Marathon Training Week Fourteen: Guess what, it really IS the shoes

Back when I was a teenager Michael Jordan took the basketball world by storm with his charisma and wealth of talent. He also changed the landscape of basketball shoes forever by creating the Air Jordan’s and instantly every teenage boy in American HAD to have those shoes. The genius in the Air Jordan’s was Nike’s marketing campaign revolving around a commercial with Spike Lee and Jordan where Lee attributed Michael’s incredible basketball skill to the Air Jordan’s saying, “is it the shoes?”

Of course it wasn’t the Jordan’s that gave Michael his ability (to the frustration of un-athletic boys everywhere) but in any sport having the proper footwear is important…and this is especially true for runners.

Last year my beloved Brooks Beast running shoes gave up the ghost (top two eyelets broke) and after trying to use other running shoes for a few months I bought a new pair of Brooks with money my parents sent for Christmas. I am not a Brooks apologist but experience has taught me they are good running shoes and hold up really well. Because of my marathon training however, which involves running more than one-hundred miles each month, a few weeks ago the second pair of Brooks were given a proper retirement (Viking funeral complete with funeral Fire)



The old shoes…may they rest in peace

They were replaced with a new pair of Brooks that I got last Saturday; strangely they were delivered during my epic twenty-mile run about a week ago so the old running shoes got one final moment of glory. Two days after surviving that run I trained for the first time with my new running shoes.


To be honest I expected to notice a small difference training with the new shoes (an awesome pair of Brooks Glycerin Nines) but was shocked to feel my body attack the hills and steadily run below a 9:30 mile. Until then my best time running the five-mile trail near my house was with a 9:35 mile and it normally ended up being around 9:40. But if Monday shocked me then Thursday gave me a heart attack.

Let’s just forget the incredibly slow current pace in the bottom right hand corner and focus on the top right corner where it says I ran a 9:15, which is easily a personal best for that distance. Now obviously it wasn’t just the new running shoes that allowed me to run a 9:20 to 9:25 mile consistently, but they gave me the one thing you must have when running, which is confidence. See the shoes give lots of comfort and make it easier to keep running strong but they also put a thought in my mind….you can do this. Can’t tell you how encouraging it is to look down at my phone and seeing I am running below a nine-minute mile instead of the 9:10 mile with the old shoes.

My new shoes have reminded me just how important it is to be fully prepared for the challenges of life by having the proper tools or character traits. Things like discipline, character, a strong education, or financial responsibility don’t seem really important at first but in the race of life these “small unimportant things” will be what helps us sprint to the finish line.

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John Wilburn

Church planter, teacher, and disciple-maker in Barrouallie St. Vincent

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