in Running

Brick and murder

Navigating the modern running store

I can’t remember when I bought my last pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS running shoes, or what number was tacked on to the end of what already seems like the name of precision sports car. But I can tell you when I realized that their soles had given out. 

Hole-y worn out sneakers, Batman

It was Monday of last week, in the middle of an eight-mile run. I had just turned the corner of my block when a pebble snaked its way below the arch of my right foot. Weird, I thought, stopping to imagine what level of LeBron James wizardry it had taken for a small rock to come up off the ground, careen off my ankle and slip into my shoe.

But there was no magic involved because the rock had simply slipped in through the sole of my sneaker. Or, more precisely, it waltzed in through the hole where the sol had once been. The material was just gone, girl.

Now, I could waste a lot of time explaining why I didn’t notice that massive hole as I was putting on sneakers that morning, or the morning before (or the one before that). But for the sake of time let’s just move forward with the knowledge that I’m not an incredibly observant person when it comes to most things in life. I fly (and run) by the seat of my pants.

Unfortunately, being a working dad with a five-year old who needs to be transported to school every day, I couldn’t get to the running store until the weekend. So I took a week off from running.

The Showroom

On Saturday, my wife and I went to Runner’s World in Tempe. Immediately, red flags went up. There were salespeople everywhere.  It was less a running store than a car dealership. Since no one was free to help me, I had to wait 20 minutes to try on a pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS 17s in size 10.5.

I stood like an idiot holding the display shoe while a woman in a denim skirt that was torn strategically ran in place. I sat down and listened to a mother explain why her track star son didn’t like the shoes she had just returned.  Eventually, a cashier came by and asked if I needed help. Finally, I got the shoes and confirmed that the new model fit exactly like the old one.

The black magic trickery continued at the register, where I learned how this particular chain of stores manages to survive in the age of online retail: a devious membership system that you pretty much have to buy in to because the shoes are more expensive otherwise.

What I Learned

While the conventional wisdom is to change your running shoes every 400-500 miles, I find mine still have a fair amount of tread at that point. However, I’m not going to go so far as to allow my shoes to get to the point where I’m practically running barefoot. Again. Also, I’m buying my next pair of running shoes online.