At the Apex is a blog series that strives to introduce you to the stories behind the inspirational people on the Topo Apex Crew — a small, yet powerful group of athletes whose outdoor passions intersect with their larger communities in new and exciting ways.
Today, we are excited to introduce one of the newest members of the Apex Crew, David Lam. Hailing from the San Francisco Bay Area, David shares his running background, how he chose Topo and recommendations for shoe-shoppers based on his experience working at a run-specialty stores.
Tell us your journey and something you would like people to know about you?
I started running less than 4 years ago and before then, my life was diametrically opposed to how it is now. At the time, I lived a very unhealthy lifestyle and was going through a lot of changes in my life. I stumbled upon books and stories about ultramarathon running where people were achieving seemingly impossible feats.
I dove in headfirst and quickly found out that I truly enjoyed running for how pure it is and as a medium for building strength and fitness consistently over time to achieve goals and gain experiences.
How did you learn about Topo?
Luckily, when I got into running, I was enamored by how to run most efficiently while staying healthy. I found my body just performed better wearing shoes that kept things natural WITHOUT having to be barefoot, but also had the right technology as to not sacrifice performance.
I played around with different shoe brands and bought a pair of the original Terraventures on a whim. I found myself always grabbing for the Terraventures and going back to Topos despite trying many other brands as someone who also works for a run-specialty store. Topo’s shoes have only gotten better since then!
What is your favorite Topo model and why?
The MTN Racer is easily my favorite Topo shoe that I’ve put the most miles in. I love how it feels on my feet for all distances and how versatile of a shoe it is. The MTN Racer has been with me on the most technical of mountain trails, the sloppiest of conditions, and the smoothest of single-tracks. I’ve been able to slog long days in them as well as faster workouts on the trails.
What is your favorite running route and why?
I love Desolation Wilderness in Lake Tahoe. Locally, my favorite route is the Mount Tam Hill Climb that covers 2,500′ in 3.29 miles. For the roads, doing loops in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco never gets old!
You have a lot of experience working at a run-specialty shop; what have you learned about good footwear from your work and interactions with customers?
I feel that good footwear should be viewed as a complement to a runner, not as a magic quick-fix. For instance, many people come into a shop with a ton of recommendations from friends or personal trial-and-error, but they don’t fix a lot of the underlying problems that lead to unfavorable running experiences, such as proper fueling, strength training, and recovery. When those things are firing well, having a pair of really good running shoes that let a person’s foot act as close to natural as possible leads to amazing experiences and performances.
Are there any common myths/interesting customer experiences that surprised you?
I always find the emphasis that people put on a look of a shoe over its function to be quite entertaining. I think it’s totally missing the point of what a running shoe should do for you. Having a great looking shoe is important but if it’s coming at the cost of your comfort and causing injury, then it will be for naught.
What tips would you give to someone who wants to visit their local run-specialty shop and get fitted for shoes?
Going to the shop prepared with an injury history (if any), running goals, and what has/hasn’t worked for a person with running shoes they have used in the past really helps to facilitate a good conversation coming in and helps the shop come up with the best shoe option. Also, try on different pairs and go with what works best for you instead of whatever’s in vogue.
What tips would you give to people that want to become better runners or are simply looking to start running?
The best way to start or become better is to find people you can run with or talk about running with regularly. You can learn so much about how to train smart, different gear for different purposes, and the running experience is just more enjoyable when it’s a shared one. I attribute my fast improvement as a runner to consistently being around people who are far more experienced and knowledgeable than I am.
What goals do you have for 2021, running or otherwise?
As all my races for the first half of the year have been postponed, I’m looking to just keep building fitness for adventures and to help pace any friends that need it. I have some long routes around here that I’m looking to do, as well as a Rim to Rim to Rim. For the second half of the year, I’m hoping to run Broken Arrow, Boston Marathon, and the Quad Dipsea.
Follow David’s running journey on Instagram @davidtlam and enjoy some truly breathtaking views seen on his runs.