By Savanah Bandy

Email. Text. Notifications. 24-hour news. 

There’s no doubt about it, we live in a noisy world.

Tony Kennedy, an IT professional from Aurora, Missouri, found a way to escape the chaos and enjoy the tranquility of nature.  

“Running for me is an escape from the day-to-day noise of email, phone calls, social media, news and everything else,” he said. “When I’m running, these things can’t steal my focus, to the point it’s become somewhat of a meditative experience.”

Tony started running nearly 10 years ago after learning about a nighttime 5K to benefit Toys for Tots. 

“My son had participated the year prior and had a great time,” he said. “With it being a nighttime run, I thought it sounded fun and wanted to give it a shot. Outside of elementary school, it was my first time running in years. I remember finishing and being ecstatic that I ran the entire course, only to find for my age group that I placed nearly last!”

The experience motivated Tony to become a better runner, and he has never looked back.

“I got a taste for the competitive side of running. After that, I spent a considerable amount of time training and working on improving.”

Before long, Tony was competing in training runs and races, clocking faster speeds, longer distances … and no longer coming in last. 

“The first medal I received for completing a half-marathon was a big moment for me,” he said. “I finally proved to myself that I could stretch out and run longer distances.” 

Tony has competed in a total of four half-marathons and countless 5Ks and 10Ks. Some of his favorite events are the Bass Pro Cohick half-marathon and City Utilities of Springfield’s Halloween Hustle 10K.  

When the pandemic hit in 2020 and most runs went virtual, Tony discovered a newfound joy for solo running.

“I found a love for racing myself and enjoying the solitude,” he said. “I enjoy having the time to reflect. With the barrage of information modern life gives us, it’s nice to forget all of that for a bit and get outside.”

Tony continues to push himself to extend his mileage. He has competed in two Bass Pro half-marathons, the Freeman Joplin Memorial Run half-marathon, and the Branson Veterans of America’s Run for a Vet half-marathon. He is planning to compete in his first full marathon next year. 

“I would say the biggest thing that keeps me motivated is food!” he said with a laugh. “Being able to eat what I want without constantly worrying about calories is amazing. It makes up for all the time and effort. That being said, the physical benefits of running are wonderful, but the mental health benefits truly make all the work worth it.” 

Tony’s Tips for New Runners:

  1. Wear the Right Shoes. Shoes are incredibly important; go to a running store and get analyzed for the right shoe. It can make or break your running experience!
  2. Be Consistent. Create a schedule and stick to it. Skipping days and trying to make up for the miles after periods of rest is a recipe for injury.
  3. Chase What Motivates You. If that’s medals, look for some races. If it’s yourself, invest in a method for fitness tracking (Smartwatch, etc.) and compete with yourself.

See more photos in the September 2022 print issue