As my semester ended and the rigors of graduate work slowly started to fade into memory, I knew it was time to begin training in earnest for the Challenge Walk in September. But as a new walker, I was missing something very important: shoes! I'm the kind of person who can live in the same pair of flip-flops all summer (and the same boots all winter), so the idea of investing in a good pair of athletic shoes was a little daunting. Still, I knew it had to be done, and I solicited the advice of others to find out where to shop.
In response to my message on this site's forum, Heather Hancock kindly suggested that I look around for a Marathon Sports. Luckily enough, there was one a short distance from where I live. I knew from their Web site that they had some high-end shoes and would do consultations to get a good fit, so it looked like a smart place to buy. My only worry was that with all the personal consulting, I'd be pressured into buying the most expensive shoes in the store.
I went in on a quiet Friday. A salesman asked me what kind of shoes I was looking for and watched me walk across the room and back to give him an idea of what sort of fit would work for me. As he went in the back to collect a few pairs for me to try, I watched as a woman (obviously an avid runner) put on a pair of new sneakers. She took the clerk's suggestion to try them out — which she did by running out of the store and around the block. I jokingly asked if they ever had problems with people not coming back, but the clerk gestured to the woman's sandals, purse, and cell phone on the floor, telling me it usually wasn't an issue.
While we were chatting, the clerk who'd gone to fetch my shoes came back with a couple of pairs and informed me that since my feet were slightly wider than average, but not wide enough to necessitate a "wide"-fit shoe, he picked shoes he knew to have the most toe space. The first pair I tried on was just right — cushy and comfortable, but snug enough that I wouldn't have to worry about blistering. And to my surprise, he had brought me some of the lowest-priced shoes they had in stock!
And so it was that within 15 minutes I had a perfect pair of walking shoes in my possession, and I was excited to give them a test run on the way home. After a successful five-mile walk in Laconia, I think my new puppies are well broken in and ready for some serious training! And if my shoes are that enthusiastic about walking, it's hard for me not to be.