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Wellness Journey: Phillips runs toward well-being

by on February 16, 2016
James Phillips works in the Roanoke DDC. In 2012, Phillips decided to lose weight and get healthy. Along the way, he developed a love for running and today regularly competes in ultramarathons that range in distance from 26 to 100 miles. 

AEP cares about the safety, health and well-being of its employees. All employees and retirees are invited to share their stories about the changes they are making to live healthier lives. This “Wellness Journey” is from James Phillips, distribution dispatcher for Appalachian Power in Roanoke, Va. 

Where I was and how I got there:

Just four years ago, I was overweight and struggled to climb steps, yet last year I achieved my goal to complete 12 marathons in a year. I decided to share my story at the urging of my coworkers in the Roanoke Distribution Dispatch Center.

James Phillips says one of his greatest rewards is that his family now enjoys running with him. Phillips is pictured with his wife, Wynne.

My decision to get healthy started in 2012. Back then, I was 20 pounds overweight, smoked and drank, had poor eating habits and couldn’t carry my young daughter up steps without getting out of breath.

My turning point:

One day I looked around and realized I needed to make a serious change.

Four years later, Phillips, 33, is smoke and alcohol free, eats healthy and regularly competes in races but not just any 5K or 10K event. Phillips runs in what are known as ultramarathons, which are any long distance run greater than 26 miles.

When I made up my mind to get healthy I decided to go at a slow pace. I began jogging on a treadmill and then transitioned to the local Greenway where I would push myself to go a little further. Soon I realized that running wasn’t just making me more physically healthy, but mentally stronger too. It just makes everything easier.

In 2013, I was hired by Appalachian Power as a distribution dispatcher. That same year, I ran my first race. The weekend before I started here I ran my first 5K. Later that year, I ran my first half marathon. In 2014, I ran the Blue Ridge Marathon.

The following year proved to be a monumental one. In 2015, I completed a 100-mile marathon, 100K marathon, two 50-mile marathons, a 40-mile marathon, four 50K marathons, three 26.2 marathons, 2 half marathons, a 10K and a 5K. Altogether, that’s three marathons and nine ultramarathons.

By finishing the ultramarathons, I achieved another personal goal, which was to complete what’s called the Beast Series. Training was intense. To train for all this, I ran between 20 and 110 miles a week or on average about 35 miles a week. With the racing and training, I ran about 2,000 miles last year.

Keeping on track

When I began, my objective was to get healthy for myself and my family. Along the way came an added benefit I never expected. The most rewarding part was motivating my family to take up running as well. My wife and son ran in some of the shorter races with me and my daughter is 4 now and loves to run too.

I also commend my DDC colleagues for their support. My coworkers and manager have been very supportive as well, swapping shifts with me to accommodate my race schedule and giving me kudos after a big race. So I have not done this entirely on my own.

Paying it forward

I started running four years ago and it changed my life. I hope people reading this and watching the video are inspired to take up running, and if anyone needs help getting started, I would love to hear from them.

Do you have a wellness journey you’d like to share? Your story can be about weight loss, overcoming an illness, maintaining good health habits or some other health-related topic. Just send an email to


From → Wellness

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