I’ve known Greg Barnhisel for over 10 years now. For 10 seasons between 2012-2021 I coached youth club track for River City Elite. Jack - whom many of you have trained alongside over the last several years or been coached by this year - was a young 3rd or 4th grader when we all met. Our relationship took off in 2014 upon Greg finding out I was going to attend the University of Texas for graduate school, his alma mater.
That summer after him telling me about BBQ and other unique things to expect which built my excitement for Austin, Texas, Greg also asked me to create a summer cross country training plan for Jack. Putting my degree and 3 years of coaching immediately to use.
Fast forward to 2017 as GHP was in diapers (without scheduling apps and subleasing another person’s gym), Greg reached out about training for himself and Jack who was in 8th grade at the time.
Entering his 40s, Greg’s body was changing: aches in knees were emerging, the natural zest of youth needed fitness to be maintained, and new challenges required changes to how he trained.
In addition, he had 2 young boys looking up to him as a model for what adulthood & manhood can look like. (Not to mention an ambitious 25 year old navigating adulthood with few adults around worth looking up to).
Some adults just ease through their existence, creating as little impact as possible, challenging themselves as little as possible, and leaving as few memories for themselves and their loved ones as possible.
Greg is not that man.
While he’s not shy, he’s no braggart. An English professor at Duquesne University working on his 4th book, a rather fast marathon PB of 2:58, a world traveler, a “should be” widely acclaimed chef, and my favorite - earned an opportunity with the State Department working abroad in US Diplomacy.
Greg is always telling me about interesting and obscure pieces of history or about new recipes he’s working on. He’s half of the reason I got into triathlon & introduced me to the other half.
For over 6 years Greg has been a constant in the GHP community working on keeping his body intact to continue enjoying running and triathlon which help energize him for his impactful and ever changing life. Despite his successes, he’s never been shy about his own limits - Such as calisthenics and the push to do strength training in general.
I know men who get insecure about not being great at push ups and pull ups and would find shame in that showing in front of their sons.
Greg simply does not care. He knows what he’s good at. I ponder how moments like that help Jack (& Beckett) be at peace with themselves.
Now in his 50’s, he continues to put in the work to keep himself fast - I still have not beat him in a race yet, and yes, I keep track - as well as stay strong and fit to avoid an ungraceful decline. He took a semester off recently and his knees soon flared up in pain bringing us to reunite.
Time is undefeated, but that doesn’t mean you need to lose the fight early. I raced a 71 year old in my last triathlon who had been racing since the late 80’s.
I think he still beat me in the swim.
Greg chose the interesting path. To continue to thrive at a time when many of his peers have succumbed to aging with no fight in them. To be able to experience life more and show his son’s how a life well lived can be.
Will you allow your health to be a foundational stone that gives you structure to deepen your impact on the people and things you love & age with grace? Or will “preventable diseases” define your years ahead? You hold the power - not only for your life, but for the lives of those around you.