ROBERTO “Toby” Claudio, Jr. hated running because of his bad back and anterior cruciate ligament injury.
But he later found out that with the proper form and correct pair of shoes, he could run despite his bad back and knee injury. Now, the eponymous eldest son of Toby’s Sports founder Roberto Claudio, Sr. regularly runs and has even finished the half-marathon. He’s still planning to run his first full marathon and is considering doing it during the Cebu City Marathon on Jan. 10, 2010.
“Running is not as easy as it looks. It’s hard on the body,” Claudio said in a briefing last Saturday for Cebu journalists and bloggers on the opening in the city of his running specialty store RUNNR.
From “zero running,” Claudio said he was able to regularly run relatively injury-free after learning the proper running form, particularly ChiRunning, and wearing correct shoes.
“Many still use improper footwear for running. That and the lack of proper technique can cause pains. Then they stop,” Claudio said. “The solution is to get the right shoes. Choosing the wrong shoes can cause a lot of problems.”
Problems caused by wearing the wrong type of shoes are something RUNNR can help people avoid.
The store is known for its Footworx, an integrated system that helps people pick the right pair of shoes based on their foot type and the way they run.
The system consists of the Footdisc Analysis System to determine foot type. After that, the customer is then made to run on a treadmill for a high speed video gait analysis. Using a camera, the system checks the customer’s pronation angle as he or she runs. The customer can then compare different pairs of shoes to find out which works best for him or her. After that, the store can then craft a custom insole using its “Flashfit” molding process while the customer waits.
Claudio said RUNNR’s custom insoles, which are really custom-made and not like the generic orthotics being sold elsewhere, costs between P3,000 to P4,000. And if the insoles start to get out of shape, they can be re-flashed in the store for free.
“These customized services ensure that whatever one’s requirements as a runner, the shoes and optional insoles minimize foot instability for better shock absorption, and minimize fatigue while reducing the chances of injury,” the company said in a statement.
Claudio said the gait analysis system will be offered to customers for free.
“It will always be for free but we’ll be setting up a queuing system especially for busy days,” he said.
To discourage the practice of groups of people deciding to have their gaits analyzed just because one member of their group had it done, Claudio said they might require token purchases like buying socks for those who won’t buy shoes in busy days.
Claudio said that when he went to New York City, the world’s running mecca, he checked out running stores and found a few that had treadmills on which customers can run to test out their shoes. He said he found at least three with video gait analysis systems but none with the advanced software that RUNNR uses. He said no store offered the integrated system that RUNNR offers its customers.
Claudio said RUNNR had the gait analysis system custom-made in Germany for running. Using the system, RUNNR employees can determine which pair of shoes works best for a certain customer.
He said his company’s goal is to train its workers to a point that by merely looking at a customer take three steps into the store, he or she would know the shoe type for that person.
Claudio said that they decided to open their second RUNNR store in Cebu because they see it as an underserved market.
“Every major city in the world has a running store. Cebu is a major city,” he said.
RUNNR Cebu will open in the Active Zone of Ayala Center Cebu in the first week of December.
He said RUNNR offers more than just a good lineup of products but a total store experience. He said a distinguishing design element of the store are panoramic environmental graphics that inspire people to run.
Apart from these, RUNNR also sells books and educational materials on running. It will also have information kiosks to guide people on running.
“RUNNR will have everything that you need to enjoy running to the fullest,” Claudio said.
But when asked by broadcaster, lawyer and runner Haide Acuña what he would recommend to someone who has never run and who finds his or her way into the store, Claudio said, “I won’t even recommend that they buy a pair of shoes. Buy a good running book.”
More than just a market, running is an advocacy for his company, Claudio said.
“Some people still have not discovered the joys of running,” he said. They plan to spread running through regular clinics in the store. He said RUNNR is looking for a local running coach who can be tapped for the store and for the clinics.
He said the mission of RUNNR is to get people into the sport and to help those who are already in it.
Claudio, who runs only in Newton Running Shoes, stressed the importance of the local government supporting the sport as a way to improve tourism.
“When you run, you realize how much you are capable of,” Claudio said.
He said he uses running to de-stress and “when I have a bad day, I really need to run.”