September 26, 2010

Doug Hawley: Coleman’s example offers inspiration

When Dr. Sean Coleman was a starting offensive lineman for the Dalton High football team in 1986, his senior year, he had a disdain for running.

“Running was what you did when you were being punished,” Coleman said. “If you had not performed, you ran laps. I had no interest in running.”

Today, Coleman provides an example of somebody taking a 180-degree turn from those prep days as a 6-foot-1-inch, 225-pound football player. Runners training for the Dalton Half Marathon, scheduled for Oct. 16, can use his story as an inspirational reversal.

During the past three years, Coleman, who still lives in Dalton, has completed five marathons and he has also participated at the half marathon distance.

His personal best for the 26.2-mile distance is a solid three hours and 50 minutes in the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., in 2007. He clocked a personal best of one hour, 45 minutes in a half marathon that same year at the Silver Comet in Atlanta.

“I run a good bit now,” the 41-year-old Coleman said. “My thought process certainly changed.

“It’s a big part of my life. Right now, I might run 40 to 50 miles a week. If I let more than several days go without running, my wife will kick me out of the house. She knows that I will feel better.”

Tipping the scales in the 180-pound range now, Coleman hardly carries a prep football offensive lineman’s weight anymore. He acknowledged that the running and an improved diet have made the difference.

After graduating from the University of Kentucky, where he did a little running to get in shape, Coleman completed his residency at Emory University. His time in Atlanta gave him the opportunity to participate in the Peachtree Road Race, the world’s largest 10K, which is held annually there on July 4.

“That’s about the time, 2001, that I got serious about running,” he said. “The Peachtree is the first race that I ever ran. That was in 2002.”

As a physician at Dalton Ear, Nose and Throat Association, the husband of Kathryn — an Oak Ridge, La., native — and the father of four children, Coleman has to skillfully budget his time and begin his day early.

“I’m usually up at 5 and running with some guys at 5:30,” he said. “It gets my day off to a good start.”

His two oldest daughters, 11-year-old Sarah Kate and 9-year-old Caroline, are also runners. Meg, 7, is a soccer player. The lone son, 4-year-old Conrad, figures soon to join the formal athletic participation. The girls also dance.

“All of the girls are in ballet and tap and jazz,” Coleman said. “We stay busy as a family.”

Coleman’s next race is Oct. 9 on Signal Mountain in the 50K Stump Jump, a rugged 31-mile run completed mostly on trails.

“Originally I had planned to run the Dalton Half Marathon, but it is only a week later,” Coleman said. “It might be wise to not run that race with such little recovery time. However, I hope to be there cheering on the runners.”

Since alleged experts encourage runners to allow one day of easy running for each racing mile, that seems like a logical choice on his part.

With Coleman setting the example from his Catamounts football days, are there any current prep grid linemen who might do the same thing down the road?


This is the 14th in a 16-part series of instructional columns preceding the first national Dalton Half Marathon on Oct. 16. Doug Hawley, a competitive distance runner for more than 50 years, finished in the top 10 percent of five Boston Marathons between 1976 and 1981. You can write to him at

Text Only
  • Doug Hawley: New year means new goals for area runners

    Like many people, runners set goals for each new year. Less than two full weeks into 2014, most area runners are undefeated when it comes to road races — not unlike football players in August during preseason workouts. Until beaten, they might even feel infallible.

    January 12, 2014

  • Doug Hawley: Security concerns not slowing down runners

    Nothing short of a hurricane could keep the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta from taking place every July 4.
    That’s a certainty when you have runners from all 50 states — plus some from other countries — making their reservations for the world’s largest 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) road race. The journey from Buckhead to Piedmont Park attracts some 60,000 participants, a number equivalent to a standing-room only crowd for a Georgia Tech home football game.

    July 7, 2013

  • CarinaNieto.jpg Doug Hawley: Summer can be used for relaxation and running

    We often hear about young athletes becoming most successful thanks to their offseason work. That certainly is true for area high school cross country runners, who have some three months before their 2013 season hits full stride in September. What they do this summer can affect their results during the fall.

    June 2, 2013 1 Photo

  • Doug Hawley: Zimmerman has major goals for running club

    Erica Zimmerman has made a strong impact in a short time with the Carpet Capital Running Club.
    In less than two years as part of the organization, Zimmerman already is its new president. She took the gavel from Jennifer Cooley during the club’s annual banquet, held recently at Dalton Golf and Country Club.

    February 3, 2013

  • 10Miler.jpg Chris Stephens: 10-Miler a special race

    It’s hard to beat crossing the finish line. No pun intended. Whatever the distance — marathon, half marathon, 10K, 5K, 2-mile, 1-mile, 10 feet — it doesn’t matter.

    December 6, 2012 1 Photo

  • Misty Watson: Celebrating a milestone in kilometers

    I did it!

    I have been waiting two years, two weeks and three days to write those words.

    July 23, 2012

  • Doug Hawley: New cause for old race

    The 25th annual Dalton St. Patrick’s Day Road Race — the two-mile event is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on March 15 at First Presbyterian Church (510 S. Tibbs Road) — will have a special flavor.

    February 4, 2012

  • Misty Watson: Moving at my own pace

    I’ve been longing for this day for months. I wanted to feel the burn in my lungs and hear my feet as they hit rhythmically on the pavement. I wanted to push myself to go further. I wanted to feel that crazy burst of energy that only follows a good cardio workout.

    December 23, 2011

  • Doug Hawley: Crane gives full effort for half marathon

    Long distance running and football are hardly considered a logical mix in our athletic society. Most football coaches believe 50-yard sprints or gassers to be punishment for their players, who likely concur with them.

    November 6, 2011

  • A Hidden Story

    Good morning.
    See if you can guess what country I am talking about based on this lead from a recent Associated Press story.
    “Policemen turned their guns on each other, soldiers shed their uniforms rather than obey orders to fire on protesters, and three young men who tried to escape were beheaded by forces loyal to (to the) President.”

    June 12, 2011