A couple months ago I had a sneakerhead epiphany. I have too many shoes. This happened around the time I secured one of my grails, the Nike Air Max 90 ‘Bacon’ and then only wore them twice in the preceding month. I waited a full year (since the rumored 2020 release) for this shoe, got them out of luck, and then only wore them twice! Why was this? Well, only one reason. I have too many shoes.
Since I've always been a bit of a collector, having a lot of things never bothered me much. The issue with sneakers is how much less each pair gets worn as I continue to buy more pairs. I grew up loving the cycle of beating a new pair of sneakers down and then replacing them only once my toes stuck through the front. Nowadays, I can’t remember the last time I’ve actually worn a pair into the ground and yet the new pairs keep on coming in.
I can tie my sneaker consumption habit to a few causes. The first is that I’m a big nerd for design. The technology keeps on getting better and the fact that I do get to wear something, albeit minimally per pair, that I consider almost like art, is awesome. Secondly, I love the hunt which is a huge part of sneaker collecting. Lastly there’s a bunch of other reasons that I’m not as proud of like “hype made me do it” and the occasional “flip”. Yes, I admit that I occasionally resell sneakers, but all of these factors are what has fuelled the obsession that I, along with many others, have for sneakers.
So, what does this have to do with running as mentioned in the title? Well, around the same time I was questioning all my decisions regarding footwear, I was also getting more into running. I learned that if I transferred all of my obsessive characteristics to running, I was instantly more fulfilled. The design and tech aspects were obviously there, it was a new hunt for a product I had no idea about and I could regain that satisfaction of really wearing my shoes like they were meant to be worn. It also got me outside way more and made me feel healthier and happier. Running was my ultimate saving grace as a “struggling” sneakerhead and I am riding that wave like no other.
The thing with running though, is that while it’s a simple activity at its core, it can be intimidating. It took some time to learn and get into the right groove to really start loving it. So, in hopes of helping other sneakerheads (or anyone for that matter, but this story be most relevant to sneakerheads) who may be interested in exploring this culture that I’ve recently become obsessed with, I reached out to other more experienced runners to share their knowledge on the sport, community and gear.
Mario is a co-founder of vintage convention ThriftCon and streetwear label Station.
He is a big time runner and is a part of a running team with 48forchange, a non-profit that raises funds for underprivileged and marginalized communities through run challenges. His team is currently sponsored by ON Running.
Jes is a running legend! Day-to-day, Jes is a Nike Running coach in New York and also serves as a trainer and coach for Brooklyn Track Club and Chaski Endurance as well as manages a Mile High Run Club location.
Jes recently came second in a solo-run, three-hundred mile race from Los Angeles to Las Vegas which she completed in under six days.
Dan, also known through his social media as The Air Vegan, is an NYC based director and content creator. He is the founder of video production company BRYGHT YOUNG THINGS and fashion sustainability platform news FutureVVorld.
Dan is an avid runner and vegan sneaker collector and brings a fresh perspective to the sport and culture.
Q1: Why do you like running & how does it make you feel?
Mario: Firstly, running is a great way to explore your own city and see it in a different light. I also think that it's fairly easy to progress, but in your progress, the ceiling just keeps moving up and up, so it's a great way to stay motivated. The thing that I might appreciate most about running however is the fact that it isn't enjoyable sometimes. It's hard, it hurts and it makes you want to quit, but you find ways to push through, and I think that ultimately translates to other areas of your life.
Jes: How much time do we have? [laughs]. Running makes me feel accomplished. There’s goal setting and working hard to achieve that goal but at the same time, running doesn't always have to be that serious. It’s also a social thing that I get to enjoy with my friends. If you're doing it right, running can be and should be enjoyable.
Daniel: I like running because it gives me a break from the outside world. There is a state of "flow" that has become easier to achieve during my runs, and that's the feeling I find myself seeking. When everything is clicking, there is a euphoria and bliss that I don't access in other areas of my life. I also love the community aspect of it.
Q2: Are you a collector of running shoes?
Mario: I see my running shoes as work boots. I get a new pair and I instantly start setting mileage goals for them - 350-500 - and wonder how fast I can get there. I want them to be completely spent by the end of those miles and I want them to look like it too.
Daniel: I wouldn't say that I collect running shoes, because all of my running sneakers get used. I think there's definitely more "collectible" running sneakers than ever before, but I seek them out to put miles on them.
Jes: I genuinely don't consider myself cool enough to collect lifestyle sneakers, so my collection is very much running sneakers focused with a dash of lifestyle. Oh, and maybe the Bad Bunny Crocs too!
Q3: Many are shifting spending from hype to more technical footwear. Have you seen your behaviour shift like this at all over the last year? If yes, why do you think this is?
Daniel: Yes. I think everyone has suddenly discovered a greater appreciation for the outdoors and a small shift away from “hype for the sake of hype”. I'm grateful that I learned this lesson years ago, because I've spent my free time and expendable income on travel and experience as opposed to coveting a bunch of sneakers that sit in storage.
Jes: Yes! Thank goodness technical gear is now considered fashion because it's the only thing I'm wearing 99% of the time. Hopefully this shift sticks around for some time.
Mario: I would say so. I am starting to think more about the actual composition and construction of all of my clothing and see others doing so as well. I’m making an effort to be more mindful with my purchases and surround myself with more functional, timeless products to cut down on my own waste and consumption.
What are you wearing on the road?
Shoes: ON Running Cloudflow
Shoes: Nike ZoomX Invincible Run
Shoes: ZoomX Vaporfly Next%
What are you listening to on the road?
Mario: If it's a short distance run I’ll throw on some rap or a random metal playlist (which I never listen to) because it's nice to just have some wild music playing in the background that I can push to. For longer runs, I’ll do something more mellow:, rap, pop, 90s/00s stuff. I'll even throw on a podcast every once in a while to try and learn something while I run.
Jes: Here we go! The Greatest Showman soundtrack. On repeat. Over and over again. Sometimes for upwards of 9 hours (on a 50 mile run).
Daniel: Wild story - For the first marathon I ran, there was a rule against headphones, so I had to run in silence...that was quite an experience. Nowadays, I listen to everything from the DJ Premiere/RZA Verzus playlist, to "War on Drugs", to the NY Times "The Daily" podcast, to books like, "Power of Now" and "Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself". I'm always trying to dial in the right mood, for the right day, to achieve the perfect run.
Final Thoughts from Pier Five
The purpose of this story was not to tell you all to stop buying shoes. I can’t honestly say that I am going to stop and I am not the right person to tell you to. If you do want to learn how you can think about your consumption more responsibly, Daniel’s FutureVVorld is an amazing platform for this. Ultimately, this story was meant to inspire you to try something new. For me, it was running but there are a million activities that exist that we can bring our compulsive sneakerhead characteristics to that can make you happier.
Finally, if you made it this far and you’re still no more excited to try something new, then all I can say is the next time you overpay for some kicks on StockX, at least wear the damn shoes more than twice a month!
For more on Mario, Jes & Dan, check out their IG and keep it locked to Pier Five for more stories and interviews with the best in fashion, art, business, sports, food & more.