Mill City Running of Minneapolis, dubbed in 2015 as one of the USA’s Top 50 Running Stores, is certainly a dreamy location for any runner. The browned brick interior and vintage stadium seating by the footwear wall beckon each passerby to step inside their running oasis. Located at 411 Hennepin, just across the river and situated beautifully near the Stone Arch Bridge, this little shop really delivers to its community.
Owner Jeff Metzdorff and his wife Bekah met whilst working at a running store themselves, years ago. Together they not-so-secretly dreamt of one day owning a store of their very own. In weighing out the options, they decided to take the plunge and open their running store completely from the ground up, bypassing any franchising or buying into an existing space.
Mill City Running opened it’s doors in July 2013 in between Downtown and Northeast Minneapolis. As Jeff puts it,there was “an opportunity to serve an area . . . that was growing in population but lacked the presence of a run specialty store. After a bit of research we began to find that there were a lot of runners in the area and countless great places to run. From the Stone Arch Bridge, to the river bottoms, to the vibrant neighborhoods in the NE Arts District and North Loop, you can get a little bit of everything within a few miles.”
If you are a runner who’s tread the starting line of many a race, or a 5k Weekend Warrior, or someone who is eager to get started on their first few miles, this truly is a location to suit your needs. “It’s a goal of ours to provide the same great service no matter if you’re a seasoned marathoner or looking to run your first 5K,” Jeff passionately states about his community store, “Even myself, who has run marathons and competed on the national level (a long time ago), has felt intimidated walking into a running store, it shouldn’t be that way!”
Mill City Running boasts one of the most in depth shoe fit processes in the Twin Cities. No need to set an appointment or call ahead, merely show up at the door and ask away! They boost the process with a video analysis while their customers run on the treadmill. This technology is used to determine the support levels needed in a perfectly-fitted pair of running shoes. “It helps take some of the guesswork out of trying a new shoe,” Jeff tells us.
When Mill City opened its doors, the Metzdorfs aimed to have group runs every week that would be open to all abilities and paces. From the mighty fast sub-7 milers to the hustling mid-pack runners to the eager and excited beginners, there is a Run available for all. The store also takes on fun, exciting themed runs, like the Donut Run and Christmas Cookie Run, giving a special treat for all who participate. High on their store wall, they also provide a spotlight on each runner, showcasing “Mill City Miles 2015.” Here, runners are listed with their total miles run at the the run group, tallied up and shared with everyone who walks into their store. Total miles run in 2015 at the Run Club? 51,203!
Here is a brief description of their Group Runs
available for all to participate:
Tuesdays at 6 PM: Beginner’s Only Group Run
Moderate pace and distance, geared to those who are just getting started on their running journey.
Wednesdays at 6PM: All Abilities Run
All paces welcome, paces vary from 7min/mile to 13min/mile and everything in between. Stick around for a beer after!
Friday 6:30AM: Flapjack Friday
Mill City Running’s biggest run, all abilities and paces. Be rewarded with their famous post-run pancakes. “All of the runs are free of charge, just show up!” Jeff lets us know, “We like to say bring a friend, try it once. If you really don’t like it, no worries, you don’t have to commit to anything. We think you just might be back.”
Jeff’s Tips for Running in the Minnesota Winter
When helping someone shop for a winter running jacket or pants I like to remind them how important it is to have some reflectivity on their clothing. Winter in Minnesota requires us to put in a lot of miles in the dark. Being seen, either with a reflective vest, blinking light, or built in reflectivity on your clothing is priority number one.
A pair of wind-blocking, microfleece lined pants are a necessity in Minnesota. Same goes for your jacket, a quality running jacket (windproof and lined) can last you a decade, an absolute worthwhile investment. Finally, a pair of warm mittens or gloves can make a huge difference. The best winter running mittens cut the wind, have some reflectivity, and includes a soft fabric on the thumb to wipe your nose (seriously, it’s awesome!).
Traction, Stability And Grip
When running in the winter my comfort level is directly proportional to how good the footing is. Snow, and more specifically ice can make an easy run a harrowing experience. I turn to shoes with lots of grip, such as trail running shoes, or I retrofit my existing road running shoes with a product like YakTrax, which slip over your shoes and have carbide spikes that bite into the ice and snow.