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October 21, 2019

As a dorm parent, English teacher and cross-country coach, Will Stanton has plenty of responsibilities and obstacles to keep him from marathon training. Maybe he has an extra large stack of papers to grade. Maybe one of the residents at his Pennsylvania boarding school needs a little extra attention. Maybe he has a cross-country meet to set up for. After all, when you live at your job, the work never stops.

But for Will, running isn’t just another obligation — it’s a lifestyle. And regardless of what else he has going on, he makes it a priority to fit in the miles. Sometimes that means waking up at 4:00 in the morning and running 15 miles before teaching a full day. Sometimes it’s five miles in the morning and five miles in the afternoon with his cross-country team. Each week during the school year, he aims to log around 70 miles, with that number climbing to 90+ during the summer months.

“It sounds like a lot, but I think it’s pretty standard for distance runners who are interested in becoming competitive,” he says. “It really mentally grounds me. It’s probably the most important part of my day.”

Compared to other dedicated runners in their early 20s, Will actually came to the sport fairly late in life — in fact, he didn’t even start running seriously until college. Before that, he was focused on making a name for himself in a very different sport: fencing.

As a high-schooler, Will became the first African American fencer to make the Junior Olympics from Oregon, as well as the first African American to win a gold medal in interscholastic fencing. He competed at the national level and even went on to fence collegiately, competing for a year at Johns Hopkins University. However, despite his knack for the sport, something didn’t quite fit and he eventually left fencing to focus on academics and his newest love: running.

“I found fencing to be a very stressful part of my life and running was really a de-stressor,” he says. “Fencing is so combative and running is more of a community.”

And even though the most recent of his four completed marathons was in 2015 — the Baltimore Running Festival Marathon — Will has big goals and feels like the marathon is his "sweet spot" distance.

“There’s something about marathon training that lends itself well to training alone,” he says. “I’m willing to suffer for a long time. I like getting out there in the streets of the city and duking it out. The marathon is just the right distance for really putting the pedal to the metal.”

With his eye on racing again this spring, Will hopes to beat his previous time by at least 20 minutes. After that? He hopes to cut his time even further to meet the “B” standard time to qualify for the Olympic Trials.

In the meantime, he’ll keep fitting in his training miles however he can. Because for Will — and for so many other busy runners like him who are out there daily, making it work — running is about more than competing. Throughout the years, he’s grown to rely on the mental benefits of running, especially through “difficult relationships and really stressful times” in his life.

“When you’re out running, you’re in the moment and doing that one thing,” he says. “If I don’t get my run in, I just think about wanting to get it in all day. It’s really almost an addiction at this point.”

When the FITS team heard about Will’s dedication and learned he was logging all these miles in worn out socks, we knew one way we could help him stay in the moment: high-quality, well-fitting running socks. We hope you like your new socks, Will! We can’t wait to hear more about your running journey. 

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