Friday, August 6, 2010

And you thought this was going to be a rant about cheap newspapers

I had an editor once who liked telling stories about himself. I ultimately didn't get along with him too well, but now that's what I do for a living, so I guess I took his example.

He came out looking pretty good in most of his stories, which is something I seem to need work on. But I remember a story that made him look especially good. It was the one where he was going over the reporting staff's expense reports and noticed the paper was saving big money on mileage reimbursement. Bargain! Right? Wrong.

Not that he disliked pinching pennies, but that's not what reporters are for. He figured it meant they were spending too much time at their desks, reporting by telephone call, and not enough time out on the streets.

I don't know how he solved the problem, whether he rethought the stories they were typically assigned to write or if he just yelled at them, but that's not the point. The point is that he looked at his own good fortune as suspiciously as he looked at all news, and I've always admired that. And remembered it.

I log my workouts through an online program called TrainingPeaks. I can't fully express what a good tool it is, but I can begin by stating that I actually log my training now, something I had never done before the magic combination of coaching, TrainingPeaks and Batman-fantasy electronic stuff like GPS receivers and power meters that do all the work for me. One of the things TrainingPeaks keeps track of is the miles on my shoes. This, too, is something I had neglected, and my purchasing patterns had a suspicious tendency to share the same peaks and valleys as my injury patterns.

The downside is that the miles on my shoes pile up like peak-season laundry, only more surreptitiously. I spread the miles between two or three pairs of running shoes, and in spite of the rotation it seems like I'm constantly approaching the 500-mile limit on at least one pair. Make no mistake, it's fun to buy running shoes, but it gets expensive - especially if you have the discipline of a beagle near an unattended wastebasket, or me on the loose in Playmakers, Running Fit or Hanson's Running Shop. I like spending money, but feel like sooner or later I'm going to have to explain it to somebody, like my editor would explain the newly high expense reports to his publisher.

And I'm reminded that sometimes saving money isn't all it's cracked up to be, and that lasting forever isn't what running shoes are for. Those miles are empirical if pricey evidence that I'm doing what I need to become a better runner, or at least taking care of a key part of it. And I haven't had a running injury since I started springing for new shoes on time.

How about that? I told a story where I came out looking good.


Mike said...

Wait a minute.

Does the fact that you wrote a book about triathlons give you the chutzpah to track -- and write off -- all your obsessive exercising expenses?

If so, you are most definitely The Man.

Liz said...

Running may be cheaper than heart disease, but it still isn't cheap considering what new running shoes cost. Small wonder most runners and triathletes are, ahem, in the upper income brackets. What's even worse is the way the shoes get to you: petroleum ingredients, sweatshop labor, overseas shipping, you name it. It's very depressing.

But at least we're not golfers, right?

Patty said...

You always look pretty good to me!

La Professora said...

You can never have too many good shoes.

"If you want to forget all your other troubles, wear too tight shoes."  --The Houghton Line, November 1965

"When you have worn out your shoes, the strength of the shoe leather has passed into the fiber of your body.  I measure your health by the number of shoes and hats and clothes you have worn out."  --Ralph Waldo Emerson