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.I wasn’t prepared for this question. I’m sure the book didn’t say anything about sorts of runners.
‘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.