Life University (Life U) will be hosting its Inaugural Spring into LIFE 5K on the Life U campus on May 28. Everyone has their own special story and reasons why they run. In honor of this upcoming race, we wanted to have a conversation with people who run, ask them why they run and what personal gains running brings to them.

Two of our very own Life U faculty members enjoy running for very different reasons and in very different ways. Cathy Tillery, M.S., RD, CSSD, LD, is the Campus Dietitian and an Assistant Professor in the College of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies who has been running for 30 years. Gustavo Duran, M.S., CSCS, is an Assistant Professor in the College of Undergraduate Studies in the Sport Health Science Department and the Faculty & Athletics Representative, and he has been running for 15 years.

At least four days a week, Tillery’s day begins at 5:00 a.m. with a run. Tillery does run to keep in good physical health, but for her, running offers so much more. She explains that it is not easy to get up that early to put in her run, but once she is out there, she feels so much better. She loves the feeling of accomplishing a goal, and she also loves the feeling of the relaxation that comes with her early morning runs. Tillary originally began running when she had to quit gymnastics. Running replaced that energy for her.

“At the beginning of a run, since I run at 5:00 a.m. in the morning, I don’t like it very much. I just want to get it over with. But once you lace up those tennis shoes, once you take your first steps, you get into a groove. Then, by the end of the run, I am really ready for the day. For me, it’s just that one hour in the morning to myself to really collect my thoughts and get myself together before I go off in the day,” Tillery said.

Duran likes to run at least two to three times a week. He explains that the health benefit from running is good for our bodies right down to the cellular level, affecting every one of our cells in our body. He also enjoys running because he can experience nature while exercising. Duran likes to take that time to mentally and physically recharge himself. He was originally a soccer player, but he took up running once he stopped playing.

“I like the adrenaline; that’s such a good feeling,” said Duran. “It energizes me.”

For Tillery, being able to escape the pressures of daily life filled with work, family responsibilities and emails is important. She likes to be able to put those things aside for just a little while. Tillery does not run with AirPods or music of any kind, and there are no phone calls on her runs.

“It gives me time to collect my thoughts. It gives me a kind of a sense of peace of just to be able to run and let my mind wander wherever it wants to go,” said Tillery.

Duran likes to run alone. He does not belong to any organized groups or run races. Running in solitude is the best aspect of the sport for Duran. He loves to find beautiful places in nature to do his runs. Duran, like Tillery, runs first thing in the morning. The main reason Duran runs is for the many health benefits.

“For me, it’s just the physical and emotional aspects of [running],” said Duran. “Exercising on a regular basis and how important that is – the health benefits are the most important part of it.”

Tillery, on the other hand, enjoys running in community. She belongs to several groups, and they base their runs on where they would like to travel, combining a mini vacation with this exercise and experience of a 5K race. She has made many friends in this community, and Tillery considers this the most important part of why she is a runner. For her, it is all about community.

The biggest takeaway here is that there is no right or wrong way to be a runner. A person can run for miles or may run one mile. Some love to run in groups and be involved in formal races, while others run for the special time with themselves.

“So many people are afraid to get out and run. I hear it all the time, ‘I can’t run. I don’t like running.’  I think people have this idea that they have to be marathon runners, and for most people, it’s lacing up shoes and getting out there and enjoying your time. Anyone can do it. It’s easy, it’s quick, it’s not expensive … you can run at any speed and anywhere,” said Tillery.

Duran explained, “When we think about what we like to do, whatever we do, it has to develop us and figure out what it is. There is this role in insight. You just want to go; you can go do that.”

For more information on the Inaugural Spring into LIFE 5K and to register, please go to



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