My Biggest Running Influences

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Earning these awards are part of what sparked running in me

I feel like I’ve been running ever since I can remember. When I was very young, I remember running through my neighborhood and feeling pure joy. I did take a few years off from running during college but other than that, I’ve pretty much always ran. Neither of my parents were runners or even athletic by any stretch of the imagination. My older brother wasn’t athletic and really no one else in my extended family was athletic either. I just discovered running on my own and fell in love with it from the beginning.

As I grew older, I began to pay more attention to famous runners and I would watch them on TV during the Olympics and cheer them on then, but I never really followed any certain runner’s career. I could name some of the big names, especially the longer distance runners but I really didn’t know much about them. For instance, I didn’t know if any runner in particular had a big race coming up but I would sometimes look up some race results like the Boston Marathon to see who participated and how they did.

I didn’t run my first race as an adult until I was in my mid-twenties. After I started running half-marathons, I realized I needed to get some advice about running and checked out some books from the library and looked around online. Eventually I started listening to some podcasts about running. I would like to think that I know a little more now as a runner in my forties than I did when I was in my twenties.

Recently, I started thinking about who were some of the most influential people in my life as far as running goes. My physical education teacher in grade school has to be at the top of my list. He introduced me to many different sports and activities.  He was also the coach for the school track team and he helped plant that spark in me that grew into a love of running that has never left. I earned the two Presidential Physical Fitness Awards shown above while I was a student of his. I was very proud of myself at the time and felt like it was a huge accomplishment. I think some people under-estimate the power of a teacher but he was extremely influential to my life.

Another person that had a strong influence on my running and has also influenced millions of other people has to be Jeff Galloway. He has written countless books full of advice to new (and not so new) runners around the world. Mr. Galloway has also taught running classes, given talks, and given advice to hundreds of thousands of people. Although he is most famous for his run/walk method, which I don’t currently prescribe to, I think it is a fantastic way for new runners to realize they too can run a long distance race.

Along the same lines as Jeff Galloway is Hal Higdon, whose name is synonymous with half marathon and marathon training. Mr. Higdon has written dozens of books, with his most famous being “Marathon:  The Ultimate Training Guide.” I have read several of his books and have used his half marathon training plans for many years, with some alterations to fit my needs and lifestyle.

A few years ago I discovered the Another Mother Runner podcast which was co-hosted by Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowell at the time. The AMR “tribe” is currently a little different than when I started listening a few years ago but I still am a big fan of theirs. The podcasts are now hosted by Ms. Bowen Shea along with a rotating cast of co-hosts while Ms. McDowell has been focusing on their Train Like a Mother programs. I’ve learned a lot by listening to their podcasts through the years and I’ve also found them entertaining and easy to relate to, especially being a mother myself.  Another Mother Runner link

As I alluded to before and if you’re new to my blog and aren’t aware, I run half-marathons. I set a goal for myself to run a half-marathon in all 50 states several years ago. Currently, I’m up to 39 states (and 41 half marathons total). I could not have accomplished this without the support from my husband and daughter. Even when my daughter was very young, she usually didn’t complain about me leaving her to go off and run for an hour or two; rather, she’d smile at me and say something like, “Have fun on your run!” Likewise, my husband only rarely ever has complained about my running or dragging him and our daughter to different states for a race. I feel like the two of them are my support team when I’m training for a race and also when we travel to a race. My husband is my official race photographer and my daughter is my official cheerleader. Together they are my support crew. Recently, my daughter has started running a 5k in each state we go to for a half marathon, so it looks like my husband will be doing double-duty as support crew and photographer!

Check out my other posts on the half marathons I’ve ran in each state.

Who are your biggest running influences? Do any of you listen to the AMR podcast?