Coach Mike Mead


Crossing the Finish Line

This month’s writing marks my 165th article for Run Georgia.  For you faithful readers, it marks my final writing for Run Georgia.  Scott Horton contacted me back in 2003 to provide a monthly article to help provide tips on running -- from a college coach’s prospective -- for the novice and experienced runner seeking advice on how to be better and faster.  My first article appeared on this web site in June 2003 and nearly 14 years later I am completing my final column!

There are many reasons why I have decided this is my last article.  First to dispel any “fake news,” Scott and I did not have a disagreement on content or that I was asked to stop writing.  Nor am I retiring and giving up running to join a commune.  Frankly, I was running out of fresh ideas and a little inspiration.

A big challenge for me the past five years has been related to my job.  Yes, I am still the head coach of cross country and track & field at Clayton State.  It is still my passion to share my knowledge and teach those who come into our programs to strive to be their very best.  However, I have taken on more athletic administrative responsibilities in these last five years that has diminished my daily contact with my student-athletes.  This is my greatest challenge many times throughout the season.  They are not left to fend for themselves.  I have great assistants who handle the day-to-day coaching chores.

I have always taken a collaborative approach with my assistant coaches, as well as the athletes themselves in developing those individuals trying to get the most from running.  We have had many success stories!  They may not be successes in developing into national champions or Olympic hopefuls, rather individuals believing in themselves that they can make personal gains through consistent and dedicated work.

In addition, I do not feel as though I am as connected with the sport of running the past few years.  I have relied on my younger coaches in my programs who have worked with me to guide our charges.  They expose new ideas and training philosophies to our athletes (and me) to help make them better.

It is about being relevant.  It was my hope many years ago to evolve my monthly writings into monthly video postings that provided more visual effects.  But my limited free time never allowed me to take full advantage of the technology to be more relevant.

I have appreciated Scott for allowing me the space these almost 14 years to share my viewpoints and perspectives on running and life.  I have shared a few personal challenges of my own during these years where I know running has made me stronger.

It has been more than eight years since I revealed that I had been diagnosed with prostate cancer in the fall of 2008. Since my surgery in January 2009 I have been cancer-free.  Running got me through that difficult chapter of my life.  Honestly, running made the experience less difficult.

I started running when I entered high school.  I did not know it at the time, but running would shape my future.  It has provided me with a livelihood – a career – I was not seeking.  Running helped me get a college education through a partial athletic scholarship.

Running led me into my first career – sports journalism.  There were times the profession kept me away from running.  The crazy late nights on Fridays during high school and college football and basketball seasons cramped my running style and kept me off the streets for many Saturday morning road races.

The career guided me to Clayton State where I shifted from journalism to public relations.  I probably had more late nights and missed more racing opportunities, but I had more flexibility with my running.  The most “recent” career move occurred over 20 years ago when I shifted from public relations to coaching and athletic administration.  Eventually, that shift connected Scott and me in 2003 to share my running knowledge.

I have enjoyed sharing what I know.  I tried to be as honest – warts and all – as I could about some of my limited expertise regarding the scientific stuff about running.  I attempted to be practical and realistic at the same time.  I always wanted to provide optimism and share how running had become a lifestyle and a life saver for me.

It was also my hope that at least one individual, after each monthly writing, came away with a nugget of information -- something that gave them inspiration, purpose, and/or support.  If any of my articles helped make you better or stronger, thanks for reading!  If not, perhaps there is someone out there in the world who you can connect with to help guide you.

To all runners big and small, keep on keeping on!