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You have a choice, you can either go into the big box store or chain running store and get yet another pair of running shoes. These will for sure be pretty and they might be discounted but once you pay for all the other "stuff" the sales guy talked you into, it definitely won't be cheap.
Your second option is to walk into that local running store. You know the specialty kind, the one you have been avoiding because you think it's going to be really expensive and the people will all be pro runners who will look down on you. Or at least that's what I thought before I found my local running store. Heres the trade-off, the "stuff" you will walk away with won't cost you anything but might just change your life.
Which do you choose?
I chose the first one and paid for it for almost a year until the Rock n Roll Phoenix Half Marathon Expo. It was my first half marathon race and as we walked the expo floor, my friend, Brian convinced me that the moon shoes they called Hokas were actually what the real trail runners wore. We walked over to the booth and were helped by a super friendly guy named Emmet. Yes for all you Sole Sports people, that Emmet, and I am sure your story starts very much the same way.
Emmet nicely pulled shoes for Brian to try all while telling us the facts, you know the ones that you don't really know what they mean but on a long run, you pull out of thin air to impress the much more experienced runner in the group. Brian sure as hell bought the shoes and Emmet said: "You should check out Sole Sports". Immediately I fired back with "Isn't that the store that holds group runs and I can't go there, I am wayyyyy to slow, maybe when I get better". Next thing I know I am walking away from the Hoka booth promising Emmet, this guy I just met, that I would come into Sole Sports for a group run after the Half Marathon recovery happened. He promised he would walk, run, or skip with me and he promised that they had a wide range of speeds and experience.
So by now, you are probably thinking "what is that extra FREE "stuff" you were talking about?".
When you walk into a local running store you not only get that new pair of shoes but you get a community that comes with it. Over my last 4-5 years with Sole Sports I have gained more than I have spent, but it was all worth it.
1. Confidence: Running isn't always about how fast or far you go. Most of the time it's about how long you can hold out before you give up. Having a group of like-minded people by your side, pushing you, and cheering you on is the best way to overcome those challenges. When you do overcome them, the mental strength and confidence you develop will not only show in your running but in your personal and professional life.
2. The Right Equipment: This is a simple one, most people who work at a specialty running store are runners. Mind-blowing isn't it? They can talk the talk and can help you decide what are the best products are for you from nutrition to apparel. Heres the best part, when you walk into the store from your long run and that weird pain is back in your whatever, someone in the group, employee or runner, has had it before and will lend advice as to how to fix it.
3. A Social Calendar: News Flash: RUNNING IS LONELY! If you have ever been on a 20miler on your own, you know what I mean. Becoming a part of the community means more people to share those long runs with, events, night runs, hikes, rides, and more. This group won't be asking you out for a long night of drinking on Friday night because they know you will be up at 4 am with them to run! Unlike your non-runner friends, you will never hear "You really can't skip your run?".
4. Relationships: Talking about friends, some of your best friends will now be runners! There is no avoiding that long run awkward conversation about inappropriate things or the rant about how your significant other just doesn't get it or let's face it that talk about poop. You will become close fast and soon you will have stories to tell and trips to take. These people will become your bride's maids, bros, business partners, hotel roommates, boyfriends, and girlfriends, they will know you better then you know yourself. They will push you to do more crazy things and longer races. This is the part that will truly change your life!
5. Become A Better Runner: While all of this fun is going on, you will become more consistent, you will start running faster to keep up, you will start going to more events, and going to sleep earlier in order to wake up earlier. You will start stretching and probably stop the next day. The point is, without even trying and without even knowing it, your training will become better and in turn, so will you. Your PRs will happen both on the race course and in life. Your body will change and become stronger. You will change and become stronger.
So now that I laid it all out for you, which do you choose? The first may fill your life with things but the second will fill your life with more than just another pair of running shoes. I know it did for me.
Visit your local running store today!