by Benita Zahn

“Babe, these are the best shoes, ever,” my husband exclaimed when he tried out the new ‘shoes’ I’d ordered for him. My husband is a dedicated power walker; his abused knees from years as a baseball catcher don’t allow for running. But the man can move: 4 miles in just under an hour and that’s with a knee replacement.

Like so many of us, it seems whenever he finds a pair of shoes to power him through his walk, the company, New Balance, changes the style. Even a tiny tweak can make a world of difference, which is why he’s so happy with this new iteration of the shoe he’s been wearing for 2 years. “Much softer, babe,” he tells me. Okay. Glad he’s happy.

Which brings me to the stuff – the gear we all have. Thinking about it was prompted by my husband’s delight and an article I just read by Jen A. Miller from the NY Times. I suspect many of you follow her. Her book “Running: A Love Story” may be on your shelf. In the article I’m referring to she talks about gear and what we have and what we need. It’s like golfers who think the latest club or ball design will revolutionize their game. Fact is, it’s the same player so the tools may not make that much of a difference.

My point is – you can buy all the latest do-dahs but you’re still saddled with your running form and dedication. No new pair of shoes will get you out the door more frequently over time. Sure, at first the delight, the novelty may have you lacing up more often but then reality sets in. It’s cold, rainy, you have other things to do. Yeah, life is no match for pounding the pavement. That fire has to come from within.

However, is there a gizmo, an article of clothing that jazzes you so much that you are inspired to run more often – to run better? Let’s face it, running is half physical and half mental, at least. I often say I have to retrain my head to go the miles after a layoff. The feet know what to do. So what’s in your closet, new or old, that revs up your running jones? As the warmer weather is so tantalizingly close, are you perusing the catalogues that I’m sure you get online, as I do, with visions of PR’s dancing in your head? Or is it the promise of a new watch to keep track of your miles and speed, headphones to listen to your tunes that allow you also to hear road noise (so important) or something else that will inspire you to get out and get moving?

As for me, I may have to replace my tri watch. It fell ‘just so’, landing on a tiled floor and the face cracked. Not sure it’ll survive a swim. But that’s about all I need. I’ve got a drawer full of tee shirts from races I’ve done and continue doing, virtually now, that seem to multiply like bunnies. But each one reminds me of a past accomplishment, some done alone, others with friends, so I keep them. And I routinely buy new running shoes when the ones I’m in are worn out. I think, at the moment, the only thing I really want is a return to normalcy. Knowing we’re getting closer is enough incentive for me.

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