every runner has a story

Meet Sharon Nance

Sharon Nance’s enthusiasm for the Lakeland Runners Club is infectious, and her smile and boundless energy make everyone feel welcome. As a dedicated runner and volunteer, she brings joy and encouragement to all who join her on the roads.

Sharon Nance was born in Connecticut but has called Lakeland, Florida home for over 41 years. Drawn by friends and family, she considers it true home, where all her children were born and raised.

Running has always been an integral part of Sharon’s adult life. “I considered myself a recreational runner,” she explains, adding that it was a way to exercise and maintain her mental well-being. With a love for the outdoors, Sharon embraced any opportunity to run, walk, hike, or even work in her yard.

As her children grew older, Sharon found more free time and started running with friends. Their foray into local weekly pub runs introduced her to the Lakeland running community. “Everyone was so friendly and welcoming,” she recalls. The camaraderie and support she found led her to the Lakeland Runners Club (LRC).

Sharon’s first LRC race was the Mayfaire race, a family affair she has run with her children.  Her friendship with Coach Betsy Slay, who started the LRC Spring Ahead 5K training program in 2017, deepened her involvement.  Even as the program coaches changed, Sharon continued to volunteer with the 5k program, inspiring others to find joy in running and walking. “I love being a cheerleader and encouraging all those in the programs, that running, walking,  just moving is so important for our physical and mental health,” she says. “I will continue to be an advocate to welcome and inspire others to find joy with running, walking, and being a part of LRC, our great running community.”

Running has significantly impacted Sharon’s life and family. “Running makes me happy, so if I am happy, my family is happy,” she shares. Her children, now adults, also value physical activity, and she cherishes running races with her daughters, hoping to one day run with her grandchildren.

Though she never had a formal coach, volunteering with LRC’s training programs has provided Sharon with the knowledge to become a better runner. She enjoys the various weekly runs the club offers. When she is training for a specific race, Sharon joins in the weekly LRC runs and training programs. “I need that accountability to get the job done,” she admits.

Sharon’s running journey hasn’t been without challenges. A significant injury taught her the importance of listening to her body. “I learned the hard way,” she says, reflecting on how ignoring her body led to a prolonged injury, “I was excited to compete in my first full marathon and I had to pull out.”  Now, cross-training and listening to her body keep her healthy and strong.

One of Sharon’s most memorable achievements is completing the 50-Miler at the Keys 100 ultra marathon. Despite developing trench foot, she persevered with encouragement from her friends, including Betsy and Danny Slay. “It was mentally one of the most challenging things I have ever done,” she recalls. 

Outside of running, Sharon enjoys spending time with her family, gardening, and reading under a shade tree. Her advice to new runners is simple: “Stay happy and enjoy your run time with the wonderful running community. You will make so many friends and lasting friendships along the way.”

Looking ahead, Sharon is excited to join Will Strouse, who just turned 80, and others from the LRC to train and travel together to a December marathon. This journey promises to add another meaningful chapter to her running story.

In addition to volunteering with LRC training programs and being a cheerleader to all, Sharon has served on the LRC Board of Directors since 2020. 

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Meet Sharon Nance
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