Athletes Share Nuggets of Advice From Their Dads

Jennifer Purdie
by Jennifer Purdie
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Athletes Share Nuggets of Advice From Their Dads

Whether you follow in your dad’s athletic footsteps or you’re a first-generation athlete, your father probably played a role in your achievements. The same goes for age-group winners, pros and overall competitors. The following athletes share fond memories and provide the best advice from dad as we say thanks to all the dads out there who helped motivate us to become better athletes:  


“My dad inspired me to live a healthy, active life through running and triathlon. My dad was a middle-distance runner, so we entered our first 5K road race together when I was 7 and I’m pretty sure he let me beat him. From that moment, I was hooked on distance running and triathlons. My dad always worked very hard at whatever he did and that work ethic was instilled in me. He always said, ‘In sports or life, talent alone will only get you so far. To really succeed, you must work hard to be the best that you can truly be.’”

–– Cathy Casey, head track and cross country coach at Southern Methodist University, five-time Ironman


“Enjoy whatever activity you are doing — and if you’re enjoying it, you stay relaxed and maintain a positive mental attitude throughout.”

–– Ann Dannis, triathlete, winner USAT Sprint Category 2012 (6064 category), 2016 (6569 category)


“I’m a second-generation ultra runner; my dad has done eight 100s. He would say, ‘Miles in the dark don’t count,’ and, ‘If it hurts, add more miles.’ [Those] are my favorite dad-isms.”

–– Devan Horn, second-generation ultra runner


“There is one quote in particular that my pop said to me which has stuck with me ever since. He told me, ‘You can’t be afraid to work hard and of hard work. Many people aren’t willing to put in the hard work for what they want, thus, they will struggle to achieve their goals. If you embrace the hard work, and work hard, you can make everything happen … not just in running, but in life.’”

–– Gina Lucrezi, professional runner


“What he’d say to me when running: ‘If I catch you, you’ll be sorry.’”

–– Matt O’Keefe, trail and ultra marathoner


“My dad told me to focus on training, but that the best training would come during the first two weeks of the ride. [Cassidy is riding across America for Team Bike Beyond.] He wants me to stay smart and safe. He wants to ensure that I enjoy every sunrise, every conversation and every cold beer.”

–– Cassidy Robinson, one of the 20 Type 1 Diabetes riders of Bike Beyond, through Beyond Type 1.


“My father always considered himself a good athlete and up for any physical challenge. He was on multiple sports teams in college, played on the Navy baseball team at the end of WWII against the likes of Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio, but fell short of his dream of playing in the pros. Yet he continued to be active and competitive until, literally, the day he died, at age 87, having played several sets of singles tennis that morning. He was a big believer in the ‘lifetime’ sports; those you can play long past the glory days of high school or college. Those basic reps, that hard work, over and over, were what honed your skills and made you a good athlete far more than innate talent. ‘Nothing that’s easy is worth having,’ was one of his favorite sayings.”

–– Neil Dorflinger, competitive cyclist and triathlete

To all the runner and cyclist dads out there: Happy Father’s Day!

About the Author

Jennifer Purdie
Jennifer Purdie

Jennifer is a Southern California-based freelance writer who covers topics such as health, fitness, lifestyle and travel for both national and regional publications. She runs marathons across the world and is an Ironman finisher. She is also a certified personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. You can follow her on Twitter @jenpurdie.


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