Why is it so hard to get rid of old running shoes?

old running shoes

Just a few of my shoes…

My bright pink shoes were looking a little worse for wear. I mean, they have carried me through dozens of races, including my half marathon and 5K PB. They’ve run in multiple countries, through many seasons, including the summer heat and winter’s snow. But for that reason, they’re worn out.

They've seen better days.

They’ve seen better days.

So, I recently bought a shiny new pair of shoes: the Nike Zoom Pegasus 33. A lovely teal to match my new road bike. They are the shoes I have envisioned myself wearing in my first triathlon in three short weeks and the ones that are meant to motivate me into a whole new level of training.

New Nike Zoom Pegasus

Aren’t they beautiful?

Naturally, the plan was to get rid of the old ones this past weekend. Out with the old, in with the new! But I couldn’t do it!

I kept creating reasons why I might need them. Maybe I need a grubby pair for future rainy runs. Or, maybe they would come in handy as a pair of walking shoes for travelling. I could always try to wash them and restore them back to new. Every time I looked at them, I was reminded of the races and places they’ve been. Oh, the memories.

Donating clothes is easier. Sure, there’s memories associated with old dresses and shirts, but each pair of shoes carries memories of the personal journey they took me on.

There was that time we ran from our flat in Angel to our friend’s house in Colliers Wood, because we needed to run 16K for a training run and it was the perfect distance away. There was that lovely winter’s run through the snow at the cottage in December, and that sloppy, muddy ParkRun where I got my 5K PB. There was the amazing Hampton Palace half marathon where I crushed my half marathon PB by nearly two minutes, and countless morning runs along Regent’s Canal near my flat. These shoes have run across the world: Toronto, New York, London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Malta, San Francisco, Madrid… the list goes on. These are some well-travelled shoes!

I have the same problem with running gear. I try to do a purge seasonally, but the reality is, I’m a borderline running gear hoarder.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the new shoes. But I think they’re great in addition to the old ones, not instead of.

Clearly I have a problem. Please send help.

Fellow runners: any tips?


  1. When the Kids Go To Bed July 19, 2016 / 8:26 pm

    I allow myself three at a time. Current running (new), ones for active non-running activities, and ones for yard work. When I get a new pair, they rotate down the line with one glistening tear.
    OR you could just get a bigger closet?

    • thoughtsandpavement July 19, 2016 / 8:30 pm

      What a great system! But to be honest, I’m a fan of the bigger closet idea 😉

  2. April Cunningham July 22, 2016 / 3:20 am

    My stash is getting a little big right now. My old shoes that are worn out for running purposes still look so nice and I like to wear them out for walks with Silas! I agree it’s hard! But I try to remember to donate old shoes when I go to a big race – they usually have a box for donations.

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