I heard the news today that my first running coach and one of the two or three greatest influences in my life passed away yesterday.
Many of you who know me well know how important Coach Conway was in my life. He was a role model, inspiration, and mentor.
To those of us lucky enough to have been mentored by him, our lives have been transformed for the better because of his role in our lives.
Over the many years he was a high school coach, he has taught countless people how to succeed, not just in running but in all aspects of life. He taught us that the key to success is a burning desire. With the burning desire, we are happy to put in the significant amount of hard work required to succeed at the highest level.
Even more, though, he taught us how to be confident in ourselves without being cocky and how to be the best people we could be.
Most important, he didn’t just tell us what to do. Every one of these lessons was backed up with showing us by example how to do these things.
He was an amazing coach, an amazing mentor and role model for the hundreds of kids and young adults who looked up to him, and an amazing runner in his own right.
A long time ago, when considering all Coach Conway has done for me, I asked him what I could ever do to pay him back. He essentially told me to pay it forward. That’s what I strive to do every day at HillRunner.com. That’s why I offer as much as I do for free. That’s why I charge well below market rates for what I do charge for. I’m not looking to make a fortune. I’m looking to keep things financially viable while paying it forward and helping as many runners as I can.
In short, without Coach Conway, I don’t think the HillRunner.com we know now would exist.
I’d like to share a few of my favorite quotes from Coach Conway, a man known for his stories and his quotes:
There is no free lunch. This may not be an original but it spoke to his most important lesson for all of us. You can’t get by without putting in the work. But, if you put in the work, you can do a lot.
Weather is not a factor. No excuses. That’s how you become great. I hope he got to watch this year’s Boston Marathon because that was the epitome of this quote. Those who succeeded didn’t bring excuses. They just got it done.
Start slow and taper off. A little fun here. Coach Conway would often say that at the start of a run. Sounds like it’s going to be a very easy day, right? Wrong. If he said that, you knew it was time to buckle up. You may start slow to warm up but you were going to be running a blistering pace by the end.
Carry on regardless. I don’t recall hearing him say this a lot but, when I saw it was the title of his book, I realized it probably was the best way to describe his life philosophy. Whatever happens, whatever gets in the way, you just keep moving forward. You carry on regardless.
Now, many of us are dealing with the pain of losing such an important part of our lives. But we have learned well from Coach Conway so we will carry on regardless. We will also continue his legacy and do our best to pass his lessons on to as many others as we can.
By the way, I have an extra copy of Coach Conway’s book, Carry on Regardless. If you are in the Milwaukee area and would like to read it, let me know.