Justin Horneker - "Changing the Running World - One Individual At a Time"

Justin is the Head Running Coach at Anthrophysique & Founder of Carondelet Park Running Clinic & Team New Balance St. Louis & Host of the Podcast 'Running Through It.' His passion for running is unmatched. 

What is Anthrophysique and tell us a little about the Carondelet Park Running Team? 

Anthrophysique is a collection of coaches who understand that everyone is an individual and no one approach will work for everyone. As a coach, I've had a lot of influences which tends to make my style pretty unique but I also understand that no one style of training or coaching works for everyone - deep down we are all individuals and our training should reflect that.

What inspired you to begin running and furthermore become a coach?

I started running cross country in grade school because my math teacher was the Cross Country and Track coach at the High School I was going to be attending and he convinced me to come out for the grade school race before the high school meet took place. I lined up on the starting line and sprinted away... however no one informed me that it was a 2 mile race and I had dead legs pretty quickly! But even though the race beat me up... I know I wanted to run! Plus it would keep me in shape for basketball. 

I loved the sport but I was never what you would call a serious runner, I went through the motions a lot and I didn't really do much to help my running outside of track or cross country practice and it took a life changing event to change that mindset.

This is where I have to make a confession, something I haven't talked about before and something a good amount of people will learn for the first time reading this. I made what will no doubt be the biggest mistake of my life as a 17-year-old, I wasn't the first high schooler to drink underage, but I did and my friends and I often took that to the extreme. I was addicted to the fun and addicted to the party culture as a way to kind of dull my anxieties. When life stressed me out I would go get high or blackout and due to a bad break up; It was time to continue that ritual. I was in a drunk driving accident that summer night - and I was the drunk driver. 

 "Remember that we are always a work in progress - do one thing every day to make yourself better." -JH 

"Remember that we are always a work in progress - do one thing every day to make yourself better." -JH 

To this day I have nightmares about that night, the paramedics even said that if I wasn't as fit as I was that I could have died... so given that situation you can react to it in 2 ways: Ruin your life forever or use that as fuel to fix yourself and fix your priorities.

So that is when I decided to put my whole self into running, no more basketball, no more heavy drinking and more running. It worked out because I was able to run in college where I was fortunate to be coached by 2 brilliant coaches who helped me discover my potential and showed me how coaching should be done which I was able to put into practice pretty early as my high school coach had me come back to coach the middle distance squad when my classes allowed it. There were a lot of twists and turns that led me here but that's what has made me successful so far.

How has running impacted your personal life?  

Definitely! I've had pretty bad anxiety for as long as I can remember, and running is something that calms me down and allows me to meditate on things a bit. I've learned over time to let myself relax because running used to be one of the things that made me most anxious... because I was always trying to prove myself and every run had to be the best run ever. I've learned to relax on that and as I've grown as a runner; I've also grown as a person.

 "Do this because you love it, whether you love the way it makes you feel or you love testing yourself and proving you can do it... run for yourself." -JH

"Do this because you love it, whether you love the way it makes you feel or you love testing yourself and proving you can do it... run for yourself." -JH

What are one challenge and one lesson you’ve learned from your experience as a founder and coach? 

Being patient is a big challenge for me haha 

Thankfully I have a good support system and some good mentors who have been there before and always keep me in line when I'm trying to jump the gun on certain projects. 

I've learned how to be more patient.

How important is having a daily routine?

Very important! On days where we are slow to start or feeling anxious, a good routine can keep us on track. I try to practice meditation every morning, either on my run or after I wake up, in the hopes that if I am feeling anxious I can recognize what is causing it and deal with the root cause before it gets out of hand.

What are your top two favorite coaching memories?

Anytime a runner *PR's! I take joy in all of my runner's success - but I also realize that they are the ones that put in the work and they are the ones who actually accomplish the task. That being said my favorite memory is when I was coaching my high school team and my former team mate, who was now my runner, shocked everyone and made it to the state meet where he would go on to run 4:30 in the mile. That was my first big coaching breakthrough so it holds a special place in my heart.

*PR = Personal Record! 

If you could offer one piece of running advice, what would it be?

My favorite saying that I think every runner needs to hear is - A bad run doesn't make us a bad runner. We all have those days, and those runs where nothing goes right but that day doesn't define us - It's how we decide to respond.

What is your favorite running app?  

I don't really use apps too much but I would say Strava because I can use it as a kind of interactive running log.

What is your favorite inspirational/motivational quote? 

"Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth" - Mike Tyson

In one word, describe yourself:

Persistent