My ultimate running goal race is to run a half marathon the year of (or before) my 40th birthday. Running a half marathon is going to be a challenge and will require some specialist running gear, both for the training and the race itself. So I set out to visit each of the three specialist running stores in Brisbane that I know. Yes, there are numerous Sports Power, Rebel Sport, Amart All Sports, etc., etc., stores, but these stores really cater to the mass fitness market, not the serious runner. Their gear is okay if you are trying to run 10 km, but not really up to standard once you get into endurance events.
First off, let me declare that I am biased — I am a member of the Intraining Running and Triathlon Club.
The three stores that I visited were the The Run Inn (Enoggera), Active Stride (South Brisbane) and Intraining Running Centre (Milton). All three stores advertise in running magazines such as Runners’ World and Run for Your Life. I visited the three stores with the particular aim of finding some running shorts that could hold a few GUs in some back pockets. My preference is not to use a running belt. I was also in the market from some anti-chafe cream and some running socks.
The Run Inn was a bit of a disappointment. Parking was difficult with no nearby street parking. They had two spaces in their driveway, but even this was difficult – a cautious driver would struggle to reverse out into two lanes of traffic queuing at the nearby traffic lights. The Run Inn web site states that it is an Asics specialist running store (read very limited range of other brands). It also has some 2XU gear too. I have to say, I didn’t get a particularly friendly vibe from the staff (I think they were the store owners?). Another couple with a child were in the store at the same time I was. It seems that their child had wandered off and separated the lid of a drink bottle from the bottle itself. After a brief search did not turn up the lid, the female staff person tried to make the couple buy the drink bottle. It seems that the lid eventually turned up and the couple bought a running shirt. Given that I was in the store with my two young girls, it was not a particularly good vibe. I bought a stick of Striderm, but will not bother going back.
Active Stride, while nicely presented, has a somewhat clinical feel to it. I have been in a couple of times and the staff are always friendly, saying g’day and chatting about upcoming events and the customer’s running activities. Perhaps they need some sales training to then make the link between the runner’s needs and the products in store? The product range is okay, but not fantastic. I have not yet bought anything from there, but I am sure that I will eventually given that I have a client just around the corner.
Intraining Running Centre, in my view, is the best of the bunch. It has a good vibe with people coming and going all the time. The store is well presented, without having a sterile feel to it. Numerous training groups leave from there throughout the week making the store feel like it is right in the groove for the active runner. The staff are great — helpful and friendly. They also have podiatrists and sports massage therapists operating from the store. Again, they have an okay product range, but I did not manage to find a suitable pair of running shorts. I thought they were the most likely to have them given their involvement in the Brisbane Marathon Festival.
So that leaves the question, “Where is the category killer running store in Brisbane?” The killer shop that stocks all the products of all the brands, including the speciality brands, such as Race Ready, and speciality gear, like comfortable marathon running shorts with pockets in the back?
I eventually ended up buying my running shorts from Race Ready over the internet. At Australia’s current exchange rate, it was not that expensive either when the cost of freight is included. No doubt I will comment on the gear when it arrives, and if it is okay, probably buy a couple of hundred dollars more gear from them over the next 12 months.