A Humble Proposal

Whether you observe Black Friday or National Buy Nothing Day, at some point you’re going to need a new pair of shoes. I found myself at our local Fleet Feet Sports, which smartly opened after the turkey trot yesterday. They had a range of shoes on sale, and I tried some on, but I wound up going with my usual Adidas Supernovas and a light pair of Brooks Green Silence that felt fantastic. I’d tried some Nike Lunar Glides that looked great and were pretty light, but they felt all wrong to my feet.

And you should listen to that voice in your feet, as it were, when you are trying on shoes. They ought to feel comfortable immediately. If something doesn’t strike you as right, you probably won’t be striking the ground just right, so move on. This means you have to ignore brand, color, and even price and let your feet do the talking. My colleague Matt Fitzgerald has made this case eloquently, notably in The Runner’s Body.

Thus here’s my proposal, which I passed on to the clerks and owner. When customers walk in to the specialty running shop, they should be outfitted with an Elizabethan collar, similar to what dogs have to wear post-surgery. They can then try on a range of shoes appropriate for their stride and let their feet make the choice, blind to brand, color, and price. In fact, this could be expanded to buying bikes, clothing, even wine. Why not make more decisions based on how things feel, rather than how they look, what the brand is, the price point? We’ll look odd shopping in our Elizabethan collars, but we’ll probably be happier with our purchases.

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