With just a few days left before our 90-mile run/walk, my sister and I had penciled a 10-mile training session into our increasingly busy schedules – only now it was pouring down rain with no letup in sight.
But I really wanted to try out my latest shoe experiment: seeing if I could rejuvenate some beaters by dropping in a new set of insoles (Dr. Scholl’s active series sports insoles, around $20). And in a way, the rain was perfect, because this way I wouldn’t be getting a nicer pair of shoes soaked.
I talked Traci into proceeding with our plan, pointing out that we might as well prepare for the possibility of rain next Saturday. Then I swapped out the Dr. Scholl’s with the worn, smelly insoles from a 2-year-old pair of Saucony Kinvara 2s, said a little prayer directed at Fred, the patron saint of frugal runners – more on that in a minute – and headed out into the deluge.
Whenever I find myself exploring the possibilities of extending the life of running shoes, I’m invariably reminded of the late Fred Liechty, the thrifty Mennonite former president of the First Bank of Berne. He was one of my dad’s inspirations to take up running back in the ‘70s. According to Dad, there was a time when Fred would jog to work every day in his dress shoes. When they got worn, he’d patch the soles. It was a long time before Fred switched to running in sneakers, and even then he wouldn’t have chosen anything fancy.
Much as I love funky looking running shoes — like those Newtons I picked up last weekend at a clearance sale — whenever I’m reminded of Fred, not to mention those poorly shod Indian runners in Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run, I can’t help thinking that pricey shoes are seriously overrated.
During this particular run, of course, I was mainly focused on the wind and the rain.
“Should we really go through with this?” I thought after a mile or so. Traci was all stony silence, an indication of what she thought of this superb idea of mine.
“What do you want to do?” I asked when we got to the end of the Greenway. It was time to decide whether to turn around and settle for a 4-miler, or keep going on our 10-mile route.
“We might as well keep going now,” Traci muttered. “We’re already soaked!”
The weather proved less of a distraction in the state park, where trees blocked most of the wind and a lot of the rain. I couldn’t believe how sproingy my shoes felt. They looked like crap, with several holes in the uppers, but they were still flexible enough to benefit from the extra shock absorption. My feet felt nimble and light.
“If I don’t look down,” I told Traci, once she began speaking to me again, “I almost feel like I’ve got new shoes on!”
For such crappy weather, it wound up being a pretty decent training session. We finished in 2 hours flat, a 12-minute per mile pace, which wasn’t bad when you consider we walked 4 of the 10 miles. (No splits this time, as it was too wet for Traci to handle the phone.)
For now, at least, I’d say I’m definitely going to add the beater Kinvaras to my shoe pool for the 90-miler, provided they’re equipped with the new inserts.