Back in 2012 I decided to jump feet first into the world of semi-serious long distance running. As part of my initiation into this subculture, my runner girlfriend (now my runner wife) let me know in no uncertain terms that I needed to buy “real” running shoes. Apparently, grabbing a $50 pair of sneakers at an outlet store would not only increase the likelihood of injury, but also tag me as a naïve newbie.
During this initial foray into thoughtful shoe shopping, I realized the experience of buying new running shoes is less like clothing shopping and more akin to buying a new car. A salesperson/expert inquired about the specifics of my footwear needs before having me take a few laps around the store. After some careful observation, I was told I needed a neutral shoe and presented with a cornucopia of options. After taking a variety of pricey models for test drives, I purchased my first serious running shoe: the Asics Gel-Fortitude 5.
Landing on Asics as my introductory brand seemed like a no-brainer. My significant other had been wearing them for years and had nothing but good things to say. I’d also seen Asics on the feet of a lot of runners over the years, and I took their popularity as a positive sign. I did not regret my choice. The shoes were fantastic! And as someone who likes to reward brands that make solid products, I continued to buys Asics, purchasing a new pair at the beginning of each year…
Until this year.
I’d been considering playing the footwear field for some time and recently began flirting with other brands. I’d peruse reviews in running publications and window shopped when I had the opportunity. But despite my wandering eye, I continued to stay true to the only brand my high mileage feet had ever known. Then one day I found myself face-to-face with a pair of Brooks Ghost 8s. I test drove a previous version of the Ghost line last year and quite liked the way they felt. So I tried on this latest model, jogged around in circles for a bit, and the next thing I know I’m taking them home with me.
It was a quick, impulse buy (at least by running shoe purchasing standards) and I immediately felt the sting of a guilty conscience. Asics had been loyal to me over these last four years, and this was how I repaid her? We’d been through a lot together, including 20+ races and five half marathons, to say nothing of the countless training miles I logged while my feet were snuggled in her warm embrace. It was like I was suddenly cheating on Asics with this other brand.
And yet here I was, thanklessly turning my back on all she’d done for me in order to hop into bed with a foul temptress named Brooks.
If that weren’t disgraceful enough, I also purchased these sinful shoes, not at my quaint local running shop, but at a giant sporting goods box store. I don’t even want to dignify the transaction by typing the retailer’s name, but it rhymes with Forts Sorority.
I know I’m not bad person for switching brands. This is America and it’s my right as a consumer. Besides, Asics didn’t put a ring on this finger so I’m free to move on if I want. But I must admit, this whole affair does feel a bit untoward.
Look, Asics, it’s not you it’s me. I’ve grown. I’ve matured. I needed to expand my horizons and have some new experiences. If I stayed with you out of some feeling of obligation, I’d only end up resenting you. And you don’t want that. Neither of us wants that. Don’t worry. This isn’t really “good-bye” so much as it is “see you later.” I’ll return to you in time. How could I not? You were my first. And I know that once I sow my podiatric oats with a few other brands, I’ll return to your loving embrace.
I only hope that when that time comes, you’re willing to take me back.
(On the other hand, you’re really nothing more than an inanimate collection of raw materials incapable of thought, let alone the ability to hold a grudge, so I guess I’ll just see you then.)