About Me

Running coach John Davis smiling at a cross country meet on a sunny day

I have been running in some capacity for over half my life. However, I didn't define myself as a runner until I was a sophomore in high school. I made a commitment to better myself through training, and became a "student of the sport," as my high school coach encouraged his runners to do. I started training hard and reading anything I could get my hands on.

Early on, that was Hal Higdon's writings, articles from the Lydiard Foundation, and other assorted tidbits. Later, I broadened by horizons: I worked my way though the "running canon"—Lydiard, Daniels, Bowerman, and Coe/Martin.

I read biographies of famous runners: Buddy Edelen, Dick Beardsley, Haile Gebrselassie, Abebe Bikila. I dabbled in fiction (John L. Parker Jr., Brian Glanville, Alan Sillitoe) and I dredged the internet, finding gems of wisdom from Jack Daniels, Chick Hislop, the mysterious John Kellogg, and Renato Canova

More recently, I've immersed myself in scientific research on physiology and biomechanics, trying to answer questions like "why do runners get injured?" and "how does training improve fitness?" I started writing about these topics here on Running Writings, and continue to study them now in my scientific work.

Though I was by no means a blue-chip talent (it took all my might as a freshman in high school to break 20 minutes for 5k), I steadily progressed throughout high school. I had the privilege of running for one of the best high school teams in the Midwest in some of the most competitive years of Minnesota distance running.

Close-up photo of coach John Davis lying on a grass playing field writing race times in a blue notebook. A sports watch is on the ground next to the notebook.
Yours truly doing some quick post-race split calculations at a JV track meet

College was a mixed bag: hundred mile weeks, beating All-Americans, placing highly in big races—and low points too: surgery sophomore year,  and a stress fracture and a string of infections my senior year.  These struggles sparked my interest in injury prevention and treatment, and led me to start Running Writings. 

As I was building Running Writings after college, I was able to return to training and racing, setting lifetime PRs in the mile, 3k, 5k, and half marathon. I also started coaching other post-collegiate runners, which I continue to do today.

Running Writings opened up some amazing opportunities for me: from 2013 to 2017 I was an assistant coach at Edina High School, where I worked with an incredible coaching staff and a fantastic group of runners. During my time at Edina, our boys team qualified for Nike Cross Nationals four years in a row. Leaving Edina was tough, but in 2017 I started a PhD in biomechanics at Indiana University's School of Public Health so I could push out the boundaries on what we know about injuries and performance.

Matt Gabrielson, John Davis, and Jamie Kirkpatrick at Nike Cross Nationals on a cold and rainy day
Cold, rainy, but thrilled to be at NXN!

My scientific research focuses squarely on the biomechanics of running injuries. I've published several peer-reviewed articles on various aspects of injuries in runners, presented at international scientific conferences, and had my work featured in Runner's World and the Mountain Land Running Podcast. I've also appeared twice on The Marathon Running Podcast to chat about my scientific work and my approach to coaching.

I'm currently working on a research project investigating Achilles and knee joint injuries in runners, supported by funding from the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Society of Biomechanics, and World Athletics (yes that World Athletics!).

A group of scientists and medical doctors on the Hayward Field Track at the 2022 World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon
2022 World Athletics Championships in Eugene!

Don't get the impression, however, that I'm only a runner. I graduated from Carleton College with a degree in chemistry, and I have a keen interest in all things scientific. In addition to my biomechanics research, I semi-casually study machine learning, data science, and artificial intelligence, and and I'm as handy with a drawing pad and a ballpoint as I am with a circular saw and a measuring tape.

Finally, I've had a way with writing for a long time. In addition to the posts on this site, I've written about running, health, fitness for RunnersConnect, Men's Health, and Running Times, and I published my first book in spring of 2013, and and am planning on writing more.

My mission for Running Writings continues to be helping runners stay healthy, get fit, and break records.

Did you know I have a book? Check it out here!