Making Strides: Marathoner Elizabeth Herndon, PhD
by Claire W.
Elizabeth Herndon makes strides in both environmental geochemistry and marathoning. As a professor at Kent State University, Herndon instructs students on the importance of global resources. While outside the classroom, though, the professor intensely trains for personal satisfaction and Olympic competition.
While considering the Olympic Trials, most assume that the event is reserved to specific, sponsored athletes. Runners like self-motivated Elizabeth Herndon demolish this stereotype.
Previously, Herndon established herself in the running field with a world-record– in the beer mile. Participants in the famed event must complete a mile on a track, while downing 12-ounces of alcohol at the start of each lap. Three years ago, the professor secured the women’s title with a time of 6:17.8. Then, Herndon aimed to create a new running legacy in Olympic marathoning.
Although self-motivated, the academic remained impressively dedicated. Runner’s World Magazine notes that the professor, despite teaching obligations, still ran at least twice a day in preparation for the Olympic trials. Admirably, Herndon practiced in the early morning, before her first class at 8:30 am, and again later in the day. In Runner’s World, she advised other runners to rise early and train enthusiastically, even if workouts seem tiring or intimidating.
“When your alarm goes off, roll out of the bed as fast as possible,” the athlete jokingly counseled.
Her regular distance totaled to approximately 90 miles a week. Herndon’s schedule may be packed, but the runner believes training encourages her happiness.
“It’s good for my well being,” the athlete concluded. “I go for a run and always feel like I’ve accomplished something.”
The professor’s perseverance allows her to stand out as a driven individual. Even with naysayers’ dissent and surprise, Herndon continues to train whilst teaching. The professor notes that her occupation and running often conflict, causing stress. In a Runner’s World interview, the athlete recalled an instance in which another professor advised Herndon to discontinue exercising if she sought a future in geochemistry. In spite of the discouraging blow, the academic knew she could persist.
“I did not take it well,” Herndon said of the incident. “It made me more determined.”
After continuous training, the runner competed in the Olympic Trials in February of 2016. Herndon assumed initially that she would not qualify for the Olympic team; however, her performance at the Twin Cities Marathon represents a commendable display of the professor’s efforts. Her swift run of 2:39:21 permitted her entry in the Olympic Trials. In preparation for the event, the athlete stated that most of her anticipation was not a result of the fierce opposition. Instead, Herndon remained eager to meet and share memories with other at the starting line.
“I’m excited to race against the best runners in the country,” the professor admitted. “But I think I’m most excited about lining up with so many friends from over the years.”
At the competition, Herndon ran another speedy race with a time of 2:45:32, placing 43rd among 205 Trial marathoners. The academic is one of five other women from the state of Minnesota to have qualified.
Clearly, the athlete’s tenacity and endurance yielded success. To Herndon, self-motivation is the key to achievement.