Monday, June 10, 2013

Meeting Galloway (and being a "serious runner")

The other day, I had the amazing opportunity to see none other than Mr. Jeff Galloway give a presentation at Runners Depot (the local independent running store that we frequent). Most runner's know Mr. Galloway as a lifetime runner, and a member of the 1972 American delegation to the Olympics, training alongside Prefontaine and Frank Shorter... and a man who went on to revolutionize distance running through what he has called the Galloway program.

But the reality is that most people probably don't know who he is. Or if they know of him they know that he was a runner and an Olympian, but they don't know much about him. I mean, come on, I had never even heard his name at this time last year...

And here I am having had the opportunity to sit and hear him speak, share stories with him, and ask him for his advice and professional opinions. Who the heck would have thought this possible???

What makes it stranger is that this event happened in a running store, the very same running store that I dreaded having to go into last August when I needed new shoes... but I digress. We are talking about Mr. Galloway here, not rambling over my self-perceptions.

So anyway, I had the amazing opportunity to sit and hear Mr. Galloway speak on Friday evening. Two years ago, when I volunteered at the WDW Marathon Weekend expo, and this past year when I was picking up my bib for my first half marathon, I saw him giving talks from the stage area, but I didn't really get the opportunity to stop and listen to him. Besides, I wasn't a serious runner, and I would never be a serious runner... why bother listening to him talk about competitive running.

But during this past year, somewhere along the line, I realized that I may never be a speedy runner, and I may never be able to break 3 hours for a half marathon, but I could be serious about running. Afterall, for me, being serious about running means that I understand the positive benefits to both my physical and mental health. Being serious about running means that I somewhat "enjoy" the opportunity to run hard and often ("enjoy" being a word that is quite subjective and may not mean the same for you as for me here). Being serious about runnning means that I want to continue to set and meet goals, and I would like to do them with as minimal bodily injury as possible.

And now that I think of serious running like that, OF COURSE I AM A SERIOUS RUNNER.
Me and my running friend Tracy with Mr. Galloway

Not that this talk was specifically designed for serious runners. Actually I felt quite the opposite. I felt that he was (to a certain extent) just doing one big over-rehearsed real-time and live advertisement for his books about the Galloway Training Method, and the Galloway running group that trains folks to actually follow the Galloway Method. Not that the discussion wasn't useful (because it most certainly was), but I did feel that it had a purpose... and that purpose was to sell the Galloway name and the Galloway products. His target audience wasn't just the stereotypically-serious runners (although he did address them sometimes), it was actually everyone from veteran to newbie who has just bought their first pair of running shoes and never worn them off the carpeting in their house.

But it wasn't the presentation that got to me. It was the Q & A session afterward that really meant something, and that really changed the game for me.

I asked specifically about how we return to running after a terrible-horrible-no-good very bad race experience, after a Dead-last place where you get really sick and where your head just would rather you take the DNF, because right now, I think this is one of my big blocks.
How do I snap back after that kind of trauma and pain? How to I get my head back in the game?

And Mr. Galloway looked me dead in the eye and it was almost like we were the only two people in the room. He gave me one of the best pep talks I have ever gotten and amongst other tips and techniques that he was suggesting, he told me that any serious runner knows exactly what that feels like, and that getting back out there is part of what makes them a serious runner. Then he said the most amazing thing ever. He said:

You have to be the captain of your soul.

It isn't just the words themselves that are amazing... because I suppose these are words that many people would use... but it is the fact that these words are part of my positive self-talk and part of my mantra which comes directly from the poem Invictus by William Ernest Henley. The final stanza is:

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

He could have said anything to help get my head back in the game, yet he said the one thing that I always repeat to myself.  Unreal.

I wish I could explain all of the things he said to me, and all of the feelings that he stirred up, but it would take hours. And I'm sure that most people wouldn't care... the important thing is, he spoke directly to me. He touched something deep inside of me that reignited the fire and passion that I have to achieve my goals. He spoke to me as a serious runner... regardless of my shape and size. He spoke to me, as someone who believed that I could do whatever I set my heart to do.

And I think that is what ultimately makes him an amazing man.


  1. Amazing and magical!!! Wow, Amy. What a priceless experience!

    1. thank you, I didn't realize it was going to be quite so meaningful... if you ever get the chance to meet him, do it!

  2. That's awesome! I'm so glad you went. Sometimes it takes some inspiration to keep going <3

    1. thank you. I actually emailed him afterward and got a reply last night. how cool.

  3. I can't wait for the Galloway clinic that I'm doing in AK. He's running the marathon that I'm doing in Anchorage!

    1. that's awesome, not just because he is so awesome... but because... um... hello? you are running a marathon in alaska? that's very cool!