When James Rogers began running, he couldn’t stop.
“I started running to get in shape for football and basketball, then I realized I was good at it,” he said. “Running keeps me in control, and when I’m not running, I don’t know what to do with myself.”
Running is different from other sports because it’s competing against one’s self, Rogers added.
“It humbled me,” he said. “If you run with an ego, you’re going to be let down.”
Rogers, who moved to Kauai from California in August, started Kauai Running Company, which teaches people how to run, get in shape and eat healthy. Services include diet planning, group training and fitness training.
Clients can pick and choose what they want to do. Some clients just want a diet plan, others want to become better runners. Some people choose to do both.
But there is an element of both diet and running in every session, Rogers said.
“The two go hand-in-hand,” he said. “When I started running, I realized what foods helped me run better.”
Rogers, who has been vegan for the last year, said changing his diet happened incrementally.
“I didn’t know there were so many kinds of fruits and veggies,” he said.
So far, Rogers has three clients on Kauai and coaches six people online.
A typical session includes recording a client running and helping them correct their form. Rogers then tests their endurance. Stretching and core strengthening also plays an important role in the sessions, which are about 90 minutes long.
“I’m all about feeling. I’m not going to force someone if it’s going to hurt them,” he said.
The price tag is between $60 and $80 per session.
“I hate going to an acupuncturist and not being able to afford it,” Rogers said. “I want people to be able to afford this.”
Rogers, who has been running for 12 years, is a distance runner. His niche is the 3K and 5K races.
“I maintain a good speed in those races,” he said.
When he ran track at Gwynedd Mercy University in Pennsylvania, the 26-year-old recorded a 15:49 5K, which is personal record.
“I hope to break that PR soon,” he said.
Rogers ran the 800- and 1,500-meter races in college, as well as the 10K.
“I’ve done 100-mile weeks, and that’s not fun,” he said. “Fifty- to 60-mile weeks are enough.”
His favorite trail on Kauai is the Ke Ala Hele Makalae multi-use path.
“It’s hard to find a good running trail; you’re always ducking trees or getting into mud,” he said.
But that didn’t stop Rogers and his girlfriend, Casey Chibirka, from running part of the Kalalau Trail when they camped there a couple of weeks ago.
“It’s fun, but I’d never take a client there,” he said. “As an endurance runner, it was hard.”
Rogers, who is an eighth-grade, special-education and math teacher at Kapaa Middle School, said a challenging part of training people to run is changing their perception of the sport.
“Whether it’s someone who hates running or convincing a sprinter to run further, the hardest part is getting off the couch,” he said. “It’s about unleashing that inner beast inside you. That’s when it gets fun.”
As a way to meet the community, Rogers is hosting group runs every Sunday. The run is free and open to the public, and anyone is welcome. The group will meet at 8 a.m. at Kapaa Beach Park. The first run took place Sunday. “I want to give back to a community that’s been accepting of me,” he said.