MEMBER: Tom Thomas
Name: Tom Thomas
Hometown: Hanover, PA
High School: Spring Grove High School
College: Temple University
Occupation: Physical Therapist
Favorite Place to Run in Philly: Wissahickon
10 mile: 52:17
Marathon: let’s not talk about that.
Splitting a case of Landshark with Travis Mahoney and then dropping the rest of our Temple XC Team on a tempo run the next day.
By: Kevin Brandon (11/01/17)
Tom, thanks for taking time to speak with us. Could you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you end up in Philadelphia and running with PRTC?
Hey no problem, thanks for having me! Well, I’m 27 years old and have been in and out of Philly since I came here to study at Temple in 2008. PRTC had always been on my periphery, and I remember getting smoked by a few of the members at the Mayor’s Cup in 2016. When I decided to start training for the Marathon this Fall, I thought it’d be good to have a group to run with to hold myself accountable and feel less anti-social when training, and I was right, it’s been a great experience so far.
When did you first become a runner? Did a specific event compel you to take on the sport?
In middle school, I was always one of the faster kids at the gym class mile and decided to go out for track. I didn’t necessarily like it, but I could tell I was somewhat talented so decided to stick with it. I think I ran most track meets in skateboarding shoes because I thought running shoes were dorky (still kind of do, to be honest).
Once you began running, how did your career develop? Take us through day one to today.
I didn’t take running very seriously in high school, but I was from an area (York, PA) where running wasn’t super competitive so I was running about 30 miles per week as a Senior and won counties, but it never occurred to me that there were literally thousands of kids better than me. My vision was pretty narrow as far as that went, and running in college was kind of an afterthought. Fortunately, I got to Temple when they were in a rebuilding phase and were desperate enough to let me walk on. I definitely got thrown into the DI deep end really quick without and spent most of my Freshman and Sophomore year super burned out and unable to adjust. Finally started adapting Junior year and started to reach my potential (this is where all of my PRs came from). Quit the team my Senior and then spent the next few years in PT school just running enough to de-stress from school and try to stay in shape so I could hopefully return to racing form at some point in the future – there really weren’t many races to train for where I went to grad school in rural Virginia. So that kind of brings us to today, where I’ve been formally training again for a few months and finding that it takes much longer to get back into shape and recover from workouts than it did a few years ago. Sorry this has been so long!
What was your experience like running for Temple?
Maybe somewhat atypical with how urban our environment was compared to other schools but that’s part of what made it fun. We’d get vans out to Valley Green or Belmont almost every day, and then funding kept gradually getting cut so by my Senior year we did all our runs from campus. We’d mess around all the time, jumping over trash cans, park benches. That’s how we figured out my now-professional teammate Travis Mahoney (AKA the urban steepler) was a natural at the steeplechase.
Can you tell us about a favorite running accomplishment or moment?
Broad Street 2013 (52:17) was my first good race training on my own and has given me hope that I can actually run well post-collegiately. That’s like, almost 5 years ago now, so hopefully, I’ll have some good things to write home about again sometime soon.
How about a not-so-great moment?
Well, there’s too many of these to count! Spraining ankles and having to limp 5 miles home, running hungover, falling over barriers in the steeplechase…I know I’m making a terrible case for running, but it’s fun sometimes I promise.
Regarding your running future, what are your near and long-term goals?
In the near future, I’d like to break 2:40 in my first marathon in a couple weeks. I literally have no idea if this is feasible or not but we’re gonna go for it. In the long term, just keep training while I’m still young enough to see what I can do, and then I’ll probably start biking more and have thought about getting into cyclocross races once I start getting out of my running prime.
In your professional life, you work as a Physical Therapist. What drew you to this profession? How have you enjoyed it since you began practicing?
My father is a family doctor, so I’ve always been around the medical field growing up. Combined with my interest in athletics, it just kind of made sense. I’ve really enjoyed it so far. Most of the time, I’m really grateful that I see a wide variety of injuries and it’s a lot faster paced than a typical desk job (although some days in the thick of marathon training I wish I could sit at a desk all day.)
As a PT, any advice for the club? Basic rules of staying healthy to follow that we may not be practicing?
I wish I had some sage wisdom to impart, but probably nothing Y’all haven’t heard before. I’ve found that in a lot of overtraining injuries involving the knees or ankles, hip weakness can be pretty common, leading the adjacent lower joints to bear more than their fair share of the impact. So keeping the core and hips strong can go along way in injury prevention.
Any non-running related hobbies, hidden skills or talents we may enjoy hearing about?
Talents? Nah, but I’m really into music and like going to shows, and I’m a big Sixers fan (trust the process)