We’ve all had someone who ‘inspired’ us to begin running, who encourages us in our daily training, who we ‘model’ our running lives after. That’s right, I’m talking about running mentors. Whether it be as simple as a person we follow on twitter, or it’s someone we train with daily, I’m sure we all have mentors in this sport.
I’ve had several running mentors throughout my running life. My first running mentor was my dad. Growing up, he would take my sisters and I on runs on several occasions. This is how I got started running. He still maintains a very important mentorship role, thought it’s more of a moral support type of role now.
My second running mentor was the assistant cross country coach when I was in graduate school. She was a former Big Ten 10k runner, and she was VERY good. She entertained me enough to do many long runs, and even some workouts with me early on in my marathon ‘career’. She helped me design good workouts that could improve my endurance, form, and speed. I modeled not only my training after hers, but my running form as well. It was her mentorship that helped me qualify for, and then run in the Boston marathon.
My third running mentor was/is my friend who I ran with last year. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten the chance to run with her at all this year (we’ve actually mostly been biking), but I still consider her my running mentor. When I first started running with her, she was leaving me in the dust! However, after struggling through her workouts with her for a few months, I finally improved, and was able to accomplish a huge PR in my marathon.
Since I’ve had so many great running mentors in my life, about a year ago, I started “mentoring” my own fellow runner! It kind of happened on accident. A co-worker started running, and had signed up for a half-marathon. When I found out about this, I started talking with her about it. She started asking me questions, and before we knew it, we were friends. I’ve been able to encourage her in her training and give her tips on running/shoes/nutrition. It’s been so cool to see her progress. She’s now training for her first 50k!
How about you all? Have you had some pretty major running mentors in your life? Do you have the pleasure of mentoring another runner? I’d love to hear your stories!