I gave up on shoe stores about two years ago after growing to hate everything that they were trying to sell me. I detested being told by a salesperson that I needed more support in my arches. I didn’t want to be sold the latest and greatest in cushioning and motion-control technology. My feet were designed to spring-load my stride, and my natural biomechanics shouldn’t be compromised by high-tech casts of foam and gel.
So, to prevent the pain of trying to explain to the salesperson that I’m a minimalist runner and I just want to buy that neutral pair of racing flats for my training, I started buying all of my shoes online. This technique works, but it can be very frustrating. UPS is fast, but no one likes waiting a few days for new shoes. Sizing always presents an issue, and if you get really lucky you get it right the first time. And what happens if you just don’t like the way a new pair feels? Sending them back and ordering a new pair takes forever.
But, you see, I really hate the shoe store experience. So I deal with the online ordering frustration. At least I did until today.
Boston Street Running
Earlier this week, a friend asked if I’d ever been to Boston Street Running. “I’ve never even heard of them,” I replied, biting my tongue to prevent myself from expressing my hatred of such establishments. He suggested I go check them out because they have a really cool logo (it is true; I’ve never seen a cooler running logo). For some reason I promised him I’d go do some recon this weekend. I’ve been to all of the shoe stores in Baltimore and really couldn’t stand any of them, so I kept my expectations very low.
I drove downtown and found the shop very easily. It sits in a great part of Baltimore City, almost directly across the street from the old Can Company building on Boston Street. “Here goes nothing,” I thought. But, from the very first moment I stepped inside the shop, I could tell this place isn’t your typical running store. This place screams minimalist running.
Lined with none of your typical running shoe brands, the shoe walls hold all of the best minimalist brands around: K-Swiss, Pearl Izumi, Altra Zero-Drop, and (coming very soon) Skora, among others. The shoes stock the walls in an order that the store’s owner, Miguel, prides himself on (and of which I completely approve). The shoes are lined from most- to least-controlling, that is, they go from least minimalist (actually, just barely pushing the runner in the right direction) to most minimalist. Understanding that the typical runner that enters Boston Street Running has been using heavyweight cushioned shoes for quite a while, Miguel will make sure each one finds the proper starting spot on the wall with the intent of transitioning all the way down to zero-drop glory.
Needless to say, I’m never going to hassle with online shoe buying again. I’ve found my shoe store, and its a shoe store that Baltimore has sorely needed. You’re likely to meet me at one of their 8 am Sunday morning group runs, as I plan to join them as often as possible. The guys and girls over at Boston Street Running know what they’re doing, and I couldn’t be happier that they’ve opened this shop. I 100% certify their ideas about minimalist running, their super-awesome logo, and their running dogma: “Run Free.” Be sure to go check them out, and tell them I sent you!