As you might guess from the name above its door, Walk, Run & More in Grande Prairie, Alberta is a different type of run shop. Since its inception eight years ago, founder Lisa Lauzon has built her business around the inclusivity she first experienced as a new runner, coming to the sport in her late thirties.
“I was tricked into running,” Lisa says. When a friend convinced her to sign up for what she thought to be a boot-camp-style fitness class, she found herself in a triathlon training group! But she was committed, so she persevered. “Turns out I suck at biking, I’m not a great swimmer, but running wasn’t too bad! Turns out I kind of love it.”
As she began her training, though, she got stuck by the intimidation that so many new runners feel just starting out. “I felt like a ‘wannabe’ runner,” she recalls. “Going into a general sporting goods store, as a middle aged non-athlete, and saying I needed a running shoe, and just thinking everyone would be pointing and laughing.”
A trip through some run shops throughout Alberta, however, put her immediately at ease. The welcome embrace she felt there was such a positive, reaffirming experience that she decided that her hometown needed a place like that, too.
Drawing on her experience working in radio advertising, as well as her family’s long-standing local appliance store, she opened up Walk, Run & More in 2010. Starting with her staff, she sought to make it a place where not just runners, but anyone looking to start and stay active would feel welcome.
“For the most part, we’re all pushy, know-it-all, middle-aged moms,” she jokes. “We’ve got no problem giving advice, making real recommendations based on what we’re seeing and what people are telling us.”
Really, it’s right there in the name. “Running can seem scary and only for fast and fit people,” Lisa explains. “But whether you’re walking, running, hiking, or mowing your lawn – it’s just about getting active and moving. Walk is the first word in there because that’s where we all start. We’re not so run-focused. It’s a bonus, but it’s not everything.”
Lisa has come a long way on her own journey, and to turn around and encourage fellow “wannabes” is now one of the joys of her job. “To get in on that journey and watch them develop and gain confidence in whatever their athletic aims, it’s the most awesome thing in the world.”
In her time, she’s happily seen her relaxed approach filter out into the wider run community of Grande Prairie. “About the time I was opening the store, the specialty run club in Grande Prairie changed its name to the Run Walk Club and started running clinics strictly for beginners. We got 150 people out for that very first session – to a club that only had 30 people!” Lisa is proud to report that number has now grown to over 500.
“It’s not about doing it fast,” Lisa says of the running clinics and local races she sponsors. “It’s just about doing it, doing it together and making it fun.”
And that’s an idea everyone can get behind.