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Dear First Shoe Love,
We’ve been together for more than 2 years now. You entered my life at the right time and place. I was having a rough patch, some pain, and needed support. A few people suggested that I give you a chance. You weren’t really my type, so I was skeptical. I was assured that your looks can be deceiving, so I resolved to keep an open mind—and you ended up being the exact support that I needed to usher me through the variable terrain of my life.
You helped me run through sadness, happiness, frustration and stress. You carried me over the hills of San Francisco and accompanied me through Hyde Park in London, where I laughed as we ran by old English men in Speedos at 6 a.m. You got me through 13.1 miles of stomach cramps and cursing in Huntington Beach, Calif. You’ve helped me detox from one too many margaritas, raise money for ovarian cancer, discover answers and a-ha moments and cover miles and hours of listening to Adnan Syed’s story. You’ve been dragged through rain and mud and never complained.
I remember the first time we met. I walked into a running store a little intimidated and still feeling like an imposter for calling myself a runner.
“Can I help you?” the salesperson asked.
“I’d like to try a minimalist shoe,” I responded with hesitation.
“You know that is not a regular running shoe; it’s supposed to simulate running barefoot. Are you a runner? It takes a little getting used to.”
Sure I am.
I slipped you on and you were a snug, warm hug for my foot—a perfect fit.
It was love at first run. I could feel the pavement beneath me as you cradled my feet. Our first shared experience was completely pain-free. We had been inseparable since. I thought that we would be together forever, and I swore that I’d never let my feet nestle in another shoe. But lately I’ve been thinking about changing our relationship status from married to consciously uncoupled—or since that’s not an actual option, in an open relationship.
Really–it’s not you, it’s me. I’ve been getting some pain in my shins again, so I think it may be time to move on. I’ll give you the courtesy of being honest and admit that part of me just wants to feel a different shoe on my foot and have a different run. It may just be curiosity and temptation.
I browse lists of the newest running shoes in magazines, which make promises like providing “durability, stability and stride-guidance” while “gripping wet surfaces.” Shoes with a “padded tongue” and a “sleek package” are “forgiving and responsive” at the same time. My heart quickens as I walk by window displays of running stores and see the models in different colors and styles—but I never risk going inside. I daydream and ponder, What if this ride could be even better with another?
If the grass isn’t greener on the other side, if the pain in my shins remain, then I’ll definitely know that it is me and not you. I’ll take a little time off to rest and heal, then come right back to you. I’ll slip you on and feel the comfort you give me once again. We’ll go for a makeup run, and it will be fast, furious, free, familiar—and it will leave me breathless.
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Regardless of what happens, know that you’ll always be my first shoe love, and for that, you will always hold a special place in my heart. The experience that we shared, the terrain that you have guided me through, no other ride will take that away from us.
Your Selfish Runner