Crossing the Line
Finding the Perfect Shoe
Itook a few steps backward to avoid being jostled by the Saturday morning shopping crowd as I tried to make sense of the dazzling assortment of running shoes. They filled the wall from f loor to ceiling and came in every colour imaginable.
I had entered this sports store fully expecting to quickly select a pair of running shoes and be out the door in a few minutes. My needs were simple, but there didn’t seem to be anything simple about this. Not only was the choice overwhelming, but each shoe was labeled under categories that meant nothing to me. I looked down at my well-worn black sneakers, hoping for a clue. But nothing stood out, except for me: an all-black-clad, gloomy shopper surrounded by cheerful peacocks.
I thought of asking for help, but the store was busy, and the staff were run off their feet – not a good time to bombard them with newbie questions. Studying the display, I noticed something else: the prices. I kept hearing that running was one of the cheapest sports out there. But these babies were far from cheap. How could I justify spending so much money on something I wasn’t even sure I would stick with?
I didn’t buy shoes often. When I did, I visited stores I knew I could count on to meet my need for something comfy (preferably black) and affordable. In this instance, I had made a special effort to come here, so I could start my running journey on the right foot. But I hadn’t expected this level of complexity. I was afraid that the longer I waited, the more likely I’d give up on the idea. I had never liked running – not unless it involved a ball, shuttle, Frisbee, puck or other identifiable f lying object. Unfortunately, I had allowed myself to get so out of shape that I needed to be able to run before I could attempt any kind of sporting activity.
I left the store empty-handed but doubly determined to start on the path I had set for myself. The next day, my well-worn black sneakers and I had our very first fiveminute run. During those excruciating minutes, I don’t remember being concerned as much about my shoes as being able to catch my breath. I’m afraid that no shoe, no matter how superior or dazzling, would have made me look any less purple in the face.
It took me over a year, but I did return to that sports store. By then, I loved it so much I couldn’t imagine my life without it. As my running slowly improved, I started learning more about the sport. I read reviews and discovered the differences between shoes, along with my foot type. As I examined the shoe display, I fell for a pair of pink and orange beauties. Luckily for me, they happened to be well rated. Not only that, but the price was slashed in half! I barely hesitated before reaching for my size. When, a month later, a neighbour stopped me to say, “It’s beautiful to see you run! You have such an even tempo!” I felt like my f lashy shoes had not outshone me after all. We were perfectly matched.
Pascale Duguay is a freelance writer and school librarian based in Quebec’s beautiful Eastern Townships. Her morning runs are witnessed mainly by cows and assorted wildlife.