Ian Sharman: When Running is Your Life
Photo: Ian Sharman with Julbo athlete and coaching client, Magda Boulet at Smith Rock, Oregon, plus our friend Bridget Duffy
A decade ago I saw a TV documentary about a race in the Sahara desert and it intrigued me enough to enter it and start running. As most people find, those early months and even years were a huge learning experience with a lot of trial and error combined with learning from friends and trying to read as much as I could about how to train for endurance running and racing.
Once I started to see some significant progress, including some minor ultra wins and attracting sponsors, I realized what a large part of my life running had become. So I naturally wanted to be more than a weekend warrior and somehow make a living related to running. At first the path wasn’t clear but once a few acquaintances asked me about coaching (which I turned down since I didn’t feel like I was ready), I looked into getting more formal qualifications to help turn that into a career. So a few months later in 2011 I had a USATF coaching qualification and was a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, hoping I’d be able to live off my new profession given that I’d just given up my old job as an economist.
Since then, online coaching of endurance runners all over the world keeps me much busier than my old job ever did. I'm working more hours but it does not feel like work. The difference is that it’s something I’m extremely passionate about and really want to do as well as possible. It gives me more flexibility for training and racing than an office job and means I spend each day talking to runners and staying up-to-date on the latest research and articles. In addition, every time I travel to a race, it adds to my experience and lets me meet clients and dozens of other runners.
Like any job, it’s not all sweetness and light, but I never have that feeling on a Monday morning where I groan that it’s the start of a new work week. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else and it’s incredibly fulfilling to see happy clients achieve their dreams and do things they didn’t dare to imagine were possible. I also enjoy the business aspect to it all and expanded my coaching services to include other expert coaches, gait analysis and nutrition to provide more of a one-stop shop. Who knows where it’ll lead eventually but I’m lucky enough to have carved out a niche that allows me to make my living from what I love beyond the point when I can compete competitively in ultras.
Ian Sharman is one of the top ultra runners. You can connect with him and see where his latest running adventure brings him, on Facebook and Instagram. You'll most likely see him sporting the Aero, Venturi, Breeze or Stunt.