Chicago's 10 best running shops

Before you pound the pavement, suit up with spiffy duds and accessories at these athletic stores.

Photograph: Jaclyn Elizabeth Rivas
Lively Running is one of the best running shops in Chicago.

When it comes to running styles, no two people are exactly alike. So to find shoes, apparel and extra gear that truly suit you best, we suggest heading to these friendly, fitness-focused shops. At most of these stores, you'll get the undivided attention of a salesperson to make sure you buy the right running shoe. Sometimes you'll be asked to step on a treadmill so the salesperson can examine your gait, so wear casual clothing!

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Fleet Feet Lincoln Square

Not only does this runners’ favorite feature shoes by a multitude of brands—from adidas to Asics to Mizuno—along with cute athletic wear and accessories, the store excels at customer service. Before you plunk down cash on your new pair of kicks, employees lead you through a complimentary gait analysis on an in-store treadmill so you pick just the right shoe for you.

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Lincoln Square

Lively Running

Founded by a pair of sisters who are avid runners, Lively Running offers a wide variety of chic athletic and lifestyle apparel and accessories for women. Browse top-notch brands such as Hoka One One, Lolë, Merrell, On Running, Moving Comfort and more, get a custom sneaker or sports bra fitting, and then sign up for the ladies’ weekly fun run.

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Oak Park

Lululemon Bucktown

Best known for its ultraflattering, expensive yoga wear, the Canadian-based brand also carries a surprisingly large selection of running attire for men and women. Find pieces such as frilly zip-up vests, graphic sports bras and the signature backside-enhancing bottoms for the ladies—plus brightly colored, monochromatic shirts and shorts for the guys.

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Wicker Park

New Balance

This Lincoln Park shoe shop may be on the small side, but its expert staff more than makes up for any gaps in the selection. Staffers spend time measuring your feet, listening to your shoe needs (running, walking, etc.) and giving you options at different price points. We've also seen them pass out bottled water to shoppers.

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Lincoln Park

Nike Running Bucktown

If the Nike Store on Michigan Avenue is too massive for you, head to the brand’s smaller outpost in Bucktown—just make sure you're interested in running. The main focus here is on running shoes and services, so you’ll find the latest in Nike running gear (shoes, shorts, reflective jackets and more). Shoppers can also take advantage of the a digital gait analysis and a treadmill, where you can take your kicks on a test run before making a purchase. In addition to the brightly colored selections in the store, the shop’s outside wall features a colorful mural by Pilsen artist Hebru Brantley.

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This one-stop activewear shop is more like a warehouse than a storefront. Cover your bases, not to mention your kids’, too, with two floors packed to the gills with everything from skiing equipment (cross-country, downhill, you name it) and apparel to tents and hard-to-find accessories such as fancy helmet cameras. There's also an unbelievable selection of running gear—everything from wrist wallets to jogging strollers—plus basic attire and shoes.

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Lincoln Park

The Runner's Edge

Not only will you find a nice selection of shoes and fitness clothing by prAna, Nike and Sugoi, but this Andersonville shop also offers other merch such as T-shirts and even dog leashes. Plus, like many running stores, it hosts a running club every Thursday night at 6:30pm. The location in Libertyville hosts a running club as well.

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Runners High ‘n Tri

Recently named one of America's top 50 running shops, this Arlington Heights store is worth the commute. Backed by 23 years of experience outfitting the area's top runners, store employees bend over backward to match customers with their ideal shoes. It also offers a huge selection of men's and women's apparel, accessories (watches, monitors, etc.), as well as training programs for beginning to advanced runners.

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Arlington Heights

Running Away Multisport

In addition to a solid selection of triathalon gear, fashion-forward running apparel and training nutrition (gels, water bottles, etc.), this Wicker Park store carries under-the-radar brands like Newton shoes. Bonus (green) points for its reusable shopping bags.

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Wicker Park

Universal Sole

This gem has been serving Lakeview's running community for 10 years, offering footwear (Mizuno, Saucony, Asics and more), accessories (Body Glide, foam rollers, etc.) and even Garmin GPS units. The store also hosts a variety of events, including regular fun runs, and there's a second location in Lakeview East.

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