Passion and frustration may not stand out as business terms, but for one family of runners, the combined sentiments launched a business: a specialty shoe store they called Up-N-Running.
Ebensburg residents and second-generation store owners, Julie and Kevin Doyle, explain that the family’s running shop idea was born partly from a passion for running and partly from frustration in finding quality service and quality selections of training gear, especially running shoes.
Kevin’s dad, Ed Doyle, an avid runner in his youth, quit the sport to raise a family, but when Kevin took up competitive running in high school, Ed’s love for running was reignited. In 2004, compelled by the desire to serve the area with improved quality and range of running equipment, he opened the family’s first Up-N-Running store in Valencia, north of Pittsburgh.
Eleven years later, Julie and Kevin followed up with Up-N-Running Ebensburg, inspired by the success of the running events they were involved with: the Ebensburg Turkey Trot 5K and the summer Couch to 5K program, to name a few. Both charter members of the Ebensburg Area Running Club, they were also well-connected with runners in the community.
Julie eventually quit her job as a process engineer at a paper mill to pursue her running passion full-time.
Up-N-Running Ebensburg made its debut March 14, 2015, with Julie as the store’s “Chief Running Officer.” Kevin, who manages a team of software developers by day, serves as part-time shoe guru in the evenings and on weekends.
Since Ed’s retirement in 2018, Julie and Kevin have been managing both the Valencia and Ebensburg stores, with the latter location serving as the main retail facility and also the hub for their brand new e-commerce business, shop.runpa.com.
In addition to the typical array of shoe brands and apparel (a full list of products may be found at runpa.com/#products, Up-N-Running also carries a product line called Mad Dash Creations, consisting of lifestyle shirts, drinkware, ornaments, and other home decor items created by Julie.
Asked what particular essentials runners should own besides good shoes, Julie says, “A good pair of technical socks can make a good run great.”
The socks, constructed of moisture wicking material, usually have minimal seams for improved comfort and deep heel pockets to keep them more secure. She advises against cotton socks as they tend to get abrasive when wet.
For advanced runners, a second pair of shoes would be useful too to give each pair time to recover between runs. She suggests that the second pair could be a light-weight trainer for gym workouts or for hill repeats, or a more technical trail shoe for rocky/uneven trails.
Besides a good range of running and walking equipment, Up-N-Running also provides gait analysis to help customers identify their optimum fitting shoe. The gait analysis involves observing how an individual’s arches hit the ground when standing, walking, or running.
“Our arches serve as one of the main shock absorbers for our bodies … since there are different types of shoes for each arch type, it is our job to determine your arch type and fit accordingly into the right type of shoe,” Kevin explains.
Examining wear patterns on old shoes also helps them determine an individual’s gait. “Often you can see exactly how your foot is striking by analyzing wear patterns. So bring an old pair of worn shoes with you next time you go shoe shopping. We also ask questions about any lingering aches and pains which can be indicative of certain biomechanical nuances in your gait,” he adds.
Besides catering to individual runners, the store also is keen to develop its corporate outreach endeavors.
“We can help by organizing an intro-to-running clinic, shoe-fitting clinic, a couch-to-5K program, or anything else to help get employees up n’ running – or walking – and hopefully help drive down insurance costs with a healthier work force,” Kevin says.
As parents themselves of three school-age children, Julie and Kevin also are committed to serving children and youth in the community. Up-N-Running supports the Mountain Top Track & Field Club in Cresson, catering to children 5 years and older, and the Healthy Kids Running Series, a program in the region that introduces running and races to kids ages 2 and up.
Although they are uncertain what their next big business event will be under the prevailing restrictions, the Doyles remain avid supporters of trail running events such as Allegheny Trailrunners activities, which benefit several good causes in central Pennsylvania.
They also are involved with the Nathan’s Divide project, contributing financially and promoting its development by running and hiking the trails and using the lake access for stand-up paddle-boarding with their kids.
Until health conditions improve and the restrictions are lifted, Julie and Kevin are “just excited” to resume the store’s smaller-scale event such as the weekly group runs and monthly “shoes n’ brews” runs, which, as the name implies, typically conclude with adult beverages.
For more information about Up-N-Running, check out its Facebook page as well as website, www.runpa.com.