Two Rivers Treads named for greatness
It was humbling to have my work at Two Rivers Treads recognized as one of The State Journal’s Top 10 Who’s Who’s in Business for West Virginia 2017. This week I’m sharing a few questions and answers shared with writes by Christine Snyder focused on the award and community running.
Please tell me about how and when you first began to label yourself a runner. You come from a family where running is the exercise of choice or just a family where everyone’s active? You have brothers who are/were runners? Tell me about what you remember about running as a kid?
When I was a kid it was normal to go outside and run around for hours every day. So I never became a runner until they lined me up for a race but I did pretty well right from the start since I was very active in all activities as a child. We used to play tag in the neighborhood and probably would cover 3 to 5 miles during these games. My first real running just for running was when I went along on some training runs with my older brother Chris he was preparing for high school cross country. I was probably 12 at the time and on maybe my third run we covered 10 miles barefoot on the beach without much problem. I think it would be hard to find a child now who could just go out and run 10 miles barefoot. This was not strange in my day to be able to do this. I achieved really early success running and this was probably my downfall is I became a single sport athlete and it started the trail of tears of injuries for the good part of my high school and college running career. I always found joy in running and it became very depressing when I could not run. This led me to pursue a career in medicine to try to figure all this out.
When did you decide to go into medicine? What else did you consider pursuing as a career?
I decided to go into medicine probably my second or third year in college as I worked closely with our team physician Dr. Daniel Kulund who was like a mad scientist of running injuries. We had a clinic which included a big tub that runners would run in. This was novel at the time. He also watched people run on a treadmill. This is all considered normal now but 30 years ago it was innovative.
When you were older and dealing with pain from running and were advised to give it up, what were your feelings? How different is your physical situation now?
I assumed when I was young that running caused injuries and it was part of the game. Now I realize that running will make injury resilient for life and for all your activities of life. I haven’t suffered any running related injury in close to 20 years now since having foot surgery which really forced me to figure out running mechanics.
Do you feel that there’s a growing acceptance – or at least a growing interest – in minimalist running shoes?
Yes I think there is a growing acceptance that the foot is very important for running and that the foot should function naturally. I’m not sure why that is such a novel idea. It is kind of like telling diabetics that they shouldn’t eat sugar and that what they eat is important. Right now we are experiencing a resurgence in minimal running. There was a slight downtick after the first minimal revolution about eight years ago and many with poorly functioning feet and poor running styles did not adapt progressively to the minimal footwear. So our original message of train the foot and the body is now being embraced again. I spend a good part of every year traveling around teaching courses on this which is very enjoyable.
How did your sandals go over at the Boston Marathon? Was that a first for you?
Sandals performed beautifully at Boston since it was a very warm day and for some reason when your feet are exposed it keeps you cooler. This was my first time wearing sandals at Boston. I have worn sandals at the Marine Corps Marathon and JFK 50 mile runs. In 2016 I wore five fingers of Boston. Most people think you’re crazy to do this but then when you still have spring in your legs in the final miles I think they reconsider.
Please tell me about how and when you and your family made the decision to settle. in West Virginia. Did you see yourself spending so many years here? What do you like best about living in Shepherdstown?
We wanted to get back closer to family since we had young children and all of my brothers and my wife’s brother we’re having children so we wanted our kids to grow up in a family unit. I remember my son’s second birthday and it was my wife and I and him and we thought that was sad. My wife took a year off to be with her two young children and then decided to get back into medicine. She loves being out here so much that she decided to take a position in Washington DC and do the commute. She is a pediatric infectious disease specialist so needs to be in a large urban center. She makes the ultimate sacrifice to keep her kids happy which is a two hour commute most days of the week.
Both of your children run. Can you share a bit about how you all approach running in your family?
My children run for fun and we have never push them into it. They’ve decided as the cross country season and track season’s approach that they want to try out and that is the way I want it to be. The youth running teams are so supportive of each other and it’s a great culture and community for them to experience. All abilities find joy and camaraderie.
You work so hard to encourage a healthier lifestyle, but West Virginia now has this huge opioid epidemic on top of the problems we’ve long had with obesity, lack of activity, smoking. Are there any signs of progress happening in our state? If you could snap your fingers and have one change magically take hold everywhere in the state, what would that be?
We are making very slow progress since there’s so much policy and medical dogma which is holding us back. If I could make one policy change it would be to eliminate sugar sweetened beverages from public assistance and put warnings on these beverages as well as most processed junk food. We are subsidizing disease for the future of our children. When the toxin that drives disease is accessible, acceptable, and affordable there is no way you can make grand change.
If you had to pick the three biggest accomplishments of your life so far, what would you point to?
One would be raising healthy and happy children.
Two is getting acceptance in the hospital and community that you can reverse chronic disease through proper nutrition and lifestyle. Chronic disease does not need to be managed for life with medication if you understand how to get out of it.
Three is sparking a community of wellness and running here through Freedoms Run and our running store Two Rivers Treads. When I arrived here 12 years ago I was an outlier now it’s common to see people running.