By the end of 2020, Ray Young from Seminole, Texas, will be closing in on almost 1300 days of his personal streak of running at least one mile per day. “I began a ‘runstreak’ more than three years ago. It really changed running for me. Now I know every day I will run, no excuses. I start every day with a win, which is especially important on the days I don’t want to get out of bed and run. I’m always training for a race and pushing myself to get stronger and faster,” he elaborates.
This motivational speaker, coach and trainer is currently training for the Austin Marathon in February 2021 and has been averaging five miles of daily running recently. It would be understandable to assume that Ray’s consistency with running was honed over a lifetime of being an athlete. However, Ray started his running journey in 2011 and at 275 pounds.
He was literally called into action by a natural fatherly protection over his then 15-year old daughter, Raegan. “She started running cross country practice at 6:00 am, in the dark, by herself. So, I started following her in my Suburban as she ran to ensure her safety. On the second morning, I thought maybe I should get out of the car and start running. So, the next morning, I drove to the first turn on her course, got out and ran towards her. When I reached her, I turned and ran back (as best as I could) to the Suburban. I repeated this all the way around the course,” explains Ray.
Over the following weeks and months, Ray kept pushing until he could start a little ahead of his daughter and then keep her in sight for the remainder of the run once she passed. He was steadily getting stronger, gaining endurance and losing weight. Not long later, the father-daughter duo signed up for a local 5k and ran it side by side. “She was so encouraging, and telling me she was proud of me, and I did the same for her,” Ray tells Runner’s World, in his inspirational profile. “Running became our time together, and we both really looked forward to it.”
But, as life would have it, just a month after the 5k, a major obstacle was thrown into the path of Ray’s fitness journey. He was involved in a serious motorcycle accident, leaving him confined to a wheelchair. Ray describes the recovery process as “brutal.” But, just a remarkable few months later he returned to running, slowly building up his strength a few steps and then one mile at a time.
Today, Raegan is long out of high school and Ray has lost and kept off nearly 100 pounds since those first runs. The two still run together when they can and now the entire family, including wife Sonya and oldest daughter Katelynn, have joined in the fun. In 2017 they completed The Dopey Challenge together, a race weekend at Disney World packed with a 5k, 10k, half marathon and full marathon. “It was my first marathon,” says Ray, “and it was so great to run it together as a family.”
Cuts of Beef I Like: Ribeye and Sirloin
What I’ve Learned: Beef is an important part of my diet as an athlete, to build and restore muscle.
Other Interests: I love outdoor activities including hiking, Jeeping and 4-wheeling. I’m a big football and basketball fan. I also have worked with a youth camp as a teacher and director for 31 years.
Beef Team Camaraderie: I love the relationships Beef Team members. I rarely am at a race where there is not another member and we always have an immediate connection.
Training Groups: West Texas Running Club and the Gaines County Run Club
Favorite Races: As for West Texas races, I like the Willie McCool Half Marathon. Mr. McCool was on the space shuttle Columbia when it exploded and the race is to raise funds for a scholarship in his honor. Also, I have a great memory of finishing the New York City Marathon in 2019 after having been in a wheelchair in New York in 2012.
Reward for Great Run: I celebrate milestones with friends and family.
Favorite Distance: I really enjoy 10ks the most.
Favorite Quote: “To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift.” — Steve Prefontaine
Pre-race Food: Water and peanut butter on a bagel for half and full marathons.
Running Advice: Just start. Be consistent. Push yourself about 20 percent of your runs.
Running Shoes: ASICS Kayano
Running Tunes: Unstoppable by Toby Mac