Eric began running in elementary school and hasn’t stopped since! Elementary school run club led to High School state championships and then a collegiate running career at Florida Southern.
You can now find him training for his next race by riding around Pensacola with the Ride More Bicycles or West Florida Wheelman crew and leading the running pack during an occasional 6@6 Group run.
Why did you start running?
Running…how did I start, I ask myself that a lot, haha. Why do we do this sport? Why do I wake up @ 5am to run to confront the 90 degree weather with 1,000,000% humidity, the rain, and the cold….why? After getting the email and the honor of being asked to be Running Wild’s Athlete of the Month I went running at UWF after work and asked myself how I got here, what actually got me started and motivated to RUN of all things. Why not soccer, football, baseball, or any other sport? What ended up happening was getting lost in my thoughts; running through the woods, away from distraction, work, and the stresses of life. So I searched my thoughts and found me reliving my collegiate running days of traveling and basically living with my teammates for 4 years, looking at High School where my running career truly blossomed, Middle School where my PE Coach Gary Upshaw motivated me to make this sport my focus, and Elementary School where jogging club sparked the fire of competition in my belly. So let’s start from the beginning, in a Galaxy Far Far Away there was….. a boy.
A Middle school boy, this is when things really started for me I was starting to run to get in shape for Soccer, and every Wednesday at Workman Middle School we would have to run the mile. Like any other kid I walked it with my friends because you know that was cool, and I’d run a lap or so just to get it over with. Unknown to me, my PE coach Gary Upshaw was watching this and payed some attention when I would run at the Cross Country club in the morning and realized I was faster over longer distances than most. So one Wednesday before the mile Coach Upshaw came up to me to bargain with me. Come to find out the three PE coaches had a running bet every Wednesday on whose athlete or student would win the mile….yep they were betting on us at PE, obviously not for money just a playful bet. Upshaw had been beaten for months by Coach Kelchner and one of her girls. So 10 minutes before the mile started Upshaw began recruiting me to run this mile instead of hanging out with my friends so naturally I said no…Until he leaned in close and said “Eric if you win I’ll give you a Check Orange Pop or Soda” Coach Upshaw kept drinks in his fridge that he would sell for a quarter after PE. So for a free Orange Pop I ran and never looked back, I got that Orange Check and every Wednesday after that our same deal was on and I ran myself into the ground for that Orange Pop. So how did I start running? Orange Pop…Orange Check to be exact… from Sam’s Club.
How has Running Wild helped you reach your goals?
Looking at what I’ve accomplished in life, I credit immensely to running and the people that have helped me to reach those goals; from monumental coaches to rock solid knowledge and help from local shops, most importantly Running Wild. There are two sides to the accomplishments that running and the pillars holding me up have brought to me. On one side I have the athletic side, without the coaching of men like Gary Upshaw and Everett Whiteside I would have never been able to perform and learn how to race the way that I did. Without Running Wild I wouldn’t have been helped with getting into shoes that would allow me to run day in day out for 15 years running 8-10 times a week putting in 60+ miles every week. Without Running Wild’s help I wouldn’t have been able to do that and would have very well been plagued with injury, but no matter what you do injury is inevitable and they were right there as well.
What was your favorite thing about training with Running Wild?
Connections…connections and knowledge, running with the 6@6 group on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings “when I wake up in time” has allowed me to meet people that are so passionate and knowledgeable. Without it after college I wouldn’t have started Triathlon, my new addiction. Running Wild brings a community aspect to the sport that I hadn’t yet experienced. I’ve been stuck in the regimented competition side of the sport which I LOVE!!! But being able to dig into the community and help people and give back the way people helped me is a new aspect that puts a fire in my belly. Producing local races and informational classes that can teach people and help people getting plugged into the sport is what Running Wild brings to the table.
What is your greatest (favorite) athletic/running accomplishment to date and why?
There are three accomplishments that are monumental thanks to running, Running Wild, and My Coaches Gary Upshaw and Everett Whiteside; 3-Time State Champion, getting me to college and allowing me to be successful in life after college.
My Sophomore Year of Cross Country I pulled my Hip Flexor the night before the Regional Cross Country Meet. I finished out the race the next day and State Finals a week later but had nowhere near the performance needed. With my rock solid pillars of Everett Whiteside and the rehab and injury prevention tools and exercises Running Wild provided I was able to return the next year winning my first individual State Championship going on to finish 4th in the 2-mile in track the same year and round out my Senior Year with a 2nd Place at the State Finals in Cross Country and win my third State Title later that year in the 2mile in Track guaranteeing me scholarship, a ticket to college and being the 2nd person in my family to go.
TOP 5 Products from Running Wild to help you achieve success?
1.Trigger Point Therapy Kit– love/hate relationship with this but it’s what keeps me going when I’m beaten and battered.
2.GPS Watch-helps me keep on pace during touch workouts. PLUS got to upload to Strava and make sure you get the segments….right?
3.Shoes- without the right shoes I wouldn’t have been able to put in the 60-70+ miles a week and stay injury free.
4.Shorts-not everyone’s cup of tea but I like the shorter length shorts that Running Wild offers over big box stores. Who likes short shorts??).
5.The Staff-Probably one of the most understated products at Running Wild. Without these guys I wouldn’t have had the years of running advice spanning shoes, apparel, nutrition, and beyond. Basically anything running related. These guys are an awesome resource. Pick their brains every chance you get!
What is your next athletic goal and how do you plan to reach it?
Well……That’s a great question, haha! A long standing goal was to break the 15 minute barrier in the 5k. I came dangerously close my Senior year of College running 15:09, to reach this I’m going to need to seriously look into finding the right race and take a hard look at my training program. The problem that I’m facing is I’m enjoying Triathlon and Cycling a ton right now and I know what it would take to get me to sub 15:00 minute shape and that would mean sacrificing Triathlon’s and Cycling and I’m not sure if I want to do that. I love the Triathlon community in this area and I don’t know if I would want to shift focus away from it and only focus on running.
Eric’s running obsession has transformed and is currently taking the triathlon and cycling world by storm! Most recently having won an overall finish at the Red Eye Velo Crit road race and XTerra Triathlon!
We are thankful that he is a part of the Running Wild family and look forward to seeing what he’ll accomplish next!