If you include my ballet slippers, I own 13 pairs of workout shoes. I have a pair for Crossfit and another for strength training, plus blue suede high-tops I wear mainly when I want to exercise my right to wear sneakers with dresses. But the bulk of my workout shoes are for running, which I've been doing on and off for about 20 years. Here's why:
1. It's free.
Sure, you can buy a GPS watch and a heart rate monitor and fancy earbuds, but all you really need are running shoes (and despite my collection, one pair really is enough). In high school, I trained for cross-country races in rolled-up boxer shorts, old T-shirts, and a sports bra I bought at the swap meet.
2. You can do it whenever, wherever.
Unlike cycling studios, running will never put you on a waitlist. I've squeezed in a run after a late-night flight, before the sun rose, and on my lunch break. I've run to brunch, a Super Bowl party, and the hardware store. I've run in snowstorms and heat waves. I even aqua-jogged in the pool for a while when I had an injury.
3. It's sociable.
Whereas talking in yoga class is likely to get you shushed, not talking to your running buddy would be weird. Also, there are few things you can do with a friend that don't involve eating or spending money; running is one of those things.
4. It's cultural.
If you don't have a running buddy, you can catch up on new music or podcasts. You can even listen to audiobooks or a language-learning app. A small July 2015 study found that 32 percent of runners' thoughts are about pain and discomfort, and if you're going to drown those out with something else, it might as well be educational, right?
5. It's scenic.
Running is a great way to see the sights without having to sit on a double-decker bus. You can search for routes on MapMyRun, or sign up for a guided group or customized run at City Running Tours. At home, try running in a new neighborhood or signing up for a 5K in a nearby town.
OK, I realize I'm making it sound like I have only love for running, which is not true. Sometimes it gives me cramps. Sometimes I get bored, or hot, or cold, or something hurts — my knee, my back, my pride when I trip or my dog poops in front of a fancy restaurant.
Once I fell off the treadmill in front of a bunch of people at the gym. My iPod broke and my shirt had skid marks down the center of it. I was embarrassed and a little sore, but mostly I was proud of myself for running fast enough to fly off in the first place. And that's how I feel about running in general: Even when it's bad, it's good. Plus, it gives you an excuse to buy another pair of shoes.