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Woodbridge Cancer Survivor Keeps on Running With Coaching Business

Shannon McGinn began long distance running after she was diagnosed with cancer and now she's coaching others.

Shannon McGinn running her best 6 hour race, where she completed 41.48 miles. Credit: Courtesy of Shannon McGinn.
Shannon McGinn running her best 6 hour race, where she completed 41.48 miles. Credit: Courtesy of Shannon McGinn.

At the age of 29, Shannon McGinn had just completed her second year of law school exams at the University of Miami when she discovered she had breast cancer. 

McGinn, a track and short distance runner for most of her life, had the idea that long distance running would be too uncomfortable for her. However, after she was diagnosed she began running longer distances. Funny looking back that McGinn was hesitant on long distance running, since she is now a streak runner, meaning she has ran an average of 9.5 miles per day every day since December 2011.

“I found that running was therapeutic for me in that it addressed my need to feel physically stronger while providing an outlet to manage the stress, fears, and obstacles resulting from my serious illness,” McGinn expressed.

Eventually, McGinn finished her law degree by traveling back and forth from Miami to New Jersey every three weeks to complete her treatment. Now at age 37, McGinn is a breast cancer survivor. 

She completed all of this, while competing in races, studying and then passing the Art Therapy Boards and earning her Board Certification (The highest available credential as an Art Therapist), she said.

McGinn is now a certified running coach who provides coaching services through her company, Creating Momentum. She said her goal is to help others discover their own goals and work with them to achieve them. She added that people come to her for a variety of reasons, whether it be to train for an upcoming race, simply become fitter and healthier or to learn trips on training themselves.

“Once I assess my client’s past experiences with fitness, expectations from coaching, personal goals, as well as current strengths and obstacles in day to day life, I then develop a personalized training plan for them that works within the boundaries of their personal schedules,” she explained.

McGinn expressed that her intent is to help her clients have a positive relationship with running and continue it as something they can enjoy even without a running coach.

“For me running is a skill that once I learned how to master, it became a gift that allows me to find the energy I need to accomplish all the other things I need or want to do to make my life feel complete,” she said.

Creating Momentum offers in-person and online coaching, training plans and training consultation.

Through her company Creating Momentum, McGinn also provides art therapy services, which was her initial career before she decided to attend law school. In 2010, after working at Legal Services of New Jersey, she decided to go back into therapy by getting a specialty post-graduate degree in Marriage and Family Therapy with a specialty certification in Divorce Mediation.

Since October 2012, McGinn has worked as an art therapist with veterans, in addition to her work as an Art Therapist with Acute Psychiatric patients. She works both these jobs, plus coaching for Creating Momentum and working as a volunteer coach for the Monmouth County NJ Chapter of Team in Training, all while focusing on her own training.

“As hard as it is to be immersed in the struggles and hardships of others daily, I enjoy what I do most when I can see that I am making a difference,” she said. “I also find that running, racing, and coaching others are more positive experiences that help me find a healthy balance in my personal day to day life.”

To learn more about McGinn’s running coaching services, visit her blog. Also, view her posts about her upcoming races, including: Running with the Devil, where runners attempting to run for 3,6, or 12 hours up and down a ski slope at the Mt Creek Ski Resort, a night run in Queens and a nine-mile race in New Mexico called Laz Luz Trail Run.

Shannon July 25, 2013 at 06:14 PM
Thank you Nicole for giving me the opportunity to share my story and my passion for running here on the Patch :) I truly appreciate it. You did a wonderful job :) - Shannon

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