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Coach Mike Reif, 67

Perinton coach has been in the competitive racing profession for more than 55 years and trained some of the best runners

By Ernst Lamothe Jr.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself

A: I have coached the Genesee Valley Harriers Running Club since its inception in 1996, including its elite development program for qualifying men and women. As a runner, I have been competing in races for over 50 years. I am a five-time finisher of the Boston Marathon and an experienced mountain runner.

Q: How did you begin your love of running?

A: It is just a sport that I have loved ever since I can remember.  A sprinter and middle distance runner in my youth, I did intervals on the streets of New York City as I made deliveries for my parents during summer jobs. I have always been an old-school guy who just enjoyed being out in nature. I found nature someplace where you can physically challenge yourself. When you add the combination of enjoying competition and enjoy competing against myself, racing made sense. It is a wonderful feeling challenging your body to go faster than it previously did. You can push your body to do so much.

Q: You have been part of running clubs in the past. What do you enjoy about them?

A: I do believe in the idea of a runner’s high. And I think that can be magnified when you have a lot of people around you. I enjoy the camaraderie of my teammates. I prefer to run with small groups of people than simply running on my own.

Q: What do you enjoy about coaching?

A: There are a lot of personal satisfaction elements to being a coach. I have one athlete who went to the Olympic trail for marathons. I have guided open elite runners to placing at national championship events and who have made US Nationals and participated at World Championship. There is a great satisfaction in helping others reach their professional goals. Also, I have worked with kids with special needs and it gives me such great joy to see them succeed. I enjoyed being a statewide and national advocate for children and adults with developmental disabilities and I will always continue to advocate for and sponsor many youth and adult running events.

Q: What is your coaching style?

A: There is a coach named Jack Daniels and I follow his exercise psychology. Runner’s Magazine called him the world’s best running coach. He was my mentor for years. He believes in using a sound scientific background where you train at different intensities to train different parts of your body. We do a variety of challenging workouts where you develop your body to handle pacing by doing demanding physical and mental training. It’s definitely not easy but working hard is never easy.

Q: What was your career before running?

A.: I was in education. I was an administrator and professor of pediatrics for the University of Rochester Medical Center for over 30 years. It was an exciting and wonderful job before I retired. The funny thing is that I feel I am busier now than when I was working full time. The coaching profession took off.

Q: Are you involved in anything besides coaching?

A: Yes, I own my own T-shirt company called Innovative Edge Sports. Since around 1992, we have had a strong market in innovative T-shirt design and other running related products. It is no surprise that I wanted a business connected to running and sports. The funny thing is that I got into it about 25 years ago because my son was running track in high school and he asked me to design a T-shirt. I did it and he liked it. Then other people started to ask me to do T-shirts for them and I started thinking that maybe this could be a whole lot bigger than I thought it could be. I’m glad that I did decide to start it because I have had a lot of fun with it.

Q: Why do you think it is important for 55-plus people to exercise?

A: Anything that promotes a healthy lifestyle is a good thing. I know I want to live a long life. And on top of that, I want my longer life to be satisfying. I preach to people all the time how essential just walking or doing any kind of activity is for all ages, but especially seniors. Getting older doesn’t have to mean stopping the things you love to do. By staying in shape and moving your body, you can maintain a lot of your quality of life. I have a 1-2-3 live well now philosophy that says first, be positive every day in all you do, secondly, do something nutritionally sound daily and the No. 3 do something physically active daily.

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