Name: Lorie Jamison-Phillips
Hometown: Wake Forest, North Carolina
Occupation: 5th Grade Math Teacher
Time Running: 6 years
Reason for Running: I believe in the importance of moving my body each day while also enjoying the beautiful outdoors. Running is a stress reliever for me, as well as my time to reflect on my life and to process the events of my day and my life. Running makes me feel alive and energized!
I first started running in high school, around the age of 15 or 16, after my younger brother started running cross-country. I was not very athletic growing up and didn’t play sports. But, I saw his success with running, so I tried out for the track team in the spring of 1984 and ran a 6:57 mile on the day of tryouts.
I ended up running the 1600-meter and 3200-meter event and also took up cross-country. I ran cross-country at college at Lock Haven University and that’s where I met my husband, a member of the men’s team.
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During my senior year of college, I began experiencing pain in the ball of my right foot. I visited a podiatrist and was told my toes were not formed properly, and that I would probably have arthritis in my feet as I aged. My second toe is squished onto my big toe and I have experienced problems with ingrown toenails for years. After that visit, I sort of stopped running. I would walk and definitely wear comfortable shoes, but I didn’t run. That doctor visit was really hard for me and I thought my running journey had ended.
Fast forward to July 1, 2016. My husband and I had raised two children and were preparing to become empty nesters when my daughter left for college at the beginning of August. My other family members were all athletic, active, and healthy. My son was running, lifting weights, and playing college football. My daughter was running, lifting weights, and playing collegiate soccer. My husband lifted and ran a bit, and officiated several school and recreational sports. I, however, was very inactive and overweight. I kind of felt left out because I couldn’t keep up with them. I was also 10 months away from my 50th birthday.
I had also recently dealt with the death of my father and witnessing my mom, age 76, have limited mobility due to the after-effects of Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare disorder in which the immune system attacks the nerves.
So on July 1, 2016, I started on a journey that changed my life. It originally was just a goal to lose some weight before turning 50. The one positive was the pain in my right foot had sort of disappeared throughout the years.
I began walking every day and started tracking my foods through the Weight Watchers and MyFitnessPal apps. About a week into my journey, I tried to run, but it hurt my knees really badly because I was carrying too much weight, and I also didn’t have quality running shoes. I began to live life in numerous pairs of new running shoes and I made a goal for myself to start running again at some time in the future.
In November of 2016, I learned of a 5K race to benefit a former student that was suffering from cancer. I decided I was going to train for it because she was such a sweet, loving person, and running in her honor was the least I could do. I used the C25K 5K Training app to slowly transition from walking to running. I was up to running four to five days a week and was running two to three miles per day. I had also lost close to 45 pounds and was walking quite briskly each day as well. I found that transitioning to running wasn’t hard because I had been walking so consistently, about four miles a day.
After the first 5K race in December 2016, I started running a few more local 5Ks and then a few 10Ks. I slowly increased my mileage to three to five miles per day with some walking and some running. Around the same time I began running, my brother-in-law also started running, and we began planning to run longer races in cities where our families could travel to and visit. I also slowly started running more consistently with longer runs and monthly and yearly mileage goals.
The more I ran, the more excited I became to continue running. I also felt so energized and youthful. In April 2018, my husband, brother-in-law, and my niece all ran a 15K Hot Chocolate race in Philadelphia. Running in the city through the streets lined with all sorts of flags was an amazing experience. Then in June 2018, my husband, son, brother-in-law, and niece all ran a very hilly half marathon in Asheville, North Carolina.
My two biggest races to date were in 2019. The Marine Corps 17.75K in March 2019 was the first one—it was an amazing race for me and parts of it were similar to my college cross-country courses. It was a huge race for me, and completing it was such a pivotal point in my running. It was amazing to me that I could actually run competitively at the age of 51.
Finishing that race gave me entry to the 2019 Marine Corps Marathon. I never really imagined running a marathon. It really wasn’t a goal for me, but since I had an entry it became my dream goal. I trained for it during the summer months when I wasn’t teaching. I slowly increased my mileage and ran most days.
My longest run before the marathon on October 27, 2019, was 18 miles. My biggest mistake was not experimenting with hydration and fueling before the actual marathon. But I finished with a time of 5:23 following stomach issues that forced me to walk a lot. Originally, I was disappointed with my time, but I have come to realize that finishing my first marathon was a huge accomplishment, especially at the age of 52.
I also became a RRCA-certified level 1 running coach in July 2019. I learned so much about running through the certification. But I honestly needed to learn a lot more.
I haven’t raced since before March 2020, but plan on racing again this fall. In 2020, I did successfully run 2,020 miles through the Run The Year 2020 program. Completing the marathon and running 2,020 miles in 2020 have been my two biggest running accomplishments to date.
Right now, I try to run three to five miles five or six times per week and have been averaging 25 to 30 miles per week. Being a teacher can make running challenging at times—I definitely have to schedule runs into my calendar.
This summer, I learned my current school needed someone to help with middle school and high school cross-country teams, so I have started helping to coach. Right now, I help with warmups, positive motivation, and encouragement while running.
I also provide some guidance on pacing (kids just naturally want to run fast and then run out of gas), cadence, form, and nutrition. I have talked to the student runners about training runs being at a conversational pace. I am looking forward to seeing how the student runners improve from the beginning of the season to the end.
The 2022-2023 school year will most likely be my last year of teaching, and after that I hope to start a running program for elementary and middle school students. I am currently gathering information on some running programs for kids.
For years I have struggled with self-confidence and self-esteem. I have always felt others are better than me. A lot of those feelings were tied to a lack of body positivity. I was also very quiet and socially awkward, but running has given me confidence in myself that I didn’t have before.
Running also makes me feel powerful and strong. I’m grateful for my legs that allow me to walk/run an average of 20,000 steps or more most days. Running has given me courage to do things that I would have never done before I started running at age 49. I also was able to become comfortable with my other immediate family members, because I was now active like them—I am now a runner. I have learned to accept myself for who I am and to be proud of my body and what it is capable of each day. I am blessed that I get the opportunity to run at my age.
I sort of accidentally started sharing my running journey on Instagram for my own accountability. Over the last four years, I have connected with other runners from all across the United States and other countries. I have been motivated by them, but have also learned that I actually motivate others. The IG running community is such a supportive space and having virtual running friends has helped fuel my love of running.
Turning 50 was a life milestone for me, and recently turning 55 has been a bit more difficult. So many of my peers are inactive and complain about so many aches and pains. But, I am determined to stay active and healthy. I don’t take any medications, and received a good report at a recent physical visit.
Overall, running has improved my physical and mental health. When I have bad days or challenges, running makes me feel better and allows me to think through the challenge while running. It also allows me to put my frustrations, problems, and challenges into perspective. Food or alcohol makes some people feel better; running makes me feel better.
Today I can say I love myself and feel comfortable in my own skin. In May 2021, my son got married and we did a mother and son dance. I was able to dance in front of more than 100 people. There was a time when I would have not had the courage to do that.
Running makes me feel youthful, powerful, and strong. I also feel inspiring—I am inspiring other women to move their bodies as they are getting older.
These three tips have made my running journey a success:
1. Listen to your body
As a runner, you need to really be in tune with your body. If you are feeling tired and you are scheduled to do speedwork, you might want to switch it to another day. If you feel pain or discomfort, you need to rest. If something feels off, notice it and check it out. I adjust my running paces, distances, and workouts on how my body feels.
2. Run your own race
There are so many runners on social media that it is so easy to compare your running journey to others. Running journeys are unique to each individual. My running journey is mine, I take ownership of it. My wins and setbacks are mine to own.
3. Don't be afraid to walk when needed
For a while, I would not walk even when I needed a break or was struggling with a run. Walking is still moving your body and it is still “time on your feet.” I am not afraid to walk when I need to anymore.
Lorie’s Must-Have Gear
→ Night Runner 270 Shoe Lights: I sometimes have to run when it is dark and I need to be able to see my feet and the ground because I don’t want to trip. These lights attach to the top of running shoes and provide illumination. They are rechargeable.
→ Shokz OpenRun Headphones: I love to listen to music while running, but I also like to be able to hear any noises (sirens, animals) around me for safety reasons. These headphones allow me to listen to my favorite tunes while also being aware of occurrences around while running. It’s the best of both worlds. I have tried off brands and the sound quality is not the same.
→ Balega socks: A few years ago a student whose mom was a runner gave me a pair of Balega socks as a teacher appreciation gift. Once I wore them, I was hooked. They are soft, wash up really nice, and last for a long time. I have not experienced any problems with blisters when running in them.
→ Nike Tempo Women’s Running Shorts: These lined running shorts are not too short and are comfortable to run in. They wash up well, are durable, and are reasonably priced. I have had several pairs for four to five years.
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