Helping South Enders Find Their Stride

July 28, 2017 6:15 am

When Nathan Leehman was 25 years old, he decided running would no longer be a part of his life.

“I remember saying “Wow, I guess I’m just too old to run now,”” Leehman says.

“What I’d find is I’d go out and run a mile or two and I’d get shin splints or whatever.”

Years later, Leehman isn’t only a runner, he’s an ultramarthoner who runs races lasting over 100 miles at a time and helps other runners find their stride through his business, Ultra Running Company. Leehman opened the first Ultra location three and a half years ago in Myers Park and opened a second location a year and a half ago in the South End neighborhood.

“We started the store with the idea that we could focus more on how people were running than what we were trying to sell them,” Leehman says.

When Leehman first got back into running after taking a hiatus at 25, he recognized the need to focus on correct form in order to best use his energy and prevent injury.

“It’s a sport like any other. There are skills associated with it and ways that you can do it that are better and more efficient.”

At Ultra Running Company, Lehman and his team focus on finding the correct type of gear that someone needs in order to run their best, focusing on the goals of each individual runner who could be just starting out or gearing up for their next ultramarathon. 

“We have a road section, we have a trail section and we have a mixed shoe section if you want to do a little bit of both,” says South End store manager David Cross. Cross and Leehman both credit the knowledge of Ultra Running Company employees to their running expertise, calling out that everyone who works at the store is a runner, varying from long distance runners to record-setting sprinters.

When getting fitted for shoes, visitors are talking to an expert who shares their same passion for the sport. After the initial try on, each customer takes a quick jog on the in-store treadmill so the team can take a look at their foot strike and ensure they’re getting the perfect fit.

“When we’re done with the transaction and the purchase of the shoes, it’s not done there,” says Cross. “They’re always welcome to come back and learn more. We want to build that relationship.”

This goal of building the relationship and helping people learn more about running is why Ultra hosts a weekly running clinic at their South End store. Each week, runners of all experience levels can stop by for a free lesson on the topic of the week before taking off on a group run on the Rail Trail with members of the Ultra Running Company team.

“Each week we focus on one thing. We don’t want to overcomplicate this. It’s not that hard, it’s just that no one’s ever been told how to do it,” says Leehman.

Whether someone is just starting out or has been pounding the pavement for years, Ultra Running Company has the gear and the service to help South End runners reach their goals.

“We want make sure people are enjoying what they’re doing as much as we do,” says Leehman.

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