The Running Shop

Part I: Mark

I want to tell you about two different customers.   They illustrate only one facet of why I love working at a specialty shoe store; the new- or non-runners that come in for shoes, and the stories they tell.

The first one is Mark.   He and his wife (it was actually his sister) came in not long after lunch. He was overweight and seemed  to be almost defensive being in a ‘running’ store.   He needed a wide shoe, a walking shoe, and a high-volume shoe.  Now, I like my customers. Almost as a rule, I really enjoy helping people.  My M.O. is that everyone has a story and when they step into the Running Shop, their story has somehow over-lapped with running/walking shoes; and with me.  I want to hear all about it.

As I talked to Mark, I found out that he was diabetic.  While his fore-foot needed lots of space for his toes and metatarcels to splay out naturally, he also wanted his heel to lock on and not slip.  Those were his criteria.   Of course, one could just be aggressive with a heel-lock to fasten the shoe to his heel, but if you went too tight, you could restrict already poor circulation in the foot.

As we tried on shoes, we got closer and closer to something that met his criteria and was also comfortable.  I learned from his feedback and was able to get a better idea of what  he was looking for in the categories that we were working in.  He tried on the last shoe I brought out and he did something with it that I hadn’t seen him do before.  He actually jogged across the floor.  All the rest of the shoes only got a walking treatment, but these? He actually moved forward in a jogging fashion – and it effected me profoundly.

Why it didn’t cross my mind that he might want to tackle his diabetes through dieting or losing weight, I have no idea, but it shames me to admit that he might actually be willing to exercise, grasping at something foreign and unfamiliar like purposeful exercise, to push back the clock a little bit.   For a brief moment, I weighed what it might mean to my group (“Destination YOU!” – facebook group) if he were to join.  Would there be anyone that he could run with?  Was week 3 too late for him? Would he even be interested?

Then,  I decided to ask him.

Mark is one of those people who have taken a principled stand against Facebook.  When I asked him if he had an account, he responded, “Facebook will steal your soul”.  While I wasn’t going to argue that point, it’s fair to say that my first attempt to bring him in to Destination YOU! was shot down and stomped on.

Still, I told him all about it and I swear he even seemed interested.

It occurs to me that running a 5k might be a suggestion for some that would otherwise NEVER cross their mind.  That was certainly the case with me – I remember being elated after running a solid mile for the first time since high-school.  Running a 5k, for some people, is literally the effort-equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest, breaking the world record for the mile, or swimming from the Florida Keys to Cuba.

This isn’t hyperbole.  For a brief moment, I think Mark was confronted with something completely outside of who he knows himself to be and, in the space between, he considered it for the first time in his life before the waves of doubt and habit drowned the light of opportunity and dreams in the usual, comfortable darkness.

Do not be so quick to dismiss the great thoughts that occur to you; life, the present and tomorrow are ripe and full of promise – but you have to think bigger.

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