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Visiting a Run Specialty Store

RunON Coppell Run Tri Bike Magazine Run Specialty Store

I’ve worked at a local running store for nearly eight years, and one of the biggest myths I’ve heard is “only fast and elite runners shop at local running stores.” This is far from the truth; in fact, many veteran runners know what shoe they like and rarely come into the store.

The average runner that comes into a specialty run store runs 10-20 miles a week, but about half of the people who walk into a specialty running store aren’t using the shoes for running. They are walking regularly or want a pair of comfortable fitting shoes!

Local running stores thrive on helping all sorts of runners. They are happy to help the everyday runner, the runner whose shoe changed and didn’t know where to turn, the injured runner, those who simply walk, and even those who want a comfortable fitting shoe for work. Truthfully, specialty running stores thrive by helping everyone.

First, what is a run specialty store?

Run specialty stores are small stores that carry everything you need to start (or continue) running or walking. They are usually owned by people who have a long history in the sport of running. Most of the employees that work in these stores love running as well. This doesn’t mean employees are elite and professional runners, but it does mean they enjoy running. Usually, running stores hire many different runners, from those who excel in 5ks to marathons, color runs, and trail runners!

Running stores often play a vital role in the local running community, from sponsoring races to helping out local sporting teams.

Why visit a run specialty store?

Visiting a run specialty store can be a positive experience, and you can gain so much more than a new pair of running shoes.

When most people think of a running store, they think “new shoes,” but running stores can provide more than that. They can provide discounts to races, information on good local running routes, or even training groups.

Unlike big box stores and online sources, running employees attend workshops and lectures to learn about each brand of running shoe. They attend training to learn how to fit someone properly and analyze your gait.

Running store staff want to fit the best shoe for you, not sell what looks the best or most trendy. They have been through a great deal of training and have seen many different shoes. They know how certain shoes fit from year to year and take the guesswork out of it for you.

Box stores might carry many different running shoes, but their employees aren’t trained to tell you which is best for you. Knowing which running shoe is best for you is just as important as running in an actual running shoe.

Plus, at specialty running stores, shoes aren’t more expensive than online sources. The shoe will cost the same as purchasing online or from a big box store, plus you get the assurance that you’ve actually purchased the best type and size shoe for your foot.

What to Expect When Visiting a Run Specialty Store:

If you’ve never been into a specialty running store, you might be intimidated. You might think people are judging you, but that is far from the case. Here are a few things to know:

  • Local running stores want what’s best for you. They aren’t judging you, and they have seen everyone from the person who has never run before to the elite runner.
  • Running Store employees are runners themselves. They can relate to your injuries, your PRs, and your chafing woes!
  • The benefits of a local running store don’t stop at shoes. Many local running stores have group runs, training programs, and all the gear to help you run your best.
  • Bring your old running shoes: Don’t be worried the employee will look down on you! We’ve seen everything from decade-old shoes to running in basketball shoes. Bringing your old running shoes gives a better sense of what works and what doesn’t.
  • Ask Questions: Don’t be afraid to ask any questions. You are in charge of your own experience, and to get the most out of your local store, you should ask questions about the things you want to know!
  • Many local running stores have an exchange policy. Running store employees do everything they can to make sure you have the best fit, but you don’t know until you’re running. Running stores often allow you to run outside in the shoes, and if they aren’t working, you can exchange them.

Specialty running stores aren’t scary or intimidating to go into; they thrive in helping all runners succeed, from the newest runner to the veteran runner.


Hollie is a runner, hiker, swimmer, residing in California. She has worked in run specialty for nearly 8 years and has fit hundreds of people for shoes. Outside of the running world, she enjoys the general aviation world, her two cats, and spending time with her spouse.