Running Inspiration: 21 Amazing Runners Share Their Stories

Looking for some running inspiration to help you kick off the New Year?

Maybe you need a little nudge, a dose of motivation, or a little running inspiration.

You're in the right place.

If you've ever doubted your abilities, found yourself stuck in a rut, took a long break from running, or just don't know where to start, you're not alone.

It happens. Plus, everybody starts running somewhere. 

How about a little running inspiration to recharge your batteries and remind you there are no limits, as long as you keep trying?

Check out these 21 amazing running stories...then lace up your running shoes and GO!

Gabe Callaway

Gabe Callaway was addicted to drugs and alcohol for more than two and a half years. 

He finally reached a tipping point: Get clean and sober or die a drug addict.

Here's what happened.

Leah Staley

"You'll never be able to run again."

Doctors delivered the devastating news to the young 16-year-old Leah Staley after a serious car accident.

But she decided to change their minds. And she did...

Kristen Muscaro-Winters

You set your sights on some big running goals only to have COVID-19 and other circumstances shut them down.

That ever happen?

You could just give up, throw in the towel, and binge-watch some shows

But that's not what Kristen Muscaro-Winters did.

Genevieve Yeakel Harrison

What does it really take to finish a race like the Leadville Trail 100

What about to not just finish, but make it on the podium? What kind of strength, training, grit, and determination goes into such an effort?

Life has an interesting way of helping us discover what we’re capable of.

This is Genevieve Yeakel Harrison's story.

Jess Hofheimer

If you love running, what’s the thing that motivates you to keep going?

Coach Jess Hofheimer wasn’t always a runner. She played sports and liked being active, but running wasn’t on her list of priorities. She smoked cigarettes, stayed out late almost every night, and liked partying with friends.

And then she reached one of those crossroads where everything changes.

Here’s what happened...

Brynn Cunningham

If you love running, how do you keep going mile after mile?

If running always feels like a chore, there's a good chance you'll avoid it, make excuses, do something else.

But what if something inside of you lights up every time you run?

WeeViews Ambassador and athlete Brynn Cunningham shares how to keep going.

Jen Zeigler

Some runs are ordinary. You know, nothing special happens.

You run. You sweat. You call it a day.

But run enough miles and races, and chances are pretty good you'll experience a run that changes you...forever.

That's what happened to Jen Zeigler.

Evan Jensen

Ever wonder what it takes to run 100 miles?

Evan Jensen holds the record for the most finishes at the Mountain Lakes 100-Mile Ultramarathon in Oregon.

And he wants to keep it that way as long as possible, even if there's a little vomiting involved.

Here's how he finished the race for the sixth time.

David Kilgore

What if you racked up a long list of running awards in high school and college, and then just stopped running?

That's where David Kilgore found himself. Maybe he was just done with running.

Then something brought him back to the sport, and changed everything.

Today, David is a sponsored athlete for On running shoes, and he'll close at the year running more than 3,000 miles.

Kelly Cole

Ever crash and burn trying to run a marathon?

Running 26.2-miles isn't easy. And if you're struggling with running-related injuries you can't seem to fix, it's even harder.

But if you refuse to give up, you'll find a way to make it to the finish.

Check out Kelly Cole's marathon comeback story.

Emily Flinn

Ever heard of the Rim to River 100-mile ultramarathon?

Pennsylvania runner Emily Flinn had never even heard of it when she was a new mom.

Even running a 26.2-mile marathon seemed like a big, scary, challenge.

So how does an average runner go from a casual four-mile jog when it's convenient to ultramarathon finisher?

You're about to find out.

Tim Adkins

Ever think about some big goal to run far?

It’s something Ohio resident Tim Adkins has been thinking about for more than 20 years.

But when he was a kid, something happened that changed everything in an instant, making even the simplest goals seem impossible.

If you’ve ever doubted your ability to run far, Adkins story of survival is a reminder that unexpected and surprising things can rise up out of tragedy, hardship, and struggle.

Settle into a comfortable pace, and go for a run with Tim Adkins… 

Semaj Street

What can you do to run faster, set a PR, win your age group, or maybe even take home the whole thing?

Ever thought about it? 

You faster to boost your mile pace, qualify for the Boston Marathon, or maybe even make it to the Olympics.

Personal trainer, sprinter, Olympic hopeful, and Fleet Feet-sponsored athlete Semaj Street thinks about it a lot. 

And he’s on a mission to run faster and inspire others every step of the way…

Nikki Niemeyer and Connie Gardner

How far can you go in 24 hours? When you run for cancer, it changes the way you face the challenge a little.

Two longtime running friends (Nikki Niemeyer and Connie Gardner) stepped up to the starting line of the Virginia 24-Hour Ultra Run & Relay to see how far they could go for a good cause.

Here's what happened...

Harvey Lewis

Ever heard of Big’ Dog's Backyard Ultra Race?

It's a short-course ultramarathon in rural Bell Buckle, Tenn., with an unusual promise: “There is no finish."

Nothing but the limits of willpower and human function can determine the extent or the winner of Big Dog's Backyard Ultra.

Harvey Lewis stepped up to the starting line to see how far he could go, and something amazing happened...

Jeremy Pietzold

Ever done a Run Streak?

Wait...what’s that? Basically, lace up your running shoes and go. Run every day. Maybe you break the streak...maybe not.

When Oregon runner Jeremy Pietzold signed up for a 37-day run streak, he never imagined it would turn into something a lot BIGGER.

But it did. One day at a time. One mile at a time. One step at a time.

And he's still going...

Roger Davis Jr.

Ever wonder what it takes to start running?

Maybe you’ve been running for a while. Maybe you’ve taken a break. Or maybe you’re ready to start running again.

What’s the thing that keeps people from lacing up their running shoes and crushing a few miles?

There’s lots of reasons. 

You self doubt, anxiety, being out of shape, or intimidated by other runners, or simply stepping into the unknown.

After years of telling himself he wasn't a runner, Roger Davis Jr. decided to give it a try.

Lucie Hanes

When Colorado runner Lucie Hanes stepped up to the starting line of the Silver Rush 50 Miler Ultra with 472 other runners, she wasn't sure what ticking off 50 miles would look like.

An epic race from start to end? Highs and lows? Maybe a podium finish? Or maybe a crash-and-burn kind of day?

When you face a challenge you've never experienced before, there's always a lot to learn.

Here's what happened...

Anne Crispino-Taylor

Oregon trail runner Anne Crispino-Taylor checked her Timex watch. She was chasing a cutoff time at the Tillamook Burn 50K.

And she was feeling the heat of the day. Dehydration was setting in. She wasn’t eating enough. And she was concerned about making the cutoff.

The 63-year-old cancer survivor who’s finished a long list of 100-mile races, wasn’t about to give up. 

But she was running under unusual circumstances that only one other runner was attempting. 

Ever thought about running back-to-back ultras and covering 80-plus miles in a weekend?

Anna Marie Costello

When Anna Marie Costello signed up to run the Valkyrie Trail half marathon in Colorado, she planned a vacation around it, and carved out some time on her calendar for training.

Spend a couple months training. Run some trail miles. Build endurance. Dial in nutrition and hydration. Then taper just in time for race day and an epic trail half marathon.

Sounds pretty solid, right? But what if all your well-laid plans start to unravel?

By the time race day rolled around, Anna had a tough decision to make.

Aaron Heard

What if you ran a couple marathons that really sucked?

Instead of running more marathons, run an ultramarathon.  If you're a runner, that makes perfect sense, right?

That's what Aaron Heard decided to do. 

And he had just one goal in mind when he stepped up to the starting line of the Peterson Ridge Rumble 40-Mile ultra...FINISH.

Here's what happened...

Running inspiration to ring in the New Year

Every runner has a story.

A little running inspiration may be just the thing to help you ring in the New Year, set some running goals, and lace up your shoes and go for it in 2022.

Got a running inspiration story to share or role model you look up to? Tell us about it in the comments.

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