Wednesday, August 23, 2006

If the shoe fits...

I went looking for new running shoes yesterday. It felt a bit like back-to-school shopping - I pictured myself jogging back and forth across the store, determining which bright and shiny pair would help me run super-fast and jump super-high.

I soon discovered, however, that things have changed a bit since my back-to-school days. Apparently, it’s no longer the done thing to just wander in and pick out the sneakers that will look best with my favorite running pants. No. Now, before I was allowed try on a single pair, I had to be evaluated by a professional staffer to determine whether or not I pronate (which struck me as a slightly vile and incredibly personal thing to be chatting about, there in the sporting goods section).

As it turns out, I do not pronate, which sounded like excellent news. But what it really meant was that I was extremely limited in which running shoes I could buy, because my failure to pronate takes the ones with “extra stability” right out of the picture (despite the fact that anyone who knows me would suggest that “extra stability” is exactly what I should be looking for). My options were limited to shoes in the “neutral” category; they were, according to the staffer, my only hope for achieving optimal performance in my running and jumping efforts.

This forced me to confess that said efforts are, at this point at least, imaginary; that in real life I achieve optimal performance only when running away from something (like an angry Doberman) or toward something (like a sale at Ann Taylor). In those situations, I assured him, the shoe is mostly an afterthought.

But he remained unconvinced, and refused to bring me stability-enhancing shoes when my feet were, he claimed, crying out for neutrality. So I am now the proud owner of a pair of flame-orange and navy striped running shoes. There is nothing neutral about this color scheme; I presume they’ll make me run faster out of sheer embarrassment. I’m putting them to the test tonight on the treadmill…I’ll let you know how it goes.

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