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Home » How to find joy & motivation in running through community with Allison Gaillard! Ep84

How to find joy & motivation in running through community with Allison Gaillard! Ep84

#084 – If you’re feeling isolated and discouraged in your running journey, even though you’ve been trying to find motivation on your own, then you are not alone! Allison Gaillard, running coach and host of Run Your Story Podcast, has a journey that takes an unexpected turn as she discovers the power of community through running.

It can be tough to stay motivated and accountable when you feel like you’re the only one invested in your progress. As a coach and mentor, she encourages others to find joy in the journey and the bonds they form along the way. Join us as we dive deeper into the importance of building a supportive network within the running community.

Topics Covered:

  • Uncover the benefits of establishing connections within the running community to enhance support networks and meaningful engagement
  • Hear valuable advice on navigating common barriers that novice runners might face, including injuries
  • Delve into the creation of an inclusive fitness movement that fosters camaraderie and connection through shared exercise experiences
  • Discover the impact that sharing personal narratives can have on inspiring and encouraging the running journey of others

Today’s Guest

Allison Gaillard

Allison is a runner, mom of two incredible people, and  wife to a brilliant man. She has an undergraduate degree in Athletic Training, is RRCA Certified Adult Distance Running Coach, will become a cross-country coach in the fall, and is the host of Run Your Story Podcast.

Follow Allison:


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Richard Conner: [00:00:00] Hi, everyone. I have the pleasure of sitting down with Alison from run your story podcast, and we talk a lot about the power of finding your community. And as a run coach, she says some tips about having a positive mindset. As well as how to avoid injuries along your running journey. Hope you enjoy. hi everyone. Welcome to Inspire to Run Podcast. Today I’m here with Allison Gaillard. Alison is a runner mom of two incredible people and wife to a brilliant man. She has an undergraduate degree in athletic training, is RRCA certified Adult Distance Running Coach [00:01:00] and will become a cross-country coach in the fall And is the host of Run Your Story podcast. Welcome to Alison.

Allison Gaillard: Yeah. Thanks for being here. I thanks for letting me come. I’m excited.

Richard Conner: Yeah, for sure. So excited to have you here. It’s been a few months since we first met at Podfest earlier in the year, and we’ve kind of had it on the list to, you know, get each other on, um, on each other’s shows. So here we are to talk about your story and running and yeah, what you do. So, so thanks for being here.

Allison Gaillard: No, absolutely. It’s, it truly is an honor. I love what you do. I love listening to your podcast and you know, like I’ve, I’ve told you like, I feel like. We’re brother, sister podcasters, we’re on the same mission, so I love that so much.

Richard Conner: Yes, yes, same. And I agree. It’s um, you know, it’s really wonderful for the opportunity to help others along their journey. And the more podcasters like us out there doing that, the more people we can help and serve. So yeah, for sure. Totally agree. And yeah, so just to learn a little bit about [00:02:00] you before kind of this, Podcasting world that you’ve entered, but you know, how did your journey start in running or just learn a little bit about you.

Allison Gaillard: Sure. So I’ve always played sports, but it was mostly like softball, tennis, that sort of thing. I’ve always been active. Sports has always kind of been like my outlet for, for things. And something that you’ve mentioned is kind of like with running, that’s just something that anybody can do no matter like.

If you’re having a bad day, go hit the pavement. If you got great news, go hit the pavement. You know? So that’s kind of always been my outlet. But as you know, as a parent, there comes a time where you’re, you don’t think about yourself as much. And so I had two little kids at home and I was kind of like, what do I do?

Not much to do with these two little kids. And we had the opportunity to move to Vermont. And in Vermont, people are so active. People are out hiking mountains, you know, snow skiing like, and we were very fortunate to meet a [00:03:00] lot of incredible people that just became family and we absolutely loved them. We were always doing something with them.

And that kind of reignited that spark for me. And we moved back to Alabama after my sister-in-law passed away with leukemia. We knew we needed to be with family and so we moved back. But I remember telling my husband, we’re moving to small town Jackson, Alabama. There’s not much there to do. It’s very rural.

I’m gonna need something to do. And my father-in-law, who I call pops, um, he was already doing a lot of cycling century bike riding. And so I was like, Hey dad, I’m gonna join you on this bike ride. So that was a really cool season of life because we went all over the state of Alabama, even into a little bit of Georgia and Florida and road, and it was really cool.

And to know what your body could do, I mean, I would’ve never thought I would be biking a hundred miles. Like that just wasn’t a thing. Um, but I did it and it was, it was hard, so hard and [00:04:00] especially when it’s hot in Alabama and I, but then I just started praying more intentionally, still cycling. But I knew I needed to be surrounded by other moms, because as a mom, you go through things and you want somebody to talk to, to help guide you.

And so I’m a big believer in mentorship and I knew I needed to be surrounded by people that were my age, but also that were older than me and to help guide me along as I was a mom of two young kids and part of that group. Was gals for his glory and they were starting a couch, a 5K program. But I went, and I wish I could say I fell in love with running, but I fell in love with the community. I fell in love with the people and.

That’s what got me coming back and I’ve gotten to do some incredible things with them. We had since moved from small town Jackson, where my heart is at, but we moved to Mobile, Alabama, which is a [00:05:00] great area, great city. Um, we’re only about 55 minutes away from Jackson, but. It’s just your people and, and you miss them.

And it’s something that you’ve shared with me is that when you get to go back to that place where you have roots, it just means something. And so, um, that’s really where my running story started. And so for me it’s all about the community and it’s all about the family aspect of it. That as a family you can go out and do this. So that’s kind of it in a nutshell.

Richard Conner: Well, thank you for sharing that. And first off, sorry for your loss. Uh, I do appreciate you, you sharing that. And you know, I really love your story around how you got started and you weren’t a runner when you, you know, kind of growing up and you did other sports and, you know, you didn’t necessarily fall in love with running, but you fell in love with community.

I really love what you, what you shared there, and we’ll talk a little bit, you know, more about that as we get into the conversation. So, you know, one of the areas that, that I’m [00:06:00] interested in is kind of your mindset at the time. So you mentioned it wasn’t something that you enjoyed l doing and you were more interested in the community part, but you know, running is not an easy thing to get started in if you’re not in the right mindset.

So like, what were your, what were your thoughts during that time and what encouraged you to like, take those first steps and, and kind of work through that plan?

Allison Gaillard: Oh, there’s an ongoing joke and it was really funny. During Mardi Gras, I called a necklace and that necklace had a whistle on it, and I knew exactly that it needed to go back to Liz Bath, um, because she would blow the whistle when it was time to walk or time to run. And so I just, there it became an ongoing joke of like, someone needs to take the whistle from her.

And I think though it was just knowing that I was surrounded by people that were in the same, we were in the same season of, we’re doing casual 5K together. We weren’t runners. That wasn’t something like we were all learning this together. I, my first pair of [00:07:00] shoes were from, uh, the local store. Not, it wasn’t even a running store.

It was just like a goodies or something that they had. And I mean, there may have been like $40. Because I knew nothing you know, about running. I just knew I wanted to be with my people. So I think my mindset was just community. I wasn’t even thinking about pain or anything cuz I was with these other women and we were just laughing and cutting up.

And if you would’ve told me 10 years ago, Alison, like, you’re gonna run a marathon, you’re gonna do a haves, you’re gonna do all these things, you’re gonna become a running coach. I literally would’ve been like, this is like, who? Like, come on. That’s, that’s a funny joke because, That was never anything that I was, it was never in my line of sight to think that I’m gonna go anything further than this.

To me, it was just being with other women and, and complaining together and, and just having a good time having that joy together. So I guess the mindset wasn’t, it was never a competitive [00:08:00] one. It was just this is my group of women, these are my people.

Richard Conner: For sure, for sure. I, I love that. And you know, that’s not something that I found until much later, I guess, in my journey. So it’s something I had, uh, early in my running career. So I started running in, in high school as part of, um, sports there, cross country and track. So I did have that community and that team there.

But didn’t have it for many, many years, even when I kind of got back into running and not something I found until most recently. So, so I definitely can, you know, relate to that.

Allison Gaillard: Absolutely. And I think if something isn’t fun anymore and you’re not surrounded by people that support you and encourage you, It, you get burnout and, and you never want that as a runner, especially when you have goals and you and you wanna experience things with other people. And we were made to do that.

We were made to be in community with one another. And so when you get to celebrate that and you get to run that, one of the coolest things for me is to be able to, to run with people at races. Uh, and I’ll have friends that will be like, oh, I don’t wanna hold [00:09:00] you back. I’m like, I don’t care. Like. Uh, you know, they can say it’s that race.

Um, your time is there forever. I don’t, I don’t care. You know, like, that memory will also be there forever. So I’d rather have the memory than the time.

Richard Conner: Yeah, for sure. And you know, let’s talk about that for a minute. So, you know, that’s kind of the next pillar and what we talk about is movement. And I’d love to hear about. Your fun races, any fun stories around that and your training to do those races? Like what did you do even do after your, your first couch to 5k?

Allison Gaillard: We did Couch, 5k and it was a local race that we did, and that kind of sparked for us, hey, we wanna go do more. So we would all pack up together, drive to Mobile and, and run together. I mean, we’ve done, you know, you dress up in costume or you, again, it was just community. It was just doing it together.

Now it’s a little more different, um, where we’re still running together. [00:10:00] In Jackson, it had, at one moment they had such a great running community, and then people moved away and it just kind of dwindled. So now we’re starting back up. We meet on Thursdays and it’s called Coffee and Kilometers. So I drive up on Thursdays and I’m just, I just love being there with our people.

We actually have a 5k, uh, that’s starting up. Its first ever. That’ll be next weekend that everyone’s so excited about. But I think now it’s just training’s a little bit different. Um, as, as I said, I live in Mobile, Alabama, so it gets hot. So training kind of, you know, dictates based on what the weather is.

Um, but I have this cool watch called a Choros, so it gives me some great training plans. In the, um, as an RRCA coach, I get to have access to other coaches. We kind of like pick each other’s brains, which is really cool. And just talking with different people and just saying, Hey, what are you doing for your training plan?

Or what works [00:11:00] for you? And just, and just figuring out, cuz again, it should be a joy. Like I tell people when you look at your running shoes, they should get you excited and you should be like, I cannot wait to get out there and hit the pavement. And if you’re dreading it, then you think you, you should re-look at that.

You know? Um, as something that you said to me was, it’s about balancing it, you know, with priorities. And so if you’re stressing out that day that you can’t make your run, that’s okay. Give yourself some grace and just say, you know what, I’m gonna, there, there is tomorrow and I’ll get it in and I’ll get it done.

And you just, you, the great thing about a new day is it’s a new day, it’s a new opportunity. And you get to push yourself a little bit further, you know? And I would rather have friends that are having a good time than somebody get injured because they were pushing too hard so, or they didn’t fuel correctly, or whatever it is.

So I think the joy should always be there. Um, I was inspired by one of the ladies that I interviewed [00:12:00] and she was saying that her races, she ran for, , a young man who had, I think it was like Down syndrome and I, I instantly knew there is a young man that was just born to a girl that I knew from Jackson, Alabama and, or now she’s a young lady, I guess should say.

But, um, that I reached out to her and I said, I wanna run for Baker. I want to inspire him. And so he now gets all the medals , but to be able to send him encouragement to where as he grows, he knows that somebody’s advocating for him.

And hopefully one day we’ll have a Baker Run story and to where he’ll wanna share his story and he’ll wanna hit the pavement with his auntie Alley that’s out there running with him. So, you know, I think it’s just finding the love of running, but also making a difference with it. And I think that’s what, what motivates me, um, when I did my first half.

Which was in Mobile, which is surprisingly a little hilly. Um, [00:13:00] I was able to run for Camille Place and the Rose Center, which are organizations that help survivors of human trafficking. So I always try to look at the fact that I get to run and I get this freedom to run that’s not been taken away from me.

So I will always have a reason that I’m on the pavement, a reason that I’m running other than for myself. And that’s kind of been my goal,

Richard Conner: I love that. I love that. And thank you for sharing that. I mean, you are inspiring just the work that you’re doing to build community, to support others, and that is your purpose. And I could totally see that. In your podcast, I could see that in your online community, like you are the center of it and you know, I really loved what you’re doing there.

And you know, one of the things I’d love to know, like beyond community, what are some of the common things that you coach your, your runners on, or what some of the key questions that you get as a coach to kind of helped them along in your, in their [00:14:00] journey, whether it’s physical or mental or you know, what are the things there?

Allison Gaillard: I think one of ’em is, especially when someone’s new starting out, is they go ahead and look at the schedule and they go, oh, I can’t do that. And the cool thing about doing a podcast is one of the questions I ask is, what’s your mantra? And I tell, like, I pull from those.

I’m like, here’s a whole list of when things get rough and it’s hot and humid, or it’s windy and it’s cold. Here’s what you’re gonna say to yourself. And I love the fact that I hear time and time again, we can do more than what we think we can. And it’s just starting , I think so much of it is we, we are, we so wanna compare our journeys to one another and that cannot be further from the truth.

And I think that was one of the driving forces for creating runners stories because. You see someone cross that finish line and they get discouraged because their time isn’t what they wanted, or they thought they were faster than what they were, [00:15:00] or you know, you’re like, oh, how did that person get so fast?

Well, they weren’t always that fast, you know? And as you’ve shared with me, you know, you gotta, you gotta start somewhere and you gotta work for it. Like, that’s the thing. And you know, I just tell people, especially if it’s their first one, you’re gonna have a PR. Just keep that in mind, you know? And you can do more than what you think you can right now.

It seems like a huge obstacle, but we’re not that, that’s race day, we’re we’re preparing for race day. I just tell people, you just take it one day at a time. Don’t focus on what’s tomorrow. Focus on now. And you get through that workout, you get through that run, and then you move to the next day.

And if you’re injured or you need to take a break, that’s okay. Again, give yourself some grace because you are human. Things are gonna happen and you, you can’t control that. But you can control your comeback. You can control, Hey, I want to, I want to, [00:16:00] to get better at that, or whatever it is that they’re wanting.

I think right now it’s been really cool because we’re actually gearing up. I’m no longer doing training uh, because I’ll be training some middle school and high schoolers in the fall. Uh, but we are actually getting ready to launch. It’s called Anchored Movement. One of the things that we learned as a group of coaches in mobile that had done run your story training is that not everybody can run.

And one of the things that I’ve also gotten to learn is how important our adaptive athletes are. And so I wanna have a place where everybody can come no matter, no matter what they think limits them. Um, and so anchored movement is family friendly oriented, and it’s where we’ll meet Saturday mornings and we’ll have a time of fellowship, a time where, again, we’re building community within a community and if somebody wants to train with us that we’re doing, we have so many great [00:17:00] races in our area.

That we’re gearing up for. And so we’ll train together, but it won’t be like as structured, but it will be fun. And that, or if somebody’s like, you know what? I wanna, I wanna be with you guys. So they’re gonna walk, or they’re gonna bring their bikes, their kids can bring their scooters. Because as a family unit, we all need to be moving together.

And again, if a mom can bring her stroller and she meets another mom that has a stroller, you know, and they’re running together, that’s community. And that’s a bond that now they have. And one of the things I’ve learned is that yes, we are runners. Yes we are cyclists or whatever we are, but that’s not who we are.

That’s a part of who we are. Just like you, like you are a dad, you are, you know, a husband, you are a podcaster, you’re made of all these different things. You’re not just one of those. And so, but as runners, we know it’s mental. And so when we get sidelined, we’re like, where’s our identity now? And so I think keeping that focus.

And that’s really what I try to [00:18:00] teach people when they come to me is, you’re gonna do something incredible. Enjoy the journey. Enjoy these moments, cuz crossing the finish line, that’s a celebration of all your hard work. So I don’t know if that answered all your questions.

Richard Conner: That was an incredible answer, and we have a lot to talk about there. First, I’ll start with, um, the mantras. So I love what you’re doing with the mantras and honestly, since I share with you my mantra, I don’t know how inspiring that’s gonna be for

Allison Gaillard: It’s correct. I loved it. Yes.

Richard Conner: So I don’t know. But, uh, but yeah, but I love what you’re doing there.

I love that you’re, you know, again, and everything that you’re sharing is the underlying theme is around community and I, and that’s really, um, that’s really something special. So, so thank you for sharing. That, you know, one of the things that, um, I wanted to ask you is what would you say was your biggest obstacle, let’s say, in your running journey, and how did you overcome it?

Allison Gaillard: Oh, definitely injury. Um, as I [00:19:00] started to fall in love with running, uh, I decided, hey, I wanna do more. And so I went from a 5K and then to a 10 K, but I didn’t have adequate training as far as shoes and recovery and all of this. And so I kept getting injured. I was in pt. I. You know, was searching for things.

And so then when I started doing my own research and I was like, okay, maybe it’s the shoes, and I look at the bottom of my shoes. Yeah. And I had no idea to rotate shoes. I think that’s been one of the things for me is learning how important proper running shoes are, how important hydration is.

Um, I was, it took me a while to understand the importance of strength training as a runner and I, I cannot stress that amount to people. Like strength training is spectacular, whether it’s with a group or with a coach or whatever you’re doing. Just strengthen because you’re putting such a stress on the body and recovery is, is optimal.

So I think [00:20:00] my biggest obstacle for the longest time was, was injuries. And then I’m a bigger athlete, so as much as I would love to be an elite, very small athlete, I’m in the Athena bracket. And for the, that was actually a reason why I didn’t wanna do the podcast because, I was like, I’m a bigger girl, nobody’s gonna wanna listen to me.

Um, or as a coach and I had to get over that fear of we all have a place and if I say your pace, your race, it’s your body. You can do more than what you think you can, then who am I to judge what a body can look like? Cuz I’ve seen incredible athletes of all different sizes, cross finish lines.

So that’s what I love about the running community.

Richard Conner: Yeah, for sure. And you know, maybe it also helps the runners in your community or folks in your community relate better to you, right? If they’re,

Allison Gaillard: I hope so.

Richard Conner: if they, you know, like you’re talking about the elite run. I’m not an elite runner, right? But I’m looking at the elite runners. I can’t [00:21:00] relate to them.

I’m like, there’s no way I could run, you know, I don’t know. Sub two hour marathon. I don’t know. I’m making it up like, but that, I agree with you that, you know, everybody’s kind of in a different place and if you can relate better with your community, you can make them believe that they can achieve, you know, what they’re looking for and they can run.


Allison Gaillard: A hundred percent.

Richard Conner: I appreciate you sharing that.

Allison Gaillard: Yeah.

Richard Conner: And then, you know, talking about your biggest obstacle being your injury. So you talked a lot about how to prevent those injuries, right? So good running shoes. Completely agree. Um, and getting fitted for those shoes. And it’s something that I didn’t even learn, um, right out of the gate.

Something I learned over time. Um, strength training, hydration, recovery. So doing all those things and not skipping any of those things cuz you feel, you know, if you feel like, well, I did my workout and I’m done. Well, no, you’re not, like, you might not get the maximum benefit for what you just did unless you do those other things.

So, you know, those are really important points that you make. And then what, what about for someone who maybe [00:22:00] pushed it too far and now they have an injury that needs to be addressed? Like what do you, I think you mentioned you go to a p, you go, you went to a pt, but wh what is that kind of first step for someone is, is it going to a pt or what, what should they do?

Allison Gaillard: Uh, you know, we are very fortunate in Mobile that we have great PTs. Uh, we have great sports chiropractors. You know, I think if there’s an injury that it’s sidelined you, I would definitely go get it checked out. Don’t try to self-diagnose. Don’t try to think, oh, it’ll get better, because it really could be something.

It also could be something that you need to get checked out because what caused that injury? You know, was it, is there something that’s off in your pH or is there something that’s off? You know, chemical wise, you know, imbalances, our body’s always trying to maintain homo stasias, and so when something’s off, it’s gonna, it’s gonna compensate in some way.

And so, I definitely believe in going to get checked out, whatever it is, you know, whether it’s, Hey, I wanna go see an ortho, or you know, even your gp, you [00:23:00] know, they can write a referral for you for pt. Or again, find a great sports chiropractor. We, we have one that I was very fortunate to be able to work with for a while.

Dr. Jeremy Quinn and I learned so much from him, from the aspect of working on athletes when they would come in injured and about prevention and recovery and, You know, you never want to hear those words. Oh, you need to take two weeks off. So you do what you can now, but if you need to take those two weeks off, take ’em off, do something else.

Your body was made to move, so maybe get on the bike instead. Maybe I cannot stress enough about aquatic rehab and how great that is being in the pool. I think it’s so underutilized. Um, and it’s something that I would love to see more people do is to get out there in the pool and you can work up a sweat in the pool, running around, lunging, doing things that you may not be able to do on dry land right now.

So definitely go get checked out.

Richard Conner: Yes, for sure. So thank you for sharing that. [00:24:00] And, you know, being in the pool, I, I don’t know if I think about that often, and certainly we haven’t talked about that on the show, so I’m gonna write that one down. We’re gonna have to, we’re gonna have to have that as a topic here, but that’s a really great, uh, great point for our listeners.

So, you know, Alison, you know, kind of as we wind down here, I just love to. You know, hear a few things from you, one of which is, what would be the one thing you would say to our listeners to inspire them to run?

Allison Gaillard: Mm, find a reason to run and if you can’t find the reason, be the reason, because you may be the reason that someone else runs. Uh, I, we are, I cannot say enough great things about the community that I live in in South Alabama, whether it’s in Jackson, Alabama, or mobile area. We have so many great running groups that are here.

And I also get to partner with Do Goods, which is one of my favorite shopping stores. And once a month we host what’s called Run Good. So we highlight a nonprofit so people get to come out, run through downtown mobile, [00:25:00] go shopping, and, and then run together. And it’s absolutely been so cool to hear people say, oh, I didn’t know about this.

But then it’s also been cool to s to like hear those nonprofits say, oh, I wanna go run now, because now they’re inspired. And so again, we’re community and we’re made to inspire one another. So, You know, find a reason to run, whether it’s for your children or your health as you’ve mentioned before, or whether it’s for, um, your community.

Whatever it is, be the reason. And if not, say, you know what, I’m gonna inspire someone else.

Richard Conner: Love it. Love it. Thank you for sharing that. Allison, you are an inspiration to all of us and to your community. Let’s talk about the work that you’re doing with your community and podcast. So share a little bit about, you know, what you do with your podcast and, and how you’re building community and how folks can, uh, find you and follow you online.

Allison Gaillard: Sure. So Runner’s story has a twofold mission. [00:26:00] One is to deepen the roots of our running community. So, as I said, you know, we never know what someone’s story is when they’re running. We never know how they got so fast on that finish line. Or maybe that person you’re running next to, this is their first ever race.

And maybe they’re coming out of a really bad situation, or maybe they’re celebrating something and they’re like, I wanna be proud of this. So you never know what that person’s story is when they’re running, but we all have a reason and a story as to why we started. And so one mission is to get to know and deepen the roots.

And also, again, running’s not our only identity. It’s only a part of who we are. And so it’s been cool to learn all these really cool, fun facts about people, um, to be like, oh, and I’ve learned so much about nutrition that I didn’t know until I started talking to people. And then the other is to be a podcast where people can say, if they’re like, you know what?

I can’t do that, then someone can say, you should go listen to run [00:27:00] your story because this person said the same thing. And you sh Now look at them. Now look at where they’re at. And so that’s really the twofold mission of Runner’s story is to inspire, you know, people to get started, but then also to help deepen the roots of our community.

And it’s been so much fun to learn about one another and, and, and to see those roots deepen. Um, and fortunately, I know there are stories I won’t get to tell because people have passed on tragically and we, we had some big hits in our community. That, that really punched us in the gut and, but I’ve been able to share their stories through other people and to know that their legacy is still going.

And I think that that was an unexpected gift that I wasn’t, wasn’t looking for, that I didn’t know was possible. So that’s been a pretty amazing moment.

Richard Conner: Wonderful, wonderful. Allison, how can our listeners find you and follow you online?

Allison Gaillard: Oh sure. We are on social media, [00:28:00] Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter. It’s Run Your Story podcast and training and yeah, or you can find us. We have a Epic website that my brilliant husband built, uh, called Run your and yeah, that’s where we’re at.

Richard Conner: Alison, thank you so much for being here. Thank you for sharing your story and the great work that you’re doing. Congratulations on your journey and you know, I’ll put all this information in the show notes to make it easy for our listeners to find you and follow you.

So with that, thanks again and have a great day.

Allison Gaillard: Awesome. Thanks my friend.