ed. note: I am off gettin’ married, celebratin’ and so I hope you enjoy all my awesome guest posts over the next few days. Today you’re hearing from my Chef Kefi on five reasons to love your local running store. Thanks, Chef Kefi!
In the DC area, we’re spoiled by a wide selection of brick-and-mortar stores that sell quality running gear—not to mention the allure of online outlets and discounts. But, no matter how convenient the City Sports location or how good the sneaker sale on Amazon gets, I always find myself back at one of my local running stores (LRS). Here’s why:
#1- Employees who know what they’re talking about. For years I was that person—if a running shoe gets me through a run, who cares what “type” of shoe it is? I bought based on comfort, quality, and color scheme—until, that is, a kind soul at Pacers Ballston convinced me to get up on that in-store treadmill and take a look at my stride and what it might mean for my shoe choice. Sure enough—I had been wearing stability shoes (which help move your weight to the outside of your foot) when my natural stride already had me using the outside of my feet too much. I switched from stability shoes to neutral shoes, and it actually made a difference. One of the best things about LRS for me is the amazing knowledge pretty much every employee seems to have—from sneak type to types of shoe ties, I don’t think I’ve ever had a question somebody at a LRS didn’t have a good answer to.
#2-Easy returns with runners in mind. Still think the $20 you save by buying from an online store is worth skipping a trip to your LRS? It took me several tries (and, admittedly, quite a few bad runs) to find which brand’s neutral shoe was right for me. Pacers let me try, run in, and return two different Saucony neutrals before I found my stride in a Brooks model—try doing that at Kelly’s Running Warehouse, where once you wear ‘em, you own ‘em!
#3- Fun Runs/ Training Groups. Pretty much all LRS host fun runs and training groups, which is a great way to get to know new runners, new routes, and new races. Back when I first decided to be a “real runner,” I signed up for a 10k training group through DC RoadRunners hosted by the Georgetown Running Company (read about our gracious host Courtney’s training group at Potomac River Running Store here). The store let us stow our stuff during long runs, gave us discounts on gear, and hosted injury, form, and nutrition seminars for us before and after runs—basically, they took all the scary stuff out of starting to run. After the training group was over, a lot of us kept up with our mileage by showing up for free running groups hosted at different stores throughout the area—Georgetown Running Company is home to a great Saturday Long Run, Pacers has a 5am run for early birds, and Potomac River Running Downtown is a great place to get going after a long day of work. If you want to run in a pack, there’s a store with a group for you.
#4- New Gear Tryouts. Not only will your local running store get you running in the right shoe and host all kinds group runs—they’ll let you try out your new shoes for free during those fun runs. If you’re into having the latest technology, check out the brand-sponsored fun runs, where a company rep shows up with a bunch of sizes/styles of the season’s new shoes and lets you wear them out on your group run. If you like them, buy them. Don’t like them? Send those stinky sneakers right back with the company rep.
#5- Local Running Stores are big supporters of local running. Hopefully by now I’ve convinced you that supporting your local running store will be a huge benefit to you as a runner. But—maybe more importantly—local running stores are a huge benefit to the sport of running and to your local running community. When I think about my favorite quintessential DC race, it’s GOT to be the GW Parkway Classic, part of a big local race series sponsored by Pacers. During this year’s nasty winter, who kept me up to date on the state of my local running trail? Why, my local running store of course! And who do you think all those super-knowledgeable, always-down-to-talk-racing, have-the-perfect-GU-recommendation employees of local running stores are? Often, they’re local pro and semi-pro runners your local running store employs during off seasons or injuries so they can focus on training even when the prize money isn’t rolling in.
Show your local running store some love! What’s your favorite thing about LRS? Who’s the best where you live?
ChefKefi is an RN by day interested in running and triathlons, community health, food justice, and The New Yorker. A Greek American who grew up in the vinyl booths of a family-owned New Jersey diner, she is obsessed with making gluten-free, refined-sugar-free food YiaYia would be proud of. Check out her recipes at www.cookingupkefi.com or follow her on Twitter @ChefKefiRN