My first trip to the running store

Today, I had two hours to kill during my open house (shameless plug), so I decided to head to Ken Combs Running Store to invest in a good pair of running shoes.

I’ve avoided the running store thus far because I was afraid someone might recognize me as a non-runner and immediately point his finger at me and yell, “Interloper!” Then, collectively, everyone inside would chase me out of the store. And seeing as how they would have running experience and I don’t, they would easily catch me.

I walked into the store and immediately felt a little overwhelmed. Shoes, compression gear, socks and other equipment I didn’t even recognize were all over the place. And it was busy. There were several sales associates helping people, but more customers were waiting. I walked around, looking at the offerings, thinking to myself, “What are you doing here? They can smell the non-runner scent on you. Just slink out the door and no one will notice you were here.”

The ceiling of Ken Combs is littered with marathon flags

I decided to take a look at the shoes (since that was the whole reason for the trip in the first place), even though I had no idea which pair I needed. As I was staring at a pair of green and yellow shoes with fancy mesh and lightning bolts, Joe approached and asked if anyone needed help.

I told Joe that I was just beginning to run, so I didn’t even know what questions I was supposed to ask. He seemed to perk up at the thought of helping a newbie. We moved to some benches, and Joe told me to remove my shoes.

That’s when I realized my socks didn’t match.

Unmatching socks

Look closely. They're not the same.

Joe had me walk around the store, observing my awkward gait and weird, wide feet. It turns out I don’t have much of an arch, and I roll in on my ankle to compensate. He then measured each foot (confirming my footbesity – a size 12 1/2E). He disappeared into the back of the store to find the perfect pair of shoes.

Up first – a blue pair of Brooks. Joe diligently explained the technology that went into designing and making the shoe – but not so much that it was all over my head. The shoes had some sort of cornstarch-like material developed by Brooks that gradually changes the contour of the sole to fit the runner’s anatomy. I slipped them on. They were instantly the best shoes I’ve ever worn. I felt like all the bones in my body aligned, and I was two feet taller. He encouraged me to take a jog outside in them, so I wandered out onto the sidewalk, thinking the whole time that any other store would grimace at the thought of a customer exiting the store with unpaid merchandise. I loved these shoes, but Joe wasn’t done.

The second pair I tried on were a blue pair of Asics. They weren’t designed with the same amount of support as the Brooks, and it showed. And even though they were the same size, they were loose and clunky on my feet. Joe retrieved a smaller pair (a 12E), but they just didn’t feel as good as the Brooks.

A pair of New Balance running shoes were up next. They were engineered to provide more support around the whole foot, and while I liked them, they didn’t give me the same “feeling” as the Brooks.

In the end, I took home a pair of blue Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12 running shoes.

Shiny! New!

My original budget was $100, and these were listed at $109.99. With a 10% discount for signing up for the store’s listserv, my total came to $104.93. A little over budget, but well worth the experience. Besides, this exact pair of shoes retails for $110 on the Brooks website, and that doesn’t include shipping. And I wouldn’t have even known that I needed that extra sole support to begin with.

Which brings me to an aside. There was something uniquely Louisville about Ken Combs. As a community, we’re fiercely proud of our local businesses. Ken Combs, as far as I know, is the only locally owned running store left in Louisville (EDIT: I was reminded about Swags Sport Shoes), and it’s definitely an establishment we should be proud of. The selection, knowledge, and most of all, the service, are attributes we have to be careful not to take for granted.

Thanks, guys!

So, now I’ve got good shoes. One less excuse not to run.

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12 responses to “My first trip to the running store

  1. Congrats on the shoe purchase. Now its time to dirty them up.
    And don’t forget there’s another excellent local running store that’s as equally helpful and knowledge, Swag’s. They have 2 locations now. I’ve only been to the original on old 3rd st, out past Iroquois park. Ask for Swag himself. Check them out at http://www.swagssportshoes.com ( they have a race calendar too)

  2. Nice shoes! Good for you! I wonder if Ken Combs could help someone who will never run, but would be seriously interested in some shoes that she can WALK in? I have the opposite problem of yours…my arches are fine, but my left foot rolls to the outside, which hurts my ankle and my knee. I’m glad you had such a positive experience there.

    • Mary Beth, they were pretty thorough with analyzing my foot and the way I walk. I bet they’d be able to help you.

      • Mary Beth

        YOU BET…..I’ll wait on you my self if you want real pampering.
        In either way come see us….or call me 502 417 0386

        we want you happy!

  3. I LOVE Ken Combs store. I’ve purchased 3 pairs of shoes from them since I’ve started running. They always have time for me and are helpful when I tell them my budget. I’m currently also in a pair of Brooks. The Ghost line. I got 10% off when I followed them on Twitter.

    Mary Beth, they can certainly help you.

  4. Okay , free socks for all you nice people. Remind me next time your in …..Chris or I will get you the socks…I know you shop here not to be rewarded by socks but just say it’s a Christmas Gift. 😀
    Dawn, Mary Beth, Glenn…..Balega socks too , the best (or another brand if you prefer.)

    Larry Holt

  5. Love my Brooks too! They felt so nice the first time I tried them out at the fancing running store in Austin. AND it turns out that my running shoe size is 2 sizes bigger than my regular shoe size. I guess to avoid my toenails falling off. 🙂 Hope you keep your toenails.

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