In 2016, I started a running blog. One of my first readers (and first IG running friends) was Jeph, the runner formerly known as @jeph.runs.sherby. Jeph was my very first Running Shoes interview, and I am so happy to catch up with him on the blog two years later! From ITBS to becoming a Boston Qualifier, Jeph has been up to quite a bit since 2016.
First, Jeph is probably one of the only runners on Instagram that has had the pleasure of dealing with my level of impatience (cue the laugh-cry smiley). He’s helped me a ton with my running, and every so often he’ll give me a killer speed workout if I ask for one (PS: I usually refuse his suggested warm-up – and he continues to help me regardless).
Here’s a little more about Jeph: He is a dad of three, RRCA certified running coach, and a newly licensed realtor in the Windsor, ON, Canada area. “Busy” is probably an understatement. Still, within the past two years, Jeph has gone from non-marathon runner to Boston Qualifier, and that’s no easy feat.
When we first interviewed, Jeph had just finished his second marathon. Since then, he’s run one mile race, ten 5k races (18:59 PR), three 10k races (39:54 PR), eleven half marathons (1:25:27 PR), one 30k race, and nine marathons (2:58:03 PR). Of all of these, he looks back most fondly on the Charlevoix Marathon. While he qualified for Boston with a 2:38 buffer, it wasn’t quite enough for acceptance into the race. Still, this race ranks as one of Jeph’s favorites and he chalks this up to his positive attitude during all 26.2 miles.
I wanted to do this interview to see how Jeph’s perspectives and practices regarding running have evolved. I was curious what he learned since his first sixteen week half marathon training cycle: “I learned to SLOW DOWN,” he said. “That first summer I knew nothing about running and did every run as if it were a tempo run. Long runs were torture.” When he joined a running group, Jeph learned to slow things down – but the real changes happened when he started utilizing a professional running coach. He notes that his long runs are about one minute-per-mile slower than race pace.
As I ask in most Running Shoes interviews, I wanted to know what Jeph’s key advice was for new runners. In 2016, he responded with “We’re not pro-athletes. People have to get up and work in the morning. If you can’t walk, that’s a problem.” While Jeph’s perspective is that if you worked hard enough, you shouldn’t enjoy walking the weekend after a marathon – this advice still rings true for him and it is advice he passes to his athletes: “What’s the worst that can happen if you don’t hit your goals? You haven’t let your country down. You haven’t let your family down. You haven’t let your IG followers down. Worst case scenario is that you learn. Breathe, relax. You’re doing something you love; go have fun.”
In addition to all of those awesome race accomplishments, Jeph is also a contracted pacer. I actually coerced him into pacing the Youngstown Marathon, and I didn’t even bother to ask if he was up for it. I handed him the 3:35 pacer sign and said “thanks!” He did an awesome job, and since then, he has also paced other races – the most recent being Indy Monumental. Pacing is rewarding for Jeph because he is able to help others achieve their goals, but he also notes that his encouragement as a pacer cannot take the place of hard work: “As much as I encourage, as much as I run steady, no amount of encouragement, support, or pace setting will help anyone in a race if they haven’t put the work in. You can’t rely on the pacer; you have to be ready to do it yourself.”
Jeph is still surprised by his progress since he began running. His advice for others is to stick to their goals even when they’re taking a long time to achieve: “Set goals and go for them. There doesn’t need to be an expir[ation] date; just work to get better.”
I will say first-hand that Jeph is a knowledgeable, patient coach. If you’re interested in run coaching with Jeph, he has a few spots left (but they’re filling quickly!). You can learn more about Jeph’s coaching here: http://www.jephmaags.com/coaching/.
Keep up with Jeph by following his blog and social accounts:
I am always looking for cool runners to tell their cool stories! Apply for a Running Shoes interview feature here: https://goo.gl/forms/VeEJ6OufEQvdwPeH3