A few days ago I was in a running shop and I relized: Running shops are the new record stores.
For me, and I’m pretty sure for thousands of guys and girls my age, running shops have replaced record shops in my life. When I was younger I used to find it hard to pass a record shop without going in. I would already know all the latest jazz, rap, rock, and R’n’B releases (that was my thing) but I’d still wander in “just to have a look around” with friends. And now?…
Top 5 Parallels List (incomplete):
1. Today I find it hard to pass a running shop without popping in “just to have a look around”. I pick up the Brooks Ravenna 4, the Saucony Mirage 3, the Asics Gel-Cumulus 15 and various other brands, turn them around in my hands feeling their weight and look at the price, even though I already know exactly how they feel and could tell you the price before even entering the shop. In the same way I used to spend hours flicking through record sleeves of vinyl I already owned, pick them up and read the notes on the back — again half of time I could recite the notes verbatium before even entering the shop.
2. I feel a kind of kinship with total strangers if I meet them in the running shop. I can spot a “real runner” and feel we have an unspoken bond. I love their worn shoes and t-shirts with running quotes like:
“I bust mine so I can kick yours!”
“Running: Cheaper than plastic surgery.”
“Athletes run. Everyone else just plays games.”
“Why are all these people following me?”
“Endorphins: Runners’ drug of choice”
When I used to visit record shops I could see two people buying the same A Tribe Called Quest or Metallica album. But instantly I just knew one was a rational person with a healthy relationship with music and the other was a fellow suffering addict! Now I see two people buying the same pair of Nike running shoes and I can tell that one is on their 5th marathon and the other is just about to start their addiction.
3. Just like in my record buying days I now buy running things I completely do not need. The result of this is I currently have the following unnecessary running paraphernalia:
Four sports iPhone armbands (one maybe two would suffice)
Three Nike running caps (for summer)
Three running skull caps (for winter)
Six pair of winter running tights (sexy right)
Too many books about running to count (even after we moved)
Random running sports and running apps on my phone, tablet, & computer
Back copies of running magazines I will never read again but I do not throw them away
And by no means is this a definitive list but I am just too embarrassed to elaborate…
Similarly I am far too embarrassed to list all the records I own but will never play. When did I ever think in a million years I was going to play the instrumental album of “Straight Out The Jungle” by The Jungle Brothers? And while some of Grover Washington Jr’s earlier albums are great someone should have told me to draw the line at “Strawberry Moon”!
4. Despite being successful at my job and in other aspects of my life I find myself being deferential to shop assistants who are half my age and I suspect have run less than half the distances I have raced. But I still seek their approval. The running shop worker — like the record shop worker before them — is like the village vicars of my religion, (the high priests are of course the elite runners and musicians themselves). In a two minute conversation about running socks I want to “prove” I know what I’m talking about and crave their approval. I have just one question for myself; “Why?!”