I’m about to head to The Tradeshow. Every industry has one. The big show. The conference, the event, the one you have to attend to keep up, get ahead, make your year. I have a few clients at this show.
It takes place in Chicago every June. Figure hot, humid, steamy. The event blankets many acres of hard terrazzo floors in that city’s Merchandise Mart. And the importance of the event to this industry, the high-design ethos, the schmoozing and posturing, all beg for new shoes. Sanity calls for comfortable, broken-in shoes, but what trade show trades in sanity, I beg you?
I haven’t been to the show in years. The last time I went, just as every time before over 20 years of serving this industry, I mangled my feet. At 250+ pounds putting miles and miles on new heels, I rubbed in blisters, strained fascia, inflamed bursas, twisted and bloated ankles, hammered toes. Evenings soaking my feet in ice only readied me for more damage the next day. Think of every football movie you ever saw. I served as my own meatball trainer, patching myself up just enough to get back out onto the field for more abuse. The show is three days of pedal torture.
I did eventually give up the pretty heels and switched to supportive styles. Same result. Blisters, strains, bloat, inflammation. My problem was not so much the shoes themselves as the miles and hours, heat and weight. I was both too heavy for my bones and ligaments, and unconditioned for the event, the work.
My sanity, where shoes in particular are concerned, does need to be checked. I love beautiful shoes, interesting shoes, funny shoes. So sue me. I don’t buy shoes that are uncomfortable or too hard for me to walk in, but I covet any shoe that makes a foot look graceful, fanciful, sexy, interesting, particularly when that foot is mine. I like shoes that are surprising, funny, glamorous, powerful, flirty, shocking, confident, or mischievous. Many women do. This is why we have so many of them. They are like children, each pair carrying its own personality, mood, moment, each entirely loveable in its own right.
But this post is not about the shoes. I’m about to spend days on my feet, and I am unafraid. I expect some damage, blisters especially. Fatigue, certainly. Soreness for the week ahead. But I don’t fear the sort of damage that will require medical care, orthotics, or bedrest.
There will be no strained ligaments, none of the stabbing pain of plantar’s fasciitis, because I have conditioned my feet to manage my body weight for miles. Over the past years I have developed foot stamina, slowly developing my ability to withstand more and more walking over hard surfaces through my ingenious training approach: walking more and more over hard surfaces. This training for these events while dropping weight enough to give my feet a fighting chance gives me hope and confidence that I can face this show without fear.
This makes all the work of weight loss worth it. That may sound silly, but just keeping up with the demands of my adult life is a huge reward. Keeping up with my workmates, my colleagues, having the physical stamina to attend tradeshows, put in long days now and then, be where I’m needed and do what needs to be done, feels great. I was losing that ability too quickly, and too early.
I count being ready for the show as a reward. It goes in my body log as a reminder of why I work so hard at this, why it’s worth it.
What are the physical demands of your life? What can you train for? Does lifting kids or grand-kids require a little work on your back and abdominal muscles? Are you moving to San Francisco, and need to prepare your legs? Are you about to get that nursing degree and that first post, put you suddenly on your feet for hours and hours? Do your hands, arms, shoulders need help? Hips, knees, ankles, feet?
Consider working with a trainer or physical therapist to train specifically for these demands first. Being fit enough for your real life is the best kind of fitness there is.
Heat, humidity, city hardness and rush, immeasurable, unknowable distances between events, too few cabs, too much adrenalin, one more showroom, one more booth, one more reception, far too much vodka. I’m ready. Bring it on.