As a sophomore in high school, I made the varsity volleyball team and that’s where I really took my dislike of running to a whole new level. Playing sports was simply part of my life from the moment I walked. But running? Well, running was always punishment.
In college, I’d go so far as to fake knee injuries to get out of running with friends. Then they mentioned a road trip—not just any road trip, but one that would culminate in running the Nashville Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon.
In April 2002, I crossed the finish line of my first ever race huffing and puffing. It took me 2:17 to run that hilly half marathon course and I am sure there was some cursing along the way, but mostly there was tremendous, overwhelming pride.
Twelve years and thousands of miles later, that same pride is what gets me out the door for runs from 3 miles to 26.2 miles. Running now is a place of peace for me to solve the problems of the day, outline new story ideas and ponder big dreams.
It’s often on my runs that I come up with new ideas to help my cadets overcome IT Band issues or avoid runners’ trots! So I think it’s fair to say that my training greatly benefits them.
Coaching runners was a natural progression of using my personal passion and the online challenges I host through RunToTheFinish. It was through one of these large challenges that I met my 26 Strong cadet, Jodi Tivey.
Her enthusiasm knocked me over through the computer screen! I’d never met someone who would literally do anything I asked of her, even when the temperature was zero degrees and gusting 20mph winds in her home state of North Dakota. After coaching her through a couple of half marathons with increasingly fantastic results, I had her in mind the moment this opportunity appeared.
Jodi took a moment to really decide if she had the time—and I think to convince herself that she is both worth the time and a true athlete. It never once crossed my mind that she couldn’t run a marathon. She already has two of the hardest pieces of training covered: inner drive and positive attitude.
Over the summer, Jodi and I will be training together virtually. She is part of the online group that I coach with runners doing their first 10K to marathon and those looking to break new time goals. This provides her with an outlet to get feedback and for everyone to benefit from questions.
On race day, the distance won’t matter as we line up side by side to enjoy the miles. For us, this race won’t be about the clock but about the journey.
For more on the Saucony 26 Strong program, which pairs up 13 coaches with 13 marathon rookies, visit 26Strong.com.