I decided I was running enough to warrant a pair of proper running shoes, rather than the trainers I was currently using. They were designed to be worn for such activities as netball, tennis, aerobics and stuff like that. They were big and bulky, and heavy. Also, I didn’t like the fact that they were bright white.
I went to the shops, bursting with advice from the dreaded running book: buy the ones they tell you to buy.
An assistant came up to me and asked what I was looking for.
‘Running shoes,’ I said.
‘Ah,’ he said. ‘They’re over here.’
A good start. I didn’t even know what a running shoe looked like. In my defence, some of the shoes I was looking at said
running on the label. I followed him to the running shoes. Each shoe sat on its own little shelf. Each shelf had a price tag attached to its front edge.
‘What sort of runner are you?’ he asked.
‘A reluctant one,’ I said.
He registered no amusement whatsoever. Apparently, buying running shoes is a serious business. He tried a different tack: he asked to see the bottom of my shoes.
I was wearing Vans, which I’d had a while, but hadn’t worn a great deal. I wondered how much use they could possibly be. Nevertheless, he seemed satisfied. He told me I needed the kind of shoes with the yellow label. (It might have been green or blue; I didn’t know what it meant, so I didn’t retain the information.)
‘What’s your budget?’
I looked at the prices stuck to the fronts of the shelves. I said an amount that seemed to be somewhere between the mid-range price and ridiculously expensive.
He cast his eye over the shoes, and picked out a garish one.
‘You need these ones.’
I picked up a purple one with a yellow label. He told me I couldn’t have those because of <complicated thing to do with the spiky bits on the sole>. I put it back. He said I must have the garish one. I relented. The book said the man knew best.
We went through a palaver to get one that my feet could get into. I told him my size, but I couldn’t get my foot in comfortably. I had to have the next size up. I tried to make another joke, having not learned anything from my earlier experience. It went as well as I should have expected.
Having successfully surrounded my feet with running shoes, the man next tried to sell me some special socks that go perfectly with my new running shoes. I have some perfectly good running socks with spongy soles, so I declined. Also, the girl that was before me declined, muttering about how they try to sell you all this stuff you don’t need. I didn’t want to buy stuff I didn’t need, after all.