One of the most important lessons I have from my running adventure is right from the beginning of the journey. I have to thank two colleagues, Kevin McCarthy and Larry Murphy, when we worked together at AT&T Labs in New Jersey in 2000.

It began with them wanting to train for and run the local E. Murray Todd Half Marathon in Lincroft, New Jersey, held annually in the honor of the local champion runner. Kevin and Larry collaborated to inspire other colleagues and created a running group that would train together and takes part in the half marathon.

They put in incredible labor of love to create training plans. This was well before all the running apps and plethora of online resources about running, training, and nutrition, so they had to put in hours to research, compile, and make 40+ binders full of information and customized schedules for the trainees. I distinctly remember there were many who were beginners, including me, who had never run beyond 3-4 miles, let alone a half marathon. I had not been running and was never thinking about getting into running. But they inspired many – including me – and coached the group even as they themselves were learning the ins and outs of the half marathon training. They shared regular motivational reminders, provided weekly technical training and nutritional tips, and painstakingly mapped out local running routes – remember this was also the time well before Google Maps – to keep us all engaged. Even more importantly, Kevin and Larry created truly supportive environments where group members with a range of abilities and experiences can feel at home and actually enjoy the training experience and the race itself.

Their inspiration not only took hold but the group went on to successfully train and complete the race. That was my first half marathon and the start of a long-lasting love for running. Many of the members of that group have gone on to keep running.

Everytime I think about that time, about the start of my running journey, my very first half marathon, I think about Kevin and Larry. The word inspiration immediately comes to mind. That’s the lesson of inspiration for me from two true servant leaders. It is a powerful reminder that we can draw inspiration from many around us at work and in our personal lives. And if you are like Kevin and Larry, you go on to inspire others around you. We just have to seize the opportunity.

Happy running and happy living!