minutes per mile blog

interviewing lee wilson, owner of nashville running company

Good morning! Instead of my typical rundown (see what I did there) today, I’ve got a special interview to share. I had the chance to hold a Q&A with Lee Wilson, owner of Nashville Running Company. This local store has been supporting the Nashville running community for three years and has a really great collection of shoes, gear, and apparel. Here’s more about the story behind the store!nashville_running_company_east_DSC0316
What did you do before you opened NRC?
Prior to NRC, I sold capital equipment for a division of Johnson & Johnson here in Nashville and prior to residing in Nashville we lived in NYC where I sold software around the U.S. across multiple market verticals. Doing what I do now is much more enjoyable than anything I’ve done in the past. Now, in contrast to my past, all of the work we do at NRC is much more meaningful and hopefully something that has a lasting affect on many individuals.Capture
How do you decide what products to order?
Some of it was preference and some of it was political. I wanted specialty brands that focused on product quality and loyalty as well as help support small and local business. I grew up in Oregon and it was Nike central. We’ll never carry Nike. We try not to carry brands you can find at every store you walk into…from Nordstrom to TJ Maxx.
When I say some of it’s political: some “larger” brands in specialty running stores play the game and are either scared or tied to larger chains and/or big box so don’t want to take a chance with small business. I don’t lose sleep over it and I don’t get into the drama and politics of it all. We do well with what we have, know our products, and in my mind every brand has some great products…it’s our job to help find which product is best for the customer.Capture
What are some of your best sellers?
In the footwear arena, our top three brands are Mizuno, Newton, and Pearl Izumi.nashville_running_company_east_DSC0308
What do you love most about your job?
Other than no more Monday morning conference calls going over sales numbers and spreadsheets with some Type-A wack job? Joking…kind of.
Honestly, as anyone with a small business knows, it takes time to build and you try to do the right things to build it by being smart with your resources. In saying that, I love talking about what I love to do all day long. Our team at the stores is tremendous. We’ve been lucky since the beginning to have such great people to work with and they’ve made it fun and so far, after three years, we’re still alive. So, I guess we’re doing something right.Capture
You ran in college. What was it like to compete at that level?
I didn’t amount to what I wanted to at Oregon but competing there was unlike anything else. Walking on and making the team at Oregon was, to this day, the most prideful (outside of family events) accomplishment in my life. I could have gone to smaller schools and got a free ride but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to compete with the best. Injuries and a bit of being unfocused on training for a period of time derailed much of the success I had envisioned, unfortunately, but the workouts, the pain, the friends, the coaching, etc. — I wouldn’t change it.Capture
{You’ll find plenty of Oregon paraphernalia & Pre quotes in the NRC stores, like this quote on the East store’s chalkboard!}
nashville running company east store
What does your training plan look like at present? Are you training for anything specific?
Doesn’t look pretty! Priorities take over — two stores and a two-year-old take way more precedence than any of my running goals at the moment (or really for the past few years). My wife has been awesome to let me even attempt to open up these running stores so I don’t feel right taking off on a “family day” to go run for 3-4 hours to train. Maybe one of these days I’ll gear back up!Capture
 What’s your favorite distance to run?
I always have loved the 5k because of three things: it’s fast, it hurts, and there is always some good competition. Nowadays, although I don’t race often, I like more of the longer trail stuff. Half marathons, 50k, etc.Capture
Do you have any running superstitions / rituals?
Back in the day I did two things – always kept my toenails trim and washed my feet the night before and morning of a race. My reasoning was – if my mind went to crap in the race at least my feet could hopefully carry me! Not normal.Capture
Favorite flavor of energy drink/energy gel?
At the moment, I like using Skratch or Nuun for hydration (electrolytes) and typically between Honey Stinger and Huma as a gel for longer races/runs. For short races (Half marathon or below) I don’t use anything.Capture
Compared to other cities, how would you say Nashville ranks in term of running routes? In terms of its running community?
I would say Nashville is growing in both of those areas. Compared to the cities I’ve spent most of my life (Eugene, Portland area, San Diego, and NYC) Nashville has a ways to go BUT I’d guess that, as one can assume, with the growth of Nashville it’s only helping the active community. There are some great running groups in Nashville – with the East Nasties, Nashville Striders, Hendersonville Running Club, 12 South, Nolensville Running Club, etc. — and that only helps to entice more people to become runners and/or active. As most runners here in Nashville know, there are some great parks to run in and slowly, but surely, the park systems are gaining steam and working with the running community.Capture
What’s your favorite place to run in Nashville?
I live in East Nashville so I love running down in Shelby Park. I also love hitting up Percy Warner park for the variety in terrain.
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Thanks, Lee! You can stop check out Nashville Running Company on their website, Facebook, and Twitter.
Nashville Running Co. West: 6021 Highway 100
Nashville Running Co. East: 1105 Woodland Street
nashville running company east store
CaptureHave an awesome day!
  • Locals: Where do you shop for running gear?
  • Favorite energy drink/gel brand?
  • Would you ever want to open a running store?

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