Q&A: James Dodds

James Dodds

I was able to catch up with my first coach ever and possibly the most influential person in my running career and on a huge portion of my life, James Dodds. Some of my favorite runs are the long runs we’d have where we’d talk about anything and everything so I was definitely excited to get a few questions to him for this section of the blog. I can only wish that one day everyone gets to share at least 1 mile with him as I’m sure he wishes to share with all of y’all.

What got you into running?

A few things culminated at the age 24 that got me into running. First, I was gaining weight after college and I knew I needed to do something about that. Most runners are skinny so I thought I might as well try running. Next, I was engaged to be married and a number of people said we were a little young to got married. What made us think we would defy the odds, so to speak, and last a lifetime? So we ran a marathon as a symbol for long term commitment and pushing through hard times. Lastly, I stuck with the sport because it gave me a tangible sense of improvement. I think in our twenties we really aren’t sure what success should/does look like. In college we had grades that let us know where we stood against the pack. In adulthood it is more like – Hey, go live a good life. Well what does that mean? How do you know if you are improving? How do you know if you measure up against something/anything? Running provides relief from that head space. It gives you a distance and then you measure yourself against it by trying to improve upon your times and personal records. Running means something entirely different to me now but for the first five years I got into running because I wanted to lose weight, learn long term commitment, and to have a tangible sense of improvement in life.

Were you doing anything active wise before you got into running?

Yes. I have always been active but not exceptional at any one sport. I loved basketball and football as a kid but wasn’t even good enough to get playing time on my high school teams. So I played a ton of golf and become a decent golfer. I also got into powerlifting because I am from South Texas and that was our way of convincing ourselves we were tough men. RAH! POWER! In college, I was still trying to prove to myself I was a tough man so I joined the rugby team. Again, I wasn’t exceptional but I actually got starting time. I was the #9 scrum-half so lots of running was involved. You could say that was foreshadowing to me getting into marathons 3 years later.

If you could give one piece of advice about running to anyone, what would it be?

Consistency trumps intensity!! This is true for the amateur to the professional. You cannot maximize your potential in distance running without committing to consistent mileage for a long time. If you build the habit of running every morning, even if not all runs are fast or long, you will become a better runner. You will impress yourself in ways you didn’t think was possible.

What has been your favorite race?

Personal Race? That would be Cap 10K in 2012. When I first go into running I just wanted to break 1 hr in the 10K. At 5’10” and 180 lbs in March of 2012 I actually ran the 10K in 39:37. I was so proud. That course is hilly – so I have much pride knowing I broke that 40 minute barrier on a beast of a course. For the record, four years later I would puke if I had to run one mile at the average pace of that race. But I did it then and I am proud, thus, it is my favorite.

Professional? That has to go to Mr. David Rudisha setting the olympic and world record in the last olympic games. Gosh, it was the most graceful display of power and speed. He went out fast and got faster.

 

What was your hardest race?

The hardest race I have ever run is the Dallas Marathon in December of 2011. It was 44 degrees and raining. My personal record at the time was 3hrs & 48 minutes. My buddies Todd Jones & Trey Axe joined me that day and planned to pace me to a 3:30:00. I ran my heart out and bonked at mile 22. I ran 11 minute miles for #23 & #24 and then Todd got be back on race pace to finish with a 3hr 36 minute marathon. That was a 12 minute PR and is still my PR to this day. I think a PR in the marathon will always be the answer to this question. While a PR in 26.2 miles is always self assuring and mentally rewarding it will never feel good physically on that day. Pain and suffering are not potential obstacles in that race. They are the very essence of that damn race!

What is your philosophy on life?

Wow. I could write a book on this one. I would like to give you the long version but for your readers’ sake I will leave it as a one liner: “It is meant to be enjoyed” Now, I believe enjoyment involves hard work, humility, love, self improvement, acceptance of both yourself and others, and lots of other contradictory and complimentary concepts but for now let’s just leave it at: “It was meant to be enjoyed.”

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

That is a tough one. Mostly because fear isn’t really my biggest limiter. Lack of skill & talent are but not necessarily fear. For example, I will participate in most any challenge even if I know I will lose. I guess I could say I would quit my job and try to be a professional golfer if I knew I could not fail. Could you imagine how awesome it would be to be paid to play golf?

Your food always look so delicious and healthy. What is your favorite recent self prepared meal?

Can I give two answers? I can? Thanks!
#1: Breakfast: This is my favorite meal of the day. Honestly three eggs cooked in olive oil, avocado, coffee, and a small bowl of strawberries is the best. I want to do breakfast over and over again. I am a total morning guy.
I am giving two answers because most people will picture a dinner style meal when they read this question …
#2: Dinner: Salmon baked in the oven with salt & pepper, asparagus gilled in a skillet with coconut oil, salt & pepper, & mashed sweet potatoes with a little coconut milk & walnuts for crunchy texture. BOOM! Whole30 approved, super-colorful on the plate, and unbelievably tasty without any fattening or sugar-ridden sauces, etc.

Favorite quote?

“Only a sense of humor can help each of us face those great unanswerable questions: Why was I born? Why am I here? Why must I die? What must I do to make my life a triumph?” ― George Sheehan

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