Race, Triathlon & Lifestyle Training


Blog 19: Brother Sister Duo: John & Sara

We recently caught up with this amazing brother sister duo who have inspired each other through their running! We asked Coach Kelly what she loves about coaching this dynamic duo! Sara resides in Charlotte, while John resides in Boca Raton.   

“I love how much they support each other through the ups and downs, and the highs and lows of training. They have an incredible perspective on training that carries over into how they deal with those mountains and valleys of life! It is so encouraging to see their belief in each other that has enabled them to develop a better personal self-efficacy. Their relationship shows how helpful a support team is in this journey!”

1. How did you both get into running and what does running mean to you? 

SARA: I ran my first half marathon during my 4th year of med school. It was actually my first race ever. I had never even run a 5K before, but a classmate talked me into it. I swore I would never run again after that race! Fast forward to several years later and I found myself running again, like lots of women, to get back into shape after having each of my kids. Since then, running has evolved into so much more. It has become my stress reliever. It keeps me grounded. It’s has stretched me beyond my comfort zone and showed me that my body is capable of so much more than my mind tries to tell me I am. It has helped me show my kids how much fun hard work can be. It has also paved the way for me to meet some of the most influential people and make some of the best friends of my life. I simply can’t imagine my life without running in it.

JOHN: I started running in 2006 after being diagnosed with sarcoidosis. I fell in love with it even though the disease was found in my spinal column. Many people and doctors suggested that running would only make it worse but I have been running ever since! To this date I have completed 12 marathons and 10 half marathons.  I’m blessed to be able to run pain free.

2. How do you inspire each other? 

SARA: John is the entire reason that I started running marathons. He has always been the athlete in the family – from playing Division 1 college golf, to basketball, tennis, baseball, you name it while we were growing up – I happily tagged along as the little sister and watched on the sidelines. In 2006 he was diagnosed with sarcoidosis. Being the always positive, always optimistic person that he is, he decided to deal with his diagnosis by signing up to run the Disney Marathon to raise money for the Sarcoidosis Foundation. We all flew down to cheer him on, and while I was spectating that race…I can’t explain it. I was just so moved by his grit and tenacity and when he crossed the finish line I told him “Some day I want to come back down and run this marathon with you.” I was 6 months pregnant with our 3rd child at the time. Several months later (in a post-partum fog), I got an email out of the blue from Active.com. I was so confused because I knew I hadn’t registered for any races. Unbeknownst to me, he had registered us both for the Disney Marathon. He held me to my word, and sure enough, we ran that race together. We’ve been running marathons ever since and he continues to inspire me every day, despite the fact that we live in different states. We help each other set goals, talk each other through training slumps and race anxiety, dissect good races and bad races, and are each other’s biggest cheerleader. He is one of the best human beings I know. I have looked up to him my whole life, and I still do.

JOHN: My sister has inspired me to run through results and more importantly a passion for being the best we can be everyday. We share ups and downs with training and encourage each other — which is such a cool thing to be able to share with your sister.

Apparently John is the best kind of trouble maker in the family. We love it! And his enthusiasm for life! 

3. John, you compete at a very high level as a golfer. How has run training impacted your golf game? 

 I often hear golfers say that they do not run because they have heard that it is bad for your knees and hips.  Yet I have only strengthened both as well as my legs and core over the past several years which allows me to maintain a good solid foundation required for golf.  My body feels better at 50 than it did at 35.

4. Sara, how do you make time for running being a doctor, running your own business, doing consulting work, while raising three incredible kids?

I have learned that there is no secret to finding time for running. I just have to make it a priority, and for me, my only protected time is early morning. No matter how tired I might feel when my alarm goes off, I always know that my entire day will go better if I start it with a run. It sets the tone for the whole day. That means that other things end up getting sacrificed, of course! I can’t tell you how many days out of the week, my hair is in a wet ponytail heading out the door, or the pile of laundry is still on the floor, or the homework sheets aren’t signed. But it’s a trade-off, and no one ever died from not having clean clothes or a signed homework form! 😉

5. Any advice for how to balance your training with all of life demands?

SARA: One of the most important things I have learned from our coach (Kelly) is learning to read my body and listen to my body. If you’ve stayed consistent over months of training, skipping a workout one day because you’re exhausted from work and need to prioritize sleep, is not going to derail your entire training cycle. It’s hard to tell yourself that sometimes when you are in it, but it’s so true. Also, just trust the process and keep your focus on something bigger than yourself and your goals.

JOHN: Running and training requires a balanced schedule and diet and a passion for wanting to get out of bed at 4:30 and run.  My only goal each week is to plan my training sessions so they do not conflict with family activities.  The challenges of a big schedule actually increases your quality time each day.  My only advice through lessons learned thus far is to listen to your body and if you’re not feeling well it’s okay to take an additional day off and rest. 24 hours is a lot of time each day to accomplish a lot.