Yesterday I bought the final piece for my running kit: new shoes.
(Side note: I enjoy the British word “kit,” as in “Neil has forgotten his PE kit and is forced to run about in his pants.” (“Pants” meaning “underwear,” of course) and “Stella McCartney unveiled her design for the Team GB Olympic kit.” I think the closest American English word is “uniform” or “outfit.”)
I went to Runners Need, a specialist shop in Camden, and did something I’ve never done before — I shopped without looking at prices. In the past I only bought trainers from a discount store, and only if there was an additional sale. Fit didn’t matter as much as price and color. The last pair I bought are white with light blue so as to draw the least amount of attention. They have to be at least five years old, so after experiencing some lower back and heel pain on my last run, I decided I needed an upgrade.
I went to Runners Need because they offer free gait analysis to see whether you need a neutral, stability or motion control shoe. Those words don’t mean anything to me, so I definitely needed to see the experts. The manager, Sam, was incredibly friendly and helpful. He videotaped me running on a treadmill to observe the way my ankles move and how I hit the pavement. He gave me stride tips and brought out shoe after shoe for me to try. I ended up going with a pair of Asics that are bright purplish magenta with neon yellow laces. So much for shoes that don’t stand out. I chose them based solely on fit and comfort, but cringed when I finally asked him the price. They are the most expensive shoes I’ve ever bought aside from my Tory Burch flats. But I decided to look at them as an investment in my health (and also I’m less likely to crap out on running if I’ve already spent a substantial amount of money on my kit. I also bought some running shirts and a jacket the other day).
“You’re a better runner than you think you are,” Sam assured me. “You should breeze through Couch to 5K.” His passion for running exuded from him and was contagious. By the time I left the shop I was convinced I could conquer a 5K or more. Why not a 10K? Or a half marathon!
… I was obviously forgetting about my inner 300-pound fat man who smokes. I started Week 2 of Couch to 5K in my new shoes that afternoon, which involved running for 90 second intervals, an upgrade from Week 1’s 60 seconds. I couldn’t do it. It was the longest 90 seconds I’ve ever experienced. Feeling a bit defeated, I decided to give it another go this morning. I had to “run” back to the store because I found my shoes cheaper online and they offer a price match guarantee. I made it through each 90 seconds this time, but barely. When I wanted to stop, I thought about Sam, the store manager who doesn’t really know me yet believes in me, the fat guy running ahead of me who never stopped, and giraffes. Not because giraffes are good runners (are they?), but because I always end my run by the zoo so I can peek at the giraffes and zebras through the fence. It’s going to take some time and effort to get my inner fat man into shape, but I just have to keep at it — if anything because I bought the kit.