Nearly a year after the doors of RunTex shut for the last time, owner Paul Carrozza is back to doing what he says he does best — coaching.
Today, he’s guiding a group of about 10 runners through a series of drills. They trot backward up a steep hill behind Murchison Middle School, bear crawl and crab walk across a field, then hit the track for some repeats.
This, Carrozza says, is what he’s good at — helping people learn how to run, not running a business.
He blames the demise of RunTex, a business he spent 25 years building, on his lack of business savvy. The flagship store was evicted from its longtime home at 422 W. Riverside Drive last April, after Carrozza missed months of rent and property tax payments. The contents of the building were sold at auction a month later. A hole in the ground now occupies the site where the running store once stood, and apartments will sprout there soon.
“I had to learn business and I had to learn marketing, but I did that because my passion was coaching,” Carrozza says, joking that if he’d just gone to school to study business he could have saved millions of dollars.
Now he’s focused on training.
He launched four versions of his Born to Run program in January. One targets the group he’s leading tonight — people who want to hone their form and become more efficient runners. Another is for men ages 40 and older and aims, as Carrozza says, “to put the eye of the tiger back and get rid of the dull stare of the dairy cow.” A third base conditioning group helps sedentary or overweight people regain their fitness through walking, and a fourth, an after-school program, is for middle-schoolers.
All four groups emphasize proper drills and injury prevention. Each averages about $75 a month per person. (For more information, go to paulcarrozza.com.)
“The next one’s going to be fun, fun, fun,” Carrozza hollers before sending his team scrambling across the field one more time. As the group catches its collective breath, a few of the runners explain why they’re here.
“Paul’s pretty famous,” says Oliver Campbell, 53. “I like his running philosophy, how he layers and builds up.”
“I want to be able to run for a long time,” says Carla Martin, 35. “I want to be 50 or 60 and still able to run.”
And there’s the camaraderie aspect. “The conversations with people are just wonderful,” says Steve Amos, 61.
As for RunTex, Carrozza says he’s proud of how the store served as an incubator, spawning so many other Austin stores and races. Over the years, former RunTex employees have launched businesses of their own, from Gilbert’s Gazelles and Rogue Running to Ready to Run. Carrozza also had a hand in starting numerous races, from the Austin Marathon to the 3M Half Marathon.
“Everyone’s running their own show, and that’s great,” Carrozza says. He admits he’s a little relieved he no longer has to tinker with sales and points out that Austin runners have plenty of choices these days when it comes to where to buy their gear. “I was at a point where I wasn’t coaching as much. I needed (to sell) shoes and I needed (to put on) events because no one else was providing that.”
Now he’s learning how to sit down and talk about opportunities without investing money in them, too.
“I learned so much,” he says. “Financially, I want things to be funded before I launch versus launching and then finding funding. And producing a race? I don’t have the energy for that right now — but I will coach you.”
He’s back where he started, and that just feels right.
“I really love the front end of getting people up and moving,” he says. “I want to dig my teeth into coaching … it’s so therapeutic for me.”
RideScout adds Austin B-cycle to its ride-finding app
Need to get from Point A to Point B but would rather not drive your car? A free mobile app from Austin-based RideScout shows you your options.
RideScout officials announced recently they are adding Austin B-cycle to their technology platform, which already includes information about CapMetro, Car2go, Electric Cab and pedicab. The app also shows walking, bicycling, driving and real-time parking options.
The RideScout app works on iPhone and Android devices, aggregating public and private ground transportation options so you can compare them on demand. Go to ridescoutapp.com for more information.