Why you should shop in a running specialty store
I know why you haven't made the trip to the running specialty store...you think you're not a real runner. You imagine you're going to walk in and all the stick thin sub 6:00 minute a mile runners are going to giggle & then, direct you to the pizza shop next door. Clearly, you're lost and are just looking for directions to a good place for lunch, right? I know that because I was that person.
I cringe when I hear someone say, "well, I'm not a real runner." Why? Because I can relate to that all too well. There are days even now, that I still feel like an old washed-up college athlete trying to hang onto some kind of glory by posing as a runner...like some desperate testosterone driven high school football player who is now balding, in his 50's and still talking about the game winning pass to win the final game of the season & now charges Tough Mudder like it’s the Super Bowl.
I had created an image of all these silhouettes trying to help me figure out why I was having achilles problems & what shoes would best benefit me with my build, gait, and training. I thought they'd see my broad shoulders & bulging biceps & laugh & let me know that the power lifting contest was not in fact being held there, and that maybe the reason my achilles was so sore was because I was just not a real runner.
I was wrong. I have had the opportunity to work the past 5 months on the inside of what I thought was Oz where only the elite could hang out and run light swift circles past me on the yellow brick road. Let me tell you, these are some of the most knowledgable, the most warm & welcoming & intelligent, thoughtul group of people I have ever met. I have been around my share of athletes...and this group of athletes...runners...are some of the nicest, most humble people I have ever met. You would never know who runs the 5:30 pace marathon versus the 7:30 half marathon versus someone who runs recreationally and does not run races.
I never knew the ins and outs of a shoe...the many types of shoes for the many types of foot/mechanics/& build. Who knew that there were people who could actually assess a running gait, foot shape, & build and offer up something that might make running even more enjoyable. They are like shoe computers...and it doesn't stop there. They know everything there is about fueling, technical gear...and they are willing to offer up their knowledge & make suggestions because they are actually out there trying the different fuels...running in the different shoe brands...testing the products...and listening. They listen to all their customers, & they care.
Even though I have been a runner for some time now, I was a little nervous to not only shop here but then, to be an employee of such a place. 5 months is not a long time. But let me tell you something, I have learned so much from the employees of this store in 5 months...you'd think I just earned a degree in running gear & customer service. I have learned a whole lot of things I didn't know about breaking down that big wall of shoes. I have learned some new things about fueling. And, most importantly, I have learned to be a better listener.
The next time you need some new running shoes, go to your small specialty running store. Spend the time in there & let go of your own insecurities & ego, and you will get a plethora of information and encouragement from a great group of people. "Real" runners know that no matter the pace, build, mileage...it is all tough...tough mentally, tough physically... a love/hate relationship... a game & you never know when it's your day to win. "Real" runners know that just having the courage to lace up and head out is what makes you a runner...a "real" runner. So don't be afraid to pop into one of these running specialty stores…you just might love it.