I own too many shoes.

Several posts earlier, I hinted that I tend toward messiness – specifically identifying the stack of books beside my bed. I forgot to mention my unseemly collection of shoes. I knew the situation was pathological last year when a quick survey revealed I had more shoes in our front cupboard than all the shoes of all four men that live with me.

Men, until a certain age, seem to be happy doing everything in one pair of training shoes. In that one pair they run or walk, skip or jump, go to school, climb trees, go to dinner and movies, ride skateboards and bikes. The only time I put on my training shoes is when I walk. I have four pair in the front closet.

I’m good at rationalizing those four pairs of training shoes. At the root of the issue is the fact that no one has designed the perfect walking shoe. I am fortunate to have at my availability any New Balance shoe I’d like to try. And I have been very happy with them. I especially love my New Balance Race Walking flats. Alas, those are now discontinued. And, of course, they were like disposable shoes. I could wear them only for a few long training walks (making sure not to go up or down curbs or walk on concrete) and races.

Still, I haven’t noticed any shoe company taking a methodical interest in the needs of power walkers. I am looking for that perfect combination of lightweight shoe with some cushioning in the heel, but not too much. When there is too much and the heel is not suitably beveled, my heel eventually aches from the hard landing. When the heel cushioning is too “squishy”, the effect on my walk is not good. Sometimes I’ll find a shoe with just the right heel description but then the forefoot will be really stiff. I like to have a very flexible forefoot so the toe push-off stage of the stride isn’t too much work on the metatarsal arch area of my foot.

So, the four shoes in my closet right now have different purposes. There are my beloved racing flats whose lives I am prolonging lovingly, there are a pair for teaching classes that have a little more heel cushioning and stability for all the side turning and backward walking that involves, I have a pair for walks that stay strictly on trails, and my fourth pair are for training walks that are mostly on asphalt but may involve some sidewalk walking and curb climbing.

I’m looking forward to the time when there are so many power walkers at marathons that the shoe selection at stores rivals that of “running” shoes. In the mean time, I’d love to hear your shoe stories.