My garage looks like the place where old running shoes go to die.

Seriously. There are at least five pair stinking up the joint, with two new sets ready to join them. There are a few reasons for this:

1. I am, by nature, a pack rat.

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2. Old running shoes don't die, they just transition into other uses. My work-in-the-yard shoes? Old runners. My kick-around shoes? Older runners.

3. They are an insurance policy. Running shoes are expensive, and since I usually buy two pair at a time, I try to make them last as long as possible. Once I committed to running the Philadelphia Marathon in November, I knew I'd need new shoes at some point, I just wanted to prolong that as long as possible. So, I took two older pair that were just gathering dust and began running in them again. Not often, but just enough to give my other pairs a chance to regain their cushion between runs.

4. I am lazy. I knew I didn't want to throw them out - bad eco-manners. But I also couldn't be bothered to figure out what to do with them.

But, thanks to enterprising folk across the country, now there's a place to put them via recycle-a-shoe programs. Here are a few places you can tap into:

If old shoes aren't turned around and used by someone else, they most often will be turned into material used in synthetic sports fields and surfaces. It's a good feeling to know my running is doing more than helping me achieve a goal. It can provide the means for others to achieve their goals, too.

Locally, Nike accepts old shoes at its Atlantic City location, 30 N. Arkansas Ave., for its Reuse-A-Shoe program.

Or, you can swing by The Sneaker Shop on Asbury Avenue in Ocean City. They donate used shoes to the Atlantic City Rescue Mission.

Now, armed with my two newest pair, I can put at least two others out of their misery. And help clean the garage in the process.


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