We had the good fortune of connecting with Janet Hamilton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Janet, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I had worked in orthopedic rehabilitation clinics for several years and was frustrated at seeing people battle back from one injury only to have another one crop up. I felt called to really dig in and try to address the underlying causes of so many overuse injuries. Many of these injuries were linked to a similar set of deficiencies – sometimes muscle weakness, or lack of mobility, or even biomechanical structural issues like asymmetries from one side of the body to the other. As I worked with athletes to address these issues, I realized they were making good progress and that the first step to achieving your goals is to get and stay healthy. A healthy person is able to train regularly, and consistent training is what enables them to make progress in their fitness. In short, if you want to be a successful runner (or walker) you must first get and stay injury free. I started the business Running Strong because I wanted to use my unique background and experience in rehab and exercise physiology to teach athletes how to better achieve their goals injury-free.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Running Strong Coaching, from the very beginning, was intended to be a client-centered and personalized approach to training that takes into account not only the athlete’s competitive goals but also their unique life-constraints. Life and training have to coexist and it’s up to the coach to respect that and to give each individual the personalized guidance that they need in their unique circumstances so that they can achieve their goals. As a coach I feel it’s my duty to look at each training day with an eye toward the long-range goals, and to keep aware of the risk vs reward of any training decision we make. Coaching in it’s best form is collaborative. I can see the path and point it out, but the real “work” of moving along that path is done by the client/athlete. I’m most proud of the fact that I get to know each of my clients personally and in many cases they’ve worked with me for years. We share successes and sometimes we battle back from challenges but they always know I’ve got their best interest at heart. Starting the business wasn’t easy. I had no real marketing background, so I just relied on word of mouth to slowly build up my business. I shared my knowledge and coaching philosophy with others, teaching the Road Runners Club of America coaching certification classes around the country. I am proud to say I taught well over a thousand people the basics of how to coach recreational distance runners. That nationwide travel and interaction with so many gifted athletes and coaches helped to broaden my exposure and my horizons as a coach. Now I work with athletes locally as well as around the globe thanks to the miracle of video conferencing! Each athlete is individually evaluated to determine their unique strengths and weaknesses. Gait analysis can easily be done with video uploads. Injury history and current training is reviewed alongside their upcoming race goals and from all this information I develop their individualized training plan. Nothing is “cookie cutter” with me. Each person is individual and I pride myself on that approach. I stay in close contact with all those that I coach through frequent emails, phone calls, and even video chats. This hands-on approach works well and helps to develop that crucial relationship and trust between athlete and coach. I love what I do!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
This is a tough one since I don’t get into the city all that often. I love the French Market restaurant in Locust Grove, and Frank’s Old Mill Restaurant in Jonesboro. I’d also probably take them up flying. I’m a private pilot and I really enjoy taking people up to see the area from a perspective they might not have seen before. Seeing the dogwood blossoms from above is a special treat. Likewise a driving trip in the north Georgia mountains in the fall would be high on my list. Recently a good friend came to visit from Oregon and my husband and I took her to the Porsche Headquarters located just off I 75 south adjacent to the airport. She got to take a couple of “hot laps” on the track in a Porsche GT3 with a professional driver at the wheel. The ear to ear smile on her face when she got out let us know that was special. Car “geeks” would love the museum there. We also went to the Fernbank Museum at night and took in their stargazing show.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The mentors I had along the way were a big part of making me who I am today. It started with my parents who encouraged me to follow my dreams and be curious. There’s also the wonderful Anatomy teacher in High School who planted a seed that was then nurtured by my wise Grandmother who told me that the field of Physical Therapy was a good match for me. A colleague I worked with in a clinic in Oregon, Kelly Reed PT, played a key role in helping develop my evaluation skills. I got a big boost from a marathon training group in Portland Oregon, the Portland Marathon Training Clinic organized and coordinated by Patti and Warren Finke. Of course no shoutout would be complete without a big thank you to my supportive husband Bob who encouraged me to start my business when we first moved to Georgia in 1999. His support and encouragement helped me take the leap of starting the business.