How We Started
Ongkar Tony Smith opened the first Run and Become branch in London in 1982. He had taken up running a few years previously and always struggled to find a good selection of running shoes and clothing, not to mention advice, so he was inspired to start a business that would cater for all runners.
At that time purely running shops didn’t exist. We started as a sports shop offering shoes for many different disciplines but majoring in running. Over the years we gradually phased out the other sports as athletic brands produced a greater selection of running shoes and apparel, and by the time our second branch opened in Edinburgh in 1991 we were a true running specialist.
At about this time Nike brought out the first Air cushioned shoe. The technology in running shoes was expanding, shoes were getting softer, which made running easier for some but also caused problems with stability. We observed how the softer shoes allowed the foot to compress the cushioning more in the areas where greater weight was going through the stride, so if someone had flat arches the shoes would compress more on the medial side. This resulted in the knee turning in slightly to allow the extra movement, and the Achilles twisting, putting more pressure on the calf muscle to keep the leg straight. So, the new shoes were more comfortable, making distance running easier for most, but were causing new problems. We weren’t the only people to spot this, the shoe companies quickly picked up on the problem and started putting firmer density cushioning under the arch of some shoes, to prevent feet from rolling in too much – over-pronating – and this threw up a new question; how were runners to know what type of support they needed? Specialist running shops were still few and far between. At the time we were the first shop to use gait analysis to assess people’s running style and advise them on the correct footwear for their stride. As shoes developed, and the choice of styles increased massively, this service became of paramount importance to our customers.
Testing various ‘gait analysis machines' over the years, we would somehow always came back to our Natural Gait Analysis. Simply because people's running style changes massively when running on a treadmill compared to running on a hard surface. We've learned that with the right training and experience, watching a runner reacting to the ground and their surroundings gives the fullest, most comprehensive picture of how the body moves and what its needs.
In 1996 we expanded our London branch into the shop next door – we had no intention of going back on our pledge to stock the fullest range any runner could need, so as full ranges started to appear in racing shoes, trail shoes and fell, we needed more space! Then in 1999 we opened our third branch in Cardiff. And as TimeOut stated we were ‘keeping the capitals running’.
Click images for details