Sarah Beth Davis cover 050319





High Point

Day job

Executive director, GO FAR

Why I run

"I played a lot of sports growing up, mostly team sports: Basketball, soccer, things like that. When I was in high school (High Point Central), I played basketball, and our coach issued an ultimatum that everybody needed to play a fall sport. My options were tennis or cross country, and I was never really good at tennis. I joined the cross country team. To be honest, I hated it at first. The first practice was, like, July, and I thought, 'This is terrible.' But what I loved about it was I stuck with it. Starting out in July, I probably couldn't run a mile. But by September, I experienced what it felt like to build up my endurance. I was really pleased with that progress. If you work hard at it, little by little every day you can build your miles and build your speed. Then in college, I took a break, as most college students do.

"It wasn't until I moved back home to High Point after college in 2009 that I went back to running and started looking into running races and training. Running is so accessible. I was young: I didn't necessarily want to join the gym, but I could easily hit the pavement and do a few miles and feel like I was gaining my fitness again. I've always loved how anyone can call themselves a runner if you just put one foot in front of the other. ... Whether you do it one time a week or 10 times a week, we're all runners. ...

"The diversity of the running community is so neat; everybody has such unique stories. It felt like something I could do, and I could confidently call myself a runner even if I wasn't super-competitive about it.

"Now in my adult life, running is not only for fitness but for mental health and stress relief."

A typical week

"Mostly now I'm running for fitness and fun, so an ideal week would be running three to four days a week, mostly about 3 miles if I'm not training for a half marathon. Even on days when I'm not motivated or maybe tired, I always say, 'You can get in 2.' Anybody can run 2 miles pretty quickly. That's why I love running: I can do a quick few miles at a high intensity and feel like I got something out of it. I mostly run by myself; I really enjoy that. I like the alone time. It's a really good time to think and process my day. My favorite thing is by myself just before the sun comes up."

Favorite place to run

"Where I mostly run is in our neighborhood. Not only is it beautiful scenery, but it's got its fair share of challenging hills. It's a great training ground. Our downtown is experiencing a bit of a transformation right now. Our downtown, outside of the furniture market, was always a sleepy little place where I didn't run. But with the addition of our baseball stadium and some of the other development, it's been neat. I've really enjoyed heading downtown, on nice, flat sidewalks, and it's been neat to run through there and watch that come to life over the last year."

Faster, higher, stronger

"This winter, obviously it rained every day, so I took to the treadmill quite a bit. A lot of people don't love the 'dreadmill.' What made it more enjoyable was speed work. I always sprint. Lately, that's what I like to do. We're coming up on summer, hot weather, and I imagine I might be taking to the treadmill again. It's always a thing I loathed, but I decided instead of trying to crank out the same miles at the same normal pace that I would use the treadmill for speed work, and I've grown to enjoy it."

GO FAR: Inspiring fitness, healthy living

"I manage all of the fundraising and development, manage our staff, help to grow our program by recruiting new schools to start a running club. A lot of times I'm the public face of the organization, going out, speaking to groups, to try to gain more support for the organization, whether it be volunteers or just raising awareness in the community of the importance of getting kids active and engaged in healthy living. ...

"I've been with GO FAR 2 1/2 years, since 2016. My role there has been the first time where personal and professional passions collided. I've always worked in the non-profit sector, and I enjoy that work, and I've run for a long time and been into fitness and wellness. It's always been a really good fit. For children in our community, it's a great introduction to creating healthy habits and laying the foundation for a healthy lifestyle. There are a lot of children who don't have the opportunity to play on traveling sports teams, or may not be interested in that, and GO FAR is a good fit. Running doesn't require a lot of equipment. It's a really good introduction, not only into the sport of running but fitness in general.

"I love the benefits that it has for families and whole communities. Our emphasis and our focus will always be on getting children active and excited about healthy living. But what happens, you have parents that are inspired that may want to train with the children on the weekend and participate in the race, and the next thing you know they're leading their own journey toward better health. We've heard countless stories of teachers and school principals who have seen the kids running around outside and thought, 'That looks like a good way to get active,' so they'll join in, too. It really has the potential to inspire children and encourage whole schools and communities to support healthy living together."

Life passions

"First and foremost my family (husband, Brian; daughter, Emma, 2). I really enjoy spending time with her and watching this fun phase of life. The second thing would be children's advocacy work in general. I'm a big supporter of public education and try to stay involved with initiatives in the High Point community that support student success. I'm pretty involved with the Hartley Drive YMCA, on their board of directors. All of those things, GO FAR included – that's why I think it's such a perfect fit. I enjoy supporting students at a young age and helping them create good habits and good skills that will set them up for success."

My running inspirations

"Our GO FAR kids. There is nothing more inspiring than on race day seeing a couple of thousand of our young runners cross that finish line. Most of them have never experienced anything like that. Most of them have never gone out and run more than what they do in P.E. class. Just to see them setting a goal and working little by little for it, and then the enthusiasm and excitement of race day – it's a really cool experience. I always leave there feeling a little more motivated to go back to my personal goals and try to do more."

What I think about while I'm running

"Oh gosh, all kinds of stuff. If I run early in the morning, I try to think through my day. It's a really good time to think about my schedule and what my day's going to look like. One of my strategies for going up big hills is to think through something, through an issue at work or a problem, and by the time I know it, I've made it up that hill and I wasn't thinking about the effort."

Look what I did

"Being able to get back into and fit it in, balancing a busy schedule. In the season of life I'm in right now, I'm proud of being able to make that a priority in my day. It's so important for not only our physical health but our mental health."

Something I'd like to do

"I'd never had a desire to do more than a half marathon. But after having Emma, I thought, 'All right, I've done some hard things. 26.2 doesn't sound that challenging.' It sounds like something that's attainable. I'm hoping in the next year or two to be able to fully commit to a full marathon and training.

"And I just had this conversation with my husband, I asked his thoughts on – Trivium does a sprint triathlon in High Point in August. I'm really interested in doing that. I was thinking through the training; I think I could fit this in. My husband gave me a bike a few years ago, and I swam competitively growing up. I've always been intrigued by the triathlon and want to try something different."

Up next

"In the fall, there's a handful of 5Ks here in High Point. I love the fall season; I love the weather. I'm such a High Point, hometown girl."

Words to the wise

"Mind over matter. We are always so much more capable of doing things we think we can't do if we have the right attitude. If you think you can or you can't, you're right. It's all about your attitude or perspective. Something that we tell our GO FAR kids all the time is they can do big things, they can set big goals; you have to have the right perspective about it and the commitment that you can."

Contact Eddie Wooten at (336) 373-7093, and follow @EddieWootenNR on Twitter.

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