How Running Changed Everything® for Nathan Clemenson

 Nathan Clemenson runs over a bridge.

Nathan Clemenson is still amazed how much running has changed his life in such a short period of time.

In the span of less than three years, the 28-year-old Austin, Texas, resident has gone from being a self-described non-runner to a dedicated runner, a two-time half marathon finisher and a manager of one of Austin’s Fleet Feet stores.

“I love how running makes me feel,” he says. “The physical aspects of running and the fitness you gain from running are great, but I love the high you get from doing a hard run. You feel so good, like you can do anything.”

Evolving as an Adult

Nathan Clemenson smiles at the camera.

Clemenson has been active his whole life, especially as he studied musical theater and performed as an actor, singer and dancer. In his early 20s, while performing as a dancer and working part-time, he was biking everywhere. But he says he was still out of shape and his body didn’t fit how he felt on the inside.

He started running on a whim when a man he was dating asked him to join him for a few miles and then grab some breakfast tacos afterward. It was a good way to start the day and turned out to be a lot of fun. They continued running together and suddenly Clemenson realized he really enjoyed it.

Clemenson is appreciative of how welcoming and accepting the running community is to everyone, especially to new runners and people in the LGBTQI+ communities.

“I never really thought running would be my thing,” says Clemenson, who came out as openly gay as a young teen. “I didn’t know much about it, but once I started I really liked it.”

However, he says when his partner decided to move to New Zealand, the relationship ended and he stopped running. But after a brief hiatus, he missed the positive energy running provided, so he started running again on his own. Not only did it soothe his angst of the break-up, but it also helped him develop new levels of fitness, foster new friendships and land him a new job.

“When I started running again, I was like, ‘I’m choosing to do this now. This is for me,” he says. “And because I was joining group runs and meeting new people, it brought a lot of community to me, and that made me feel really good. It was hard at first, for sure, but then it was like, ‘Oh, I’m good at this, and I like it.’ And that brought me to where I am now.”

A Catalyst for Change

One of the key moments in Clemenson’s evolution as a runner came when he walked into Fleet Feet for the first time to get a proper pair of running shoes and some new running shorts. He was greeted by manager Ari Perez, who welcomed him, eased his anxiety of being a novice runner and took him through the Fleet Feet outfitting process.

Clemenson has wide feet and has always had trouble finding shoes that fit him well. With help from Perez, he chose a pair of Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit 2, partially because they have a roomier interior and a mesh upper.

“I didn’t know anything about running shoes at the time. It was totally a blank slate,” he says. “I had a really good experience and that made a difference. The entire fitting process was very personable and Ari was knowledgeable about everything, and I really respected that.”

Nathan runs down a trail.

From there, Clemenson joined group runs from the Fleet Feet store, met more runners, logged more miles and eventually applied for a job.

“I came to a point pretty quickly where I was like, ‘Oh, ok, cool, this is my life right now,” Clemenson says. “It was about that time that I put my name in the hat to work at Fleet Feet. Ari had told me I was one of the best customers they’d ever had, and I really liked the vibe at the store because everyone really cared about the customers and making sure they were having good experiences like I had.”

The rest, as they say, is history. Clemenson got the job as a sales associate and quickly learned everything about running shoes, apparel and accessories. He started to help customers the way he had been helped. He’s lost 90 pounds, loves his new career path and is thinking about training for his first marathon.

“Honestly, running has changed everything for me,” he says. “I think about that all the time. If I didn’t start running and if I wasn’t motivated to keep doing it on my own, I wouldn’t have walked into Fleet Feet and wouldn’t be here where I am right now. It’s kind of crazy to think about that. Now I’m managing a store, doing all this stuff and I know a lot of people in the running community and the running industry. It’s really amazing where it’s taken me so far.”

Stay tuned next week to learn more about how Running Changes Everything® for Nathan.

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