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    Photo Credit: J.L.

Real Athlete: Runner J.L.

By RealJock Staff

Real Athlete is an ongoing series of interviews with inspirational, out gay athletes from around the world. Are you a Real Athlete? Take our Real Athlete Survey.

J.L., 34, RealJock member name: coachjw, is a coach, teacher and former track star. He's also a cardo-addict.

Why do you want to be featured as a Real Athlete?
I like talking about being a former athlete and those experiences.

What is your fitness level?
Fit and healthy.

How do you stay fit?
Running (not often with bad knees), cross-training, home/gym workouts, somewhat active lifestyle.

Do you play a sport? If yes, what and how long have you played?
I ran track from 7th grade to senior year in college.

What's the highest level of sports that you've achieved? Are you out in your sport?
I ran Division I track on scholarship at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. I am not out but I was fortunate enough to be a two-time Missouri Valley Conference champion in the 400m hurdles.

What is your favorite muscle group to train? Why? What is your least favorite muscle group to train? Why?
I don't target any specific muscle groups but my upper body is more difficult to train for results since I have a lean upper body. (No supplements for me.)

What's your favorite body part? Why? What's your least favorite body part? Why?
My hamstrings are easily the best part of my body—they get me noticed! My belly button is my least favorite because it sticks out—it also gets me noticed! Used to be bad but now it intrigues some guys. As a result, I always have my shirt on!

What sports and fitness goals have you achieved? What do you still want to accomplish? Why?
I've currently chosen a goal I'd like to achieve in '07. There's a seven mile road race in my hometown (Quad City Times Bix 7). I've never been a distance runner and I've never run more than 5 miles at one time. I'll be 35 next year and it'll be my "marathon"! (Perhaps I'll be inspired to do a marathon at 40!)

What inspires you to train? Who inspires you?
Being in the best overall health is what inspires me to train. I have always had high blood pressure and was recently told that I'm mildly hypertensive.

What impact has sports and fitness had on your life?
Track and field, without a doubt, has had the largest impact on my life. Without it, I would never have travelled as my family could not afford to go anywhere. A high school friend and teammate got me into coaching, which led me to get into education. I know many people as a result of my experiences and have had the chance to compete against World and Olympic champions as well as high school and collegiate all-Americans. The impact I've had in working with young people has also been amazing!

Have you experienced homophobia in your sport or in pursuit of fitness? Please describe.
I didn't date at all while in high school or college. Sorry for the TMI but I didn't even have any kind of sex during those four years. Even in the early to mid-90s, when I competed collegiately, there was homophobia in athletics.

What three words best capture your essence?
Affable. Determined. Hard-working.

What do you do in terms of diet, vitamins, nutrition and supplements to maintain your health?
Diet? Ha ha. I should eat better than I do, but I do take GNC's Men's Mega Men Sport multi-vitamin. I just started taking it this spring but have always taken some kind of multi-vitamin (my mother insisted).

What's your best health and fitness secret?
I don't have one. Running. Drinking lots of water. I don't drink or smoke so I think that helps me look fairly youthful. And I laugh and smile a great deal.