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Courtesy photo Coach Eric Cooper works with Hurricane runner Wyatt Hanshaw.

Any type of an athletic adventure can be challenging, especially if you are doing it on your own, without someone looking over your shoulder sometimes. I have been lucky with having some great coaches at Hurricane Middle School and now Hurricane High School, and now one of those coaches is stepping up his game.

This is the second cross country season that coach Eric Cooper is making sure that I am training correctly. While he will continue to be our head coach, Cooper has decided to begin training runners as a personal trainer.

"I have always been asked about helping individuals and have done so when asked and after talking to a lot of people, friends and others, I decided to give it a go."

When not coaching Hurricane High's cross country and track teams, Cooper, or Dr. Cooper as his business card describes him, is a chiropractor for Short Chiropractic in Barboursville.

There are a lot of different types of runners in this area, from some of the best in the region to folks that like to go out for a run just for the fun of being outside. Cooper told me after a recent practice, he wants to help anyone.

"I am looking forward to working with any level runner, any distance; the goal is pretty common across all levels - you just want to get better and be able to enjoy the sport to the fullest."

Cooper is a previous winner of coach of the year for track in West Virginia.

Like in any sport, runners basically want to be able to go faster. Cooper was quick to tell me that is an area that most runners have talked to him about.

"I think by keeping runners accountable with their training, the speed will come naturally. I think that sometimes that's what hurts people the most - that they don't have someone to keep them accountable, so it's easy to miss days, which hurts their consistency, which is something I stress."

Cooper is an accomplished long-distance runner, two years ago qualifying and competing in the prestigious Boston Marathon.

While I have been able to experience Cooper's coaching up close and personal, I have someone close to me who reached out to Cooper to get back into the sport he loves. After my dad recovered from his second hip replacement surgery back in February, he reached out to Cooper in the spring to get him running again. I have watched my dad go from running 15 minutes a day, three times a week in early June to now being able to run over 40 minutes three times a week and a longer run on Saturdays. He told me he just had to listen to what Cooper had to say.

"I have always been a mileage person, doing as much as 1500 miles in a year, but the first thing he told me it was about minutes, not miles. I said, OK, let's give it a shot and - well, you have seen the smile return."

I ran with my dad in Baltimore, when we saw a couple of Orioles games in June and it was like the first time we ran together, many a mile ago.

If you are a runner, I am here to tell you, there is not a better trainer out there that you can find. I know he is my coach, but through his training, I have fun running and competing with my friends on the Hurricane Redskins Cross Country and Track teams. So, if you are looking to up your running game, get in touch with Cooper - he is easy to find on Facebook.

Christian Deiss, of Scott Depot, is a sophomore at Hurricane High School.

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