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After Hours: Jo Shott—A runner with a purpose

Some people run away from their problems. Not Jo Shott. She chases her challenges to the finish line.Jax marathon 2007 finish small

Shott is a competitive runner, and when she’s in a race—or just running for the fun of it— the promise of finishing fills her with an exhilaration that is difficult to put into words.

“I love running,” she says. “I love the wind in my face and the feeling I get. I think it’s the endorphins. People think that running hurts and wonder why anyone would want to do that. I think it’s a matter of ‘it hurts so good!’ You get a runner’s high. You get so satisfied with yourself that you tested your own limits and pushed yourself to do better. The sense of satisfaction makes it all worthwhile.”

Because she loves running so much, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that she is co-owner of The Jacksonville Running Company, along with her husband Owen and friend Ted DeVos. Opening the business was a natural fit with their passion for running.

“We opened the store a year ago,” she says. “Although the economy was bad, we decided to go for it. Owen had a vision of what he wanted—something more than an ordinary running store. Ted had a financial background. We think we’ve succeeded, because despite the economy, we had a fantastic year.”

Jax Marathon 2007 Street smallTheir success may be partially due to their investment in technology and because they opened their market to more than dedicated runners. “We didn’t want to be just another running store,” she says. “Our passion is to genuinely help people. Our logo is ‘Fitting shoes to make you fit.’ We fit shoes by making a scan of a customer’s feet to see where their pressure points are. Then we put them on a treadmill and video them as they walk or jog, to show them why they may be having pain. We’re able to better fit them in the right shoes that way. We also have a mobile unit that goes to businesses and health fairs to work with people who wouldn’t go to a running store because they don’t think of themselves as runners. We want to help people get healthier.”

Although running is in her blood now, it wasn’t always. “I was a late bloomer,” she says. “I didn’t start running until I got into college. Most runners start early—when they are in middle or high school. My high school—University Christian—didn’t have a track and cross country team for girls. I’m athletic, so I played basketball for several years, but I wasn’t very good at it. I enjoyed the drills, though—running back and forth. I finally realized that I was more of a runner than a basketball player. When I enrolled at the University of North Florida, I started running every day for exercise. I would see the cross country team practicing, so inevitably I ended up running with them in order to have company.

“I did this for two years. Finally the coach said, ‘You come to practice more than the people on my team. Why don’t you join the team?’ I didn’t think I was good enough, so I turned him down. But, finally, he prevailed, and I joined the team my senior year.”

Her desire to have company while running had a permanent (and pleasant) result in her life: her husband. “Owen started running with the UNF team for company. We like to say that we ran into each other so we were meant to be!”

Owen is more than Shott’s husband and business partner. He is also her trainer and coach and has encouraged her to be a serious runner. “A serious runner is someone who has a goal—either time and/or a race. We put a plan in place to get ready for a race. It’s a process that lets the body get prepared.”

Shott has been running 5K races for several years, but she has recently started to run 10Ks, which are about six miles long. “I’ve been mentored by a lot of veteran runners who tell me, ‘Don’t try to compete in really long distances like marathons until your body has matured and you have been running a long time. Women peak in their early to mid-30s. I’m not there yet,” says the 30-year-old.

Although she does not usually run marathons, she did run in the 26.2 for Donna Breast Cancer marathon in February. “I really like running in races that have a cause, especially for women’s health, like the 26.2 for Donna. When you see so many people carrying signs that say ‘I’m running for…’ you get really inspired,” she says.

Shott also enjoys “off-the-wall” runs, such as the one she and her husband did with their dog. “the dog run was a lot of fun,” she says. “Another one that I really enjoyed was the Ragnar Relay in November.”

That relay race started in Tampa and finished in Daytona. Shott and her 11 teammates passed the other 50 teams and came in first. “It took us about 21 hours to run across the state,” she says. “We started about 1 p.m on Friday and finished about 10 a.m. on Saturday.”

Her next competitive race? “There’s a 10K in Charleston, S.C. I’m going with a group of girl friends and we’ll make a weekend of it.”

Jo Shott is one of three owners of The Jacksonville Running Company, www.jacksonvillerunningcompany.com, located at 9823 Tapestry Park Circle, Jacksonville, Florida 32246.

 

SIDEBAR

Before you want to start running…

Running is something anyone in good health can do, says Shott. So, if you want to start running, make sure your doctor gives you the OK. Once you have the green light, Shott suggests:

• Get a good pair of shoes. Make sure they are properly fitted for the kind of running you want to do.

• Start slow. Don’t try to run two miles the first day. “It will hurt and you’ll quit,” says Shott.

• Get a partner. “Having a partner gives you accountability,” she says. Ask someone to walk or run with you. You’ll increase your chance of success if you make yourself accountable to someone.


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