Why do you run, Ian McCullough?

About Ian

Welcome to a blog series called “Why do you run?“. I hope to publish inspiring insights from runners I know, on why they started running and continue to do so.

I’m so excited to introduce you to Ian. This guy is one of my biggest inspirations when it comes to running. I’ve known Ian for many years, and we even ran together in Ireland for a time. Those were some of my first experiences running. However, back then I would never have considered myself a runner.

Since moving to the US, I don’t see Ian much in person, but I follow him on Strava and the man never stops moving. He’s either running, hill walking, skiing or cycling somewhere across Ireland and central Europe.

As I often say to Liz, “I want to be like Ian when I grow up…”. I hope to be still running and enjoying the outdoors as long as him. Thanks for your story, Ian!

Why did you start running?

I stopped playing rugby in my mid-thirties when the pain/enjoyment balance started tilting in the wrong direction. A couple of years later I realised I would soon be 40 (horrors!) and the mirror told me I had not only a receding hairline but also an increasing girth. I could do nothing about my age (or hairline!) but maybe I could do something about my lack of fitness.

So I started running. It was sometimes painful, but I also found it rewarding and at times exhilarating. From early days mainly on tarmac to more recently competing in long-distance mountain running events it’s been an adventure, meeting new challenges and making new friends all along the way.

What keeps you motivated?

Motivation has rarely been a problem. I’m naturally competitive with a fairly stubborn streak. Giving up is usually not an option. And I think this is particularly important with running. From experience I’ve also learnt that the rewards far exceed the effort. I sleep better and generally enjoy life more, and my wife tells me I’m less grumpy after running! And probably most of all I just love the feel-good effect when running and the post-run endorphin release. Maybe I’m an addict!

What is the most important thing you’ve learnt as a runner?

One of the things I’ve learnt from running is the importance of setting and achieving targets. Set them too low and you won’t reach your potential. Set them too high and you’ll either suffer running-related injuries or get into the bad habit of giving up too easily. I’ve certainly had to take breaks from running due to sickness or injury but I can remember very few training runs that I didn’t complete, and so far I’ve avoided a DNF in competitive events (though I have come close!).

Beneficial longer term targets have included a training programme to complete a first marathon or marathon. Last year my target was to complete the Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association Championship races, which I did while winning my age category. A few years ago I ran a minimum of 5 km every day for the 31 days of December. For each of the past two years I achieved a target of 1000 running miles.

If you couldn’t run, what would you do instead?

Fitness from running has allowed me to enjoy other outdoor sports including rock climbing, mountain biking and skiing. If I couldn’t run I’d probably do more cycling. Or gardening. Or learning Spanish.

What’s your biggest running goal?

Some 37 years after I started, I’m still running. And my biggest running goal? Just to keep running for as long as I can. And maybe to win the Vet 75 Northern Ireland Mountain Running Championship next year!


Follow Ian on Instagram.

Why do you run, Jeremy Copeland?

About Jeremy

Welcome to a blog series called “Why do you run?“. I hope to publish inspiring insights from runners I know, on why they started running and continue to do so.

Jeremy is the lead pastor of STORYCHURCH, an awesome church community in Durham, NC. I had the privilege of being part of the launch team and having a little input into how it’s grown today.

What isn’t particularly obvious when you first meet Jeremy is his insanely competitive side. I can’t tell you how many times I went out to run only because he might pass me on the Nike leader board. Wait… who’s competitive?

Why did you start running?

For health reasons.

What keeps you motivated?

The competitive part of Nike Run!

What is the most important thing you’ve learnt as a runner?

It’s worth it, even when I don’t feel like it. I’ve never regretted a run.

If you couldn’t run, what would you do instead?

Fly. I’d want to have wings.

What’s your biggest running goal?

Healthy heart, healthy weight.


Follow Jeremy on Twitter and/or Instagram.

Why do you run, Nilesh Tharval?

About Nilesh

Welcome to a blog series called “Why do you run?“. I hope to publish inspiring insights from runners I know, on why they started running and continue to do so.

I know Nilesh through MRC, and we’ve ran together for quite a while now. I also know he is a big Orange Theory guy, so he takes his fitness seriously — all while juggling family and work commitments!

Why did you start running?

I am an Indian, and in India physical activities are 6% compared to 21% for westerners. There is one important risk factor which I could not control: my South Asian ancestry.

Heart disease is the leading killer of adults nationwide, our bodies develop the disease up to a decade earlier. Indians tend to develop high blood pressure, high triglycerides, abnormal cholesterol and Type 2 diabetes at lower body weights than other groups. Indian men are also prone to high levels of coronary artery calcium, a marker of atherosclerosis that can be an early harbinger of future heart attacks and stroke.

My first circle of family have already gone through all these diseases, so that is one of the motivational factors for me, I don’t want to pass on all this to my next generation.

I realized this very late, started running in mid 2012.

What keeps you motivated?

Yes definitely the above mentioned reason is one prime motivation. Being healthy, physically and mentally.

What is the most important thing you’ve learnt as a runner?

Running gave me a big mantra of life The Four D’s of Success- Desire, Dedication, Determination, and Discipline.

If you couldn’t run, what would you do instead?

Definitely spending time with my young kids, walk or spending time in indoor gym (there also I prefer treadmill run — no weights).

What’s your biggest running goal?

Crossing finish line of a marathon is dream for any long distance runner — yes I also have the same dream before I turn 42.


Follow Nilesh on Twitter and/or Instagram.

Why do you run, Ciara Cassidy?

About Ciara

Welcome to a blog series called “Why do you run?“. I hope to publish inspiring insights from runners I know, on why they started running and continue to do so.

Ciara and I work for the same company, only she works out of our Craigavon office in the UK. More often than not our work conversations will digress into discussing our latest running plans… 🤣

Why did you start running?

Clears my head and feels good to get some fresh air.

What keeps you motivated?

Just getting some time to myself and de-stress.

What is the most important thing you’ve learnt as a runner?

Never give up, a bad run only makes you stronger.

If you couldn’t run, what would you do instead?

Cycle.

What’s your biggest running goal?

Run a sub 2 hour half marathon and a sub 4:30 marathon.

Why do you run, Zach Koontz?

About Zach

Welcome to a blog series called “Why do you run?“. I hope to publish inspiring insights from runners I know, on why they started running and continue to do so.

Zach is a good friend from church. When he moved to Morrisville and decided to enter a half Ironman, we (MRC) were able to help him train — for the running part. He’s got to know our wacky running family through the process and isn’t able to leave. Now we’re all training to run our first full marathon together. 🤣

Why did you start running?

I have ran off an on for a few years. I would say I committed to running January 2018 in order to train for a half iron man. After the race I decided to keep running as my primary type of exercise.

What keeps you motivated?

My run group is a huge place of inspiration and accountability. We encourage each other and compete to get more fit, faster, and to enjoy runs even on the cold, raining, snowy days.

What is the most important thing you’ve learnt as a runner?

The exercise is only the tip of the iceberg, in terms of the benefits of running. The time and energy spent on a run can be so life giving. The headspace and clarity achieved during a run can be profound. For me so often a run can is so much more than a run.

If you couldn’t run, what would you do instead?

Mountain bike. Any chance I could.

What’s your biggest running goal?

To run a marathon under four hours. Ultimately, the goal is to continue running, making it a lifelong practice for body, mind, and spirit.

Why do you run, Jen?

About Jen

Welcome to a new blog series called “Why do you run?“. I hope to publish inspiring insights from runners I know, on why they started running and continue to do so.

We met Jen out running on her own one morning and someone in the group shouted over to her, “Come run with us”, and from that morning on she did. 🤣

Why did you start running?

I needed an outlet with my very stressful job. I needed exercise and running was fairly low cost and enjoyable.

What keeps you motivated?

I’m fairly motivated as an individual anyway, but having a specific goal and my running club push me further.

What is the most important thing you’ve learnt as a runner?

I can do it. As someone who is incredibly hard on herself and tends toward negative thinking, running, specifically marathon training, has helped me realize that I am capable of so much more than I ever imagined.

If you couldn’t run, what would you do instead?

Probably have a heart attack because of all the stress I’m under. Walk or swim, I suppose.

What’s your biggest running goal?

To finish a marathon in under four hours before my 40th birthday.

Why do you run, Shravan?

About Shravan

Welcome to a new blog series called “Why do you run?“. I hope to publish inspiring insights from runners I know, on why they started running and continue to do so.

Shravan runs with the Morrisville Run Club (MRC), and that’s where I met him. He’s one of our faster runners, and has the most graceful running form you have ever seen. 🤣

Why did you start running?

I started running when I discovered how unfit I became over the years. I kept running when I realized what I’m still capable of.

What keeps you motivated?

It’s a sense of self worth that comes with the fitness. The fitness (both mental and physical) that running provides is what keeps me motivated.

What is the most important thing you’ve learnt as a runner?

That its never late for the mind to tame the body. That, Running is meditation and another means to get closer to Nirvana.

If you couldn’t run, what would you do instead?

Its hard to say, I would probably bike! I don’t know what else I would do with myself 🙂

What’s your biggest running goal?

Right now, it is to finish my 1st full marathon. Eventually, finishing the Boston Marathon.

Follow Shravan