While walking the dog this morning I looked down to see my footprints in the fresh layer of snow that fell overnight. The shoes I was wearing are Timberland boots that I’ve owned for five years. They’re still in solid shape, largely waterproof and comfortable in all kinds of conditions.
These days, without need for office time due to Covid-19, the Timberlands are my daily “go to” shoes. They “go” with everything in my jeans closet. They even go with more formal jeans that are a step up from the many colored denims stacked in my closet. We’ll get back to wearing those someday, we hope…
The Timberlands get so much wear that the heel of the Vibram sole is now worn smooth. You can see that effect in the tracks they make in the fresh snow.
That footprint in the snow also shows how I push off with the forefoot while walking. That’s why the snow is removed beneath that part of my foot. On the other leg, my right foot slightly rotates slightly beneath me, leaving a twisting pattern in the snow, the result of compensating for a slightly shorter right leg. On that side my foot sweats more too, because it’s working harder.
I’m pleased that the footprints I leave are clean from front to back. That means I’m walking with integrity. The fact that there are no long scuffs behind each footprint says the gait is clean. My feet also point straight forward, a habit/technique adopted way back in the 1970s when I first started running and read about the importance of not “toeing out” in a Sports Illustrated article on running form.
Back when distance ace Bill Rodgers was dominating the American marathon scene, I recall that when asked what he thought about while running, his response reflected a mindset of attention to detail. “I wanted to everything right,” he observed. He even focused on how he carried his hands.
I can’t help it. I think about these things while out walking or running. Yesterday while walking our dog up the path I cut with the snowblower, I thought about the fact that the things we did yesterday so often impact the way things go today. Yet there’s no going back to fix them. So it pays to walk right the first time, if you can manage it. There’s a life philosophy for you.
I’ll not pretend to be perfect in any way. My character flaws equalize my attempts to live in a state of studied concentration. As such, these wear patterns that start from the ground up reflect both the good and the bad in our world. Perhaps you even find yourself out in the world and you may ask yourself, in Talking Heads fashion…Well, how did I get here?
The answer is: one step at a time. Every one of those steps contributes to the wear pattern of your existence. We also have wear patterns of the mind and emotions. Those of us who wrestle with anxiety slips sometimes from fear to determination and back. If depression catches up to those feelings of anxiety, we run hard just to stay in place some days.
There are triggers to all of that. Wear patterns in our conscious and unconscious minds. Past failures. Current challenges. Those rub our minds raw in places. It can be hard to get a grip on what’s real in terms of fear and what’s only imagined. Sometimes the best thing you can do it literally put your feet up and give your mind time to think.
But I’ve spent so much time around the house of late that over the weekend the thing I needed most was to get out and move.
On Saturday, I ran six miles at 8:40 pace. That’s a relatively hard run for me these days. I still like I needed a run on Sunday too. I stepped out of the house and turned my face into a cold, snowy wind for a five-mile run at a much slower pace. No pressure. No hurry. No worry. Just run.
I’ve learned that the best way to cope with any real and imagined worries fluttering around the brain is to move headlong into the face of it. Let the cold strip away murky thoughts and seek clarity on a cold winter’s day. Sweat out questions when the sun is fierce and unforgiving. Let hard effort deliver a cleansing effect on our whole being.
With luck and perseverance, we arrive home with a new perspective. Sometimes it takes plenty of miles to get there. I so love it when problems get solved, creative ideas enter the mind and hope flows through me, even if arrives at first in small amounts.
Wear patterns are also ‘where’ patterns. They tell us where we are at any given moment. Next time you’re out walking in the snow, the sand or the mud, take a look down at the wear patterns of your feet, and let them teach you how you got where you are. You might learn more about yourself than you ever imagined.