every runner has a story

Meet Marshall & Glenda Babbitt

A love of fitness brought Marshall and Glenda together, and now they share their passion for this sport as a director and coach for the LRC. Together, they embody the ethos of giving back and paying it forward.

Marshall Babbitt and his wife Glenda, two individuals whose lives were changed by the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other, share their journey into the world of running. From Fort Meade, Florida, and Springdale, Arkansas, respectively, their paths converged in a tale of newfound health, love, and endless miles on the road.

For Marshall, the decision to start running was catalyzed by a health scare. He was four years into a “two-year” temporary assignment in Arkansas working 65-hour weeks. He felt horrible and hadn’t gone to the doctor in years. With a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes and a wake-up call from his doctor, Marshall embarked on a mission to overhaul his lifestyle in 2014. “I signed up at the Anytime Fitness gym and started working out a little. I also started leaving work at 5 p.m. instead of 7 p.m.,” he recalled, highlighting the pivotal moment when he chose to prioritize his health over his demanding work schedule.

Marshall and Glenda met through the gym. The gym recognized everyone who worked out daily, and Glenda was part of that special list. Soon they were working out together. Their running journey began around 2015. Prompted by their gym to participate in a local 5k, Marshall and Glenda signed up for their first road race. Marshall reminisced about that first race, recounting, “My cardio was not great for that 5K. Glenda would say ‘let’s make it to that tree or mailbox,’ and we repeated that until the end of the race.” That race ignited their love for running, and they’ve never looked back.  

Their journey into the local running community began when Marshall’s work brought them back to Florida, and they were encouraged to try a Lakeland Runners Club (LRC) race. “We signed up for one [race], and after the race, we both said WOW, the people are so nice,” Marshall shared, reflecting on their first encounter with our supportive running community. They joined Dave & Cookie at the Hill Run, and these days you can find them at the Interval Workout on Tuesdays. 

Running became more than just a form of exercise; it became a lifeline. “Running has helped me lose 50lbs, totally cured my diabetes, no pills at all, and helped me find the love of my life.” 

Their training regimen evolved over time, transitioning from casual runs to structured plans encompassing long slow runs, tempo runs, and intervals. Marshall even pursued coaching and nutrition certifications to deepen his understanding of the sport. Marshall has completed eight full marathons and Glenda six, their most recent was the Little Rock Marathon on March 3. Marshall’s favorite distance is the half marathon. “I really like the 5k but just can’t get it right, go out too fast or too slow.”

They continue to spend time together in the gym, lifting weights five days a week. Marshall shared that strength training is the best complement to running, and so far, they have both avoided any serious injuries. he proudly shares that Glenda set a plank record at their gym “12 minutes, 31 seconds”!

Beyond running, Marshall and Glenda found joy in spending time with their extensive family (including 19 grandchildren!) and indulging in activities like disc golf and relaxing by the pool or beach. Their advice to new runners was simple: start slow, have fun, and join a group for support and accountability. “Don’t be afraid you’re too slow, once you do your first 5k or group run, you will see many other people your same speed. I also hear it all the time “I am not a runner”. If you run, you’re a runner!!!”

Marshall is currently serving on the LRC Board of Directors and “wants to be part of making the club the most inviting running club for every level. I want to see people having fun, going all in, and making friends along the way. I want to hear more people say, “I got a PR (personal record).” Glenda volunteers as an LRC Kids Run Club coach, introducing the sport to Lakeland’s next generation. 

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