Thoughts While Working at a Running Store

Thoughts While Working at a Running Store

When I asked what people were interested in on the fueledbylolz Facebook page, many people requested to post more about working at a running store, shoes, and random thoughts.

I’ve wanted to have a weekly post from working at running store, so if you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments below.Thoughts While Working at a Running Store

Keep in mind; I’m not a professional, expert, or a coach.  However, I do work at a run specialty store, know my shoes (and apparel), and of course, love to run. 🙂

I enjoy my job because I’m around a sport I love; however, work does not revolve around my running or blog. It revolves around the people we help and their running. I’ve worked through injuries, personal life, and everything in between. Whether I am running well or not, I still go to work. It’s fun to talk running with customers.

About Me:

I worked in a running store for 7 years before moving from New Jersey to California. I miss it and I always advise people to get fitted at your local running store. What works for me might not work for you.

Here are a few common questions I’ve gotten since working in a running store:

Should you Lose Toenails?

If you lose toenails, it’s because your shoes are the wrong size.  I wrote about this more here. If your shoe is too short or narrow, you will lose toenails.  Your feet swell when you run, and you need to accommodate that in running shoes. It’s important to buy a half to a full size bigger than dress shoes. For example, I wear a size 9 in dress shoes and 10 or even larger running shoes.

Shoes should never feel snug.  You can face a lot of problems with too tight or shoes, such as stress fractures or sore tendons.  There are minimal issues with having your shoes a little bigger. (Basically, just tripping). I think arguing with people to go up a half size is one of my least favorite things about working at a running store.

What Shoe is Right for Me? 

A running shoe might work for you but not work for me. I could write a million blog reviews about running shoes, but that doesn’t mean the shoe will work for you.

It’s silly to read something on the internet and decide it’s the shoe (or isn’t) for you because of someone else’s experience.  We all have different foot shapes, sizes, gaits, and strides.

I tell people if you aren’t injured and it’s worked, go with it. 

If it feels comfortable…go with it.

I wrote more about running shoe reviews here and the importance of rotating shoes.

Ask yourself: Would you believe an article titled “Is your significant other a great catch for everyone”?

There are many running shoes for many different foot types.  I cannot stress enough about getting fit for the correct shoe.  Without the right shoe, you won’t make it very far.  Go to your local running store.  They’ll be able to narrow down appropriate shoes for you (not based on how a shoe “looks.” Seriously trust the people working at a running store. They see a lot of feet and gaits.

Does the right clothing matter? Is it important to use moisture-wicking socks? 

The right clothing and moisture-wicking socks prevent blisters. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been mid-run and found myself sweaty and chafing. Not to mention the ten blisters on my feet. The right clothing prevents those “annoying running problems”.

Finally, here are some common comments we receive while working at a running store(don’t think you are the only one to say it):

  • The first thing most customers say is they have “the worst feet in the world.”   As long as your feet don’t smell, they aren’t the worst.
  • I’m not a “serious” runner…anyone who is looking to get fitted for shoes is serious, don’t sell yourself short!
  • I want a lightweight shoe that breathes well. Believe me, running shoes went to lightweight and “breath easy” a few years back.  All running shoes are lightweight.  Running shoes are just getting lighter and brighter.

If you have any questions about running shoes, work, or products, feel free to ask.  I am thinking about creating a weekly series about it!

If you are looking to learn more about shoe advice I wrote an ebook or you can subscribe to my weekly newsletter about all things running.

Questions for you:
Have you been fitted for shoes before?
Do you have any questions for those working at a running store?  

Categories: Tags: , , , ,


  1. OK I love this. Because we have a locally owned running store one minute from my house and I think I’ve set mostly all of those comments to The people who work there.
    I keep telling them they need to hire me for all of the distance-walker customers who may come through their doors 🙂

  2. I can’t believe I used to buy my running shoes based on the color and no concern about the fit. When I finally got fitted, it made a HUGE difference. And thankfully, I have never lost a toe nail!

  3. You know my saga with shoes, I was totally distraught when Brooks discontinued the Pure Connect and even more sad when I didn’t love the Pure Flow 5…but I am soooo very happy with the Pure Flow 6! I recently switched to a new local running store. I had some bad experiences with the store that I was going to, and there is one that is actually closer to my house anyway. I tried them out last time I bought shoes and it was a great experience!

  4. I always go to a locally owned running store for my shoes. I have never felt the need to go up from my normal shoe size. I have really narrow feet, and my normal 7.5 usually works. I’ve tried going up to an 8 and my feet just move around way too much in the shoe. My husband just recently got fitted for running shoes for the first time and he’s obsessed.

  5. I have been fitted and just buy the normal neutral, not too cushy, not too low in support running shoes. For awhile I tried zero drop New Balances and then minimalist Newton running shoes. I hated the zero drop (OUCH) but I LOVE Newtons. An annoying ankle prob though prevents me from wearing anything with too low of a drop I have found because of the angle it puts my ankle in. SO I went back to some veryyyy old Nike Pegasus and those were OK. I am looking more into the New Balance Fresh Foam series and I want to give that a go once I can run again.

    Also, how fun to work at a running store!!!

    1. Interesting, many of the Fresh Foam have a lower heel to toe drop. Best of luck getting back into running 🙂

  6. I have never been fitted for a running shoe and need to, maybe I’ll come visit you lol

  7. I have spectacularly tiny/narrow feet so I’ve had struggles at local running stores–they almost never have my size in stock so I sort of have to guestimate and then have them order shoes for me online. It seems crazy to me with all of the variation available in running shoes that so few come in widths (I need a 2A, which means my choices are super limited). Would love to give my local stores more business, though–maybe I’ll venture back in soon!

    1. It’s definitely the hardest to find 2A sized shoes because many run so narrow now. At our running store, we do not carry any 2A because we typically see 1-2 people per year that need it, so we can order them for them. 🙂

  8. Whenever I was fitted for shoes, I think they did a terrible job. It wasn’t very customized. But now I just don’t run, so I solved that problem! I totally think clothes help though. I used to have the mentality that it was insane to spend so much on workout clothes, and now I will invest more in workout clothes than anything else. I have found items I LOVE. I actually was thinking today how much use I’ve gotten out of my super expensive Lululemon Run Swiftly shirts. I’ve had this one for 5 years and wear them for everything. Working out, hiking, lazy days. And cotton gets so sweaty and stretches out so much, and I love that clothes that are made for working out actually work. Because I’m so petite, a lot of the cheaper options don’t fit as well (most of the XS are still huge on me) which is unfortunate. I feel like TJ Maxx and Marshall’s and even Target have some nice looking stuff, but I can never fit into it. Man, this was long and pointless, haha.

  9. I work at a running store as well (Running Room in Toronto). A common misconception that I hear, is that you can buy shoes and although they might feel off when you buy them, you’ll break them in and all will be well. NO!!

  10. I’ve been fitted a few times. I always get refitted after an injury, but I was actually fitted for the wrong shoes once! That store is now closed down, but they put me in stability shoes when I didn’t need them. I was training just fine in my neutral shoes and injury free. I do think everyone should get fitted for shoes and buy them at a local running store occasionally… I usually buy online now but that’s because I know what I need. Often local running stores can have a wealth of knowledge on injuries though. The lady at ours REALLY helped me by making me a custom orthotic for mine recently.

    1. That’s interesting but I suppose not everyone’s perfect. The interesting part is as an industry, it’s moving more towards neutral fittings versus putting people in extra stability. I hope you heal quickly Amy!

      1. Yeah, I don’t hold anything against the people who mis-fitted me. They’re human and like everyone else makes mistakes at work sometimes, I guess they did too. I do like neutral shoes so much better, they seem a bit lighter (although some stability shoes like the Mizuno Wave Inspire are fairly light too).

  11. I have said all 3 of those common comments getting fitted for shoes and never will again. You’re so right someone who isn’t a serious runner would NEVER be in a store getting fitted for shoes HA!

  12. The toenail part was super helpful and made me feel confident in the Altras (those new Eco ones… haven’t run in Altras before so I’ll use them sparingly at first. They are soo comfy) I just bought. I am in between sizes and the larger ones felt too big but the smaller ones were way too small. I was tempted to go with the smaller ones. My friend works at this running store and is an ultra trail runner ( a really good youngster ) and he was fitting me and said definitely go with the bigger ones (he said for HIM at the end of the race his feet are welcoming extra space!). Thanks for the reassurance 🙂

  13. We hear so many of these questions as coaches… and we artfully steer them over to you 😀

  14. So many people are proud of losing toenails; I am proud that I haven’t — yet, anyway.

    And yes, about once a year, I stop by an actual running store and get fitted.

  15. I’ve never lost a toenail running, but did hiking once & it was the WORST.

    I’ve been fitted several times before, but cruised along just fine buying new models of the Brooks Ravenna until all of a sudden one version was dramatically different, bought a pair, hated them, went in to get fitted. I’m usually rotating 2-3 pairs of shoes at a time, so once I find something I like I’m set for a while. I got fitted again, though sadly the prettiest shoe was NOT the one that worked for me, and then found a great deal & was able to score 2 more pairs of shoes for the price of 1, so I’m set again for a while.

    It pains me to see people running in ANY OLD GYM SHOE. I just wonder if they’re in pain the way I am watching them!

  16. I was fitted a few years ago into a Mizuno Inspire and have just kept repurchasing since. However, I have noticed that the design has changed so much on the last couple of versions and has left me with the world’s largest blister on the ball of my foot. I’m assuming it was the shoe, but could this be a fit problem?

    1. Mizunos have been redesigning their shoes a lot in the last few models. Blisters on the bottom of your feet are generally more of a sock issue though!

  17. TMI but my feet are anatomically slightly abnormal in that my second toe is as long as my big toe i.e. longer than is normal for shoes. So where most shoes start to narrow after the big toe area, I need a little bit of extra space. I find this irritates those two toenails when I run for 10k upwards but otherwise is fine. Going up even an extra half-size means I end up with too much space and it’s literally just for two toes so I just put up with it! 😉 I always get fitted though! I have one normal arch and one slightly flat/collapsed so benefit from people in the know helping me with shoes rather than risking it alone! (Yes my feet are a barrel of fun to accommodate! lol!) Am due a pair actually so thanks for the reminder! 😉

  18. YES to all of this! So many people “have the worst feet” and “aren’t real runners.” Guess what, folks: we’ve seen it all, and if you run, then you’re a runner!

Comments are closed.