time. Maybe walking for you at first. Just a suggestion!

  8. Steve July 16, 2011 at 12:55 am #

    Don’t wait! Get the new pair(s) now! When I finally need a new pair of my favorite shoes they’re long gone; can’t find them anywhere. Next time, I’m going to run right out and buy several and just put them in the closet. Just knowing I have them will make my feet feel better!

  9. maria (farm country kitchen) July 16, 2011 at 8:41 am #

    The one thing that has really helped me not to have any knee pain or shin or foot pain from running is yoga. When my yoga teacher went away for a few months and I stopped doing yoga but kept running, my knees hurt for the first time ever. But as soon as I started doing yoga again all pain from running stopped. I think Iyengar yoga gets all the bones and ligaments and muscles lined up in the proper alignment so that everything inside your body can do what it wants to do…without pain!

  10. Doug July 16, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

    I am glad I found your blog. I am a runner and read Runner’s World regularly. I ran in high school and have found it again a few years ago. I wonder why I stopped, because I can’t imagine living without it again.

    I can find plenty of information online about running. I even write a blog about running – As long as Runner’s World is published, I will continue buying it. Keep it up.

    15 pounds is just one benefit. Sometimes running in a group is fun and sometimes running with just your thoughts and not being interrupted by phone calls will let you make those CEO decisions more clearly. I am glad to hear that you enjoy running!

  11. Debra in Sunny California July 16, 2011 at 9:31 pm #

    You so inspire me!!!

  12. Mo Berry July 17, 2011 at 10:38 pm #

    Hun loved your life story. but, where you 300+ lbs. like me? Trying to go running belly flops back and forth and gets in the way. Dr. says swimming better at the time. I sure loved to run 10K’s a very long time ago. Nearly 60yrs.old now to fat to move fast. God Bless your soul to get us girls motivated again

  13. maria (farm country kitchen) July 18, 2011 at 6:06 am #

    Dear Mo Berry, No, I was not that big…but my “girls” (boobs!) were always a pain when it came to running. But a good tight sports bra helps. Maybe you can get something like that for your belly?

    I’m reading the book Women, Food and God right now and it’s really good! I highly recommend it. Thanks!

  14. Lisa of S Central PA July 18, 2011 at 3:11 pm #

    I have 2 pairs of these shoes (love them) with dreams of running, but I’m so out of shape and busy with kids & life. (I do have many miles of walking on them though!) I always feel encouraged when someone starts to run and loves it…good for you Maria! I’d love to jump on that wagon but there’s always an excuse too busy, too stinkin’ hot, too cold, snowy? someone will see me gasping for breath…too hilly, too early, too late, too dark…wow, I think if I put forth the same effort to running as I did this post, maybe I’d accomplish something! teehee!

  15. Stacey Lowe July 19, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

    Thanks for th epost I can relate! I’ve practiced yoga for over 5 years and although it remains my base and first love I found I needed to add additional cardio to my yoga and my 2nd love my Jillian Michael workouts! I will be starting my 3rd week of running (well part jog part brisk walking) working my way up to 5K. I finally ws motivated to stick ech running by the awesome podcast I am using. The audio times the run/walk time,plays music and adds a few running tips in;just listen and follow along.The programs reccomends 3 runs with atleast 1 day of rest inbetween within a week. I am so excited that I am actually running (and not after an icecream truck!) So go for it girls! Here is the link to the podcast. If you are still afraid start with yoga, it will change your life and make you feel strong enough to try new things!

  16. Nanny July 20, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

    I also just got started running, my first shoes are Saucony. And i am also way out of shape, but everytime i run, my mind is getting filled with nature all around me. And stories like this inspire me to keep on running.

    Greets from the Netherlands, Nanny

  17. Bonnie R July 20, 2011 at 12:47 pm #

    I applaud you and know exactly how you feel.
    I only started running this past January, for health reasons and to try something completely different.
    I am one of the slowest ones in my running group, yes. I only run 3 days/week. But, I had no idea how much it could help me mentally. I’m battling chronic foot issues (plantar fascitis) and am trying everything to help this as I don’t want to give up running. It helps me get clear headed and I know that when I’m out there I am completely unavailable to anyone else in the world….except myself.
    Thank you for taking the time to write this!

  18. Sonja July 20, 2011 at 12:53 pm #

    Thank you for the wonderful piece. Donna in Delaware–I have had two knee surgeries. . . I run 25 miles a week at a 9 minute mile. You CAN run. Slow and steady and a good shoe sold by a professional running store. . . Once you start, you will love it. . . and Lisa, you won’t have time to do anything else once you start. . . I was up at 5 am to avoid heat this morning b/c I HAD to run 🙂

  19. Anthony July 20, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

    Great article! Running is a rgeat way to battle the blah, stress, and depression in your life!

    twitter @icanclothing

  20. Cynde C July 20, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your story. It has inspired me to make the time for running again; early mornings to myself.

  21. Maricela July 20, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

    Absolutely LOVE your post!! Keep up the good running!!

  22. Pamela Robbins July 20, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

    Loved this! To Donna in Delaware….I too have a bad knee. I have a lot of arthritis in my right knee, and also a bakers cyst on the back of the knee…I can tell you….if you take it very slow, and walk when needed….you CAN run! I am about to do my 8th (or is it 9th?) marathon! Like I said, I’m very slow….but that’s okay!! Now, go get some magic running shoes and give it a try!

  23. Pamela Robbins July 20, 2011 at 1:23 pm #


  24. sue moore July 20, 2011 at 1:32 pm #

    Hi, Maria, i am so happy for you! I am also enjoying all the other posts too. I am glad you started running. You inspire me. Need to stop the excuses and make the time! Even though, I am not really a “runner”, I do enjoy reading Runner’s World every month. Thanks for the encouragement!

  25. crystal July 20, 2011 at 1:38 pm #

    Running by the river in Saskatoon is magical.

  26. Raquel July 20, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

    Contests and keep moving. I’m working towards a marathon and Im inspired by your story!

  27. Tiffany July 20, 2011 at 1:58 pm #

    I love this…I refer to my good running shoes as “magic shoes” too. 🙂

  28. Stacia July 20, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

    Touched. Every time you lift one foot up then the other, add those moments up above the ground and in the long run, you’re actually flying 🙂

  29. Dana July 20, 2011 at 2:12 pm #

    Love this story! I just started running in January when a good friend encouraged me to run a half marathon with her. I started off by running one minute, walking six minutes, repeat, repeat, repeat….

    I’ve run three 5ks and two 10ks since and am looking forward to my half marathon in 11 days!! I too love my magic shoes (mine are Brooks!).

    Another plus, I’ve lost 25 pounds along the way and have so much more energy!!! Stories like this keep me inspired and motivate me to push it just a little harder!! 🙂

  30. Brenda July 20, 2011 at 2:58 pm #

    If you like those shoes so much, get another pair (or 3) while they are still on the market.

  31. Gina July 20, 2011 at 3:08 pm #

    Your story reminds me of my own start with running. Now several marathons and numerous other races later I can’t imagine not running. I still have the shoes I ran my first 20 miles and first marathon in

  32. Paul July 20, 2011 at 3:31 pm #

    Lovely story. Kudos to you for taking the encouragement to get out an get moving and to David for figuring out the right incentive to get you there.

  33. Penny July 20, 2011 at 4:27 pm #

    Dear All

    Can anyone recommend a fantastic pair of shoes for a heavy runner? Im in the UK. I have been running for 6 months now and am currently training for my first 10k. Furthest I have run is 8k but I do about 15 – 20k a week running, plus cycling (about 30K), swimming and weights in between running days. I am 255 pounds and 175cms tall (I have lost 40 pounds but want to loose another 100 pounds). I just seem to always get to the point when pushing on for distance and when trying to do speed training where my legs are so sore that I need to rest them and cross train for days before I can run again. I am relatively fit now as I exercise 6 days a week for 1.5 hours a day. I also visit chiropractor every 6 weeks for re-alignment etc so I am in fairly good shape health wise but cant believe I have to endure this much of an issue everytime I run or after I have run for a few days. I am now starting to wonder whether I have the wrong trainers and if I should get some new ones to help me move on. Fitness wise I know I can manage more than 10k but my leg just wont carry me (not like a jelly feeling just pain almost like my legs will go from underneath me). I can leg press 50kgs in the gym 15 reps X 2 sets and I can push 40kgs on the leg aductor and 40kgs on the leg extension so I know my legs are reasonably strong.

    Any suggestions peeps??? All advice gratefully received.

  34. Kuwanna July 20, 2011 at 4:34 pm #

    Running is so liberating, isn’t it? Thank you for sharing your inspiring story and here’s to many more miles for you!

  35. Carol July 20, 2011 at 4:36 pm #

    My brother gave me my first pair of running shoes over 14 years ago. They were Adidas too! White mesh with royal blue stripes. I’ll never forget. Running made me a better person, I’m still working on that, and I’m still running! I cannot imagine myself not running, it’s the most empowering thing ever. I have several races under my belt now and I’m getting ready for my first marathon. Congrats on your achievements and keep going!

  36. Jamey July 20, 2011 at 7:23 pm #

    Thank you! I have been running for years but suddenly I have lost my mojo. I think you have inspired me again!

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